The Racing Bike Book (3rd edition 2007)

A general introduction to all things connected with racing bikes, aimed at novices and lavishly illustrated with colour photographs

Haynes Publishing, 978 1 84425 341 8 168pp £17.99

It is hard not to view Haynes publishing as an anachronism. For sure, in the ‘60s and ‘70s every man who bought an older car soon sought out the appropriate Haynes manual. The exploded diagrams and black-and-white, step-by-step photos showing you how to change the carburettor or check the shock absorbers were part of the wallpaper of the age. It was Photo Love for the boys with oil under their nails.

In the era of motors that require specialist computers to complete a simple service and most marques comfortably clocking up 100,000 miles and more with little difficulty, the iconic Haynes manual must surely be going the way of Jackie and Smash Hits?

The company is still largely managed by people whose surname is Haynes, despite it being a plc. No doubt recognising the changes in the motor market, the company decided to diversify. They have applied soubriquet ‘Haynes Manual’ to all manner improbable topics: Sex, Parenting, Teenagers and even Cancer. How disturbing would it be to see that on your oncologist’s shelf?

Opening the Racing Bike variant, it is immediately clear that it is not a Haynes manual in the conventional sense of the term. There is not a line diagram nor a grainy workshop photo to be found.

It is a perfectly serviceable book that introduces road racing, to potential participants and spectators. Authored by writers, most of whom will be familiar to readers of Cycling Plus, it is sound in content and fairly comprehensive in its scope.

It does, however, look a bit dated (perhaps a new publication is imminent) and it makes nothing of the scope for mirth and wit that the Haynes tag might present. Indeed, there is little to make this the first choice for such a general book, save for its exclusive focus on road racing. Possibly anyone who is already certain that this, in particular, is their interest, will already know that ‘The Tour de France is the greatest bike race on earth’, or that ‘groupset is the collective name for the gearing, braking and bearing components on a bike’.

PS December 2008

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