Snappy book titles, hey? On the back of interviewing Ian Falloon and reviewing his Bevel Twins… Guide (a must have even at £50) in Benzina #13 Veloce kindly sent me a couple of other books. Should you buy them as well? Maybe… and maybe not.
The first was another of Ian’s books, The Essential Buyer’sGuide Ducati Desmodue Twins. A sparse 20 x 14 cm (c8” x 6”) and just 64 pages long, it’s nevertheless £12.99. Cheap against buying a duff Ducati, but the problem is that many of the pages are taken up with general advice about eBay, registration paperwork, frame numbers (at least Ian avoids the “matching numbers” trap) and engine numbers – below the water pump, apparently. Hmmm: of all the “Desmodue” I’ve owned, only the 906 Paso had a water pump, but all the others still had engine numbers. And people who need reminding to take reading glasses if they need them, and check they’re insured to ride a bike, are probably not the sort of folk you want to meet coming the other way when you’re out riding.
None of this is Ian’s fault – this Veloce buying series follows a format and gives a general overview, as I found out to my cost in the past, buying them online without reading the small print. They’re not really one thing or the other – neither a general buying guide or model specific. The internet’s made the former obsolete, and for the later Ian and Veloce can probably help with a book that’ll only be £10-15 more expensive than this one that just tries to be too many things to too many people. But if there’s a space in your Ian Falloon memorial library go ahead and buy a copy.
Better is the Motorcycle GP Racing in the 1960s by Chris Pereira, with a foreword by the legendary Tommy Robb. Still a slight tome – smaller than A4 and just 176 pages, its big failing is that about half the book is simply a list of results that the internet could provide. Sure, it’s nice to have them – and track layouts - on the bookshelf but I’d rather have read more from the obviously enthusiastic and credible author. It’s also a shame that the pics aren’t given more space to breathe; often there are six to a spread, the designer’s brief seemingly aimed at keeping printing costs down. And, despite the book being black and white throughout with the only colour is the dustcover, it still costs £30. That seems a lot, especially since it’s comparable to the brilliant photo-fest that is Jan and Hetty Burgers Continental Circus publication, although the latter lacks any meaningful text. So, if you’re a 1960s racing fan, there isn’t really anything comparable to Chris Pereira’s book: I guess that makes it a must have to bikers of a certain age.