Detail of the Levocyclette, a lever-drive bicycle, mfg. by Terrot & Cie., Dijon, c1905. The earliest manufactured bicycle with ten speeds. Terrot claimed that the alternating levers avoided the dead point common with cranks and thus allowed for easier hill climbing. Collection of the Nationaal Fietsmuseum Velorama, Nijmegen, Holland

 

 

The Bicycle
Pryor Dodge
Flammarion, Paris and New York: 1996, 1997
224 pp., 341 illustrations, 189 in color, 11 x 9 inches

ISBN 2-08013-551-1

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Published in French: La Grande Histoire du Vélo, Editions Flammarion, Paris: 1996, 2000
Published in German: Faszination Fahrrad - Geschichte, Technik, Entwicklung, Delius Klasing - Edition Moby Dick, Kiel: 1997, 2001, 2007, 2011


When the bicycle became an accessible mode of travel over a century ago, its impact on both sides of the Atlantic went far beyond simply providing transportation and sport. This remarkable invention moved not only the body, but also the intellect, the spirit, and the imagination, affecting the social, economic, and moral spheres of everyday life.

The Bicycle explores the rich and varied history of cycles and cyclists from the early 19th century, when "running machines" caught the fancy of the fashionable world in Europe, to the bicycle's "Golden Age" in the 1890s, its subsequent displacement by the invention of the automobile, and the high-tech racing and leisure cycling of today.

An extraordinary compilation of visual material drawn from the author's collection - one of the largest privately owned collections of antique bicycles, posters, prints, and bicycle memorabilia in the world - is supplemented by a wealth of previously unpublished documents on technology, bicycle clubs, and racing. The authoritative and entertaining text combines fascinating anecdotes with in-depth historical and technical information.

The over-crowding and pollution of our cities has shown the automobile to be a dangerous and unviable solution to the future of transportation and has led to a genuine cycling boom in recent years. This absorbing look at the history of the bicycle will be a timely tribute to one of the greatest inventions of the modern era.

 

Reviews:

The Christian Science Monitor, June 11, 2010 (14 years after publication):

10 great books about cycling

"The Bicycle, by Pryor Dodge. If you want to revel in the sheer beauty of the bicycle, this is your book. Pryor Dodge has assembled a coffee-table book that not only serves as an illustrated history of the bicycle, but also encourages readers to treat the bike as a work of art."

The Guardian, Manchester (UK), February 27, 1997:

" Pryor Dodge...has combined what is unquestionably the most finely illustrated history of cycling ever produced with a text which is both erudite and elegant. Dodge not only reminds us of the curious paths and byways the bicycle has travelled down; he points a way forward by documenting the bicycle renaissance of recent years."

London Review of Books, April 24, 1997:

" The Bicycle is full of delights....adds up to what used to be called a wonder book....close-ups of clean, shining mechanisms can have an elegance all their own..."

Bicycle Culture 11, York (UK), December 1996:

" This is the most sumptuous book ever on the history of cycling. The author borrows generously from his astonishing collection of historical illustrations: revealing images not previously known even to cycle historians.  That so many of them are in colour is particularly delightful. The many finely-lit studio photographs make old, worn machines look truly beautiful, from the pitted and scratched Levocyclette of 1905 on the front cover, to the two-page spreads devoted to a Velocipede pedal detail and to the Simpson lever chain."

VELO, 1996 Fall/Winter Catalogue:

" This book is nothing short of the finest cycling history/picture book ever published...This book is a treasure for any cycling enthusiast....Outstanding color photographs."

 

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