Man’s most perfect machine

9781898457053Man’s most perfect machineWhat is it about the bicycle?

In a few weeks time the nation will be transfixed as warriors on two-wheels hurtle around the London velodrome in pursuit of Olympic glory.

In the Scottish Borders we have just enjoyed a fortnight of mountain biking indulgence that rejoices under the banner of Tweedlove.

Sandwiched between the sporting scene the bicycle gets us to work and becomes the perfect leisure companion at the weekend.

Inevitably sketches for an early bicycle have been found in Leonardo’s notebooks but the machine we know and love started to take shape in the early 1800’s, since when it’s pedalled its way into the affections of all age groups – everywhere.

Jim McGurn pays homage to the bike’s enduring and universal appeal in his excellent book – On Your Bicycle – The illustrated story of cycling.

It’s a story well worth the telling and not just for cycling fans.  As the author maintains: “Cycling, especially from the late 19th century onwards was an important and exciting agent of social change.”

The advent of a chain driven bicycle fitted with pneumatic tyres swept all before it in the 1890’s opening the door to new freedoms that came with the ability to travel further.

How the bicycle has influenced our lives is unfolded in this well crafted and extensively illustrated book that travels through Boneshaker mania, the penny farthing, cycling club ‘militias,’ the cycling boom between the wars and its decline through the 50’s and 60’s.

Today the bicycle supports an industry that perpetuates a 200-year tradition for design and ingenuity, and inspires an international movement with more than simple pedal power.

On Your Bicycle – The illustrated story of cycling (ISBN 1-898457-05-0) is available price £16.95 from all good booksellers or direct from Gazelle Books on 01524 68765 and

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