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A History of Competition Bikes in Pictures

Published December 15, 2008

SEATTLE, WA (BRAIN)—Jan Heine’s first photographic history of cycle touring bikes, The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles, brought a small exotic niche of cycling history to a wide audience. Heine’s follows up with a new book presenting the photographic history of racing bicycles, simply entitled The Competition Bicycle.

“It’s a beautiful book that tells the story of racing’s influence on bike design. None of the bikes we show have been restored, but are actual bikes ridden by Bartali, Coppi, Merckx and others just as they were raced,” said Jan Heine, who also is the editor of Bicycle Quarterly, a magazine about classic bicycles and cycling's history.

Heine teamed up with photographer Jean-Pierre Pradères's on the book. Pradères lavish photos were a big part of the success of The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles.

Heine and Pradères's spent the last year and a half traveling around shooting and documenting the stories of racers and their bikes. One memorable photo shoot took place through the night in a small town in France where a notable bike collector lived. The team took over the county courthouse as their makeshift photo studio.

“But we had to have all of out equipment out before the next day,” Heine recalled.

The book is not targeted towards bike collectors, so there is no attempt to catalog every step of derailleur development or shoot all the different brakes from all the various manufacturers. The book is telling a different story.

“We start with a 23 pound 1890s racing High Wheeler that was pounds lighter then the High Wheelers of the time. And go on to show the impact of pneumatic tires on the development of Tour bikes and onto Tony Rominger's 1994 hour record bike,” he said.

There are 32 carefully selected bicycles, each represents a milestone in the history of cycling competition as well as in the development of cycling technology. Andy Hampsten’s 1988 Giro d'Italia 7-Eleven bike that put him over a snowy Gavia Pass stage and into the record books as the first non-European winner of the Giro gets documented, as does Jacquie Phelan's 1983 national champion winning aluminum framed Cunningham mountain bike affectionately named Otto.

“What we are interested in is showing how racing changed bikes. And it’s much more then making lighter bikes, almost every component was adapted,” he added.

The 176 page cloth hardcover book is available from Vintage Bicycle Press. For more information see

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