David Herlihy’s epic Bicycle: The History is a comprehensive guide to the early evolution of the bicycle. Filled with anecdotes from the late 19th and early 20th century, along with hundreds of photos, drawings and catalog excerpts, this is a book that can be consumed in bits, browsed or read with careful attention.
Herlihy examines not just at the machines and riders, but the changes in society and the world brought about by “the poor man’s horse.” The marketing of bicycles, the role of the machine in liberating women from the confines of Victorian society, the development of paved roads, and other tales fill more than 400 pages, yet the book does not drag or feel padded.
While Herlihy’s history gives context to our current age, those looking for details on modern developments had best look elsewhere. No single book can adequately cover so broad a subject with such a long and rich history, so Herlihy has wisely chosen to focus the bulk of his energies in examining the first 50 years of bicycling.