The Competition Bicycle


Explore the development of the modern performance bicycle through the actual bicycles ridden by champions and amateurs! The bikes in this gorgeous large-format book are the actual machines that went to battle on the mountain passes of the great tours. Others whirled around the banked oval of the track. There is a René Herse tandem came first in Paris-Brest-Paris and in the Poly de Chanteloup hillclimb race. Join the newspaper carriers as they raced over the cobblestones of Paris with 15 kg of newspapers on the front rack. Witness how mountain bikers did away with roads altogether and raced on mountain trails.

All these bikes tell the stories of their riders and events, but they also take you on a journey through bicycle technology. See how pneumatic tires revolutionized cycling, how derailleurs made their tentative forays into the professional peloton, how racers tried to gain an advantage with aluminum frames, how indexed shifting and clipless pedals came to define the modern performance bike. See highlights like Campagnolo’s immortal Super Record groupset, but also dead-ends like the aero components of the 1980s.

The Competition Bicycle is a celebration of beautiful bicycles lovingly crafted for one purpose only: to go as fast as possible. If you enjoy bicycles, you’ll find this book hard to put down.


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The bicycles of champions and amateurs alike are shown in The Competition Bicycle, from a rare 1890s racing High Wheeler to Tony Rominger’s 1994 hour record bike. In between are 32 carefully selected bicycles: the actual machines ridden by great champions like Fausto Coppi, Gino Bartali, Eddy Merckx, Greg LeMond, Andy Hampsten and many others. With well-worn saddles and paint bearing the scars of many a hard-fought battle, these unrestored bikes tell the stories of their eventful lives. Historic photos of these bikes in action complement each chapter.

This is the first edition. A new edition with identical contents and a different cover image has been published by Rizzoli New York.

The Author:
Jan Heine is editor of Bicycle Quarterly, the magazine about the history, culture and technology of cycling. He also has written The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles and René Herse: The Bikes • The Builder • The Riders.

The Photographer:
Jean-Pierre Pradères’ photography has been published in many magazines and books, including the Guggenheim Museum’s The Art of the Motorcycle.

  • Publisher: Bicycle Quarterly Press
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Pages: 176 pages
  • Dimensions: 9.5″ x 12″