The Encyclopedia of Motorcycling | Rider’s LibraryMotorcycle Library Retro Review

Just when you thought Ultimate MotorCycling has covered all the encyclopedias of the motorcycle sport, we have found another one.

Unlike some of the encyclopedias we’ve covered that focus on bikes and brands alone, The Encyclopedia of Motorcycling by George Bishop and Shaun Barrington takes the broader view of riding as an endeavor the involves both interesting people and the machines they ride.

Published in 1995, the book is includes semi-modern superbikes like the BMW K1, Honda VFR 750 and Ducati 916 and latter-day superheroes of racing like Randy Mamola, Carl Fogarty, Mick Doohan, Jay Springsteen, Kevin Schwantz and Wayne Rainey.

But there’s enough depth in the 160-page book to include people and machines going back to the antiquity of the sport.

It covers machines like the 1885 wood-framed Daimler, the 1901 Royal Enfield with the engine mounted at the front fork, and the 1920 New Hudson, along with pioneers and earlier heroes of motorcycling such as Stanley Woods, Freddy Dixon, John Surtees, Mike Hailwood, and sidecar racing ace Max Deubel.

The Encyclopedia of Motorcycling begins with a more-or-less standard but interesting history of the motorcycle in general. The bulk of the book is organized in the classic A to Z format, with the content merging entries of people places and bikes and illustrated by contemporary color images as well as historic black and white images, some of which are rare and of unusual subject matter.

For example, there is an image of the 1953 Norton “Flying Fish” with radical streamlining intended for road racing but banned from the Isle of Man TT — only to go on to set world land speed records.

The book closes with a handy glossary, which is a nice addition to explain some of the terms that appear in the text. Examples? A gudgeon pin in British parlance is the same thing as a wrist pin in the U.S. and that the term “dope” refers to non-pump gas racing fuel, not a fool!

Book Data:

  • Title: The Encyclopedia of Motorcycling
  • Author: George Bishop and Shaun Barrington
  • Published: 1995 Hardcover
  • Publisher: Brompton Books, 15 Sherwood Place, Greenwich, CT 06830
  • ISBN: 0-8317-1009-8

Note to readers: many of the books that we’ll feature in Rider’s Library 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.