Best motorcycle books

If for some reason you can’t ride, then get inspiration with a good read

Motorbike rider reading a book under a tree

by Jim Blackstock |

There was a time when the choice of motorcycling books was limited to Haynes repair manuals or a round-up of the grand prix racing year – not anymore though.

And rumours of the demise of printed publishing in favour of Kindle devices and podcasts has been greatly exaggerated, it would appear.

Instead, today there are dozens of quality biking books ranging from acclaimed autobiographies, detailed travel guides, technical maintenance manuals, fabulous photo-heavy histories and even vital guides to getting onto two wheels in the first place.

Related: Best motorbike trackday essentials

But what’s currently available? How much do they cost? And what do you get for your money? Here’s our current pick of some of the best.

The Moment Collectors by Sam Manicom and Friends

the moment collectors sam manicom
Amazon

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Read by Simon Weir Quality 5/5 Value 5/5

If the original godfather of overland travel writing is Ted Simon, there’s no doubt that Michael Corleon is Sam Manicom, whose epic eight-year journey is told across his four books. But he contributes just a single chapter to this new publication – one piece in a collection of short stories from 20 round-the-world travellers.

There are stories here covering almost every imaginable corner of the globe, from a distinguished cast of writers including Geoff Hill, EmmaLucy Cole, Tiffany Coates, Tim and Marisa Notiers and more. It’s pretty much a Who’s Who of overlanding.

The stories are all different, but all celebrate the joy of exploring on two wheels. The format makes it easy to dip in and out, mixing favourite writers with the ones you don’t know. It’s the perfect way to discover new authors – each chapter ends with more information about their travels, if you want to learn more.

Available from Amazon or Sam Manicom’s own site, it’s a must-read.

Leathered: A life taken to extremes by John Hopkins (hardback)

Leathered: A life taken to extremes by John Hopkins
Amazon

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This recently-published 'autobiography' (it was actually ghost written by bikesport journalist Matt Roberts) of former MotoGP and BSB racer John 'Hopper' Hopkins has rightfully proved a best-seller.

Raised by English parents in California, Hopper became the youngest professional rider on the MotoGP circuit and was labelled in 2007 by Valentino Rossi as his most-feared rival until a series of horrific crashes, debt and addiction took their toll. Known to MotoGP fans as one of the most fearless and charismatic riders of his generation, this story pulls no punches.

Pros:

Compelling story

A peek behind the curtain of GP racing

One of the best of its type

Con:

Not known to everyone

The Official DVSA Theory Test for Motorcyclists

The Official DVSA Theory Test for Motorcyclists
Amazon

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OK, it's hardly a riveting read and theory-test guides are available also digitally online but motorcycle books don't get much more useful, especially when you're starting out on two wheels.

Packed full of practice questions, it’s a great way to prepare to pass the multiple-choice part of your motorcycle theory test first time and is the ONLY official expert revision guide. This new edition has been updated with the latest changes to the motorcycle theory test revision questions.

Pros:

Great revision aid

Newly updated

Decent value

Con:

Not exactly ‘fun’

Bikersu2019 Britain: 2nd edition by Simon Weir

Bikersu2019 Britain: 2nd edition by Simon Weir
Amazon

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This recently updated edition is the acclaimed definitive guide to the best biking roads in Britain with 82 routes, 36 of them are brand new for this edition. By former editor of RiDE and experienced motorcycling travel writer Simon Weir, it's packed with week-long, day long, half-day and shorter routes on the country's most exciting and picturesque roads.

Each route has been ridden and reviewed by expert bikers and includes an easy-read large-scale AA route map while it’s also in a durable and practical spiral-bound format.

Pros:

Incomparably useful and inspirational

Credible experts

Great format

Con:

Only for ‘travellers’

Haynes BMW R1200GS (2013-16) Service and Repair Manual

Haynes BMW R1200GS (2013-16) Service and Repair Manual
Amazon

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Haynes incomparable home service and repair manuals should need no introduction and this is a just an example of the machines covered. Each contains easy to follow step-by-step instructions linked to hundreds of photographs and illustrations to help you maintain your bike.

There’s also a troubleshooting section to help identify specific problems; tips that give valuable short cuts to make the job easier and eliminate the need for special tools; notes, cautions and warnings for the home mechanic; colour spark plug diagnosis and an easy-to-use index.

Pros:

Definitive DIY home service manuals

Easy to use

A must for any motorcycle owner

Con:

Only most popular bikes covered

Barry Sheene: The Official Photographic Celebration of a Legendary Motorcycle Champion, by Rick Broadbent

Barry Sheene: The Official Photographic Celebration of a Legendary Motorcycle Champion, by Rick Broadbent
Amazon

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Glorious, officially sanctioned (by the Sheene family) photographic story of arguably the greatest British motorcycle racer and twice world 500cc champion who achieved iconic status but whose premature passing in 2003 robbed motorsport of one of its greatest characters.

Through more than 120 previously unpublished personal photographs from the Sheene family archive, Times journalist and award-winning author Rick Broadbent tells the story of a remarkable sports star.

Pros:

Fabulous, unseen photography

Warm, celebratory insight

Credible, quality author

Con:

More pictures than words

Race Tech's Motorcycle Suspension Bible, by Paul Thede

Race Techu2019s Motorcycle Suspension Bible, by Paul Thede
Amazon

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Suspension is probably the most misunderstood aspect of motorcycle performance. This book, by America's premier suspension specialist, makes the art and science of suspension tuning accessible to professional and backyard motorcycle mechanics alike.

Based on Thede's popular Race Tech Suspension Seminars, this step-by-step guide shows anyone how to make their bike handle like a pro's.

Thede gives a clear account of the three forces of suspension that you must understand to make accurate assessments of your suspension's condition, outlines testing procedures that will help you gauge how well you're improving your suspension, and step-by-step photos of suspension disassembly and assembly help you rebuild your forks and shocks for optimum performance.

Pros:

Definitive guide to misunderstood subject

Utterly comprehensive

Well organised

Con:

Only for devotees

Guy Martin: My Autobiography

Guy Martin: My Autobiography
Amazon

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Acclaimed autobiography (albeit ghost-written by Gary Inman) of the UK's most popular and maverick TT bike racer, truck mechanic, TV star, record breaker and lovable rogue. For the first time, here is the full story in Guy's own words.

From the boy who learned to prep bikes with his dad, to the spirited team mechanic, paying his way by collecting beer glasses in pubs, to the young racer at the start of his first race and the buzz he’s been chasing ever since. This thrilling autobiography is an intense and dramatic ride.

Pros:

Incomparable character

Riveting read

Bizarre tales

Con:

Not everybody loves him

Michael Rutter: The Life of a Racer, Premium Edition

Michael Rutter: The Life of a Racer, Premium Edition

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This premium edition of the autobiography (this time ghost written by motorcycle journalist John McAvoy) of long-time TT racer Michael Rutter is exclusive to Sportsbikeshop and includes five extra pages of colour photographs documenting his race bikes and crash helmets and comes with a protective dust cover.

Pros:

Unique insight

Premium features

Engaging tale

Con:

Not as famous/celebrated as some.

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