While calling Elvis or Peter Fonda
“motorcycling greats” might be a bit of a stretch, and the
foreword is written by Jay Leno, this coffee-table book still
transcends just being a celebrity list by a long way.
introductory plate, for example, is a beautiful two-page colour
spread of Burt Munro’s fabled Bonneville Indian, and the book is
heavy on competition machines and riders: Ken Roberts’ remarkable
TZ750 dirt tracker, T.C. Christensen’s Hogslayer Norton dragster,
Dick Mann’s BSA Gold Star, Freddie Spencer’s 1985 Honda GP bikes,
John Britten’s heart-breakingly gorgeous V-twin, Mike Hailwood’s
Ducati … lots more, as well.
Lots of excellent photography (mostly
in colour) on high quality stock and good bio information make this book
an excellent browse, or equally a fun evening’s read. Personally, I
could live without Elvis’s Harley or Peter Fonda’s chopper from
the Easy Rider movie, but that’s just me.
I really did like the
piece on Von Dutch, the remarkable customizer who did so much to
create the chopper genre in the U.S. during the 1950s. Probably known
best for his remarkable paint work, striping in particular, he’s
quoted in the book as saying, “I’m a mechanic first. If I had my
way, I’d be a gunsmith. I like to make things out of metal, because
metal is forever. When you paint something, how long does it last? A
few years, and then it’s gone!”
Roller skates with two-stroke engines,
a steam-powered TV, and a coin-operated guillotine are some of the
madcap devices he dreamed up.
Good book. Buy it in time for Christmas
and you’ll have a happy motorcycling friend.
Legendary Motorcycles: The stories
and bikes made famous by Elvis, Peter Fonda, Kenny Roberts, and other
motorcycling greats, by Basem Wasef. Published by MBI Publishing,
ISBN-13 978-7603-3070-8, $41.95 Cdn.