25 Years of ‘The Good Automobile’ by Melissa Holbrook Pierson


Melissa Holbrook Pierson, author of “The Perfect Vehicle” and other books.
Melissa Holbrook Pierson, writer of “The Good Automobile” and different books.

In 1997, Melissa Holbrook Pierson printed The Good Automobile: What It Is About Bikes, a pleasant e book 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 means by graduate faculty in Philadelphia, I purchased a bike and discovered to trip.

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

Once I learn Pierson’s account of shopping for a Moto Guzzi Lario from a small European bike store known as The Spare Components Firm tucked away on a slender avenue within the Previous Metropolis part of Philadelphia, an space I explored recurrently on late-night pub crawls and weekend wanderings, I felt a good stronger connection to her e book. I had been to the store earlier than, and my then-girlfriend was pals with the proprietor.


On the twenty fifth anniversary of The Good Automobile, thought-about the most effective books ever written about bikes, we reprinted a evaluation printed within the August 1997 situation 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 e book, 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 Good Automobile”

Introduction to ‘The Good Automobile’ Spanish Version

By Melissa Holbrook Pierson

Twenty-five years have elapsed between the time I started writing The Good Automobile and the second you’re studying these phrases. The impetus for writing was, fairly merely, unbridled pleasure. Why had nobody ever advised me bikes had been so transporting? Why didn’t everybody know the way affecting they had been, how they enriched and condensed expertise? How they had been a robust power for private good?

So I tried to say in my e book each very last thing I might 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 basically infinite can comprise “every little thing.” Even I’d go on to seek out extra issues, and extra issues, to say. I wrote articles and poems and one other e book about bikes. I’m not completed but. The that means of the trip is unending, which is why we trip: 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 little thing to vary – governments to rise and fall, species disappear, cities unfold, new applied sciences revolutionize every 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 trip – gas injection, ABS, “trip by wire” (defined to me half a dozen occasions to no impact), issues as soon as visibly mechanical now directed at nighttime by laptop chips. Not for me lengthy storage bullshit periods 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 best way advanced techniques, the motorbike’s biomes, circulation 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 could solely be attended to on the workplace of the suitable neurologist, I imply, supplier 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 adjustments within the varieties of people that trip. The so-called journey bike has turn out to be massively in style, 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 share of riders who’re feminine has greater than doubled since I began driving, and these girls 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 threat loss of life to do it.

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

A lot verbal handwringing has materialized, in the USA a minimum of, 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 actual factor with its climate and difficulties and the 360-degree view onto a disappearing however nonetheless attractive planet. Financial components 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 just lately did for myself) throngs of younger folks enthralled by driving and the locations it takes you. I’m not fearful concerning the demise of the motorbike. The planet itself can be destroyed lengthy earlier than the peculiar happiness driving confers.

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

Bikes amplify all that’s wonderful about residing. It’s not an adjunct to waking up within the morning, or an occasional occupation. It explains every little thing, offers a objective to being alive, and a spot in each neighborhood and historical past, which nonetheless and eternally unreels, just like the highway itself. I’ve misplaced expensive pals, who occurred to die doing the factor they cherished 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 final word data that love is actual – love for an inimitable assortment of elements that mysteriously opens a window onto probably the most very important of experiences, in addition to love between two folks introduced collectively by what I can solely think about 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 interact first gear. The world turns into new on each trip. However now I do know a deeper secret, one I’ve each lived and witnessed, time and again. Bikes save lives.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *