Book Review: 100 Years of Motorcycles by Ammonite Press

The motorcycle’s story begins when Gottlieb Daimler strapped a small gasoline powered engine to a wooden bicycle frame in 1885. From this small beginning, the motorcycle was soon a specially designed means of transportation, meant to be an inexpensive every-day conveyance. It easily negotiated the crowded streets of the city and could also go for the long distance and even cruising the back roads on vacation.

Some motors as they soon became known, were also test vehicles for refining the motorized and thrill sports at race tracks and off road as well, all over the world. Vintage motors of the early years of the century, to the biker subculture of the 40s with the infamous Hells Angels”to the Café Racers of the mid century, to the 1960s with the Mods and Rockers to the ultra high tech super sport cycles of the later 20th century 100 Years of Motorcycles by Ammonite Press celebrates in pictures all those aspects of the motorcycle and more.

Books about motorcycle are usually written or edited by fans; therefore the pictures used are, as a rule, taken by the motorcycle specialists. The problem with that is that being so caught up in a subject does not allow for self editing or for taking an outsider’s view of the subject. But then take away that fanatical interest and look to the professional photographer looking for something news worthy and what happens is a shot that is not interesting to the fan. But Ammonite Press has fixed that issue in this new book. Essentially, they have make use of photos from the Press Association to relate the chronicle of the motorcycle and it riders right through the 20th century, letting the picture to tell the story while backing up each image with a short, but informative, caption. The result is as much a social history of the riders as well as the story of the progress of the motorcycle over time. With over 300 images, many not published before in a book format. There are a number of racing shots, but the reader also gets shots of regular people with their motors. Celebrity riders of all stripes are shown as well. The publication house has spared no expense with the book using high quality glossy pages. The photos range from early black and white stills, to the early days of color photography even to the early digital aged photos of the later 20th century. All the photos are well done and very sharp.

100 Years of Motorcycles is a first-rate effort that is well worth the money of anyone interested in the history of motorcycles.

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