Biker’s Handbook by Jay Barbieri – book review

Biker’s Handbook

Proctoring the S.A.T. may not be my first choice of what to do on a Saturday morning, but hey, you can’t scoff at the chance to earn $100 while you sit and read for a couple of hours! 

A few weeks ago, I earned my $100 while reading Biker’s Handbook—Becoming Part of the Motorcycle Culture by Jay Barbieri, the producer of American Thunder.  It’s an easy read, contains a plethora of good information, and is hysterical to boot.  It even has a foreword by Michele Smith (seen below with our own Jay).

Michele Smith

Jay Barbieri begins by describing how the Discovery Channel is responsible for turning motorcycling “from rebel to respectable overnight.”  (You can read all about our own Jay’s experience with the Discovery Channel here.)  This is followed by a brief history of the Harley Davidson company and the motorcycle industry in America.

I may not necessarily agree with everything Barbieri says, but he does give some great pointers

…on choosing your first bike:

Everyone who loves you (and probably the person or family member who bought you this book) wants to postpone seeing you in a coffin.  No you won’t be very cool riding around on the piece of shit you bought in the classifieds but when you are ready to move up to a bigger bike you’ll be a better rider.  And when it’s all said and done that’s what matters most.

…accessorizing it:

There are tens of thousands of aftermarket accessories you can get for your bike, and if you don’t pay attention to anything I said in the customizing section of this book, here’s the one thing you should remember: No matter what style of bike you have in mind, there is no design that will work with the eagle-claw kickstand.  Holy shit!  This product wins my award for the tackiest accessory ever invented. 

…and gearing up:

Please, no fringe on the gloves.  You’re not General Custer.  And no cut-off fingers.  You’re not auditioning for Rocky Ten.

Biker’s Handbook is not just practical advice on becoming a motorcyclist, but valuable information on motorcycle culture.  Barbieri shares tips about M/Cs, patches & pins, how to travel to a rally, where to stay, and how to get the most out of the experience.  Along the way he shares many anecdotes (some are sobering, but most are downright hilarious) from his personal experiences in riding and rallying.  There is something in this book for everyone–no matter what their level of experience.

Barbieri even offers some advice for those who will never truly be a part of motorcycle culture:

If you have to have the long front end and a wide rear tire [for your first bike]…go online, look up [Big Dog, American Iron Horse, Thunder Mountain Custom Cycles, Bourget, and Arlen Ness], spend $30,000-plus and forget about becoming part of the culture—you’ve just bought your way in and you’re officially a…rich urban biker.  Now close this book, and thanks for playing.

There is so much more packed in to these 175-pages that I couldn’t possibly do it justice.  You will just have to buy the book yourself.  It is definitely a must-read for any American motorcyclist—if not for the information then for the humor.  The only down side to this book was having to control myself from bursting out into laughter while 28 kids were concentrating furiously on their S.A.T.!  Get this book for yourself or the motorcyclist on your holiday shopping list.

4 Responses to “Biker’s Handbook by Jay Barbieri – book review”

  1. I’ll bet Jay’s book is interesting. But his partners first appearance in Playboy is better.

  2. True that! Check out this link:

  3. She has a pretty nice photo with her foreword in this book.

  4. I’m reading the book now. When he explains what “Softail” refers to, he leaves out the most important part – the fact that it LOOKS LIKE a hardtail! I mean, he explains how it is constructed, he talks all around it, but the main thing to point out here is that it is a play on words versus “hardtail”. It wouldn’t have bothered me so much if he hadn’t started by saying it “amazes” him how some Softail owners don’t know what it means, then proceeds to supposedly clear it all up for us. Instead, he describes the structure, but forgets to point out that because it LOOKS like a hardtail (unlike a bike with exposed shocks), it is called “Softail”. So those people that amaze him may still not get it. They may think, “yeah it has shocks so it’s soft”, but so do Dynas, and they just mighyt not get the entire meaning.

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