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 Motorcycle Handbook - wBW Book Review

How To Ride a Motorcycle by Pat Hahn

by John Hanney
Paperback: 122 pages
Dimensions (in inches): 8-1/2 x 11.0
Publisher: The Bike Yard (1997) 
ISBN: 0760321140
Price: $20.00CDN + $5.00CDN S/H; $22.00 U.S. incl. S/H

wBW Book Review by "Burn"

I can now recommend three books that should be the minimum required reading for any prospective or new motorcycle owner. They are 1) Streetbikes: Everything You Need To Know by Bill Stermer;  2) Proficient Motorcycling by David Hough; and 3) The Motorcycle Handbook by John Hanney.

Granted, this is a very subjective list that's difficult to winnow down from the huge number of tasty books that are in the webBikeWorld library. Surely, arguments can be made for one or another book to replace a volume on this list and it's just as certain that there are other books that could easily make a list of additional reading. But today, right here and now, that's my list and I'm sticking to it.

Why these three in particular, you might ask?  Well, Streetbikes: Everything You Need To Know is just that -- Bill Stermer tackles an impossible task and does a bang-up job at it. As we said in that review, a new motorcycle owner could read the book and join a motorcycle discussion group and be pretty confident that no one would guess they're a newbie.

Proficient Motorcycling is the "Bible" of safe riding practices and is required reading for every motorcyclist, new or experienced. Like several other motorcycle riding skills books, it should be read quite regularly and at least once per year.

But here's where it gets interesting: I'm nominating the self-published and modestly named Motorcycle Handbook by John Hanney for the clean-up spot in this triumvirate because every motorcycle owner needs to have -- or will have -- an intimate relationship with his or her machine.

There's just no getting around the fact that riding a motorcycle melds the rider and machine into a single tactile and sensory blending of flesh and metal. The hands touch, feel and grip the bars; the rider's weight affects the movement and balance and the sounds and smells are unavoidably forced upon us.

To be a successful and safe motorcycle rider the owner must have intimacy with and knowledge about the machine. The motorcycle must always be in perfect running order for the rider to remain safe and for the ride to be enjoyable.

OK, enough said -- but how does one gain this knowledge?  Wouldn't it be nice to have a seasoned motorcycle mechanic as a mentor, who can impart their skills and experience whenever it's needed?  That's exactly what this book does. It's like rubbing the lamp and John Hanney the Genie appears from the vapor cloud to answer all of your questions.

The book is self-published and slightly crude, which gives it the exact charm that it needs. Although no single topic is covered in great depth, the breadth of information is amazing; 63 chapters covering everything from the Airbox and Filter to Workshop Repair Manuals, in alphabetical order. 

Learn about wheel balancing, oil leaks, fork seals, tire repair and headlights to subjects like ergonomics, seats, selling your bike, street survival and even how to repair plastic (ABS) fairings.

Realistically there's not much detail that can be covered on all of these topics in 122 pages, but for a new owner or for anyone who wants to gain a deeper knowledge and understanding of their machine, The Motorcycle Handbook is an excellent place to start.

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