Rider Information

Reviewed by Helen Lew Ton - Secretary Audax Australia

It's all about the bike: the pursuit of happiness on two wheels

Robert Penn, 2010

Particular Books

199 pp

ISBN 978-1-846-14262-8

UK £16.99

The dust jacket shows a man on a bicycle (helmet-less; he lives in the UK after all!). With thirty-six years of riding behind him, author Robert Penn 'rides a bicycle to get to work, sometimes for work, to keep fit, to bathe in air and sunshine, to go shopping, to escape the world, to savour the physical and emotional fellowship of riding with friends, to stay sane, for fun, occasionally to impress someone, to scare himself and to hear his boy laugh. He's ridden a bicycle most days of his adult life, in over forty countries on five continents.'

And now he needs a new bike.

Not for him a visit to the nearest website, credit card at the ready, nor even a trip to his local bike shop. For Penn, the purchase of this bike will be no less a journey than one undertaken on two wheels: he wants a bike which reflects his cycling history and carries his cycling aspirations.

Travelling the world, from the UK to the west coast of the USA via Italy and Germany, Penn visits the makers of each of his bike components. We accompany him as he visits the workshops of the artisan frame and wheel builders, the tyre factory and the owners of some of the big component manufacturers. Owners and workers alike share their stories, personal and professional, whether of one-person workshops or assembly lines, of businesses with a history of 120 years or of 25 years.

As Penn acquires the bits and pieces for his dream bike, he takes the reader through the byways of cycling history. From the days of the pedal-less 'Draisine', to TIG welding; with an easily understood explanation of frame geometry, the arcana of spoke choice and a history of Brooks saddles thrown in for good measure. This is an enjoyable and enlightening trip.


Penn's choices:

1. Frame

Brain Rourke Cycles (steel)

2. Fork

Columbus Carve

3. Headset

Chris King

4. Handlebars

Cinelli Ram

5. Groupset

Campagnolo Record

6. Wheels

Gravy Wheels

7. Tyres

Continental GP4000

8. Saddle

Brooks Team Professional

Cost : £3500