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17 October 2013 No comments
B(r)ooks. The Elite Bicycle.Correspondence Art & Design
Brown and Fife set the tone early in this unputdownable tale of Saddles, Bar Tape & Bags. New Book Alert! The Elite Bicycle is a joint effort by photographer Graeme Fife and writer Gerard Brown to capture impressions of engineers, designers and fabricators of some of the world's finest bike componentry at their various places of work. It's a project that took the two all over the globe, and perhaps unsurprisingly in the course of their travels they saw fit to make a stop at Smethwick, Birmingham in order that they get a chapter on fine leather saddles. We can happily report that they succeeded in coming away with some excellent photographic and written impressions. And we also gather that Eric Murray kindly refrained from breaking any bones when it came to the handshakes. Elsewhere, the unifying theme of excellence is borne out with chapters devoted to brands as diverse in their scale of reach as Cinelli, Seven and Richard Sachs, all of whom can be found between the covers. Nor will tube nerds be disappointed by the passages devoted to the artistry-in-steel wrought by Columbus and Reynolds. In fact, there's hardly a part that doesn't get looked at in isolation somewhere in its pages, from ready-to-rides to a host of custom framesets via group- and headsets all the way through (not down) to spoke nipples and chain ring screws. The book, however, is not one that sets out to be encyclopaedic, but rather to provide the reader with "a portrait of a small cadre of exceptional makers and enterprises which combine traditional craftsmanship and new technology in the manufacture of the essential component parts of a bicycle." With such a roll-call of names, the authors were certainly off to a good start in achieving this, and they have managed a hugely rewarding and useful guide for any bike enthusiast. One which not only covers some of the technical aspects of production in engaging depth, but also gives great insights into both the personalities and, dare we say it, philosophies behind the storied names we see etched, stickered and pressed onto the various pieces of our machines each time we throw a leg over the bar. Published by Velopress, the book's foreword is provided by none other than sometime Brooks collaborator and keen cyclist Paul Smith.