The 10 Best Motorcycle Books
This wiki has been updated 26 times since it was first published in September of 2015. If you know someone who loves to travel on two wheels, you may want to consider giving him or her one of these informative and entertaining motorcycle books. Our selection includes editions covering just about every type of machine and biking adventure, as well as some more technical choices for the mechanically minded. We've ranked them here by their writing style, usefulness, and content. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
July 23, 2020:
Motorcycle books range the gamut from the practical to the inspirational, and we wanted to make sure our selections represented that. Those who fantasize about taking an epic two-wheeled adventure across foreign or familiar lands will probably enjoy Jupiters Travels and Leanings 3. The former tells the story of one man's solo journey across more than 40 countries. It details both the amazing experiences along the way, as well as the harsh realities of life on the road. The latter is a collection of short stories and personal musings of one of America's most-respected riding journalists. Even if you don't have a trip planned, either of these will probably plant the seeds in your head to embark on one at some point in your life.
Speaking of embarking on an legendary motorcycle adventure, if you plan on doing so, you will be well served by both the Adventure Motorcycling Handbook, which details many of the challenges you will face along the way and gives useful information on overcoming them, and the Essential Guide To Motorcycle Maintenance, which will give you great insight into how these engines work and may just be the difference between getting yourself back on the road or being stuck in the middle of nowhere hoping help comes along.
If you are simply looking for a coffee table book with some two-wheeled eye candy, The Harley-Davidson Motor Co. Archive certainly fits the bill. With stunning photos that span over 100 years of the company's motorcycles, it is entertaining to casually flip through for a few minutes at a time. The Art of the Racing Motorcycle also spans over 100 years of motorcycle history, but has a focus on racing bikes. Unlike The Harley-Davidson Motor Co. Archive, which mostly just has relatively short descriptions of the motorcycles it depicts, The Art of the Racing Motorcycle contains loads of well-researched information, which makes it just as much a technical reference as a visually-striking tome.
Along with equipping yourself with high-quality protective gear, including a good helmet, boots, and jacket, riding know-how will go a long way towards keeping you safe on the road, which is exactly what Proficient Motorcycling can help provide you with.
March 25, 2019:
Given the variety of motorcycles and motorcycling activities out there, it was important that we structure our list in a way that values the quality of a given book as much as it does its applicability. For example, Robert Persig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance remained at number one thanks to its more universal appeal, while a new addition, Proficient Motorcycling, only came in at number five. That particular volume is one of the best for introducing new riders to tried and true ways they might stay safe on the road, but it doesn't have much to offer anyone who's been on a bike for more than a few years. Among the books leaving our list, Classic Motorcycle Race Engines has become too prohibitively expensive to be considered a viable option to anyone but wealthy collectors.