Mountain biking is a fairly geeky sport at the best of times, with enough jargon to bamboozle the average newcomer. However, scratch the surface of how bikes really work and there's another level of absolute geekery to lose yourself in, which is where these books come in.
If you've ever wanted to know your digressive from your progressive, your twin-tube from your mono-tube or the relationship between rake, offset and trail, then these are the books that'll open up some of the secrets of how bikes and suspension systems really work.
Almost all of these are written from a motorcycle point of view, some are extremely technical and some less so, but all are packed with interesting and useful information for anyone that'd like to know the nuts and bolts (and many, many equations) of bicycle handling and suspension.
Race Tech's Motorcycle Suspension Bible
If you want to move beyond marketing speak and into the actual theory of how and why suspension works, then this book is an excellent place to start. It outlines basic suspension theory before moving into how different suspension systems operate and the factors at play with damper design and so on.
It also gives you all the information you'd need to be able to troubleshoot suspension setups and outlines the procedures for doing so. If you want to get the most from the bouncy bits on your bike as well as a solid grounding in geometry, it's an invaluable guide.
Park Big Blue Book of Cycle Repair, 3rd Edition
This might be the only cycle-specific book in the list, but it covers all the basic - and more advanced topics - on pretty much everything that could go wrong with your bike and how to fix it.
Whether you want to get your gears running smoothly or build a wheel, it's got you covered with loads of pictures and step by step instructions. If you can't be bothered wading through shaky Youtube tutorials and just want a reference to pretty much every bike-fixing job you might come across in one place, it's well worth it.
Motorcycle Handling and Chassis Design: The Art and Science
It's another motorcycle-based book, but journalist Tony Foale's legendary tome is a brilliant place for anyone that wants to understand bicycle handling to start. It covers pretty much everything you need to know about bicycle geometry and handling, from tyre width and pressure to wheelbase, trail and more.
While there is a fair bit of math in there to explain what's going on, it's kept as simple as possible and there are loads of diagrams and explanations, plus some frankly fascinating experiments - like chopping the head tube off a BMW and welding it back on with a 90º head angle to experiment with the relation between head angle and fork trail.
It's hugely informative and interesting - the only downside for paper fans being that it's out of print and only available as a download from Tony's website.
Motorcycle Dynamics (Second Edition)
Vittorio Cossalter's extremely comprehensive book on how two-wheeled vehicles work is the diametric opposite of an easy read, but if you're of a technical bent and can wrap your head around an equation or two (hundred) then it's essential reading.
There's a fair bit of motorbike-only information in there and it's definitely more of an out-and-out textbook than anything else in this list, but if you're willing to get stuck in and persevere (or you're just a massive smart-arse to begin with), then it's basically the go-to text for bike designers, whether they have engines or not.
Massive bike geek yourself? Reckon we've missed a good read for those of a similar bent? Do let us know in the comments below...
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