Everyone loves a glossy hard back book and motorcycles are the perfect objects to fill the pages of any glossy hard back.
We’ve put together a selection of great motorcycle books that would look great on any coffee table, or book case or bedside table, or downstairs toilet (we’re not a fan of books in the toilet, but, you know, it takes all sorts).
Our shortlist had a few key criteria that each book had to meet: it had to be printed on thick, glossy paper, it has to have quality images (extra point for double-page full bleed images) and it had to be a really interesting subject. A good coffee-table book not only has all of the above but it should also contain a narrative, a story that’s easy to pick up, even if you only flick through a few pages.
We’re pretty happy with our selection, covering all almost all of the niches in motorcycling but we’ll keep on looking and this list will keep evolving.
Museo Ducati – Six Decades of Classic Motorcycles
Chris Jonnum / 2012
Ducati’s official museum celebrates the racing heritage that has been driving the company forward for over half a century. In Museo Ducati, Chris Jonnum and Peter Harholdt profile the greatest motorcycles on display at the museum itself, offering the reader a guided tour that begins with a 1947 Cucciolo motorised bicycle and ends with the 2010 Desmosedici GP10 ridden by 2006 MotoGP champion Nicky Hayden. The bikes are shown in stunning, detailed photographs and accompanied by vivid text and design details of their engines and mechanical components. Every year a stream of Ducati enthusiasts make the pilgrimage to Bologna to visit the museum. If you can’t make it, or want to remember your last visit, this book is an accurate visual representation of the power and beauty of the bikes made by Ducati.
A celebration of 40 years of road racing, Between The Hedges is a comprehensive record road racing throughout the years. As one of the worlds most highly recognised road racing photographers, Stephen Davidson brings together iconic images of the races, the bikes and their riders. Using over 150 different images, with some taken from the extraordinary archive of Clifford McLean, Between The Hedges is the ultimate pictorial guide to the history of road racing from its humbles beginnings to the high octane excitement of modern day racing at speeds of over 200mph. Throughout the book, Davidson adds his unique insight to the images, making this the perfect coffee table book for lovers of road racing everywhere.
Much more than just another coffee table book full of pretty pictures, Too Far Gone documents Todd Blubaugh’s pursuit of adventure on the open roads. He criss-crosses America just days after the passing of his parents, and his travels represent a remarkable sea-change for him as well as an epic voyage of self-discovery and reflection. This photographic and anecdotal account of his experiences is presented through short vignettes, personal letters and plenty of fantastic images, all carefully combined to offer an access all areas narrative of Todd’s life on the road.
McQueen’s Motorcycles: Racing and Riding with the King of Cool
Matt Stone / 2017
Steve McQueen is still thought of as the coolest man on two wheels, and he remains a much loved cultural icon. With a fan base spanning everyone from racing car enthusiasts to motorcycle obsessives, Racing and Riding with the King of Cool explores the iconic motorbikes that McQueen so loved to ride and collect. From the first Harley McQueen bought when he was an acting student in New York to the Triumph “desert sleds” and Husky’s he desert raced all over California, Mexico, and Nevada, McQueen was never without a stable of two wheelers. These days his classic bikes sell for top money at major auctions. If they are out of your league, this book offers a much more accessible way of exploring these highly sought after machines and the man who made them so famous.
Capturing over a century of motorcycling excellence, this book presents stunning studio portraits of BMW designs. Every bike they have ever made is accompanied by a concise profile of the machine and its awesome mechanical specifications. Everything from pre-war BMW bike the R5 that defined early performance, through to the K1 “flying brick” and the GS (Gelände Sport) series that launched a dual-sport revolution, can be found in here in all its glory. Detailing the eye-catching design and state-of-the-art engine technology that has alway been synonymous with BMW, the book brings us right up to the modern day World Super Bike dominating S1000RR, that completes the BMW dynasty so far.
Published by German imprint teNeues, Custom Bike Life is described as “a visual tour of a tradition that traces its roots back to the 1960s, when people yearning for freedom felt the need to take things into their own hands.” This 224-page hardcover tome is presented in German, English, and French and details everything from the Cafe Racer to the Scramble to the Chopper, and details some of the bigger world bike events including Wheels & Waves, Babes Ride Out, Glemseck 101 and the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride. With everything from photographic tours to entertaining and informative text that outlines the stories behind them, Custom Bike Life is a must-have coffee table book for motorcycle lovers everywhere.
Between 1962 and 1977, Giacomo Agostini was one of the most successful riders the world had ever seen. With fifteen world championships, 18 Italian national championships and 311 victories in world championship races, he held an incredible record for winning. This book brings together many of the most significant photographs of his life, and gives the reader a behind the scenes look at the man and his life both on and off the race track. This comprehensive visual record of his work is unlike any that has ever been attempted before and the book is a complete record of his talent – both as a rider and as a champion.
This visual history of German motorcycles documents the motorbikes used by German troops during World War II. Perhaps more so than in any other nation, German bikes were seen and used as an instrument of offensive warfare with the majority of them designed to launch surprise attacks on opponents flanks and rear, as well as in the pursuit of the enemy. Using specially made models or adapted civilian bikes, German Motorcycles of WW2 is a distinctive reference book that combines rare vintage photographs with images of superbly restored original German WW2 bikes, and features the BMW R4; R12; R35; R71; R74 and Zündapp KS750. Only the very finest examples of these motorcycles were sought out for inclusion in this title.
The definitive story of the Triumph brand is told here, as author Zef Enault celebrates 130 years of the company’s magnificent motorcycles. Created with support from Triumph and with a foreword from CEO Nick Bloor, The Art of the Motorcycle is a celebration of Triumph’s most beautiful bikes, and an essential companion for any lover of the Triumph brand. Offering never before seen images and early design sketches of some of the most iconic bikes in the world, the book also features detailed technical specs, first hand reports from fellow riders and rare insights from the Triumph archives, The Art Of The Motorcycle is a a beautiful book that pays homage to one of the most famous motorbike manufacturers in the world.
This carefully curated pictorial history bursts out of the pages as it tracks the evolution of the sport. Long-time MotoGP journalist, Michael Scott, documents the racetracks, the riders and the super bikes that changed the sport throughout the years, it breaks down the developments in MotoGP, decade by decade. Jam-packed with stunning images of the sport and its champions, the book offers interesting insights from some of the best known personalities in the motorcycling world. MotoGP: The Illustrated History, is the ultimate celebration of one of the most exhilarating sports in the world.