It's all about the bike:

It's all about the bike:

…the Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels was a Sunday Times bestseller on publication in 2010. It has been translated into thirteen languages.

The bicycle is one of mankind’s greatest inventions – and the most popular form of transport in history. Robert Penn has ridden one most days of his adult life. In his late-20s, he pedalled 40,000kms around the world. Yet, like cyclists everywhere, the utilitarian bikes he currently owns don’t even hint at this devotion. Robert needs a new bike, a bespoke machine that reflects how he feels when he’s riding it – like an ordinary man touching the gods. It’s All About the Bike is the story of a journey to design and build a dream bike. En route, Robert explores the culture, science and history of the bicycle. This book tells the story of why we ride, and why this simple machine remains central to humanity today.

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“A fantastic new chronicle of the bike’s story, from its cultural history to its technical innovation to the fascinating, colorful stories of the people who ride it. [Penn] approaches his subject with equal parts humor, humility, and authoritative intelligence as he sets out to find himself a new bike. Entertaining, illuminating and beautifully illustrated, It’s All About the Bike is a rare and precious portal to the heart and soul of bike culture and its surprising footprint–tireprint?–on all of culture.”―Atlantic 

 

“Gem of a book… a joy to read.” ―Economist

 

“The social history is snappy and his almost religious quest for ultimate craftsmanship is full of wit.”―Financial Times

 

“The pages overflow with pioneers, mavericks and geniuses – certainly, it is hard to imagine anyone who reads this book being able to buy a bike ‘off the peg’ again.” ―Tim Lewis, Observer

 

“[Penn] writes with authority, humour and refreshing candour … A celebration of craftsmanship over technology and of a bygone era when things were built to last … If Penn is to be believed, we are entering a golden age of cycling, when it really will be all about the bike once more.” ―Sunday Telegraph

 

“Fantastic … Well worth a read if, like me, you love cycling!” ― Paul Smith

 

“No matter how shiny and costly the item of bike bling, there is a back story, usually a good one. Artfully, Penn turns his quest for hardware … into a worldwide spin around cycling and its culture.” ―William Fotheringham, Guardian 

 

“It’s All About the Bike is more than just a gearhead’s hejira, a globetrotter’s catalog of componentry for the cycling crowd. … With humor and insight, Penn examines the historical, social, and cultural significance of the bike.” ―Philadelphia Inquirer

 

“… if you’ve ever felt the wind rolling over your back as you tuck into a downhill or cleaned a log with a bunny hop, give it a shot. It’s a quick read and even serious cyclists will learn something.” ―Associated Press

 

“The author’s ability to describe the joys of bicycling–the space for thought that the rhythm creates, the freedom of swooping down a hill, the satisfaction of having pedaled to the top–is one of the book’s strengths, along with anecdotes of his experiences cycling around the world years earlier. If you don’t long for your own bike at the end of this book, you will at least never look at one the same way again.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“[Penn’s] expertise is evident… These pages are a delight, packed with facts, informative illustrations and two-wheeled tales, they map a path into the heart of cycling culture.” ―Publishers Weekly

 

“The bike is the heart of our cycling lives, but it’s a starting point for all sorts of journeys, literal and metaphoric. So Penn’s title merits a tiny edit: it’s not actually all about the bike, it’s all about the stories behind the bike. But it’s all the better for it.” ― Road.cc

 

“Penn tells us that the bicycle, as we know it, was invented in 1885 and is the most efficient form of transport ever devised… A joyful book.” ― William Leith, The Scotsman

 

“There’s evidently little to do with cycling about which Robert Penn can’t wax lyrical. Whether his subject is spokes or saddle sores, he is relentlessly enthusiastic… Penn’s amiability is puncture-proof.” ― Stephanie Cross, Daily Mail

 

“Investigating the bicycle’s long history while he’s at it, Penn makes building one’s own bicycle seem like the most natural, obvious and enjoyable thing to do.” ―The National (UAE)

“Robert Penn relates his quixotic quest to procure the perfect bicycle with authority and humor, infusing his fluent narrative with thoughtful and provocative digressions that invoke technology, ergonomics, history, and social ideals. He richly deserves his $5,000 ‘dream machine.’” ―David V. Herlihy, author of Bicycle: A History and The Lost Cyclist: The Epic Tale of an American Adventurer and His Mysterious Disappearance

 

“Robert Penn has assembled a splendid patchwork quilt of bicycle history, arcane workshops, and fascinating people into a passionate journey in search of his dream machine. After reading him, you’ll never look at a bicycle the same way again and will enjoy riding yours even more. And you’ll probably start your own velocopedal quest for perfection into the bargain. A simply lovely excursion not into bicyclists, but into BICYCLES. You must read this before you watch the Tour de France!” ―Brian Fagan, Author of Elixir and The Great Warming, and an avid recreational cyclist with a Penn-like steel framed bike.

 

“[Penn] writes with a Bill-Brysonesque facility for concentrating a lot of information and research into an easy-to-read and surprisingly compelling tale. Best of all … his account enriches your enjoyment of a ride.”―Tim Dawson, Sunday Times 

 

“A hell of a fun ride tracing the symbiotic relationship of bike and rider, this will have you thinking about how and why you ride.” ―Library Journal (starred)

“I’ve just spent a week pedalling slowly … with a copy of Penn’s zealous eulogy in my pannier. His infectious admiration for the exhilarating sociability of cycling, coupled with reverence for quality craftsmanship, made highly engaging company … appreciate the wit and enthusiasm of this unusual odyssey.” ―James Urquhart, Independent

 

“Warning: do not even casually flick through this book if you have promised your significant other that you will not be cluttering up the garage/shed/landing/bedroom with any more bloody bikes … Penn uses his own personal mission as a peg on which to hang a fascinating history of two-wheeled travel.” ―Helen Pidd, Guardian Bike Blog (UK)


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