10 Best Books on
These books collectively give the best intuition for energy consumption you’ll
ever get, and they illustrate the relevance of mechanical efficiency and good
design with the tightest constraints. Many of my heroes are represented
somewhere in this list. —Saul Griffith
by Allan V. Abbott and David Gordon Wilson
$200, Human Kinetics Publishers
David Gordon Wilson is my hero. This is the
definitive text on human-powered vehicles.
The Bicycle Wheel
by Jobst Brandt
$25, Avocet Publishing
This book is simply sublime. It has all the
fundamentals of wheel building, and the
physics and science are well-described.
Gossamer Odyssey: The Triumph
of Human-Powered Flight
by Morton Grosser
$20, Zenith Press
A great history of technical triumph in the hard-
est of all human-powered disciplines: flight.
Bicycling Science, 3rd Edition
by David Gordon Wilson
$25, MIT Press
It’s been reviewed here before, but there is
simply no better book on bicycles and the
biomechanics of human power.
The Strip-Built Sea Kayak:
Three Rugged, Beautiful Boats
You Can Build
by Nick Schade
$20, Ragged Mountain Press
I love the elegance and simplicity of these
designs. The kayak deserves such a
Birdflight as the Basis for Aviation
by Otto Lilienthal
$20, Markowski International
This is where it all started. Lilienthal died
doing what he loved, furthering human flight.
Bicycle Builder’s Bonanza
by Brad Graham and Kathy McGowan
Nothing elegant here — it’s all hacks, just raw,
good fun to be had with a welder. Every maker
would be inspired by it.
Classic Small Craft You Can Build
by John Gardner
$25, Mystic Seaport Museum
For the craftsman with appreciation for
human-powered wooden boats.
Bike Cult: The Ultimate Guide
to Human-Powered Vehicles
by David B. Perry
$40+, Four Walls Eight Windows
More of a coffee table book for history and in-
spiration than reference, it’s great for browsing.
The Immortal Class:
Bike Messengers and
the Cult of Human Power
by Travis Culley
$6, Random House
If you’ve ever ridden a fixie or a single speed,
you will love this book. If you’ve ever cursed a
messenger, you should read this for empathy.