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Cycling Books (3) – City Cycling by Ballantine

November 10, 2009

City Cycling
by Richard Ballantine
Publisher: Snowbooks Limited (August 2007) ISBN-13:9781905005604 (304 pages)
(book arrived in Nov. 2008)

Despite the 5-star rating in, this book received mixed reviews among US readers. This is because some US readers didn’t know what the book targets at. The book is written for British people and targets at people who start to consider to bike around, to work or to do some daily errands. It is not for people who have been doing serious biking for a while.

I bought this book mainly because of Mr. Ballantine’s early work, Ultimate Bicycle Book (DK Living). Though I’m not  a novice in bike commuting (have been doing so since 2002), I still can learn something from his advices. As for the British aspect, it doesn’t bother me much because some principles are quite universal. Besides, the book gives me a chance to understand the biking culture in UK.

The book is divided into five parts:

I. City Cycling: Give you an overall idea about biking around in the city and different kinds of journeys and bikes.

II. Wheel Dealing: Teach you how to choose and buy a bike you want, starting from the dirty cheep ones, and how to get your bike fit. It also gives some advice on bicycle accessories you might need.

I never saw a bicycle book telling you how to pick up a bike so cheap (0-25 GBP; even free!). You will also learn how to look for when picking up a used bike.

III. Tactics: This part is about how to get around in a city (British one of course and how to protect your lovely bike from being stolen.

IV. Riding: Even though you are a veteran cycling commuter, you might not know all the bike handling skills you need in a city.

Many cycling books don’t tell you these (maybe except The Art of Cycling — aka The Art of Urban Cycling in the earlier edition; I don’t have that book). I benefits quite a lot in this chapter, e.g. fast stop and getting around in a traffic.

V. Mechanics: The last part gives you some ideas about how to maintain your bike. It cannot be thorough but there are some good tips.

Mr. Ballantine also lists some resources for further reading. He sometimes even mentions some good online sites in the text, like Sheldon Brown’s.

If you’re not interested in British bits at all, then this book is not for you. If you can take it as some kind of culture learning, then you will find the book not only enjoyable but also helpful. 🙂

PS: I finished the book long time ago. It’s just that it always takes me some time to sit and write a book review. 😳

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