The Rambler’s Companion Book Review [Riders Library]

The Rambler's Companion Book Review - Small Motorcycles

Richard Worsham is not out to change the world. Well, at least, not the entire world. Worsham is out to help us re-think how we see the world of motorcycles and motorcycling. In his new book, The Rambler’s Companion, Or, the Art, Practice, & Enjoyment of Lightweight Motorcycling, Worsham helps us reconnect with the kind of motorcycles and motorcycle riding that a great many, if not most, of us started out with.

I think he may be on to something.

The Rider's Companion Book Review - Janus Motorcycles

At the heart of what Worsham suggests is a reset of how we think about what we value in motorcycling and the machines we ride.

Could it be that we have slipped into overvaluing technical specifications such as horsepower, torque, 0-to-60 acceleration, quarter-mile ETs, and top speed at the redline over the fundamental experience of riding?

Here’s how Worsham lays it out: “Today, smaller-displacement, lightweight motorcycles are considered to be ‘beginner’ or ‘budget’ bikes for those who cannot handle or afford the larger, heavier, more technologically laden machines that have come to count as ‘real’ motorcycles. A small cadre of riders remembers the joys and benefits of lightweight, simple motorcycles and understand the immediacy that such machines enjoin. We will argue that this level of engagement has more to do with why we ride than the extreme specifications that form what we call the ‘big bike lie’…This book is not so much a handbook for motorcyclists as a defense of the purely subjective experience of riding.”

The Rambler's Companion Book Review: Rider's Library

Worsham not only makes the case for the lighter, simpler, smaller-displacement motorcycle than the heavyweight touring, adventure, and hyper-bikes typically promoted by the major manufacturers, The Rambler’s Companion provides a primer for the prospective rambler motorcyclist on how to optimize the riding experience.

What is a “rambler”? Think of the times you’ve taken off on your bike with no specific destination in mind. You spend a whole day in the saddle, perhaps covering anywhere from 100 to 400 miles, more or less. You reach no particular destination, see some great sights, travel some meandering roads, and end up at home, having had a thoroughly enjoyable day. That’s one example, and the variations are endless.

Richard Worsham is the Founder and CEO of Janus Motorcycles in Goshen, Indiana. His company builds motorcycles that embody the philosophy he expounds in his book. The product line tops out at a displacement of 450cc. Traction control, wheelie control, frame sliders, multiple sportbike ride modes, and the like will not be found. The bikes are simple, spartan, and seamlessly meld modern technology with the look of motorcycling’s early days.

His appreciation of the lightweight motorcycling style is explained in 23 very short chapters—some are only two or three paragraphs long—and four appendices. The book is physically small; measuring five-by-seven inches and about a quarter-inch thick, it can fit easily in your tank bag or saddlebag. Given The Rambler’s Companion’s brevity, it includes a lot of handy information about how to enjoy lightweight motorcycling, from short day trips to cross-country jaunts and motorcycle camping, all of which can be applied to nearly any motorcycle journey.

The Rambler’s Companion Fast Facts

  • Full title: The Rambler’s Companion, Or, the Art, Practice, & Enjoyment of Lightweight Motorcycling
  • Author and illustrator: Richard Worsham
  • Published: 2024 by MapleLeaf Printing, Goshen, Indiana, in collaboration with Janus Motorcycles
  • Format: soft cover. 107 pages. Measures 5” x 7.” 19 black & white illustrations.
  • ISBN: (print) 978-8-218-23861-2
  • The Rambler’s Companion, Or, the Art, Practice, & Enjoyment of Lightweight Motorcycling Price: $16 MSRP