The 12 Best Motorcycle Books

We often read and hear about the dangers associated with motorcycle riding, and we often hear the beseeching pleas of moms, friends, and siblings about the risks that go with motorbike riding. So, our minds have been hard-wired to think that we are closer to danger when riding a motorbike than when riding a car.

But life without risks is surely a boring life; and despite other people’s constant bellowing about these dangers, we still long to mount and ride a motorcycle. It gives us the necessary thrill and fulfillment that we seldom get from other hobbies. But to many of us, motorcycling is not simply a hobby but a passion that we can never really live without.

Being passionate about motorcycling, we long to master and know everything about it; we want to devour every book about it, perusing and scrutinizing its every page, and gobbling up every detail and news about the bikes we love. So, if you’re one of us who are also a motorcycle enthusiast, here is a varied list of 12 of the most popular motorcycle books that can you buy.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values by Robert M. PirsigZen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values by Robert M. Pirsig

This book powerfully illustrates how we can live a quality life. It also contrasts quality life with how we really live and spend our lives. Written in the first-person point of view, this fictional autobiography is about two friends with contrasting personalities and philosophies in life. As a first-person narrative, the author tells about a fictional motorcycle road trip, while explaining the varying viewpoints using the motorcycle as his focal point of argument. He also shows the readers some technical knowhow on motorcycles, while vividly presenting how a life should be lived pragmatically.

First published by William Morrow and Company in 1974, the Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a very powerful and influential book that has sold at least five million copies to date and is still selling. It is a book not just for motorcycle enthusiasts but also for people who want to know what living is all about. The book is available in hardbound, paperback, and Kindle formats.


Jupiter’s Travels: Four Years Around the World on a Triumph by Ted SimonJupiter’s Travels: Four Years Around the World on a Triumph by Ted Simon

This biographical book vividly narrates the author’s adventure when Ted Simon rode his motorcycle — a 500cc Triumph Tiger 100 — around the world. This motorcycle journey happened in the 1970’s, and lasted for four long years. He covered a distance of around 78,000 miles or about 125,530 kilometers. This journey also spans 45 countries and six continents.

While it is true that the author had to cross large bodies of water during the trip, we can’t forget that most of his journey was made on motorcycle at a time when nobody had even dared to engage in this kind of adventure.

Jupiter’s Travels was first published in 1979 and has ever since been considered as a very influential book. Since the first appearance of the book, many people have been inspired by it, including well-known celebrities such as Ewan McGregor (young Obi Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars franchise). We’ll see a book by McGregor next. Other celebrities were inspired to document their adventures on film.

Jupiter’s Travels is offered in paperback and hardcover prints as well as in Kindle formats.


Long Way Round: Chasing Shadows Across the World by Ewan McGregor and Charley BoormanLong Way Round: Chasing Shadows Across the World by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman

Inspired by the book above, Jupiter’s Travels, British movie star Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman embarked on a less ambitious but meaningful trip that was documented for both book readers and TV watchers. The trip was undertaken to promote humanitarian efforts for UNICEF (the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund). McGregor and his crew traveled eastward on their motorcycles from London to New York. The journey lasted for more than three months covering the distance of 19,000 miles (31,000 kilometers) across three continents.

The book Long Way Round is a travelogue that provides a detailed look at travel experiences along the harshest environments of the world. The book also features entries from diaries, maps, charts, and dozens of photographs that document the group’s journey.

Long Way Round is currently available in paperback and Kindle formats.


One Man Caravan by Robert Edison Fulton, Jr.One Man Caravan by Robert Edison Fulton, Jr.

One Man Caravan is one man’s account of his journey halfway around the world from Britain to Japan. The author, Robert E Fulton, took to the world stage by travelling unsupported across Europe to the Middle East, then across South Asia to Japan, spanning around 25,000 miles or 40,000 kilometers, across 22 nations of two continents, lasting for 18 months.

In this book, Fulton recounts his solo journey on a customized Douglas Twin motorcycle equipped with an extra fuel tank and stowage for his luggage and a movie camera with 40,000 feet of film.

One Man Caravan is a travelogue first published in 1937. It subsequently underwent three editions in the span of only two years. The book has gained positive reviews from the New York Times for its uncomplicated approach and writing style. Despite being an older book, One Man Caravan is still a fan favorite and is still available in paperback.


The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes to a Latin American Journey by Ernesto “Che” GuevaraThe Motorcycle Diaries: Notes to a Latin American Journey by Ernesto “Che” Guevara

Written by none other than the illustrious revolutionary Che Guevara during his early adult life, this book is more of a memoir than a diary as the title suggests. In this book, Guevara and a friend, Alberto Granado, set out to explore the whole of South America on motorcycles. It was during this journey and after witnessing all the social injustices (the exploitation of the poor peasants and laborers, the segregation of lepers as well as of the ethnic minorities, and the branding of social reformers as communists) that Guevara galvanized his belief in revolution and the unification of South America.

The book was originally titled Diarios Motocicleta and was first published in Cuba and was later translated into English by Alexandra Keeble entitled The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey. This book edition was published by Ocean Press and Che Guevara Studies Center in Havana, Cuba in 2003, and it included an introduction by a renowned Latin American poet, Cintio Vintier, and a preface by Guevara’s daughter, Aleida Guevara March.


Running with the Moon - a boys own adventure - Riding a Motorbike through Africa by Jonny BealbyRunning with the Moon: A Boy’s Own Adventure: Riding a Motorbike through Africa by Jonny Bealby

Running with the Moon is a tale of a man’s struggle after the loss of a loved one and his endeavor to overcome deep grief and find a purpose in life. While travelling in Northern India, Belby was overwhelmed by the untimely death of his fiancée, Melanie. To lessen his grief and ultimately master his emotional despair, Belby, with some encouragement from a friend, decided to take a solo motorcycle ride around the African continent. The trip gave Belby a chance to see the world and, at the same time, get a respite from his previous struggle. In the process, he saw the purpose of life.

Running with the Moon is travel literature that encompasses two separate events in the life of the author. The book displays the human struggle that follows when the person you love most suddenly dies. Even when all seems lost and pointless, the author shows us that we cannot let grief take hold of our lives. Life must continue despite the pain.

First published in 1995 by Arrow Books, Running with the Moon is available in paperback print format.


proficient motorcycle - The Ultimate Guide to Riding Well by David L. HoughProficient Motorcycling: The Ultimate Guide to Riding Well by David L. Hough

This book is “a must” for all motorcyclists to read. This book functions not only as manual but also as a guide. The author, also a professional photographer, uses not only words but pictures to convey to readers the message and information he wants to share.

Aside from enumerating the problems that a rider might encounter on the road and the best possible actions to counter those problems, the book also explains how the motorcycle’s handling characteristics affect the action of the rider. Moreover, the book encourages its reader to exercise and practice the actual recourse or action needed to obviate a specific or recurring problem. The book also advises the readers on how to deal with other road users, such as aggressive drivers, “blind” truckers, skateboarders. You’ll also find advice for how to handle aggressive dogs and other animals when riding a motorbike.

Proficient Motorcycling provides readers the appropriate action for handling a motorcycle for almost every road danger and challeng. This is a well-thought out book that provides basic knowledge on how to ride a motorcycle safely and efficiently that every novice motorcyclist should read. Proficient Motorcycling was first published in the year 2000.


The Total Motorcycling Manual by Mark LindemannThe Total Motorcycling Manual by Mark Lindemann

This fantastic book, The Total Motorcycling Manual, is definitely a veritable classic about motorcycles. It was released be Cycle World magazine. This non-fiction motorcycling book goes alongside other non-fiction books about motorcycling. It contains fantastic tips on motorcycling gears and maintenance. It also covers tips on how to ride safely, what bike to buy, touring tips, and tips on repairing your bike.

You can randomly peruse the pages of this book as it is designed for random-reading, and not for one-sitting reading. Some of its chapters have the titles like “Learn Motorcycle Anatomy, Know Why That Bike’s for Sale, Become a Better Rider in 12 Steps, Break in an Engine, and Know Your Streetbikes.” The foreword to this book was penned by Ben Spies, while Its author is Mark Lindemann.

Lindemann was the great Cycle magazine’s associate editor from 1982 to 1987. He is definitely a passionate motorcycle enthusiast and is very proficient in both dirt bikes and street bikes. In fact, his notes have casually indicated that he had ridden more than 750 machines on 4 continents. This book is surely a great read for motorcycle hobbyists and enthusiasts.


The Complete Book of Classic and Modern Triumph Motorcycles 1937-Today by Ian FalloonThe Complete Book of Classic and Modern Triumph Motorcycles 1937-Today by Ian Falloon

This book is about Triumph motorcycles, the brand associated with the names of celebrities like James Dean, Steve McQueen, Bob Dylan, and Marlon Brando. These celebrities all owned a Triumph motorcycle. The Complete Book of Classic and Modern Triumph Motorcycles is one of the “must-have” books for motorcycle enthusiasts and those interested in the history of Triumph motorcycles. The author has painstakingly collected information and photographs of all the motorcycle models and stated their respective parameters.

The book was published in 2015 by Motorbooks International in large (256mm x 310mm) page format. The book features around 500 pictures and illustrations, including 300 colored pictures on high-quality glossy paper. Weighing a hefty 1.78 kilograms, the book is certainly not for bedtime reading, but is surely a great addition to your coffee table books. You might even find that some of your non-motorcycle loving friends will want to take a peek at this one.


The Art of BMW: 90 Years of Motorcycle ExcellenceThe Art of BMW: 90 Years of Motorcycle Excellence

The Art of BMW: 90 Years of Motorcycle Excellence is a fantastic studio portraiture of what BMW has been manufacturing in the past 90 years. The book consists of portraits of bikes, and each bike shown comes with an authoritative profile.

If you want to see the classic bikes of BMW, this book is definitely the best book to buy. The classic bikes portrayed in this book range from pre-World War II BMWs to the present. It includes the R5, the military R12, the R75M, the R69S, and many more.

This book covers all the bike families like those of sid-valve machines, the overhead-valve performance bikes, the Airheads and Oilheads of the postwar, the four and six-cylinder touring bikes, and others. All in all, this book handily encapsulates a century of motorcycling evolution and excellence. It also showcases the relentless quest of BMW for perfecting the motorbike.

This book also features the famous Peter Nettesheim collection, one of the premier collections of BMW motorcycles in the world.


Ride Free Forever: The Legend of Harley-Davidson by Oluf Fritz Zierl and Dieter RebmannRide Free Forever: The Legend of Harley-Davidson by Oluf Fritz Zierl and Dieter Rebmann

Your collection of motorcycle books will never be complete without a book or two on Harley-Davidsons. However, it is hard to understand that this book regarding the iconic American motorcycle was written not just by one but two Germans. This book, like other Harley-Davidson motorcycle books is an official Harley-Davidson product, just like the motorcycles.

With 682 pages, the book is voluminous and features a 4-page centerfold of an exploded view of a Harley-Davidson 1997 FLSTS Heritage Springer Softail.

This book was released in 1995 coinciding with the Harley-Davidson company’s 95th anniversary. It is destined to be a coffee table book with its huge measurements. The pages are measure 10.75 inches by x 12.5 inches (273 x 317.5 millimeters), and the book weighs an impressive 9.7 pounds, or about 4.4 kilograms.


Motorcycle Graphics - Outsider Art, Graphics and Illustration by Gary Inman

Motorcycle Graphics: Outsider Art, Graphics and Illustration by Gary Inman

Motorcycle Graphics is unique for its riotous yet enjoyable collection of contemporary bikes. This collection was compiled by Gary Inman, a journalist by profession who is also a bike enthusiast. This book is a 256-pages hardcover with awesome illustrations printed on high-quality paper.

The author catalogued the seldom-tackled aspect of moto-related art. He is the co-founder of Sideburn, an edgy magazine, and in his book, he introduced to his readers the popular top 30 artists that tackled in their art work the concept of motorcycles. These artists include the likes of Conrad Leach, Raulowsky, Takumi Iwase, and Carby Tuckwell. The vivid and vibrant imagery in this book are complemented by the acerbic writing style of Inman.

It’s another “must-have” in your list of motorcycle books.