'Awesome'..'worth every brass farthing' - Superbike Magazine. (read full review)
'Indispensable'..'a compulsory purchase' - Cycle World. (read full review)
'You get what you pay for - and this book delivers' - Classic Racer.
'We could not recommend it more highly' - Motorcycle Sport & Leisure. (read full review)
'You'll learn so much' - Motorcycle Racer.
'The most comprehensive guide' - Streetfighters.
'Masses of useful tuning information' - Motor Cycle News.
'Buy it or live in ignorance' - Biker Magazine.
'It's money well spent' - Performance Bikes.
'Provides an excellent guide' - Motorcycle Classics.
'Author John Bradley has a gift of explaining things' - Met on Wheels.
'Good stuff, and plenty of it' - Motorcyclist.
'Ideas could be applied to machines from almost any era, both competition or road' - Old Bike Mart.
'Bradley treats every possible design variable in as much detail as your likely to need' - City Bike.
Full copies of any review above are available on request. A few are reproduced below.
Superbike - May 1997 (Gordon Ritchie).
This book is quite simply awesome. A better explanation of basic motorcycle engineering principles I am never likely to read. Unlike some other so called experts in the motorcycling world, John Bradley has got impressive academic qualifications to go with decades of practical experience and real world knowledge. And boy does it show. If you ever want to modify your bike, from simple suspension setting changes to building a special from scratch, this book is a must. It never got featured in last month's Super-Stuff because I was reading a chapter a night at home. Worth every brass farthing of the £30-odd quid asking price.
Top of page
Back to home page
Motorcycle Sport and Leisure - April
1997 (Richard Stevens).
Here at last in an authoritative work on modern motorcycle design and construction - or at least the first volume of a two part treatise. The Racing Motorcycle is a 400 page softback in marginally smaller than A4 format, that covers gearing, geometry, aerodynamics and suspension. Author John Bradley, a chartered engineer from Yorkshire with more than 25 years experience of building and racing motorcycles, explains the rationale behind the book as follows:
"This is the first in a series of books that is aimed at people who
want to design or develop motorcycles. It is not a motorcycle book
in the conventional sense but an engineering book, a text book of you like,
that tries to provide basic technical support. This volume covers
some of the timeless principles that have always been and always will be,
the basis of a competitive motorcycle. It does not include anything
on engine development and will I hope complement the many books on engine
tuning that are available. A second volume covering engineering materials,
standard components and practical construction techniques is currently
My book is based on roadracing but all the ideas can be applied to any type of motorcycle, from any era, given suitable dimensions and aesthetic adaptations. Some non-roadrace data is included so that you can make the necessary comparisons between different specialisms."
What I like most about this book is that it develops everything from
first principles. For instance there are twelve pages within the
chapter on engine characteristics, that deal with torque. They start
by explaining that torque is the engineering term for turning effect
and then show with that aid of diagrams how this is produced by a combination
of a force and an effective radius. The subject then progresses in
logical sequence to how crankshaft torque relates to rear wheel torque,
and then to the integral relationship between power and torque. Then
torque generation is discussed in terms of variation during each complete
engine cycle (one crankshaft revolution for a two-stroke and two for a
four-stroke). This aspect, explains John, which is further influenced
by the number of cylinders and the firing sequence, plays a key role in
the way the rider perceives the engine and the ability to control traction,
especially on slippery off-road surfaces. And that's all before the
variation in average torque as engine speed rises! Then there are
torque curves, torque units and BMEP - the brake mean effective pressure
- which is a way of comparing torque production that is independent of
engine size and the number of cylinders. If you want to know how
a YZF750R Yamaha and a 500 JAP compare you'll need to buy the book.
Or work it out for yourself, which means you'll have to buy the book..
John has that rare ability to make a technical subject interesting to all. He never assumes any prior knowledge, yet never patronises, and manages to include a wealth of information that will be invaluable even to the best read, best qualified and most practical designers and spanner men in the business. Here at Motorcycle Sport & Leisure we've long been looking for someone to put the technical expertise of a Vic Willoughby or an Alan Baker back into the Quality Monthly and have asked John if he would help. We're hoping to start on suspension systems, a subject that The Racing Motorcycle covers in a modest 130 pages, and which we will be asking John to abridge into a four-part series. And just to reassure retro-minded readers, the intro to this section uses pictures of a girder fork Speed Twin, a Venom with angle adjustable rear shocks and of course a Vincent with triangulated swinging arm and monoshock.
In the meanwhile John Bradley's first volume is set to become the standard reference work on design and construction and we believe it is a must for anyone seriously interested in bikes - let alone racers or special builders. There are 216 illustrations, tables, graphs and photographs, 85 formulae, and 133 examples with all the key formulae and measurements duplicated in metric and imperial units. Quite simply there is no other single source for all the information in the book and we could not recommend it more highly. But don't for goodness sake be put off by the inclusion of all the formulae and worked examples, because this is a book that works at all levels, from basic principles to detailed calculations. Just use the parts that you need and ignore the parts that you don't. It now sits on my bookshelf alongside Phil Irving's Tuning for Speed, Erwin Tragatsch's Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Motorcycles and the Shorter Oxford Dictionary and is already opened more times a day than the other three put together.
Top of page
Back to home page
Cycle World - June 1997 (Alan Cathcart).
Every so often, a motorcycle book comes along that stands out from the rest as a must-have addition to the serious enthusiast's bookcase. John Bradley's The Racing Motorcycle: A Technical guide for Constructors. Volume 1 is one of those. It's literally indispensable if you want to extend your understanding of how all bikes - not just racers -work, and why.
The best compliment I can pay The Racing Motorcycle is to say that, on the basis of producing it, Bradley deserves to be ranked alongside Phil Irving as a writer gifted with the capacity to explain complicated technical concepts in a way laymen can understand. Like Irving, the author of Tuning for Speed and Speed and How to Obtain it, Bradley discusses contemporary motorcycle design in a direct, straightforward style, scorning the use of jargon or esoteric terminology in favour of plain English.
The subtitle, A Technical Guide for Constructors, is a bit of a red-herring, because the book is a bible for anyone interested in understanding why people build bikes they way they do - mistakes and all. It's also a great how-to manual: I invite anyone who reads the chapter on "Swinging Arm Geometry" to resist checking out and modifying their own bike.
This is intended as the first of two companion volumes, here relating to aerodynamics, gearing, geometry and suspension. Four hundred pages on those topics alone, replete with graphs and tables, certainly leave me looking forward to Volume II.
For anyone wanting to expand his motorcycle knowledge, The Racing Motorcycle is a compulsory purchase, well worth the steep cover price.
Back to home page
Top of page