Saturday, January 21, 2012

I got a great book as a Xmas present last month: The Art of the Racing Motorcycle, 100 Years of Designing for Speed by Phillip Tooth with photography by Jean-Pierre Praderes, by Universe Publishing. After a good introduction, the book profiles 51 different race bikes. It's a large format book (12"ish X 9"ish), and devotes two to six pages to each bike in chronological order starting with a 1902 Manon and ending with Rossi's 2010 Yamaha M-1., though the bulk of the bikes are from the twenties through the eighties (46 bikes are represented in 70 years). Perhaps because the photographer is French (I assume), there are a good number of French bikes included. But, the author trumps the photographer as there are twice as many British bikes. Or, maybe their nationalities have nothing to do with it, as there are even more Italian bikes profiled. The bikes range from rare works exotica like the '39 AJS supercharged V4, to production racers like the '69 TD-2 Yamaha, to the converted street bikes like the Egli-Vincent, but with the emphasis on the rare works exotica. The photography is superb, both studio and archival. Many of the bikes are unrestored and look just like the came off the track. Standouts for me include the '23 Peugeot DOHC twin, the '31 MGC, the '53 Nougier 500/4, the '60 Moto Morini DOHC 250 single, the '68 Yamaha RA31A 125 V4, and the '76 Morbidelli-MBA 125 twin but, there's not a dud included. And, regular readers will understand why I think the photo of Charles Franklin, in an alley with his JAP powered Chater-Lea special in 1905, is worth the price of admission in itself. While I ran across a couple of errors or typos, they were minor and I whole heartedly recommend this book.

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