"Discovering the Motorcycle:
the History, Culture & Machines"
A book by Armand Ensanian
Book Review by Andy Tallone

In my business, that being the fleshing out of this website with history, specs and anecdotal trivia about classic British motorcycles, I have read a lot of books about bikes. For me, they fall into one of three categories: 1.) Repair or Shop Manuals; 2.) Consumer-grade books (ie: coffee table books); or 3.) Professional-grade books (ie: in-depth histories of specific models or marques, restoration guides, etc.). I only read Repair Manuals when I’m trying to put one of my bikes together. Consumer-grade books bore me, they’re usually much too broad in scope and quote the same rudimentary facts that people like me committed to memory eons ago. So, in the end, they don’t do me any good, I don’t learn anything from them. For me, it’s all about the Professional-grade stuff, with a depth of focus into a very thin slice of subject matter. Everything you ever wanted to know about Vincent Black Shadows, for instance. So, when I see a book like ‘Discovering the Motorcycle’, with over 500 pages covering virtually all aspects of motorcycledom, my first thought is “another coffee-table book”.

Was I ever wrong! Upon quickly perusing the book for the first time, I immediately saw that this was something very different. Sure, Chapters 1 and 2 started out a little ‘consumer-grade’ with the titles “The World of Motorcycles” and “Motorcycles in our Society”. A little general-purpose for my tastes. However, the combination of the author’s total grasp of the subject matter and its historical relevance to the times, his writing it in short sections that are interesting and easy to read, and punctuating it all with eye-popping pictures, many of which I’ve never seen before, made even these mundane subjects very palatable.

Next up came the good stuff, the stuff that guys like me live for. Chapter 3 was one of the most in depth and thorough chronicles of “The History of the Engine” that I have ever read. Most of the information I normally come across I’ve seen before, but this book is full of factoids that I learned for the first time here. From there, ‘Discovering the Motorcycle’ delves into layer after layer of our world, including the ‘Cruiser Craze’, ‘Superbikes’, ‘Off-Road’, ‘Touring’, ‘Racing’ and much more, 508 pages in all.

The author, Armand Ensanian, has spent his entire life riding motorcycles. He rode up and down the East Coast in the 60s and 70s, and lived the life. He was trained as a Kawasaki tech and became a journalist and photographer along the way. 49 years later, his life still revolves around motorcycles, and it shows in his knowledge and in his passionate writing. Clearly, an awesome amount of research and organization went into the writing of this book. Having some experience in this area, it’s a very impressive achievement, in my view.

If you could only own one book about motorcycles, this would be it! I know that’s a tall statement, but after reading ‘Discovering the Motorcycle’, that’s how I feel. This book is an indispensable reference piece as well as a wonderfully entertaining read. If you love motorcycles, you will love this book.

You can order it right here, through Amazon, with fast delivery and in some cases free delivery. Please click on the image of the book cover below to order your copy of ’Discovering the Motorcycle’ today. Sales of books like this helps to support this website. Your patronage and support is greatly appreciated. Enjoy the book.

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Last updated 1/6/17

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