Gifts for cyclists: 10 of the best cycling books

Ten books for every cyclist this Christmas

It’s been another great year for books on cycling – the shop shelves are groaning with works covering everything from bike frame building to Chris Froome’s Tour de France triumph and a second autobiography from Mark Cavendish. 


We’ve picked 10 books from this year’s crop that would make a great Christmas gifts for cyclists of every shape and interest.

If you’re after more general cycling gifts, then check out Best Christmas gifts for cyclists.

Land of Second Chances by Tim Lewis

Land of Second Chances is the heart warming story of cycling's restorative powers
Land of second chances is the heart warming story of cycling’s restorative powers: land of second chances is the heart warming story of cycling’s restorative powers
Sam Dansie/BikeRadar

Adrien Niyonshuti finished 39th in the Olympic mountain bike race in London. Not, on the face of it, a compelling result, but the story of how the Rwandan pro escaped the 1994 genocide and how a couple of rag-tag Americans helped harness some of the cycling potential in this small African country most certainly is. It’s an eloquent and compassionate tale by Observer author Tim Lewis.

Perfect for: sport lovers after a leftfield underdog story

£16.99, Yellow Jersey Press

Domestique by Charly Wegelius and Tom Southam

Domestique bliss: Charly Wegelius' story shows just how tough cycling can be for those riders who aren't the stars
Domestique bliss, charly wegelius’ story shows just how tough cycling can be for those riders who aren’t the stars: domestique bliss, charly wegelius’ story shows just how tough cycling can be for those riders who aren’t the stars
Sam Dansie/BikeRadar

British rider Charly Wegelius’ career was an uphill struggle in two senses. He was a climbing domestique for leaders such as Cadel Evans (the pair didn’t get on) and Danilo di Luca. As a gregario, his was a precarious existence, one with the constant grinding fear where his next contract would come from. Throw in some defining dramas, such as failing a UCI haematocrit health-check (his was naturally high and was eligible for a UCI exemption) and making the ill-judged decision to ride for the Italians at the Madrid world championships in 2005, and his 11-year career was more fraught than most. Wegelius, now a directeur sportif at Garmin-Sharp, pulls back the curtain on his career as one of the silent majority – one of the 170-odd riders in any given peloton working day in, day out, for somebody else’s win.

Perfect for: fans who want to understand the career challenges faced by 90 per cent of the peloton

£16.99, Ebury

Wheelmen by Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O’Connell  

Wheelmen is subtitled Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France and the greatest sports conspiracy ever, which sums up this book. It’s co-authored by two journalists who covered and contributed to the deconstruction of Armstrong’s Tour de France myth. Wall Street Journal writers Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O’Connell said they viewed the Armstrong conspiracy as they would a business story and wanted to give the context and background to the ex-rider’s doping admission to Oprah Winfrey at the start of the year.

Perfect for: fans who want to understand the intricacies of the Armstrong conspiracy

£18.99, Headline

Easy Rider by Rob Hayles

Hayles was a stalwart of British cycle sport for two decades, and his career and philosophy was unapologetically old school: “I’m not sure you could even describe the way I trained as actual ‘training’: I just rode everywhere flat out,” he says at the beginning of chapter three. Yet that career straddled the UK’s transformation from fringe nation to science-driven international powerhouse with massed ranks of youngsters eager to take on the world. Hayles was involved every step of the way, first as a rider and secondly as a mentor, coach and assistant.

Perfect for: old school UK cyclists

£16.99, Transworld Books

Bike Porn Volume 1 by Chris Naylor  

A flick-through photo book of pretty bikes, spliced with quotations about them.

Perfect for: people who like photos of bikes

£14.99, Summersdale

Cycling Quiz Book by Chris Bradshaw

Does exactly what it says on the cover. The book’s 2,000 or so questions are split into three sections – easy, medium and hard. Give this to a cycling anorak and don’t expect to see them until dinner’s served. Or the new year.  

Perfect for: cycling anoraks

£6.99, Harper Collins

Me and My Bike by Donato Cinicolo

A bit like Bike Porn but with more words and fewer cool bikes. This is a celebration of UK cyclists and their everyday steeds: like Revd Kenneth Padley and his Specialized Crosstrail, or Skippy Cheese and his Scott Scale electric mountain bike. Sometimes the characters don’t even own the bike – step forward economist Tony Clayton and his homage to the London Boris Bike. Me and My Bike is a kindly portrait of the average British bike owner.

Perfect for: utilitarian cycle enthusiasts

£12.99, Constable

On the Road Bike by Ned Boulting

On the Road Bike is Ned Boulting's humorous personal account in pursuit of the soul of British cycling culture
On the road bike is ned boulting’s humorous personal account in pursuit of the soul of british cycling culture : on the road bike is ned boulting’s humorous personal account in pursuit of the soul of british cycling culture
Sam Dansie/BikeRadar

Ned Boulting’s an entertaining writer with a fine eye for detail and a good line in mild self deprecation. His latest book is subtitled The Search for a Nation’s Cycling Soul, and is a personal journey to uncover why and how the UK has become so obsessed with cycling. Chris Boardman, Ken Livingstone, and Rapha’s office – populated by hipsters, says Boulting – are just some of the characters who make an appearance in his affectionate look at the UK’s current cycling culture and where it came from.

Perfect for: UK cyclists after a humorous look at domestic cycle culture

£14.99, Yellow Jersey Press

Classic Cycling Race Routes by Chris Sidwells

Author Chris Sidwells guides readers through 52 sportive and race routes across Europe. The aim is to inspire newcomers to take on the challenge of cycling big distances with plenty of cycling heritage. Thinking about doing the Marmotte? It’s in here, along with handy tips and directions. Twenty-four of the rides are in the UK and based on established sportives such as the Fred Whitton Challenge and the Cyclone. Further afield, Sidwells also lets readers’ minds runs riot with sections on races like the Tour of Flanders and Milan-Sanremo. Each entry is accompanied by maps, directions, route profiles and a potted history of the sportive or race.

Perfect for: mad-keen sportive riders and European col baggers

£25, AA Publishing

Project Rainbow by Rod Ellingworth

The title refers to the long-term project to deliver Mark Cavendish to world championship glory in Copenhagen in 2011. The project was masterminded by Ellingworth, who is at turns dynamic, affable and an extraordinarily successful coach at Team Sky and Team GB. This is his story of how he masterminded the first British victory on the men’s road world championships since Tom Simpson’s in 1965.   

£14.99, Faber and Faber


Perfect for: cycle fans who want to the full story behind Mark Cavendish’s historic road world championship triumph