Reviews

LAST UPDATED: March 26, 2020

Best Motorcycle Books: Top Reads for Bikers

These top motorcycle books are fun, entertaining, and informative

Entering our 7th season of /DRIVE on NBC Sports, and with millions of YouTube and Facebook followers, The Drive is a leading authority of all things automotive.

The Drive on NBCThe Drive on YouTubeThe Drive on Facebook

The Review Team

  • Product Network

    12 Products

  • Clock

    13 Hours

  • Reviews

    19 Reviews

How We Decided

The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.Read more.

PUBLISHED ON March 26, 2020

Members of the two-wheel army love more than just riding their motorcycles. Many spend a lot of time working on their bikes, planning road trips, and reminiscing about adventures gone by. Bikers also love reading and learning about motorcycles. 

The best motorcycle books provide information for different types of riders. You can learn how to customize a bike, ride it with more skill, or read about someone's travels through Africa. Check out some of the best books for motorcyclists in our buying guide below.

  • Best Overall
    Discovering the Motorcycle
    Summary
    Summary
    Author Armand Ensanian devoted five years to researching and photographing the history and culture of motorcycling. It covers from 1867 to the modern day. It features 12 chapters and more than 1,000 photographs.
    Pros
    Pros
    The book is well-written, fun to read, and will teach you a lot about motorcycling. It takes you on a journey from the early days to its modern iteration.
    Cons
    Cons
    Newer riders may enjoy the book more than seasoned bikers. Also, the chapters may not be as organized as they could be.
  • Best Overall
    Discovering the Motorcycle
  • Best Value
    Proficient Motorcycling: The Ultimate Guide to Riding Well
    Summary
    Summary
    This book is the bible of motorcycle safety. It includes information on basic riding skills, how to avoid accidents, how to choose the right bike, and much, much more.
    Pros
    Pros
    This book is great for new riders and presents information in a straightforward way. It includes a great level of detail on riding in various conditions.
    Cons
    Cons
    There is some repetitive information in the book, and some of the advice is common sense. The author also gets preachy at some points.
  • Best Value
    Proficient Motorcycling: The Ultimate Guide to Riding Well
  • Honorable Mention
    Motorcycle Basics Techbook
    Summary
    Summary
    This book from Haynes Manuals covers the engine, chassis, and electrical systems. It explains how bikes work and why they work the way they do.
    Pros
    Pros
    This book features tons of information and is a great reference manual. It covers all major motorcycle systems, and the concepts are explained well.
    Cons
    Cons
    The quality of the paper is not very good. Some concepts and principles are hard to understand if you have no previous experience working on motorcycles.
  • Honorable Mention
    Motorcycle Basics Techbook

    Members of the two-wheel army love more than just riding their motorcycles. Many spend a lot of time working on their bikes, planning road trips, and reminiscing about adventures gone by. Bikers also love reading and learning about motorcycles. 

    The best motorcycle books provide information for different types of riders. You can learn how to customize a bike, ride it with more skill, or read about someone's travels through Africa. Check out some of the best books for motorcyclists in our buying guide below.

    Best Motorcycle Books Reviews & Recommendations 2020

    Best Overall

    Discovering the Motorcycle: The History. The Culture. The Machines by Armand Ensanian was published in 2016. The author spent five years researching and photographing the history and culture of motorcycling. The book covers from 1867 to the modern day and features 12 chapters on subjects such as vintage classics, sportbikes, choppers, racing, and popular museums. It features more than 1,000 photographs.


    You may know a lot about motorcycles, but this book will teach you even more. It's well-written and a lot of fun to read. The book features motorcycle history and culture as well as expert technical information. It takes you on a journey from motorcycling's early days to the cutting-edge activity/sport it is today. Overall, it's a great gift for people who want to deepen their knowledge of the motorcycle industry.


    One complaint about the book is that it may be better for new riders versus seasoned enthusiasts. Also, while there are a lot of great photographs, the chapters are not as organized as they could be.

    Best Value

    The best-selling Proficient Motorcycling: The Ultimate Guide to Riding Well by David L. Hough was once voted the number one book on motorcycle safety. This second edition features everything a rider needs to avoid accidents and prepare for the unexpected. The author has been riding since the 1960s and also offers advice on choosing the right bike, basic riding skills, and even survival tactics. The book was published in 2013 and features 288 pages.


    This book includes a great level of detail concerning the physics and forces that are behind the art of riding. It's a simple and straightforward book about motorcycle safety. It covers the dynamics of riding a motorcycle on the pavement, including over railway tracks, wet painted arrows, and gravel. Overall, it's a good book for the new or inexperienced rider to read, absorb, and apply the lessons on the road.


    One complaint about this book is that it contains repetitive information and doesn't need to be as long as it is. The author also tends to get a little preachy at times, and a lot of the material is common sense.

    Honorable Mention

    This techbook from Haynes Manuals is a second edition and was published in 2015. It details and illustrates common engines, chassis, and electrical systems. It covers topics such as engine cycles and layouts, carburetors and fuel injection, ignition systems, clutches, lubrication and cooling, braking systems, suspension, and steering.


    This is a great how-to book with a lot of information. It explains how bikes work and the theory and history behind why they work the way they do. It's a great reference when you're looking at purchasing an older bike. The concepts are explained well, and the diagrams are very helpful. Overall, the writing is very accessible, but it goes fairly deep into the mechanics, physics, and chemistry of engines and all the major motorcycle systems.


    One downside is the paper that the book is printed on is of poor quality. Also, it may be hard to grasp all the concepts and principles just by reading the material and looking at the diagrams, particularly if you don't have any previous experience working on bikes. In addition, some pictures are not as intuitive to understand as others.

    Why Trust Us


    All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

    Learn more

    Benefits of Motorcycle Books

    • Entertaining. The best books for motorcycle enthusiasts are fun to read. They tell interesting stories, provide informative content, and have excellent visuals. Depending on what type of book you choose, you're bound to learn something by the time you finish it.
    • Versatile. Motorcycle books cover a wide range of topics, from bike gangs and adventures to riding techniques and travel destinations. There are a plethora of topics to explore, and there's no doubt you will find at least one or two that will suit your style. 
    • Accessible. The best motorcycle riding books come in a variety of formats. You can choose a hardcover, paperback, or electronic edition for your Kindle or iPad. There are also some excellent audiobooks available.

    Types of Motorcycle Books

    How-To Books

    If you want to learn how to fix your bike, customize your bike, improve your riding skills, or map a course through North America, there are a variety of how-to books that can help. In addition to our honorable mention and best value picks, consider The Build: How the Masters Design Custom Motorcycles, The Women's Guide to Motorcycling, and Motorcycle Journeys Through North America.

    Memoirs/Biographies

    Many riders have interesting stories to tell about their lives on the road. Those with a knack for writing put it down on paper for others to enjoy. Check out these memoirs/autobiographies: The Razor's Edge: The Sport Rider Stories, Chronicles of a Motorcycle Gypsy, and Lone Rider. Another popular book is Long Way Round: Chasing Shadows Across the World by actor Ewan McGregor. And this one is a great biography featuring one of Hollywood’s most famous bikers: McQueen's Motorcycles: Racing and Riding with the King of Cool.

    Coffee Table Books

    A great way to show your love of motorcycling is by displaying a book or two for your visitors to peruse when they stop at your house. There are plenty of books, such as Classic Motorcycles: The Art of Speed, and other “visual encyclopedias” that dazzle with vibrant photos and interesting facts. 

    Brand-Specific Books

    No matter if you ride a Harley, Kawasaki, Ducati, or Honda, there’s a book for you. There are several manufacturer-specific books that you can purchase, such as The Complete Book of Classic and Modern Triumph Motorcycles 1937-Today, Indian Motorcycle: America's First Motorcycle Company, The Complete Book of BMW Motorcycles: Every Model Since 1923, and Harley-Davidson: The Complete History.

    Motorcycle Books Pricing

    • Under $10: Some memoirs and biographies are available at this price point, particularly if you purchase the electronic editions. They are very enjoyable and a great way to get lost in somebody else's adventures.
    • $10-$20: You can find some how-to books, such as Total Control: High Performance Street Riding Techniques, for less than 20 bucks.  You may also find some motorbike trivia and other memoirs in this price range.
    • Over $20: Hardcover books tend to be more expensive than paperback books. Coffee table books with glossy photographs will also be on the more expensive side. Many how-to manuals also tend to skew a little higher in price.

    Key Features

    Format

    As we noted earlier, the best books about motorcycle riding are available in different formats. Some people like the feel of paper in their hands, while others have no problem reading on their electronic devices. Then there are those who would prefer listening to an audiobook about motorcycles when they're commuting to work. Fortunately, many books are presented in more than one format, so you have a choice.

    Topic

    Different riders prefer different topics. For example, your friend may want the best motorcycle club books, while you're looking for the best motorcycle mechanic books. Someone else may want the best motorcycle books for beginners. Ultimately, it's a personal preference. The good news is that there are so many angles when it comes to motorcycling.

    Quality

    Some motorcycle books are really good and some are not. If it's a bestseller, it's likely to be a worthwhile read. If it has a lot of positive reviews, then it's probably a keeper. Read the reviews and see what other people are saying about the book before you purchase it. You'll know a stinker when you see it.

    Other Considerations

    • Length: Longer isn't always better. Some books provide detailed information in a concise manner. Others require more thorough explanations to make a point. It depends on the type of book it is. Do you want a giant, thick coffee table book or a slimmer one with fewer pages? Do you prefer a lengthy biography or one that features short stories?

    Best Motorcycle Books Reviews & Recommendations 2020

    Best Overall

    Discovering the Motorcycle: The History. The Culture. The Machines by Armand Ensanian was published in 2016. The author spent five years researching and photographing the history and culture of motorcycling. The book covers from 1867 to the modern day and features 12 chapters on subjects such as vintage classics, sportbikes, choppers, racing, and popular museums. It features more than 1,000 photographs.


    You may know a lot about motorcycles, but this book will teach you even more. It's well-written and a lot of fun to read. The book features motorcycle history and culture as well as expert technical information. It takes you on a journey from motorcycling's early days to the cutting-edge activity/sport it is today. Overall, it's a great gift for people who want to deepen their knowledge of the motorcycle industry.


    One complaint about the book is that it may be better for new riders versus seasoned enthusiasts. Also, while there are a lot of great photographs, the chapters are not as organized as they could be.

    Discovering the Motorcycle}
    Amazon

    Discovering the Motorcycle: The History. The Culture. The Machines by Armand Ensanian was published in 2016. The author spent five years researching and photographing the history and culture of motorcycling. The book covers from 1867 to the modern day and features 12 chapters on subjects such as vintage classics, sportbikes, choppers, racing, and popular museums. It features more than 1,000 photographs.


    You may know a lot about motorcycles, but this book will teach you even more. It's well-written and a lot of fun to read. The book features motorcycle history and culture as well as expert technical information. It takes you on a journey from motorcycling's early days to the cutting-edge activity/sport it is today. Overall, it's a great gift for people who want to deepen their knowledge of the motorcycle industry.


    One complaint about the book is that it may be better for new riders versus seasoned enthusiasts. Also, while there are a lot of great photographs, the chapters are not as organized as they could be.

    Click Here to See Prices on Amazon

    Best Value

    The best-selling Proficient Motorcycling: The Ultimate Guide to Riding Well by David L. Hough was once voted the number one book on motorcycle safety. This second edition features everything a rider needs to avoid accidents and prepare for the unexpected. The author has been riding since the 1960s and also offers advice on choosing the right bike, basic riding skills, and even survival tactics. The book was published in 2013 and features 288 pages.


    This book includes a great level of detail concerning the physics and forces that are behind the art of riding. It's a simple and straightforward book about motorcycle safety. It covers the dynamics of riding a motorcycle on the pavement, including over railway tracks, wet painted arrows, and gravel. Overall, it's a good book for the new or inexperienced rider to read, absorb, and apply the lessons on the road.


    One complaint about this book is that it contains repetitive information and doesn't need to be as long as it is. The author also tends to get a little preachy at times, and a lot of the material is common sense.

    Proficient Motorcycling: The Ultimate Guide to Riding Well}
    Amazon

    The best-selling Proficient Motorcycling: The Ultimate Guide to Riding Well by David L. Hough was once voted the number one book on motorcycle safety. This second edition features everything a rider needs to avoid accidents and prepare for the unexpected. The author has been riding since the 1960s and also offers advice on choosing the right bike, basic riding skills, and even survival tactics. The book was published in 2013 and features 288 pages.


    This book includes a great level of detail concerning the physics and forces that are behind the art of riding. It's a simple and straightforward book about motorcycle safety. It covers the dynamics of riding a motorcycle on the pavement, including over railway tracks, wet painted arrows, and gravel. Overall, it's a good book for the new or inexperienced rider to read, absorb, and apply the lessons on the road.


    One complaint about this book is that it contains repetitive information and doesn't need to be as long as it is. The author also tends to get a little preachy at times, and a lot of the material is common sense.

    Click Here to See Prices on Amazon

    Honorable Mention

    This techbook from Haynes Manuals is a second edition and was published in 2015. It details and illustrates common engines, chassis, and electrical systems. It covers topics such as engine cycles and layouts, carburetors and fuel injection, ignition systems, clutches, lubrication and cooling, braking systems, suspension, and steering.


    This is a great how-to book with a lot of information. It explains how bikes work and the theory and history behind why they work the way they do. It's a great reference when you're looking at purchasing an older bike. The concepts are explained well, and the diagrams are very helpful. Overall, the writing is very accessible, but it goes fairly deep into the mechanics, physics, and chemistry of engines and all the major motorcycle systems.


    One downside is the paper that the book is printed on is of poor quality. Also, it may be hard to grasp all the concepts and principles just by reading the material and looking at the diagrams, particularly if you don't have any previous experience working on bikes. In addition, some pictures are not as intuitive to understand as others.

    Honorable Mention: Motorcycle Basics Techbook

    Motorcycle Basics Techbook}
    Amazon

    This techbook from Haynes Manuals is a second edition and was published in 2015. It details and illustrates common engines, chassis, and electrical systems. It covers topics such as engine cycles and layouts, carburetors and fuel injection, ignition systems, clutches, lubrication and cooling, braking systems, suspension, and steering.


    This is a great how-to book with a lot of information. It explains how bikes work and the theory and history behind why they work the way they do. It's a great reference when you're looking at purchasing an older bike. The concepts are explained well, and the diagrams are very helpful. Overall, the writing is very accessible, but it goes fairly deep into the mechanics, physics, and chemistry of engines and all the major motorcycle systems.


    One downside is the paper that the book is printed on is of poor quality. Also, it may be hard to grasp all the concepts and principles just by reading the material and looking at the diagrams, particularly if you don't have any previous experience working on bikes. In addition, some pictures are not as intuitive to understand as others.

    Click Here to See Prices on Amazon

    Tips

    • If you want to read a book about motorcycles but you're not sure where to begin, ask another biker. Motorcycle enthusiasts have a lot of experience and can often recommend some good books you may not be aware of.
    • If you don't want to spend a lot of money on a book, check to see if it's available at the library. You can search by author, and oftentimes you can do it from your home computer if you can access the library's database online.
    • Websites such as Amazon feature the section "Customers who bought this item also bought..." So, if you enjoy a particular motorcycle book, you can find recommendations for other books in the same genre.

    FAQs

    Q: How important are reviews when it comes to motorcycle books? 

    A: That depends. Sometimes reading reviews can cause you to judge a book before you've even read it. Check to see if the book has received many awards and the number of star ratings it has. This can give you a good idea about its quality, and you won't have any preconceived notions about the content.

    Q: Which motorcycle book should I read first? 

    A: Decide what topic interests you the most. Do you want a how-to book or would you prefer a book about the history of Harley-Davidson? Choose a book that you can’t wait to crack open.

    Q: Where can I get used motorcycle books?

    A: Look online and in your local community. Several websites sell used books, and many towns have used book sales throughout the year. 

    Final Thoughts

    Our pick for the best motorcycle book is Discovering the Motorcycle. It features a wide range of topics, from choppers and sport bikes to biker culture and top motorcycle museums. It's complemented with more than 1,000 photographs.

    For a more budget-friendly and a how-to option, consider the Proficient Motorcycling: The Ultimate Guide to Riding Well.