HISTORIC CYCLING BOOKS
Pelotome’s guide to the earliest cycling magazines.
Journals and Weeklys.
“It would doubtless be a matter of considerable surprise to one outside the wheeling fraternity to learn the extent which the literature of this comparatively recent sport has attained.
Surely no other pastime can make as good a showing in this respect in so short a time.
Wheeling is a sport which seems to have been cultivated more largely by persons of education and literary acquirement, than any other of the diversions which are embraced in the term, ‘polite recreation.’
And to be able to say that a sport which has had so short an existence in this country can lay claim to so extensive a literature of its own, should be a matter of considerable pride to every wheelman.”
~ The Wheelman’s Hand-Book of Essex County – George Chinn & Fred E. Smith (1882).
Surprisingly, bicycle journalism originated not in France, but in America, where W. Chester King would be the first to edit a short-lived monthly paper in 1869:
- The Velocipedist – New York
- monthly (from Feb to Apr 1869)
- The American Bicycling Journal – Boston, Massachusetts.
- fortnightly, 18 editions (22 Dec 1877 – 1 Nov 1879).
- The Bicycling World & Archery Field – Boston, Massachusetts.
- The Wheel – New York.
- weekly (from 25 Sep 1880).
- The Wheel and Cycling Trade Review – New York
- weekly (2 Mar 1888 – 6 Sep 1900)
- The Bicycling World and Motorcycle Review
- weekly (13 Sep 1990 – 16 Mar 1912?)
- The Bicycle – New York.
- (Feb 1881).
- Outing – Albany, New York.
- semi-annual, 25 editions? (May 1882 – Dec 1883).
- semi-annual, (from Apr 1884 – 1923).
- The Wheelman – Boston, Massachusetts.
- monthly, 15 editions (Oct 1882 – Dec 1883).
- The Cycle – Milford, Massachusetts.
- monthly, 6 editions (1883).
- The Western Cyclist – Ovid, Michig
- monthly (Apr 1883 – 1 Dec 1885).
- The Western Cyclist – Ovid, Michigan.
- monthly (Apr 1883 – 1 Dec 1885).
- The Springfield Wheelman’s Gazette – Springfield, Massachusetts.
- monthly (May – Oct 1883; May 1884 – Feb 1886).
- Wheelman’s Gazette. – later published in Illinois
- monthly (from Apr 1886 – Dec 1889?).
- New Haven Bicycle Herald – New Haven, Connecticut.
- (Sep 1883).
- Outing and The Wheelman – Albany, New York.
- semi-annual, 5 editions (Jan 1884 – Mar 1885).
- The Bicycler’s Record – Lawrence, Massachusetts.
- 2 editions (Jan & Feb 1884).
- Philadelphia Cycling Record – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- 26 editions (from 7 Mar 1884).
- The Cleveland Mercury – Cleveland, Ohio.
- monthly (Apr – Sep 1884).
- The Bicycle – Montgomery, Alabama.
- 30 editions (15 Jul 1884 – 15 Oct 1885).
- Southern Cycler – Memphis, Tennessee.
- monthly (from Nov 1884).
- Bicycle South – New Orleans, Louisiana.
- monthly (from Dec 1884).
- The Elizabeth Wheelman – Elizabeth, New Jersey.
- (Dec 1884).
- Star Advocate – East Rochester, New Hampshire.
- monthly (from Mar 1885).
- Cycling – Cleveland, Ohio.
- monthly (from Apr – Sep 1885).
- Californian Athlete – San Francisco, California.
- 9 editions (from 11 Apr 1885).
- The Hamilton Wheel Journal – Hamilton, Ohio.
- monthly, 1 edition (May 1885).
- The Yale Cyclist – New Haven, Connecticut.
- (May 1885).
- L.A.W. Bulletin – (League of America Wheelmen) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- weekly (2nd Jul 1885 – Feb 1888 + 22 Mar 1894).
- American Wheelman – St. Louis, Missouri.
- weekly (from Aug 1885).
- Ingleside – San Francisco, California.
- Springfield Wheelman’s Gazette – Cleveland, Ohio.
- monthly (from Sep 1885).
- The Cycle – Boston, Massachusetts.
- weekly (from 2nd Apr 1886).
- Vermont Bicycle – West Randolph, Vermont.
- monthly (from Apr 1886).
- Recreation – Newark, New JerseyRandolph, Vermont.
- weekly (from July 1886).
- Good Roads – (League of America Wheelmen), New York.
- monthly (from Jan 1892).
- The L.A.W. Bulletin and Good Roads – (League of America Wheelmen), Boston, Massachusetts.
- weekly (from Apr 1894 – May 1900).
As with cycling itself, bicycle journalism took off first in France with “Le Grand Jacques”, the nom de plume of Richard Lesclide – a pioneer in sports journalism and the future secretary to Victor Hugo – penning Le Vélocipède illustré -which notably organised the first city-to-city cycling race in history: the famous Paris-Rouen, on 7th November, 1869. Many titles would follow, albeit after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, including the daily Le Vélo in 1892:
- Le Vélocipède – Voiron (Isère).
- monthly (1 Mar – 1 May 1869).
- Le Vélocipède illustré – Paris
- bi-weekly (1 Apr 1869 – 4 Sep 1870).
- La Vitesse – Paris
- bi-weekly (16 Jul – 27 Aug 1871).
- Le Vélocipède illustré – Paris
- bi-weekly (2 May – 24 Oct 1872)
- reappeared (6 Apr 1890 – 1901)
- Le Vélocipède – Paris
- weekly (1 Jan 1874 – 3 Oct 1874).
- La Revue des Sports – Paris
- weekly (29 Apr 1876 – 1 Jan 1893).
- Le Sport Vélocipédique – Paris
- bi-monthly (4 Mar 1880 – 12 Nov 1886).
- L’Industrie Vélocipédique – Paris
- bi-monthly (1882 – 27 Dec 1913).
- Le Véloce-Sport – Bordeaux
- weekly (5 Mar 1885-21 Oct 1886).
- weekly (21 Mar 1889 -7 Nov 1895).
- Le Cycle –
- weekly (
- Le Véloce-Sport et Véloceman – Bordeaux
- weekly (28 Oct 1886 -7 Mar 1889).
- La Revue Vélocipédique – Paris
- Le Véloceman – Montpelier
- weekly (15 Jan 1885 – 12 Nov 1886).
- Touring-Club de France Revue Mensuelle– Paris
- monthly (1890 – 1919)
- Le Vélo – Paris
- daily (1 Dec 1892 – 20 Nov 1904)
- Les Rois du cycle – Paris
- one off? (25 Nov 1894)
- Véloce-Sport et Bicyclette – Paris
- weekly (2 Jan 1896 – 19 Mar 1896).
- weekly (2 Apr 1896 – 11 Nov 1897).
- Sport et Bicyclette – Paris
- weekly (once on 26 Mar 1896).
- L’Illustration vélocipédique – Rouen
- monthly (from 1 Sep 1889)
While cycling columns appeared in other British newspapers, such as Sporting Life (1859 – 1998), The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News (1874 – 1943) dedicated titles include:
- The Bicyclist – London.
- monthly (from 1875 – 1876).
- Bicycling News – London.
- weekly (from Jan 1876 – 1897).
- The Bicycling News and Tricycling Gazette
- weekly (1881)
- The Bicycle Journal – London.
- weekly (1875? or 18 Aug 1876 – 31 Jul 1878, or 1881).
- The Bicycling Times and Tourist’s Gazette – London.
- Cycling Times – London.
- weekly (from May 1877).
- London Bicycle Club Gazette – London
- monthly (15 Mar 1878 – 1900).
- Bicycle Touring Club Monthly Circular – London.
- monthly (from Oct 1878).
- The Bicycle Gazette, and Bicycle and Tricycle Trades’ Record – Coventry.
- bi-monthly (15 Feb 1879 – 15 Jul 1879…?)
- The Cyclist, and Bicycling and Tricycling Trades Review.- Coventry (then London)
- The Wheel World – Coventry.
- monthly (from 1 May 1880 – 1886).
- Cyclist – Coventry.
- weekly (from 22 Oct 1879).
- Etherington Bicylopedia – London (if ever published).
- advertised monthly (from Feb 1881)
- The Tricyling Journal and Manufacturing Advertiser – London.
- weekly (from 15 Jun 1881).
- The Tricyclist – Coventry
- 1882 – 1885
- Wheeling – London.
- weekly (from 30 Apr 1884).
- Athletic News and Cycle Journal – Manchester.
- weekly (1875 – 1931).
- Cycling – Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
- weekly (from 24 Jan 1891)
- The Cycle.
- Scottish Cyclist
German titles include:
- Das Velociped – Berlin.
- (from 1881)
- Der Fahrrad – Berlin
- DRB magazine (from 1884).
Australian titles include:
- Australian Cycling News – Melbourne, Victoria.
- fortnightly (from 31 Aug 1883).
Canadian titles include:
- Canadian Wheelman – London, Ontario.
- monthly (from Sep 1883).
- Cycling – Toronto
- Bi-monthly (26 Nov 1890 – 8 Apr 1897)
Irish titles include:
- Irish Cyclist and Athlete – Dublin.
- fortnightly (from 15 May 1885).
- Irish Cyclist and Athletic Journal – Dublin.
- weekly (from Nov 1885).
- Irish Athletic and Cycling News – ?.
- Sport – ?.
- Irish Sportsman – ?.
1882 – 1886?
The Midland Athletic Star and Cycling News.
This delightful little book “which unites instruction and merriment” includes a chapter wonderfully detailing the author’s three day, 107 mile (171 km) “experimental very long journey” with his companion on their 36 inch wheelers – from Lewes to Salisbury, via Arundel and Southampton – made in the Autumn of 1869, following the “Velocipede agitation” of Britain’s first ever Velocipede Derby at the Crystal Palace in May 1869.
- published in Birmingham.
“Around the World by Vélocipède” is the earliest known cycle touring book ever published. Released a year after his charming “Manuel du vélocipède”, this fictional account, written in French – under the nom de plume, Le Grand Jacques – and also serialised in the author’s bi-weekly magazine, Le Vélocipède illustré, it follows an eccentric American millionaire and a “freak show” giantess on their bespoke Vélocipède from Paris to Siberia, crossing Russia into Alaska and Canada, before making their way down through Panama to Cape Horn, sailing on to the Cape of Good Hope and then heading back to Paris through Africa.
- by Le Grand Jacques (Richard Lesclide).
- with illustrations by Felix Regamey.
- published in French by Librairie de la Publication, Paris.
1877 – 1879?
The weekly magazine released their first “The Bicycle Annual” in 1877, which ran until 1879.
- by Charles F. Casella.
- printed by Spottiswoode & Co., London
- (illustration of a Snoxell velocipede, left, not from book).
This updated version of Charles Spencer’s pioneering book from 1869, “containing instructions for beginners; choice of a machine; hints on training; road book for England, Wales, &c, &c,” was part of “Warne’s Useful Books” series and, together with a comprehensive list of routes and mileage, includes an 18 page chapter providing “the detailed account of the trip from London to John o’ Groats, the longest on record which has ever been undertaken,” in June 1873, by four members of the Middlesex Bicycle Club over fourteen days, and an estimated 800 miles (“a very moderate estimate when the winding of the roads is taken into consideration, to say nothing of the continual ascents”).
- by Charles Spencer.
- with practical illustrations.
- published by Frederick Warne and Co., London.
“A text book for riders” aimed to cater for the rapidly developing bicycle movement by filling the void, after early books about the wooden wheeled machine had become valueless. With numerous illustrations to assist the beginner, the book is packed with informative chapters on routes in England, Ireland, Scotland, Switzerland, The Battlefields of 1870, Upper Rhine, Belgium, Germany, Holland, and France – each highlighting the points of interest, hotels, museums, mileage, gradients and road conditions along the way,
- Published by Tinsley Bros., London.
Written by the honorable secretary to the Surrey Bicycle Club, this first in a series of his “record of bicycling for the past year” for the weekly Bicycle Journal magazine, includes a short account of the author’s fifty miles cycle from London to “a small farm in Sussex”, where his father was staying, on his “very giraffe of a bicycle as to height, no less than forty-five inches in the driving wheel.”
- by Alfred Howard.
- Published by Henry Kent Causton & Sons, London.
- (illustration of an 1874 racing bicycle, left, not from book).
In this 32 page book, W. Saunders recounts Frenchman M. A. Laumaillé’s notable 760 mile, 12 day journey of October 1874, “the longest bicycle tour on record”, from the French to the Austrian capital on an English machine. The journey, “of upwards of 760 miles in spite of bad roads, disgraceful treatment by villagers, heavy rains, and many other discouragements” was also wildly reported in international medical journals at the time, due to Laumaille’s invention of a natural tonic made from liqueur de cocoa, which “supported him and gave him strength.”
- by W. Saunders.
- Published by Tinsley Brothers, London.
- image, left, proved by University of Bristol Library.
With British maps and routes – complete with mileages and a description of the state of the road – and an important review of the previous year, the weekly Bicycling Times magazine’s annual release arrogantly boasted by its third edition, in 1879, that “its success last year was simply unprecedented in bicycling literature. It would be in the worst taste to refer to the fact that the only rival to this publication [Alfred Howard’s “The Bicycle for…” guide] will not this year appear, having fairly been run off the field.”
- Edited by C.W. Nairn & C.J. Fox Junior.
- Published by Bicycling Times Office, London.
1878 – with later edition in 1879
The Bicyclist’s Pocket-Book and Diary for 1878.
A publication from “The Country – A Journal of Rural Pursuits” , 170 Strand, this 167 page neatly bound book came complete with pencil and pockets. “Contents very well chosen and valuable.”
- Published by “The Country”, 170 Strand, London.
- (illustration of an 1878 Simpson & Son “Defiance” bicycle, left, not from book).
1878? – published in 1879
Eydtkuhnen to Langenweddingen by Bicycle.
A 24 page account of “an attempt to ride from the Russian frontier to Calais” from Eydtkuhnen, the village on the East Prussian (German) side of the border – today the settlement of Eitkūnai in Chernyshevskoe, Kaliningrad, on the border with Kybartai, Lithuania. 877 km away, Langenweddingen in Prussia is today part of Sülzetal near Magdeburg, Germany.
A reading of this book took place at the Drill Hall, Bromley, Kent, England, on January 25th 1879, however little else is known about it.
- by W.S. Yorke Shuttleworth.
- Published by J. Mardling, London.
- (illustration from an old postcard, left, not from book).
The American Bicycler.
Perhaps taking its inspiration from Alfred Howard’s British “The Bicycle for…” series, “a manual for the observer, the learner, and the expert” gives instructions on how to ride a bicycle, including the rules of the road, and also features chapters on road racing, American clubs, and suggested routes with mileage. A review of 1878 also states that “the bicycle has begun to supersede those ill-starred velocipedes ; and Detroit leads the country in having an aristocratic lady- bicycler”.
- by Charles E. Pratt.
- Published by Houghton, Osgood & Company, Boston.
1879 – Published in 1881
A Bicycle Tour in England and Wales.
“Made in 1879, by the President, Alfred D. Chandler, and Captain, John C. Sharp Jr., of the Suffolk Bicycle Club, of Boston, Massachusetts.” this account of an American’s adventures with his friend on a trip to Britain originally appeared in four editions of the “Bicycling World” magazine (January and February, 1881), before being released as a book. Travelling from London to Portsmouth and the Isle of White, then northwards to Burton-on-Trent, Manchester, Leeds and North Wales, it offers a valuable insight to their life on the road, with many black and white photographs of the places visited – although sadly none of the two cyclists or their bikes – and even includes a chapter tackling the question of the time: “Is Bicycle Riding Healthy?”
- by Alfred Dupont Chandler.
- published by A. Williams & Co., Boston.
REVIEW OF THE YEAR 1878…
“It is unpleasant to have to revert to it, but 1878 has been signalized by some most unjust decisions in both County and Police courts with regard to bicyclists, every case teeming with the personal animus entertained by non riders against bicyclers. In many cases riders have undoubtedly been wrong; but in others they have had to suffer, not for being wrong doers, but simply for being bicyclists.”
– The Bicycle Annual for 1879.