A wonderfully whimsical exploration of America's transport choices...Highly recommended. --

I try not to drink anyone's KoolAid straight. I find Robert Hurst's KoolAid, however, particularly refreshing. -- Carbon Trace

Robert Hurst is a man who knows his bicycles ... Hurst's laid-back, non-preachy and comically cynical style has the potential to lead many more people into making the small life change to bike-based transport. -- Kyle Olson,

... it challenges some basic assumptions about what puts money in our pockets. -- Carlton Reid,

Hurst's writing is always fun and informative. -- Cyclelicious


I finished the book and will be back here on my usual sporadic basis. It's quite a unique book really. People ask what is this thing about and I have to pause and stare off into the distance for a few seconds trying to figure it out. Not too sure.

It's about the history and future of bicycling in America. Much of it consists of unstable rantings, which is generally good, I've found. Inspiration came from Thomas Paine, the Unabomber, Nietzsche, Eldridge Cleaver, Sitting Bull and assorted pamphleteers, jailed and un-jailed. Just kidding about the Unabomber, by the way. Included among other highly objectionable pronouncements are endorsements of sharrows, Idaho-style bike law liberalization, and 'bike highway'-like paths; and questionings of all kinds of transportation-related follies, from the Toyota Prius to the bail-out of GM and Chrysler. I viewed it as a sort of rescue attempt -- attempting to rescue the bicycle from the clutches of those who have possessed it, the bicyclists. An attempt to free the machine from the heinous cultural bog into which it's been sucked.


...READ MORE what they should have titled this one. It's not often that an author is able to slip a strange work about bicycling into the mainstream publishing pipeline. This book is full of loose ends, crazy thoughts and weird tangents. There are some bold pronouncements and suggestions for change but I don't think it's going to answer anything with finality. It is however an extremely quick read, during which you just might find yourself info-tained. Or traumatized. Info-traumatized!

The first thing I do when I pick up a book is look at the endnotes and the index. My aunt Karen, a brilliant political scientist, taught me that. What's at the end of a book tells us volumes about how the rest of the thing stacks up. In that spirit I turned to the index of The Cyclist's Manifesto when it arrived in the mail the other day, and saw immediately that we had a weird one on our hands.

I'm not quite sure how these things are prepared. Why didn't Keith Richards, Goya or Hasselhoff make the index, but Hieronymous Bosch did? A deliberate slight? Who knows. In any case, I am proud to present my top ten favorite entries from the index of my new book. And this isn't a belated April Fools' joke or anything, these are certified real:

10. "Bacon, Kevin, 71"

9. "camels, 24-25"

8. "Bosch, Hieronymous, 80"

7. "machine gun attachments, 54"

6. "Boers, 61"

5. "Mission: Impossible (television show), 8"

4. "smuggling, 56-57"

3. "Trigger (horse), 25"

2. "sex compared to bicycling, perceptions of, 134"

1. "Kim Jong Il, 26-27"

If the Boers don't suck you in then surely the prospect of reading about camels, Trigger the horse and Kim Jong Il all within three pages will be impossible to resist.



Here are some more of the heroes, rogues and knaves populating my new book. Left to right: The aforementioned Maxim, exhibiting the Pope Company's horseless carriage in 1899. Pope was the largest bicycle manufacturer in the country when it signed young Maxim as chief engineer of its new motor division. Although Colonel Pope's company jumped ahead of others with its early entries into the motorcar market, building reliable gasoline- and electric-powered vehicles, it was unable to survive the blow dealt by the 'economic downturn' and collapse in the bike market that occurred before the turn of the century.

Marshall "Major" Taylor. That a poor black kid enjoyed consistent access to a bicycle in the first place was extremely lucky. "A freak of fate," as Taylor called it. That he was able to rise to the very top of an aggressively racist sport was all talent, wits and determination. The persecution of Major Taylor by his fellow competitors and by the bicycle world in general, while not universal, was always at a shameful level, often extremely harsh and occasionally violent. In 1894 the League of American Wheelmen (the club started by Albert Pope as a brilliant marketing ploy) voted itself a 'whites only' institution. At the time blacks were not allowed to compete in or even attend the races. Young Taylor had to sneak his way into competition, essentially, entering only road races put on by sympathetic promoters and disguising his entry until the last second to keep the racist uproar to a minimum. Because the youngster often won, his reputation grew and he thus found his way into a few more races. He was too fast to ignore. Eventually he was beating the best riders in the world and became a rich man. Still many venues remained closed to him and he was in many cases denied the same lodging and food as his opponents while on the road. He bought a big house in a nice neighborhood in Worcester and the people there tried to buy it back from him to keep the neighborhood white. He found threatening notes signed 'White Riders,' telling him to get the heck out or else, and was choked into unconsciousness on the track. In an era of rampant racism, the wheelmen took it up a notch or two. If it was like that for Taylor, imagine what it might have been like for a black person of less noteworthy ability hoping to enjoy the sport. It's worth considering their plight when all these newfangled wheelmen start whining about how they are discriminated against on the roads and casually dribble out of their mouths the language of Jim Crow racism to describe their own alleged victimhood.

It takes a village, people. It takes a village of dudes in tophats to teach Frances Willard how to ride a bicycle.

Frances Willard and Hiram Maxim really knew how to live. Both used bicycles to inject an element of adventure into their privileged, comfortable existences. Both appreciated the significance of the bicycle as idea and symbol as well as machine. Maxim figured it opened the minds of inventors to the concept of quick, independent personal transport and led straight to the development of the motorcar. Willard, like other leaders of the movement, saw the bike as a tool to advance women's liberation. To Willard the act of learning to ride was empowering in ways that reached far beyond the freedom of transportation. She wrote a book about the experience, urging other women to take up the wheel. She named her bicycle Gladys, which, I'm just now realizing, could very well have been a play on the latin gladius. Clever lady. Anyway.

Colonel Tsuji was not interested in any of that jive. He looked to the bicycle only for its utilitarian advantages.






The legendary traffic safety manual has been revised, updated and expanded. This book contains the collective street knowledge of the world's most experienced riders, all wrapped in historical context like a spicy truth burrito. Read it and pass it on!




No matter how many years/miles you ride, you'll never master the unique art of riding a two-wheeled machine on a skinny, rocky trail in the mountains. No matter how good you get, the trail will always be a little bit better. This book leaves few 'babyheads' unturned in its quest to provide useful trail-riding tips for all riders, from beginner to expert. Robert Hurst's love for the mountains, the trails and the bottomless challenge of riding them shines through in this darkly humorous manual.