Rider’s Library | Superbikes by Alan Dowds

Rider’s Library | Superbikes by Alan DowdsMotorcycle Library Retro Review

Alan Dowd’s book Superbikes is unusual in a couple of ways. First is its physical presentation.  Superbikes measures only 6⅜” high by 5″ wide, but is a full inch thick.  It has the heft of a textbook, with the pocket book size of a dime novel.

Next, it has full color images of over 200 bikes Dowd includes in the superbike class, including a section on “classic” superbikes, such as the original Honda CB750, Suzuki GT750, Norton Commando 850, Ariel Square Four and others.

But perhaps the most unusual aspect of Dowd’s book is that it includes such non-superbike machines as the 176 cc BMW C1 caged scooter, Suzuki Burgman scooter, Yamaha T-Max scooter and Honda Silver Wing scooter.

Nothing against any of these machines and in the scooter realm, some of them are at the top of the food chain, but most folks just don’t see scooters in the Superbike realm.

However, Dowd more than offsets the scooter entries with high quality images and technical details of true superbikes that most of us rarely see, if ever, even in motorcycle literature. For example, he covers the ultra-exotic Honda NR 750 with its double-con rod oval piston V4 engine, the Ducati 996 Foggy (Carl Fogarty) Replica, of which only 200 were ever built, the MV Agusta F4 Senna, of which only 300 were ever built, the show-stopping Aprilia Blue Marlin prototype and the super-cool, Ducati powered Bimota Tesi with hub-center steering.

Between the extremes of scooterdom and exotic super-proto-bikes, Dowd includes everything from the Kawasaki 800 Drifter, Harley-Davidson 883 Sportster, Ducati 600 Monster, KTM Duke, Moto-Guzzi California, Kawasaki W650, Honda CB500S and a raft of other mid-range bikes. The merits of these and some other more run-of-the-mill commuter, adventure and enduro bikes being included in a book about superbikes could be argued, but each bike is well presented with a brief narrative description, history and specification sheet.

One aspect that makes the book particularly interesting to those of us in the States is the inclusion of bikes sold primarily or exclusively in U.K. and European markets that we may not have even heard of here in the U.S.

Book Data:

  • Title: Superbikes
  • Author: Alan Dowds
  • Published: 2002
  • Publisher: Amber Books, Ltd., Bradley’s Close, 74-77 White Lion St., London, N1 9PF, UK.
  • ISBN:  0-439-42466-6

Note to readers: many of the books that we’ll feature here may be out of print and some may be difficult to find.  That could be half the fun.  The Internet should make the search relatively easy but ironically, none of the books currently scheduled for eventual retro-review for the Rider’s Library section were found with the help of the Internet.  They all were found at book stores, used book stores, antique shops, motorcycle shops, yard sales and so on.


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