Reading Speed

THE GRAND PRIX MOTORCYCLE: THE OFFICIAL TECHNICAL HISTORY

Posted in Technology by readingspeed on September 3, 2009

Kevin Cameron

J H Haynes & Co Ltd ISBN 1-84-425528X

With a bald pate and fierce unkempt beard like a rhododendron bush Kevin Cameron bears more than a passing resemblance to Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin. The congruencies do not end there as Cameron is similarly revered as a polymath and philosopher although by motorcycle enthusiasts rather than the anarcho-communists that venerate dear old Prince Peter.

TGPM: TOTH easily lives up to its wordy and, it has to be said, pretentiously colon-bisected title. It is a wonderfully forensic examination of the evolution of the GP motorcycle in the modern post war era. As might be expected by a writer of Cameron’s calibre both the minutiae of technical development and the broader, strategic arc of engineering effort are recorded and contextualised in a lucid and entertaining manner. Cameron’s true gift as a writer really shines in those periods when GP motorcycle development lay fallow for many seasons. The impeccable research and immaculate presentation give even the periods of slower development equal prominence and interest.

If the book has a fault it is the relentless focus on the machine. The allure of motorcycle racing is somehow diminished when shorn of its human drama. However, in its somewhat narrow frame of reference this book is without peer and despite the stiff price of admission is an essential acquisition for that reason alone.

RS Rating: 8/10

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One Response

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  1. Michael Morgan said, on October 10, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    This is a very cool book, BUT..I was extremely disappointed by two aspects. First, I did not enjoy the absolute equality granted to each year. Page after page of indepth discussion of the slow evolution of the MV’s and Gilera’s could have been productively scrapped and replaced by longer and more detailed discussions of Honda’s early role, the two stroke era, and finally the return of the four strokes.

    My second complaint was with the illustrations. Giant high quality illustrations that really belong in a children’s book are not worthy of this technical history. Where are the close up photos of the bikes/ Detailed drawings of the changes?. I was particularly disappointed by the sheer number of very expensive drawings (lacking any detail) of incrementally different Gileras and MVs. I would have much rather seen high quality close-up photos or detailed drawings.

    I know that kevin loves this stuff because it made up many of his colums back in the 70’s. I was expecting to see more of this material. May be that’s a different book


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