Crafting the ultimate dream bicycle…one component at a time

Author Robert Penn and his bike - Source:

Author Robert Penn and his dream bike – Source:

I finished reading the captivating book by Robert Penn entitled, It’s All About the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels, last week. This fascinating read approaches the evolution of the bicycle and its storied history in a unique fashion – by the author crafting his own bike from scratch utilizing top-notch, often hand-crafted source components from around the globe.

Each chapter in the book was dedicated to a specific part of his proposed bicycle. Within those chapters, Mr. Penn describes in glorious detail why he is seeking out a particular manufacturer of that component, summarizes the history of that component, as well as the manufacturer, and then travels to the manufacturer to see this particular bike part being crafted in person. Places he visited to acquire the necessary components for his dream bicycle included:

As Mr. Penn so eloquently sums up his goal in the book:

“The components –the handlebar, stem, forks, hubs, rims, spokes, bottom bracket, freewheel, chainwheel, sprockets, chain, derailleurs, cranks, brakes, pedals, and saddle – will be chosen to match the frame. They won’t be the lightest or the sexiest components on the market. They’ll simply be the best made. The wheels will be built by hand. I’ll visit workshops and factories in Italy, America, Germany, and Britain to see all the components I want on my bike made. Individually, each component will be something special; collectively they’ll make my dream bike.” (page 16)

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in a detailed, yet concise history of the bicycle and the evolution of its individual components. It’s a terrific resource for everyone from the novice rider to avid power cyclists. In his book, Mr. Penn clearly depicts the bicycle as not just a utilitarian object, but as a finely crafted work of art.



This entry was posted in Active transportation, Advocacy, Alternative transportation, art, Bicycles, Bicycling, Bike Commuting, Biking, book reviews, books, civics, Commuting, culture, Cycling, entrepreneurship, geography, historic preservation, history, Love, planning, product design, technology, transportation, Travel, Velo, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Crafting the ultimate dream bicycle…one component at a time

  1. Tim Potter says:

    Wow, we read this book at the same time! That’s pretty….interesting timing. I loved it too being a gear head and into the equipment as much as the other aspects of bicycling. I’d whole heartedly agree; it’s an excellent read for learning a lot about current state-of-the-art bike technology/ industry as well as the history behind so much of what we love and adore about bicycling. Two thumbs up! Way up!


  2. Rick Brown says:

    Thanks, Tim. That’s funny that were both reading it at the same time. It is an wxcellent book!


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