The Bike Deconstructed: A Grand Tour of the Modern Bicycle, by Richard Hallett
Review by Jennifer Lu’Becke
The Bike Deconstructed is a well-designed technical book. Subtitled “A Grand Tour of the Modern Bicycle,” it is nearly 200 pages of visual and textual examination of the various parts that combined make the machine we call a bicycle. The author, Richard Hallett, is highly qualified to write this manual. He has been writing about bicycles and cycling for a quarter of a century. His experience includes being the technical editor for both Cycling Weekly (the U.K.’s best-selling cycling magazine) and Cycle Sport.
Hallett examines each bit of the bicycle with clear photographs and prose. This book focuses on the modern road bike. The author states, “If the bicycle is the world’s greatest invention, then the road bike is surely its ultimate incarnation. Not because it is lighter, faster, or more glamorous than any other type as a means of transport, but because it is the most effective on the road.” As each part of the bike is contemplated, histories are revealed and options explored. For example, the first chapter covers materials, carbon-fiber, steel, titanium, and aluminum. Each material contains information about frame construction, history, and the pros and cons, plus a photograph of a gorgeous bike made from said material. Other chapters cover frameset, wheels, drivetrain, brakes, contact points, and accessories.
I know how to ride a bike, but all of the detailed information about every little mechanism that makes a bike a whole machine was a bit overwhelming at first. It is a book best browsed and enjoyed in bits! With that said—after reading The Bike Deconstructed—I view my own bike differently and appreciate the intricate engineering much more. The author’s knowledge and love of the bicycle are evident on each page. I highly recommend this book. It is beautifully presented and an excellent reference book for bicycle enthusiasts.
Princeton Architectural Press
(March 4, 2014)