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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MOTOGP TECHNOLOGY

Posted in Technology by readingspeed on March 18, 2009

Neil Spalding

J H Haynes & Co Ltd ISBN 1-84-425310-4

Despite its pervasive influence on our contemporary culture it’s remarkable to reflect that almost everything we know about the details of everyday life in the Roman Republic comes from the writing of one man – Publius Cornelius Tacitus. No other significant and informative bodies of work from that period have survived intact and the only view we have of life in the Roman Republic is the one chronicled and interpreted by Tacitus.

The formative seasons of MotoGP after the 2 strokes had been cast beyond the city wall also have one definitive and authoritative work of record in this book. Even viewed from a the distance of a few years the 990cc era of MotoGP, as recorded by Spalding, seems to be a long distant era of innovation and fecund diversity. From the barren uplands of the 2009 season the days of 9 different manufacturers and private teams seem like a distant fertile valley.

Spalding records all of the technical challenges faced by the team with precise prose and opulent photography. This book easily justifies its ambitious price tag with outstanding production values. He seems to have had access to the team’s designers and engineers of an unusually candid nature and presents and supplements this information with perceptive and expert analysis. For this book’s intended audience, the MotoGP maven, the technical details will be eagerly seized upon and digested. However no matter what level of detail is served up on the evolution of the Yamaha M1 crankshaft or the Kawasaki ZX-RR swingarm it never seems enough. Also, a second volume covering the transition to the 800cc era is badly needed. Like guests at a Roman cena, we are engorged yet crave more.

RS Rating: 9/10

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