|On a scale of 1-10, I'd say my family knows me pretty well.|
I should note that I am in no way being asked to do this review - this is completely of my own accord. I would like to start reviewing more things on here though, just because I find myself using/seeing/reading a lot of things that I want to share, much like this book.
I received this book on December 25th, and was done with it by the morning of the 26th, and it probably would have been done sooner had it not been for other Christmas day festivities. I didn't want to put it down.
Robert Penn details his journey of building his dream bike - which turns out to be a worldwide adventure full of history, stories, and personal reflection. Each chapter represents a different part, or parts, of the bike he's building, but the presentation is really what makes it interesting. From the frame itself, and his reasoning behind the choice of steel, to his journey to Italy for the history of handlebars and drivetrains, to the final decision he must make (which turns out to be harder than expected), this book is full of gems that make a bike junkie like me genuinely happy. His story of each component is woven nicely into the history behind it and his own personal stories relating to it; he talks a lot about a previous tour around the world and how that has an impact on his choices.
One thing that I appreciated was how open he was about a bike being a personal thing. He chooses each component, and gives his reasons, but doesn't go on a tirade of "I'm-right-and-you're-wrong." He picks the parts that were right for him, and his bike, but willingly says that each person has different ideas about what they like - something not often seen in the bike world, I feel. He also is flexible in his choices along the way, and as he learns more and gets more opinions, is open to changing his mind on parts and design. And I would venture to say this isn't just about road cycling - touring and mountain biking are also represented in Penn's book, and the chapter on mountain bike history was one of my favorites, even though I am not by any means a mountain biker!
Penn's style is humorous and informative, and I never found the sections that were purely history dry in the least. His descriptions of the Californian accent particularly made me chuckle, and the amount of research he had to have done to compile the history shows his passion for the sport.
If you build a lot of bikes, are planning to build a bike soon, or are interested in the history of bicycles, I'd highly recommend this book. It will leave you with lots of knowledge and a desire to travel the world searching for the perfect part - or maybe even inspire you to do so.