All of the materials in the photo above will soon be in our store’s suggested reading section. Within the scope of their demographic, you’ll find technical riding tips, mechanical know-how and even worldly travel etiquette but what about motorcycling’s human experience? For that, we look to three “must reads” in the world of long distance motorbike travel.
Now, until ten+ years ago, I wasn’t a big reader. That isn’t to say I wasn’t always reading something. Rather, it’s that my hectic schedule, lack of familiarity with which books are worth starting and a rebellious defiance remaining from my childhood always made it one of the last things on my thousand-topic “I’m totally going to do that every day” list.
Reading shouldn’t be about a non-reader’s most prevalent fears. Total length, reading speed (especially while observing the twenty novels your bookworm buddy just got through five minutes ago) and uninspiring topics are all problematic illusions to ignore. Reading is about “you time”, so anyone with a moment to spare should know that reading one half paragraph for one minute before putting a book down for the rest of the day is absolutely fine.
All preaching aside, the books below are best sellers and the reference material? Truly fuel for the moto-centric soul. Many argue in favor or against each individually but all are enough to inspire discussion. Ask yourself “what am I in the mood for?” and pick accordingly. Have at it …
Jupiter’s Travels (Ted Simon) – Get it Here
Imagine a 1970’s Triumph Tiger. We’re not talking about the modern day, apocalypse ready, all terrain ADV machine that exists today. No, the Tigers of yesteryear were a 387 lb. chunk of British engineering that in 1974, author Ted Simon chose to ride around the planet.
Mr. Simon and his (beyond over-packed) 5-speed, 750cc, air-cooled twin ride from Great Britain to Great Britain by way of every country he can get his spokes into. Along the way, some nations prove more difficult to escape from! The menu of unexpected scenarios presents a world wide variety and in the most chaotic of situations (remember, it’s the early 70’s), he’s both helped and helpful through mutual respect and moral humility.
Perfect strangers, some of whom don’t know where their next meal is coming from and others who can’t remember where their third kitchen is located, are happy to help him see his journey through. His documentation in it’s entirety proves that travel is the cure for any and all cultural misunderstanding. It also proves that smooth tarmac is something to be savored. Seriously.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Robert M. Pirsig) – Get it Here
Now we enter the fog covered maze that is topical study through self awareness. This book’s not for everyone so if you take the red pill, be strong and follow through. The non-fan might say “it’s not about motorcycle maintenance” or that they don’t enjoy hard philosophy. My argument in it’s favor points to the year in which it was published (1974, the same year that Ted Simon started his historic ride) and the mentality of that entire decade.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a perfect example of how one broken mind can pick up it’s own pieces while contemplating difficult ideals such as the definition of “quality”. After an electrifying introduction, the long distance motorcycle trip of author Robert M. Pirsig unveils a fragmented history and disorienting truth, both of which are slated for mental refiling once compared to quality’s equation.
So, how exactly does it reference motorcycle maintenance?
For one, there are parallels between philosophies discussed and mid-trip mechanical events on Mr. Pirsig’s bike. Those aren’t the only fuel for the theme’s fire, though. This book essentially explores how the mental and emotional elements of our daily lives can be directly compared to one or more components in whatever hobbies or pastimes a person is most passionate about. In short, and with full respect for doctor Pirsig, the success or failure of any individual part on a motorcycle can be attributed to or blamed for the success or failure of a previous or subsequent part. Thank goodness the man wasn’t riding a Ural or he might still be writing the book today!
The Perfect Vehicle (Melissa Holbrook Pierson) – Get it Here
Melissa Holbrook Pierson began as a passenger but the call to ride was strong. In 1984, her decision was set in stone through the purchase of a first motorcycle. She bought the bike, eventually took a course and immediately began traveling, leaving a trail of demolished pigeonholes and stereotypes behind her.
Her writings traverse the minefields that are relationships both living and mechanical, many within the context of rider skill development. References to excellent sportbikes past and present, such as the Seca II and Hawk GT, act as a sounding horn for women considering the rider’s life. This eventually leads to some relief for Mrs. Holbrook as she discovers a female riding club, an outlet which both enables and amplifies her connection to the machine.
While The Perfect Vehicle sheds light on what any given female rider might be faced with wherever they go, it does so from a position of balance and understanding. Without negativity towards men as an ingredient, she’s able to convey the judgement she senses in other’s language, be it worded or body. More importantly, however, is that her book highlights a variety of solutions for mid-travel scenarios and is a great read for riders of any experience level.
What Are Some Of Your Favorite Motorcycle Books?
There’s a lot of great (and some perhaps not so great) writing out there. Which books have you read? What do you like about them and why? Your input is invited. Post an article!