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208 × 156 mm
240 pages
111 illustrations, 50 in colour
22 Oct 2007

Motorcycle Steven E. Alford, Suzanne Ferriss

Easy Rider. Motocross Grand Prix. James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. The motorcycle is a global icon of untamed freedom, symbolizing a daring and reckless lifestyle of adventure. Yet there are few books that chronicle how and when this legendary vehicle roared down the open road. Motorcycle explores the roots of the rebel’s ultimate ride.

After early incarnations as a nineteenth-century steam-powered bicycle and multi-wheeled vehicle, the modern motorcycle came into its own as a cheap, mobile military asset during World War I. From there, it rapidly spread through modern culture as a symbol of rebellion and subversive power, and Motorcycle tracks the symbolic role that the bike has played in literature, art and film. The authors also investigate the international subcultures that revolve around the motorcycle and scooter. They chart the emergence of biker culture and explore how the motorcycle came to represent untamed nonconformity in the US. In contrast, smaller scooters such as the Vespa and moped became the utilitarian vehicle of choice in space-starved metropolises across Europe and Asia. Ultimately, the authors argue, the motorbike is the exemplary Modernist object, dependent on the perfect balance of man and machine.

An unprecedented and wholly engrossing account, Motorcycle is essential reading for the Harley-Davidson roadhog, bike aficionado and collector, or anyone who's felt the power of the unmistakable king of the road.

‘Written from the outset with a clear and obvious passion for all to do with two wheels, it is engaging as well as informative . . . wide-ranging . . . refreshing non-eurocentric . . . The book is excellently presented with a large number of high-quality images . . . hugely satisfying.’ – The International Journal of Motorcycle Studies.

‘Through their wide-ranging study of history, technology, literature, film, fashion, and aesthetic design, Alford and Ferriss have created the most extensive, perceptive, and rewarding inquiry yet into the role of the motorcycle and our fascination with it.’ – Ed Youngblood, www.motohistory.net

Motorcycle takes you from the motorized bicycle to the life cycle of Bosozoku gangs; from the concept of “flow” to leather and sexuality; from Broughs to toughs to white-gloved Motor Maids. Like a good motorcycle ride it leads you into new territory and gives you a fresh sense of familiar terrain. International in scope, informative and provocative, it opens up the field of motorcycle culture and design.’ – Ted Bishop, author of Riding with Rilke: Reflections on Motorcycles and Books

‘charts the evolution of the motorcycle and the resulting effect on society right up to the current perceived modernist object that is “designed to unify the rider and machine in perfect balance.” It is a comprehensive look at history, technology, literature, film and fashion, along with aesthetic design, resulting in a thought-provoking inquiry into our fascination with motorcycles . . . a brilliant and useful academic work, but don't let that put you off from buying a copy, because it is written in a very readable style that is far from heavy, or in any way boring.’ – Interbike magazine

‘. . . open your mind in the same way you would open the throttle and enjoy the read/ride!’ – The American

‘The color images throughout the book are stunning, gracefully placed, and more then embellishments of their historical, cultural, and economic discussion of this ubiquitous technology.’ – Jung Journal

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The authors, Steven E. Alford and Suzanne Ferriss, teach at Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. They have been involved in the study of the intersection of motorcycles and culture for a number of years, lecturing on diverse topics such as biker fashion, New Zealand motorcyclists Burt Munro and John Britten, and the psychological effects of riding. Their work has appeared in Harley-Davidson and Philosophy, The Literature of Travel and Exploration, Motorcycle Consumer News, and elsewhere.