a handbook for motorcyclists …

I recently wrote a Blog post after I had spotted and bought a couple of booklets in an antique shop/emporium type place, if you missed it you can read it by clicking this link.

The first of the booklets is called Advice for the Road (covered in the earlier post), the second is called High Efficiency – A Handbook for Motorcyclists.

Both booklets were published in the 1950s and the second can still be found on various internet sites – typical UK prices for this are around £14 to £15, I picked my copy up for just £4.

As with the first booklet – its interesting how relevant the 1950s advice is to today – I suppose some things just don’t change and sound practical advice stands the test of time.

Although much of the advice still stacks up, the fact that it was written in a different era means the style and general tone of the booklet is both quaint and amusing at the same time.

I love the introduction that starts with:

‘As the long winter nights grow shorter the motor cyclist dozes in front of the fire and dreams of Spring and Summer, of open throttles and open roads, and all the hundred and one enjoyments of holidays awheel’

It goes on to say:

‘Once he has mastered the art of touring he knows that there is no form of motoring to be compared with it. The whole of Western Europe is at his feet’

If you can skip the gender specific references then what’s really changed?

Even the narrative about the rider who plans his daily mileage and knows exactly where they will stop or the rider who is described as the ‘couldn’t be bothered type’ who wont touch a map etc are referred to and 60 or so years later the internet forums are still littered with comments and opinions on these approaches that seemingly are at odds with each other.

My own view, based on my experience – is that there is no single right and wrong way – it just has to be what ever works for you, but it made me smile reading this and thinking about how much people still talk about this.

The advice on trip preparations, luggage and what to wear is still oh so relevant – although advice on documentation and currency restrictions when visiting a number of countries is interesting but of course hopelessly outdated.

Even back in the mid 1950’s the author references wonderful places to visit and that I can vouch from personal experience are still well worth the effort: Freiburg, Constance, Gross-Glockner Pass, the Dolomites, Cortina etc.

Of great interest to me was the small section on costs, the author tells us the cost examples he uses were based on his riding a Vincent Rapide and sidecar, just look for a moment at the breakdown below.

There are other interesting sections on Tuning, Trials riding, Safety, Comfortable riding kit and more.

In the comfortable riding kit section in addition to sage advice on keeping your body well protected he also suggests that in cold weather you ought to wear plenty of undergarments and as for helmets the advice is ‘better to protect your head than try to act the fashionable young beau on a bike’

The booklet itself was complimentary at the time of publication from the Vacuum Oil Company Limited and I guess was an early marketing tool for their products as  there are various references in the publication to the superiority on Mobiloil!

All in all a great read and this sort of ‘find’ is always worth looking out for to add to your motor cycle related book collection.