When I was a kid I had a neighbor who, every weekend, would roll his dirt bike out from the garage and kick it to life. It usually took two or three kicks before that two-stroke would fire up. Then he’d just let it sit there for a few minutes, blipping the throttle as two-strokers tend to do. Ring-ding-ding. Ring-ding-ding. Ring-ding-ding. Eventually he would lift it up off the milk crate, throw a leg over it, and roar down the block. My neighbors probably hated him for it, but I remember I would stop whatever I was doing and watch that bike go flying by.
Looking back, I don’t remember him ever taking it to a motocross track, but it didn’t matter. Subconsciously if nothing else, I couldn’t not notice another motorcycle. My parents wanted nothing to do with me getting a bike, so I had to wait until I was 19 and had money of my own to go and buy one behind their back.
This isn’t a background Rennie Scaysbrook can relate to. The third generation of motorcyclist in his family, Rennie’s been around motorcycles – err, motorbikes as they’re called in his native Australia – from the womb. Both his parents and grandparents are former racers and Jim (Rennie’s dad) was famously Mike Hailwood’s Ducati teammate during the 1978 Isle of Man F1 race. Today, Rennie is not only an extremely fast racer, Pikes Peak Hill Climb champion, and Cycle News Road Test Editor, but he’s also a friend. Rennie has lived and breathed two wheels for as long as he can remember. Now, he wants to pass on that passion for bikes to the next generation of riders, including his own son.
He’s done it by writing a book. Not just any book, but a children’s book. The Big Book of Motorbikes essentially condenses everything we know to be cool, true, and awesome about motorcycles and mixes in a little history to get kids excited about motorbikes. Bright and colorful artwork by Asim Hussain helps drive the point home. No matter the genre, there’s a little bit of everything to get motorcycle fans big and small excited about two wheels.
At less than 30 pages long, The Big Book of Motorbikes is broken down into six chapters. While other kids’ books have characters and tell a story, Sarah and Simon are your tour guides in The Big Book of Motorbikes that guide you along while the motos do the talking. We start with why we love motorbikes, then touch on electric bikes, the different colors in motorcycling, the history of motorbikes, racing, and end with some amazing records that have been achieved on two wheels. If you’re a fan of two wheels already, your enthusiasm will hopefully carry from the book forward onto your kids.
As a dad myself to two little girls, the only exposure my kids have to motorcycles is whatever I take home for work. Sure they’ve gone to a race or two of mine, watched me whiz by, and sat on my lap as MotoGP is playing on the screen, but if it were up to my girls, they’d be perfectly happy playing with their dolls. The visual awe when coming face to face with, say, a Ducati Panigale means nothing to them. And really, I’m okay with that.
My daughters know how much motorbikes mean to me, so they begrudgingly obliged as we sat down for stories before bed. To be honest, my five-year-old wasn’t too interested. She must get it from her mother. But the two-year-old is convincing me more and more that she gets the gearhead genes from me. Every page she’d point to the riders on the page and ask, “is that daddy?!” Then she’d get excited when the Kawasaki popped up in the colors chapter – green’s her favorite color. She doesn’t really get the words yet, but she’s happy to follow along and just look at the pictures. Unfortunately, no, none of the riders in the drawings, who are caricatures of real pictures, is me. Towards the end, while the kiddos were starting to snooze away, I found myself following along like a kid. Did you know a guy named Mustafa rode his motorcycle on a tightrope for 426 feet? It’s true.
So, if you have kids, or are just a kid at heart, and want to share a book with the little ones that passes along just an inkling of the excitement about two wheels that we all share, spare $18 bucks and go to Amazon and order yourself a copy of The Big Book of Motorbikes.
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