These books are right up his al­ley if he is a mo­tor­cy­cle en­thu­si­ast or a gear­head

Calgary Herald - - DRIVING - GREG WILLIAMS Greg Williams is a mem­ber of the Au­to­mo­bile Jour­nal­ists As­so­ci­a­tion of Canada. Have a col­umn tip? Con­tact him at 403-287-1067 or greg­­

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.bumpers­ 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.

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