Classic Motorcycles: The Art of Speed

Classic Motorcycles: The Art of Speed Review | Rider's Library

We had the opportunity to review quite a number of new and retro books about classic motorcycles from around the world. Without exception, those books have been superbly photographed and feature some of the most significant motorcycles ever built, whether mass production models that have made their mark, or one-off customs or racing machines.

That said, one quick look inside the cover of Pat Hahn and Tom Loeser’s new book “Classic Motorcycles: The Art of Speed” served notice that this book is different from the others.

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The images by photographer Tom Loeser seem to reach out and grab you with their exquisite detail and nearly shadow-less lighting. At first glance, you may mistake them for intricate portraits by an ultra-realist painter/illustrator. They are indeed photographs and the secret of their striking appearance is Loeser’s use of his “light painting” technique.

Classic Motorcycles: The Art of Speed ReviewIn a unique feature, Loeser even provides a detailed explanation of how his light painting technique works in the back of the book! The technique is labor-intensive and requires careful planning and practiced discipline, but open the pages of this book and you’ll have to agree the results are spectacular. In addition to Loeser’s exclusive images, the book contains a number of period images and advertising art.

Loeser comes from a remarkably varied background that includes time as a professional firefighter, graphic designer and eventually as full-time professional photographer. He has three previous books to his credit and another is on the way.

The next thing that elevates this book among the many books about classic motorcycles is the sheer range and variety of machines included. A number of them are examples not usually covered in classic motorcycle books.

The fifty machines featured span the spectrum from modern classic street bikes such as the 1959 Triumph Bonneville, 1970 Honda CB750 K0, 1974 Ducati 750 Sport, 1957 Maico Typhoon, 1940 Crocker to antique masterpieces such as the 1915 Militaire Deluxe, 1922 Megola, 1928 Neander and the some of the most exotic racing bikes ever built such as the 1955 Moto-Guzzi V8 GP racer, 1960 Jawa factory GP and ice racers, 1959 MV DOHC 125 and 1960 MV 350 GP racers and the 1995 Britten V1000. Wait-what? Did I say the book even includes an ice racer? Yep, it does and it is covered and photographed with the same quality as all the others.

Classic Motorcycles: The Art of Speed bikesAuthor Hahn, who already has four other motorcycle-related books to his credit, provides succinct and enlightening narrative and image captions for each machine. Each entry includes a brief specification sheet and some selected technical and historical detail in the narrative.

Among classic motorcycle books, “Classic Motorcycles: The Art of Speed” is unlike most everything else out there with its striking use of light painting technique for the images and the fresh approach to content and selection of subjects. It would be a worthy addition to even the most comprehensive motorcycle library.

Book Details:

  • Title: Classic Motorcycles: The Art of Speed
  • Author: Pat Hahn with photography by Tom Loeser
  • Published: 2016 hardcover, 224 9.75” x 12” pages, 232 color and black & white light painted images.
  • Publisher: Motorbooks, Quarto Publishing Group, 400 First Ave. North, Suite 400, Minneapolis, MN 55401 USA
  • ISBN: 978-0-7603-5179-6
  • MSRP: U.S. $50 U.K. £35 $65 CAN