17 Best Cycling Books For Bike Fanatics

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reviewed by Rory McAllister
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Titanic feats in the Tour de France, era-defining rivalries, and classic underdog tales of triumph over adversity; nothing compares to discovering a page-turner that ignites a cycling passion.

Here at BikeTips, we’ve got the team together to curate what we consider the best cycling books we’ve come across.

From memoirs that delve into the lives of legendary cyclists to intriguing historical accounts, these books offer insights, inspiration, and a deeper understanding of the sport and its passionate community.

So, next time you get back from your Sunday morning ride, ditch your sweaty cycling kit, settle into your favorite reading nook, and embark on a literary journey through the fascinating world of cycling with our handpicked selection of the best cycling books around.

Let’s dive in!

The 17 Best Cycling Books: Title Image

#1. The Secret Race by Daniel Coyle and Tyler Hamilton

Front cover of The Secret Race, one of the best cycling books we've come across.

Inside the murky, hidden world of the Tour de France in the Lance Armstrong era: Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle unravel the hidden fabric of professional cycling.

Armstrong’s duplicitous role as ringleader and hero creates a contrast to the public image that once enamored the world. Performance-enhancing drugs, ambition, deceit, and choices.

It’s a compelling narrative that delves into a realm where victory overshadows ethics.

#2. Jan Ullrich by Daniel Friebe

Front cover of Jan Ullrich: The Best There Never Was.

The Best There Never Was.

The story behind Jan Ullrich’s psyche, unbearable expectations, tough childhood, and more. Author Daniel Friebe traces the rise and fall of this cycling legend. And in the process, he talks about the real forces that hindered Jan’s full potential.

Vivid anecdotes celebrating outstanding talent.

#3. Bikes and Bloomers by Kat Jungnickel

Front cover of Bikes and Bloomers.

Victorian Women Inventors and Their Extraordinary Cycle Wear.

Thank Alice, Julia, sisters Mary and Sarah, Henrietta, and Mary Ann. Stories at the intersection of fashion, history, and women’s rights.

In the face of 19th-century societal norms – even with the political implications – these creative pioneers defied convention through bicycles to embrace freedom.

#4. The Rider by Tim Krabbé

Front cover of The Rider, one of our favourite cycling books.

POV: You’re in an epic race in the mountains of Central France. That’s The Rider.

This cycling book act as an intimate look at the inner workings of a cyclist’s mind during competition. The narrative transcends the boundaries of a mere race account. It evolves into a meditation on the nature of pain, endurance, and the beauty of the sport.

One of the best cycling books ever written, it’s a literary gem encapsulating Krabbé’s prose and observations.

#5. Racing Through the Dark by David Millar

Front cover of Racing Through the Dark by David Millar.

The Fall and Rise of David Millar.

Author and protagonist. From being a promising young cyclist, to a doping offender, to an advocate of clean sports. Here’s the turbulent odyssey of Millar’s complex emotions, rationalizations, and pressures.

It’s the paradox of a fallen hero’s renaissance grappling with the temptations (and consequences) of cycling doping.

#6. A Biography of Sean Kelly by David Walsh

Front cover of David Walsh's Sean Kelly biography.

Ireland’s most celebrated professional cyclist, Sean Kelly.

This volume goes into the grit, determination, and unwavering spirit of that great quiet man of ’80s cycling. Walsh’s portrayal of Kelly’s rise to stardom and the transition to team mentor touches the heart.

Wonderful reading for anyone who craves a dose of inspiration to overcome life’s challenges.

#7. The Cycling Chef by Alan Murchison

Front cover of The Cycling Chef: Recipes for Performance and Pleasure.

Recipes for Performance and Pleasure.

What are the odds of a Michelin-starred chef who’s both an elite athlete and a nutritionist writing a cycling book? Hint: the number is low.

The Cycling Chef sits among the best cycling books ranking. Combining gastronomy, athleticism, and nutrition, Alan dishes out mouth-watering recipes for peak performance.

There are more than 75 delicious yet balanced meals you can make in less than 30 minutes.

#8. Thunder and Sunshine by Alastair Humphreys

Front cover of Thunder and Sunshine, one of the best books about cycling.

Around the world by bike.

This epic tale follows Humphreys as he embarks on a four-year, 46,000-mile journey across five continents, and 60 countries, on a £7,000 budget.

Simple premise – a man, his bike, and a world map.

But the interesting part is the encounters shaping that adventure: the transformative power of travel, the kindness of strangers, and the strength of the human spirit.

#9. The Death of Marco Pantani by Matt Rendell

Front cover of The Death of Marco Pantani.

A biography of the only cyclist capable of challenging Lance Armstrong’s dominance.

Marco Pantani was a legend of cycling, a maverick rider known to his adoring fans as “Il Pirata” on account of his penchant for bandanas and gold earrings.

This book reads as a glorious celebration of talent and a tragic account of the dangers of celebrity, heightened by the doping-fuelled era of cycling in the 1990s and beyond.

#10. Where There’s a Will by Emily Chappell

Front cover of Where There's A Will by Emily Chappell.

Hope, Grief and Endurance in a Cycle Race Across a Continent.

4,000 heart-wrenching miles in 13 days and 10 hours. Intense physical, mental, and emotional exertion in the self-supported ultra-distance cycling Transcontinental Race: Europe’s toughest bike race.

And if that wasn’t enough, the sudden loss of the race’s founder and dear Emily’s friend, Mike Hall. One of the best cycling books that made it to the list, it’s a very human story with a person doing the extraordinary.

#11. Mountains by Michael Blann

Front cover of Mountains: Epic Cycling Climbs.

Blann elevates cycling to new heights with epic cycling climbs.

This is a visually-stunning tome exploring the world’s most awe-inspiring climbs. The breathtaking photography steals the show. Each image is a testament to the raw beauty and grandeur of these ascents.

We’ve written about some of these places before. Col Du Tourmalet, Mont Ventoux, and Col Du Galibier in picturesque France. Or the Furka Pass and St Gotthard Pass in scenic Switzerland.

#12. The Cyclist’s Training Bible by Joe Friel

Front cover of The Cyclist's Training Bible.

The World’s Most Comprehensive Training Guide.

Friel demystifies training principles and establishes a solid foundation to propel cycling performance. Scientific-based training plans that adapt to multiple cyclist levels.

Book’s packed with tons of insights and real-world experience from Joe’s methodology.

#13. Half Man, Half Bike by William Fotheringham

Front cover of Half Man, Half Bike: The Like of Eddy Merckx, Cycling's Greatest Champion.

The Life of Eddy “The Cannibal” Merckx, Cycling’s Greatest Champion.

Half the story is a glimpse of a lifetime dedicated to cycling adventures, culminating in an absurd 445 victories. Fotheringham’s invite is to take a closer look at the human side of an unrivaled cyclist like no other.

Humble beginnings, a meteoric rise to fame, and controversy.

#14. Back In The Frame by Jools Walker

Front cover of Back In The Frame.

Cycling, belonging and finding joy on a bike—no matter what life throws at you.

Who thought two wheels could have the potential to heal one’s inner self? Jools Walker, also known as Lady Vélo, wrote a book to celebrate cycling and the magic it holds.

In the midst of depression and suffering a mini-stroke, nothing looked good. But she overcame these challenges, stepped out of her comfort zone, and learned to cycle her own path. No doubt, she left a mark in this collection of the best cycling books.

Must-read: 11 Benefits Of Cycling: Why Bike Riding Is Great For Your Body And Mind

#15. The Yellow Jersey Club by Edward Pickering

Front cover of The Yellow Jersey Club.

Inside the Minds of the Tour de France Winners. What are they really made of?

The proper way to find out was by breaking down the track record of actual champions to understand three things. Differences, points in common, and patterns that set these athletes apart.

Pickering has led the mission to analyze 26 cyclists who’ve worn the iconic maillot jaune.

Among the best cycling books, this one is loaded with insights into the cycling history of the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s. And of course, ambition, sacrifice, and determination.

#16. God Is Dead by Andy McGrath

Front cover of God is Dead: The Rise and Fall of Frank Vandenbroucke.

The Rise and Fall of Frank Vandenbroucke, Cycling’s Great Wasted Talent.

He won the Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Paris-Nice, and Ghent-Wevelgem. But as you’ve seen so far, the trajectory of every enigmatic cyclist has a lesson and a particular context.

In Frank’s case, depression, drugs, car crashes, divorce, court appearances, and suicide attempts.

From cycling talent divinity to insane chaos. The multifaceted tale of a man who once stood on the precipice of greatness, but succumbed to tragedy. The Belgian god of cycling.

This book was possible thanks to the contributions of family, friends, and teammates.

#17. Slaying the Badger by Richard Moore

Front cover of Slaying the Badger: Greg LeMond, Bernard Hinault, and the Greatest Tour de France.

Greg LeMond, Bernard Hinault, and the Greatest Tour de France.

A riveting account of one of the most intense rivalries in cycling history. As one of the best cycling books, it digs deep into the drama of the 1986 Tour de France.

Two figures with a tense relationship – Greg LeMond and Bernard Hinault – battle against opponents and each other as both vie for victory. What looks like trust and loyalty is not. Instead, it’s a backstabbing maneuver that threatens the core of the duo’s alliance.

Read More: “The Greatest Tour Of Them All”: The Agony And Ecstasy of Greg Lemond’s Legendary 1989 Tour de France Victory

Agree with our picks for the best cycling books, or think we missed any out? Let us know in the comments below!

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BikeTips' urban cycling aficionado. That's Manuel. Based in Buenos Aires, he weaves his love for sustainable transportation into the writing side of things. As a personal mission, Manuel shares thoughts out loud to reimagine commuting. When he's not writing for online publications, you'll find him exploring the city on a vintage two-wheeler.

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