25 Years of ‘The Excellent Car’ by Melissa Holbrook Pierson

25 Years of ‘The Excellent Car’ by Melissa Holbrook Pierson

25 Years of ‘The Excellent Car’ by Melissa Holbrook Pierson
Melissa Holbrook Pierson, writer of “The Excellent Car” and different books.

In 1997, Melissa Holbrook Pierson printed The Excellent Car: What It Is About Bikes, a pleasant ebook that chronicles her love affair with bikes in addition to the distinctive cultural and historic panorama of the two-wheeled world. In 1998, whereas struggling my method by means of graduate college in Philadelphia, I purchased a motorbike and realized to experience.

Throughout the first 12 months of my very own love affair with motorcycling, I learn – no, I devoured – The Excellent Car. Not solely did Pierson artfully articulate the total spectrum of feelings, sensations, and experiences which might be acquainted to any motorcyclist and evoke the “experience to dwell, dwell to experience” credo, she educated me concerning the thrilling new world I had come to inhabit.

After I learn Pierson’s account of shopping for a Moto Guzzi Lario from a small European bike store referred to as The Spare Elements Firm tucked away on a slim road within the Outdated Metropolis part of Philadelphia, an space I explored repeatedly on late-night pub crawls and weekend wanderings, I felt a good stronger connection to her ebook. I had been to the store earlier than, and my then-girlfriend was pals with the proprietor.


On the twenty fifth anniversary of The Excellent Car, thought-about top-of-the-line books ever written about bikes, we reprinted a evaluation printed within the August 1997 problem of Rider and which will be discovered on our web site right here. We additionally reprinted Pierson’s introduction to the Spanish version of the ebook, which was printed in 2021 by La Mala Suerte Ediciones, the primary and solely writer dedicated to motorbike books in Spanish.

Scroll down for that introduction, and go to MelissaHolbrookPierson.com to order her books.

Greg Drevenstedt, Editor-in-Chief

Rider August 1997 Melissa Holbrook Pierson The Perfect Vehicle
Flashback to August 1997, the difficulty that featured our evaluation of Melissa Holbrook Pierson’s “The Excellent Car”

Introduction to ‘The Excellent Car’ Spanish Version

By Melissa Holbrook Pierson

Twenty-five years have elapsed between the time I started writing The Excellent Car and the second you might be studying these phrases. The impetus for writing was, fairly merely, unbridled pleasure. Why had nobody ever informed me bikes had been so transporting? Why didn’t everybody understand how affecting they had been, how they enriched and condensed expertise? How they had been a strong power for private good?

So I tried to say in my ebook each last item I may consider to say about these machines that each seize and categorical the human creativeness. However no quantity one can say about one thing that’s primarily infinite can comprise “every thing.” Even I’d go on to seek out extra issues, and extra issues, to say. I wrote articles and poems and one other ebook about bikes. I’m not completed but. The which means of the experience is endless, which is why we experience: to style immortality within the type of the resounding now.

Associated: Melissa Holbrook Pierson: Ep. 9 of the Rider Journal Insider Podcast

1 / 4 of a century is a very long time. Time sufficient for every thing to vary – governments to rise and fall, species disappear, cities unfold, new applied sciences revolutionize each day life and rewire our brains. In that lengthy span, I can now report, a lot has modified about motorcycling. And little or no. There have been technical advances within the bikes we experience – gasoline injection, ABS, “experience by wire” (defined to me half a dozen instances to no impact), issues as soon as visibly mechanical now directed at midnight by pc chips. Not for me lengthy storage bullshit classes amongst pals, the place I’d marvel on the ingenious association of elements mirrored within the minds of people who find themselves to me equal marvels of nature: they handle to grasp the way in which advanced methods, the motorbike’s biomes, movement collectively and aside.

I at all times knew my bike had a coronary heart, however now it has a separate mind. In its superior evolutionary state it might solely be attended to on the workplace of the suitable neurologist, I imply, vendor with the codes. This has put an sad distance between the soul of the machine and its rider, however the tradeoff is efficiency effectively past the creativeness of the final century.

There are concurrent modifications within the sorts of people that experience. The so-called journey bike has turn out to be vastly well-liked, together with international journeys on it that when had been uncommon however are at this second being undertaken by astonishing numbers of individuals of all ages, nationality, and gender. The proportion of riders who’re feminine has greater than doubled since I began using, and these ladies are sometimes pursuing it in cultures that brazenly disapprove. They don’t care; they do it anyway. That’s how highly effective the attract is: we danger dying to do it.

Associated: Writers and Riders: Assembly Melissa Holbrook Pierson and John Ryan

A lot verbal handwringing has materialized, in the US no less than, concerning the “graying” of the motorcyclist, and the game’s diminishing maintain on youth who’re reputed to care extra about digital life than the true factor with its climate and difficulties and the 360-degree view onto a disappearing however nonetheless attractive planet. Financial elements are sometimes mentioned. However that’s within the small nook from which I write. Shift the scope to India, which has emerged because the world’s largest motorbike market, and see (as I not too long ago did for myself) throngs of younger folks enthralled by using and the locations it takes you. I’m not frightened concerning the demise of the motorbike. The planet itself will likely be destroyed lengthy earlier than the peculiar happiness using confers.

I, too, have come nearer to my finish. Going towards it on my bike is the one cheap mode of journey by means of these years. 

Bikes amplify all that’s superb about residing. It isn’t an adjunct to waking up within the morning, or an occasional occupation. It explains every thing, offers a goal to being alive, and a spot in each group and historical past, which nonetheless and endlessly unreels, just like the street itself. I’ve misplaced expensive pals, who occurred to die doing the factor they beloved most. However that was happenstance, not trigger. Motorcycling has introduced me the deepest friendships I’ll ever know, acceptance right into a worldwide brotherhood, and the last word data that love is actual – love for an inimitable assortment of elements that mysteriously opens a window onto essentially the most very important of experiences, in addition to love between two folks introduced collectively by what I can solely contemplate a magical agent. Sure, bikes are even matchmakers for the lovelorn.

A lot has modified within the years between then and now. A lot has stayed the identical. I nonetheless really feel boundless anticipation and hope and want and a fleck of fear each time I have interaction first gear. The world turns into new on each experience. However now I do know a deeper secret, one I’ve each lived and witnessed, repeatedly. Bikes save lives.