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It's All About the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels | [Robert Penn]

It's All About the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels

Robert Penn has saddled up nearly every day of his adult life. In his late 20s, he pedaled 25,000 miles around the world. Today he rides to get to work, sometimes for work, to bathe in air and sunshine, to travel, to go shopping, to stay sane, and to skip bath time with his kids. He's no Sunday pedal pusher. So when the time came for a new bike, he decided to pull out all the stops. He would build his dream bike, the bike he would ride for the rest of his life; a customized machine that reflects the joy of cycling.
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Publisher's Summary

Robert Penn has saddled up nearly every day of his adult life. In his late 20s, he pedaled 25,000 miles around the world. Today he rides to get to work, sometimes for work, to bathe in air and sunshine, to travel, to go shopping, to stay sane, and to skip bath time with his kids. He's no Sunday pedal pusher. So when the time came for a new bike, he decided to pull out all the stops. He would build his dream bike, the bike he would ride for the rest of his life; a customized machine that reflects the joy of cycling.

It's All About the Bike follows Penn's journey, but this book is more than the story of his hunt for two-wheel perfection. En route, Penn brilliantly explores the culture, science, and history of the bicycle. From artisanal frame shops in the United Kingdom to California, where he finds the perfect wheels, via Portland, Milan, and points in between, his trek follows the serpentine path of our love affair with cycling. It explains why we ride.

It's All About the Bike is, like Penn's dream bike, a tale greater than the sum of its parts. An enthusiastic and charming tour guide, Penn uses each component of the bike as a starting point for illuminating excursions into the rich history of cycling. Just like a long ride on a lovely day, It's All About the Bike is pure joy - enriching, exhilarating, and unforgettable.

©2011 Robert Penn (P)2012 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"If you don't long for your own bike at the end of this book, you will at least never look at one the same way again." (Kirkus)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (39 )
5 star
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4.2 (36 )
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4.2 (36 )
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Performance
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  •  
    D. Littman OH 02-19-12
    D. Littman OH 02-19-12 Member Since 2003

    history buff

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1315
    ratings
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    600
    155
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    3
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    "terrific book about bikes & history"

    Robert Penn does a terrific job weaving together the history of bicycling, and specifically, the history of the bike components, with his own extensive biking experience and his own passion to supervise the building of a new bike. Anyone who has a passion for bicycling, even of the spinning variety, will enjoy, and be enlightened, by this book.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sparkly SF, CA, United States 08-16-13
    Sparkly SF, CA, United States 08-16-13 Member Since 2008

    interested in history, science, and pulp fiction

    HELPFUL VOTES
    129
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    "File Enthusiastically under 'History'"

    An orgy of minutiae about cycling and the history of manufactury! I heard Robert Penn interviewed by Jack Thurston on The Bike Show, and I was excited to see the book listed here. History buffs of any stripe will enjoy it - Penn takes us from present to past, and across the globe, expertly weaving together technology, social movements, and vivid characters. For example, a visit to Chris King Headsets diverges seamlessly into a reverie about the nature of the child hood experience of learning to ride; Mark Twain's essay Taming the Bicycle; and 20 years of urban planning and tattoos in Portland, Oregon. I enjoyed hearing about the "glory days" of cycling, when cheap fast transportation changed lives in unpredictable ways. I loved Penn's take on the title - which he doesn't acknowledge until late in the book - as a reclamation of the elegance of the bicycle, a most enduring invention. This is one of the few books I have listened to twice. I recommend it heartily.

    (The narrator is affable, but may make a listener cringe with his unfortunate mispronunciations of European names - the great cyclist Hinault does not rhyme with "salt," for example.)

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason Karpeles Dallas,TX 06-18-12
    Jason Karpeles Dallas,TX 06-18-12 Member Since 2000

    Audiophile

    HELPFUL VOTES
    28
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    "A delightful story and history of cycling"
    Would you listen to It's All About the Bike again? Why?

    Yes, there is so much information in this book


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The writer's experience finding the best parts was fantastic


    What???s an idea from the book that you will remember?

    So much history I never knew


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MabelLou Brown 02-13-14 Member Since 2004
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    17
    8
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    Performance
    Story
    "Good information on bicycling"
    Would you consider the audio edition of It's All About the Bike to be better than the print version?

    Don't know never read the print version of this book. Did enjoy the audible version but do not want to read the print version


    What was one of the most memorable moments of It's All About the Bike?

    I liked the planning and building section of the book and the feelings that it all brought


    What about Jonathan Cowley’s performance did you like?

    Yes he put much feeling into the book


    What did you learn from It's All About the Bike that you would use in your daily life?

    I have biked for many years and have gotten away from it and more into running. My later years the running is taking a toll on my knees and want to do more bicycling and this book has inspired me


    Any additional comments?

    Highly recommend this book

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    BikeMeister Woodbridge, Virginia United States 10-29-12
    BikeMeister Woodbridge, Virginia United States 10-29-12 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    25
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    "Loving the Technology and Craftsmanship"

    This book is fantastic for those among us who love the technology and craftsmanship that goes into the best bikes of today. Personally, I LOVE to ride, but I also very much appreciate, admire, and love to work with the craftsmanship that goes into the finest components and frames. In so many ways our bikes have souls of their own and this book lavishly examines that part of the overall cycling experience.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David H. Stewart Grants, NM 08-20-12
    David H. Stewart Grants, NM 08-20-12 Member Since 2001

    Retired Drilling Contractor. Christian. Married with grandchildren. Love Sailing, Hiking, Lake Powell, Biking. Have traveled in Europe, Africa and Australia, Italy, Austria, Germany, Switzerland. I enjoy reading history and good fiction.

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    36
    2
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    "Informative and entertaining."
    Would you listen to It's All About the Bike again? Why?

    I might: Just to learn more about the finer points of building a good bike.


    Have you listened to any of Jonathan Cowley’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    Well done overall. I enjoyed the enthusiasm he put into his book and his love of the equipment. I learned a lot of things about the history of the bike I didn't know and many important things about the equipment.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Abba LOS ANGELES, US, Canada 07-25-14
    Abba LOS ANGELES, US, Canada 07-25-14 Member Since 2010
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "Filler, Filler and more Filler"
    What would have made It's All About the Bike better?

    More of his personal story. It is best when actually discussing his search for the best bike components and talking to those who make the bikes. Too much about the history which is not told in an interesting way.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Robert Penn again?

    No.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Very monotone delivery. The cadence was monotonous not enough variation in rhythm. Not enough emotion.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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