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The Savvy Guide to Motorcycles - A Motorcycle Book Review

Can a librarian who learns to ride a motorcycle, inspire you to learn too?

This article is a review of a motorcycle book called The Savvy Guide to Motorcycles by Shirley Duglin Kennedy. This book is available through Indy-Tech Publishing.

In early 2004, I became acquainted with a new rider on the About.com Motorcycles forum. She was a librarian and a writer. She was just learning to ride her own and came on three of my motorcycle forums to discuss her progress. Later on, she got more and more proficient. She decided that she wanted to share her experiences to help other new riders. She decided to write a book -- this book.

Of course, there is a big leap between wanting to share your experiences to help other new riders and being able to pull it off. Shirley Duglin Kennedy, author of The Savvy Guide to Motorcycles, has, indeed, pulled it off and new riders will be the beneficiaries.

Kennedy has accomplished a feat that I had thought about doing myself.

She appears to have soaked up all the material on the Motorcycles site and forums and then stepped back and added copious amounts of additional research to create a truly valuable book. This is a well researched and crafted book in the Savvy Guide series by Sams Technical Publishing, LLC.

I'm a great fan of the new CBS TV series, NUM3ERS, that deals with the uses of mathematics and physics to solve FBI cases. Every week, the show starts with the presentation of a series of numbers on a single screen that defines the show for that week. In like fashion, I'd like to do the numbers on this new book before I give my recommendations.

251 pages, 71 pictures, 39 Web page screens, 89 glossary items, 45 book references, 20 magazine links, 43 motorcycle organization links, 29 Web sites, 26 Savvy tips, 10 information tips, 12 tables, 10 chapters, 4 rider profiles, all prefaced by 1 piece of advice to the reader before they start to read this book:

    "This is the book I wish I'd had when I was making the decision to learn to ride. It is not a book for dummies or idiots. It is not a book that will teach you how to ride a motorcycle.

    You cannot learn that from a book.

    It's all up to you. And my job here is to arm you with the information you need to make intelligent decisions about motorcycling." -- Shirley Duglin Kennedy

In the interest of full disclosure, I do have to state that this book has many references to the About.com Motorcycles site (I am the former Guide to that site) and its six forums. In fact, three of the four rider profiles given are for members of the Motorcycles forums including one profile of me. About.com is mentioned nine times and I'm mentioned five times. These references are flattering both to the Motorcycles site and its members but exposure to the site and forums seems to have assisted the author in preparation of the book. Perhaps the book might never have been written had the Motorcycles site not existed. I take a certain amount of pride that a book so well written and useful to beginning riders could have come from one of our members.

Some subjects covered are: The Motorcycle Mystique, When Did All of This Start?, How Does a Motorcycle Work?, How Does It Go?, How Does It Stay Up?, How Does It Steer?, Yes, You Need a Special License, Getting Trained, Different Kinds of Bikes, Buying a Bike, Choosing Gear, Staying Safe, Caring for a Bike, Group Riding, and Motorcycle Etiquette.

A nice touch is the way the author brings all the Internet links and screen shots into the book. After all, most motorcyclists these days are on the Web and get much of their information there. Especially useful these days are the motorcycle forums on the Internet. Kennedy gives you her personal experiences on the forums.

The author promises that all the Web links mentioned in the book will be made available on a special Web site linked to her own personal Web site. So far, that site has not been constructed but I assume it will be soon.

It's hard to read this book and not find out about most of the salient points of the motorcycle experience. Got a question? You'll find an answer here or be led to a reference or Internet link where you can find out more.

Most riders get their training through courses sponsored by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF). The author relates her own, sometimes less than successful, experiences in MSF training so you will be aware that learning to ride can be daunting and not for everyone. Her technical editor for this book was an MSF instructor.

I have read many books about motorcycles but few good books about the whole subject from the beginner's viewpoint. This is an excellent book. I was quite surprised by it. This is a book by a writer who also is a librarian and a beginning motorcycle rider. The combination results in a refreshing book of wide appeal to the motorcycling community. You will enjoy it but better still, you will learn what it takes to become a motorcyclist.

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