August 6, 2014
joe commuter

Bringing you tips on bike commuting from one dedicated rider in Portland.

photo credit: Beverley Goodwin on Flickr

Bike books for beginning commuters

If you’re just getting into cycling, or haven’t been on a bike since you were a kid, here’s a list of essential reading, including some books entertaining enough to take to the beach.

Just Ride: A Radically Practical Guide to Riding Your Bike by Grant Peterson
$14, RivBike

If you want to start cycling “but have been scared away by the sport’s cult of gear and equipment, then your bible has been written,”Dave Eggers wrote in his review for the New York Times.  Peterson calls his book a manual for the “unracer.” His main goal is to point out bike racing’s bad influence on bicycles, equipment and attitudes, “and then undo it.”

Just Ride book stack
photo credit: RivBike

The Practical Cyclist: Bicycling for Real People by Chip Haynes
$14.95, New Society Publishers

For the new cyclist, Haynes covers the basics of repair, clothing, gear, route planning and the history of cycling, all in about 160 pages. “This is a book about the joys of bicycling–and there are many,” Haynes writes in the intro. “You don’t have to be a skinny road racer, a muscled mountain biker, or a tattooed urban bike messenger to get out there on a regular bicycle, actually going somewhere–and enjoy it.”

The Bicycling Guide to Complete Bicycle Maintenance and Repair: For Road and Mountain Bikes by Todd Downs and the editors of Bicycling magazine
$23.99, Rodale

In its fifth edition after more than 20 years in print, this may be the best all-around reference for beginning cyclists. Especially helpful are the troubleshooting sections to identify common problems and how to fix them. The 450 photographs and 40 drawings make things pretty clear.

Bicycling & the Law: Your Rights as a Cyclist by Bob Mionske
$18.95, Velo Press

Mionske is a lawyer, a former pro cyclist, and an entertaining writer who injects a surprising amount of verve into the subject of transportation laws and regulations. “His writing benefits from a perspective meant to achieve harmony, one where motorists don’t despise cyclists and products are good enough that liability lawsuits are unknown,” observed Red Kite Prayer’s reviewer. Mionske also posts informative updates at his Bicycle Law website.

And speaking of websites, these two are loaded with helpful, authoritative articles about bicycling:

The League of American Bicyclists

Since it’s founding in 1880 (as the League of American Wheelmen), the League has been standing up for the rights of cyclists.  The website is packed with articles on how to ride safely, understanding bike laws, and more. The League’s mission “is to lead the movement to create a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone.”

Sheldon Brown

The human encyclopedia of bicycling knowledge died in 2008 but his informative wit and wisdom live on in cyberspace. “Brown’s decidedly non-fancy website was a vital resource for cyclists, rich with hints on how to break in a Brooks leather saddle, technical explanations of the workings of 60 year-old internal hubs, and instructions on how to build a tandem from two old steel bike frames,” Wired observed in an obituary.

Sheldon Brown
photo credit: Sheldon Brown’s Website