GIVE YOUR DAD THE GIFT OF READING ON FATHER’S DAY
These books are right up his alley if he is a motorcycle enthusiast or a gearhead
Father’s Day is just around the corner. For those who need a gift for a dad who shows gearhead tendencies, there’s nothing better than a good book. Here are two suggestions.
First up is a great book that would best be shared with children. Bumper’s Garage is a tale written by Texas-based Geoff Holladay and finely illustrated by Mark Morgan. It’s aimed at kids, but all who appreciate tools will enjoy the story. I’ve long been a proponent of encouraging youngsters to learn about the wonderment of tools. With a few simple hand tools, many mechanical problems can be overcome, and a mentor usually provides the early education.
In Bumper’s Garage Book 1, young Steve Auburn is set to deliver newspapers when he’s sidelined by a broken chainring on his bicycle. His dad, Dean, who himself is a gearhead, recognizes the problem. Dean suggests they visit Eli Baumer — a man who “can fix anything.”
They load the broken bicycle into dad’s Ford Ranchero and head to an old shop where Dean introduces his son to Baumer, his own one-time mechanical mentor. Steve and Baumer begin searching through old crates looking for a replacement chainring. Caught up in the treasure hunt, Steve realizes he’s late and will miss his deadline for delivering the papers.
That’s when Baumer — who insists Steve call him Bumper — throws the cover off an old Vincent motorcycle, fires it up and helps get the deliveries done. Back at the shop, they finish fixing the bicycle and as Steve is leaving, Bumper says, “You know, if you ever get tired of that paper route, I could sure use a hand around the shop.”
This has set the hook in young Steve, hopeful that one day he’ll be handy enough with tools to be able to fix anything that’s broken, just like his mentor, Bumper.
Bumper’s Garage, published by Long Pull Press, can be ordered at www.bumpersgarage.com. My copy, which was US$14.95, took a few weeks to arrive. But even if it doesn’t arrive in time for Father’s Day, it’s well worth the wait.
In Ton Up! A Century of Café Racer Speed and Style, author and motorcycle historian Paul d’orleans traces the history of the need and quest for speed aboard powered two-wheelers throughout the decades. For those wondering about the title, ton-up is an expression used to describe travelling in or on a vehicle at 100 miles per hour or more.
In this well researched book, d’orleans starts the story in the years before mechanized transportation.
“The culture of youthful, reckless speed did not begin with the motorcycle,” he writes in the introduction. “The fastest travel for thousands of years was the horse, and subcultures of fast horsemen populate the folk tales of many societies.”
From this point, d’orleans traces motorcycle development from its infancy through its continuing evolution and the search for speed from the 1910s through every decade of the 20th century — and well into the 21st century with electric machines.
While discussing professional racing, the book also covers what would have been “regular” street machines and the people who rode and modified them, stripping them of excess parts and tuning them up with the express purpose of going fast.
Published by Motorbooks,
Ton Up! is densely packed with supporting archival motorcycle images, many of them never before published.
The third chapter, The 1930s: Promenade Percy and the Bob Job, was a favourite of mine. In it d’orleans writes, “The term ‘seaside promenade Percy’ first appeared in the letters section of motorcycle magazines in the 1930s to describe fans of café racers. The promenade in question was Southend-on-sea, 30 miles east of London, which was a popular hangout for young riders, who made a spectacle of themselves with their dandyish gear, polished up bikes, and engine revving.” Sounds like some things never change, as riders today continue to blip idling engines at traffic lights.
Happy Father’s Day, especially to dads with mechanical minds.
Early speed enthusiasts on Harley-davidsons appear in Ton Up! A Century of Café Racer Speed and Style, by Paul d’orleans.