The Motorcycle Touring Bible
by Fred Rau
ISBN: 978 0760 337417
Dimensions (inches): 7.8 x 9.0
Publisher: Motorbooks (2010)
224 pages, Color Photos and Illustrations
Cost: $29.99 (USD) $32.99 CAD £17.99 GBP
Review Date: January 2012
webBikeWorld Book Review by "Burn"
Good basic background on the basics of motorcycling but not really focused specifically on touring, which is both a plus and a minus.
Needs another run through the editing cycle, but otherwise a good read with lots of information for beginning motorcyclists.
The "Bible" term has probably been overused when it comes to the world of motorcycles.
Well, here's one more for the list: The Motorcycle Touring Bible by Fred Rau. I'm not even sure what appending the word "Bible" means for a motorcycle-related book? I'm assuming it means that the book is the be-all and end-all of the topic at hand; in this case, motorcycle touring.
If anyone can write a "Bible" of motorcycle touring though, you'd think it would be Fred Rau. He's familiar to motorcyclists as an Editor and co-founder of Motorcycle Consumer News, a monthly non-commercial periodical.
He has also been the Editor of Wing World, the magazine of the Gold Wing Riders Association and the Managing Editor of Road Rider magazine. And, he runs Fred Rau Adventure Tours and claims to have ridden over 1 million miles on many different types of motorcycles.
I'm not sure why he didn't call this book "The Compendium of Motorcycle Basics" or even "The Beginner's Motorcycle Bible" or similar, because I think it's actually better suited as a sort of "everything you need to know about motorcycling" guide.
After all, anyone who's been around motorcycles pretty much knows most of the information contained in the book. At least that's my feeling anyway... But, just by coincidence, my father-in-law -- who has never been on a motorcycle in his life (but confesses to a curiosity for two wheels) -- happened to pick up the book one day when he was visiting.
He ended up reading the entire thing, cover-to-cover, in one sitting! And he pronounced it as one of the best guide books he has ever read (and he's an avid reader).
So, who am I to argue? If someone who has never been on a motorcycle can read The Motorcycle Touring Bible and become enthusiastic about trying it for himself, plus acknowledge that he's learned plenty from the book, then it must be good.
Don't get me wrong -- the focus really is on motorcycle touring, but just about all of the tips and tricks are also useful for, well, for a tour down to the local ice cream parlor. This is not a "Step 1, Step 2, Step 3..." type book, but a nicely organized stream-of-consciousness brain dump that distills Fred Rau's experience over the years.
It's loaded with color photos, although some of them seem a bit dated and like they came from the stock photo library of various retailers and manufacturers (they did).
The book covers 9 chapters, starting with "What is Motorcycle Touring" to "Common Pitfalls and Mistakes" and "Miscellaneous Essentials".
I'll take exception to the editing and I think what may have happened here is that no one wanted to edit the Editor, because there are some clumsy sentence structures (e.g., "For myself, and probably also for must guys my age, I think the problem started in our formative years of grade school and high school...") and a few, well, let's call them mis-statements.
For example, in the "Choosing the Right Gear" chapter, when writing about helmets, Rau rightly suggests that you should never ride without a quality helmet "approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT)...". As we all know (and webBikeWorld has been guilty of it also, although we're working to purge the references), helmets are not "approved" by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
It's a relatively minor slip, but one that would have/should have been caught in editing. I will also take exception to the choice of fonts, with a sort of mishmash mixture of Old English mixed with italics and page color changes that is a bit off-putting.
But overall, there's a ton of good information here that will benefit many riders of all stripes. Don't look for mind-bending revelations and you should be fine. My feeling is that an experienced motorcyclist who has been keeping his or her eyes and mind open and who is focused on continuous improvement for all things motorcycle (as we all should be) may not get a lot of new information in this book.
But, for anyone just starting out or early in their motorcycling career or who wants to go on their first long-distance tour, it would be difficult to find a better "Bible-like" collection of information than with The Motorcycle Touring Bible.