The Illustrated Directory of Motorcycles | Rider’s LibraryMotorcycle Library Retro Review

Creating a “directory” of motorcycles sounds like a practical idea, but in the context of mainstream motorcycle literature, it is unusual. “The Illustrated Directory of Motorcycles,” edited by Mirco De Cet, is an example of how unusual such a book might be.

For example, unlike a lot of motorcycle books that focus on one brand, one series, one model, or one type such as café racers, sport bikes, touring bikes or vintage/antique bikes, De Cet’s book casts a broad net and includes them all. To do it, the book has 480 pages with over 400 color images, and covers more than 100 brands.

The book includes diverse entries such as antiques like the 1900 German Cyklon, 1907 Curtiss air-cooled V-8 (which Glenn Curtiss set a world record of 136.36 mph on that year), 1915 AJS Model D V-twin, as well as post-WWII machines such as the 1955 Moto-Guzzi Otto Cilidri (V-8 road racer), 1955 BSA B-33, 1956 Hienkel Perle moped, 1959 Norton Model 50.

The book also features more contemporary bikes like the 1975 Jawa Ice Racer, 1979 Kawasaki Z1300K2 and some rarely seen specials such as the 1965 supercharged 50cc Kreidler “Zigarre” (cigar) streamliner Rudolf Kunz rode to a mind-blowing 140.02 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Finally, it includes relatively late model bikes up to model-year 2002.

The book’s content is an unusually eclectic mix to be sure, but that’s not where its uniqueness ends. The physical design of the book is, well, a little odd. It is 8.5” tall, which is not unusual and a shade over an inch thick, again, not that unusual, but its page width is only 4.5” which is more like a pocket book size.

That makes it more portable in a saddlebag, perhaps, but I’m not sure that was the goal. It does tend to disappear between wider books on the bookshelf, but that doesn’t make it any less interesting.

Unusual size notwithstanding, De Cet’s book will appeal to wide range of rider interests and it provides the kind of information that won’t make the reader an expert on any one kind of bike or brand, but will introduce a little background on everything from antiques to superbikes, contemporary brands to extinct collectibles and everything in between.

Book Data

  • Title: The Illustrated Directory of Motorcycles
  • Author: Edited by Mirco De Cet
  • Published: 2002
  • Publisher: MBI Publishing, Galtier Plaza, Suite 200, 380 Jackson St., St. Paul, MN 55101-3885, USA.
  • ISBN: 0-7603-1417-9

Rider’s Library—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.