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19 Best Cycling Books You’ll Read in One Breath

By Jordan Grimes   /  Last updated - December 4, 2023

best bike books

There is a massive selection of incredible bike books out there and something for every reader (or listener). These include detailed training guides, adventure cycling books, and biographies about famous and infamous riders.

To help you make the right choice for your next read or find the perfect gift for cycling-mad friends and family, we’ve put together this list of 19 of the best cycling books available, including many of our personal favorites at Bikexchange.

1. Joe Friel — The Cyclist’s Training Bible

Joe Friel — The Cyclist's Training Bible

  • Best for: Aspiring racers and passionate weekend warriors looking to improve performance in a scientific and systematic way
  • Summary: A wide-ranging training and lifestyle guidebook for competitive cyclists
  • Price: Check on Amazon

The Cyclist’s Training Bible (currently in its 5th edition) is the ultimate guide to improving cycling performance. The highly-experienced cycling coach, Joe Friel, designed this bike book to be a reference point for budding cyclists, not as a page-turner in the traditional sense.

Some key themes in the book include developing year-long cycling plans, goal setting, purposeful training, improving technique, cross-training, and off-the-bike recovery. That final point is emphasized repeatedly throughout the book as the most critical yet often-neglected step in training.

Friel punctuates this guide with visual references and exercises, including photos, tables, and worksheets, easily making this one of the best cycling books you should read.

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2. Adin Dobkin — Sprinting Through No Man’s Land

Adin Dobkin — Sprinting Through No Man's Land

  • Best for: All cycling fans looking for an inspiring true story about the most grueling Tour de France edition in history
  • Summary: An account of the 1919 Tour following the end of World War 1 the year before
  • Price: Check on Amazon

Adin Dobkin takes us on a literary tour through post-war France. In 1919, as the country begins to recuperate and regather itself amidst the rubble, soldiers-turned-cyclists gather for what becomes recognized as the most grueling Tour de France edition in history.

Dobkin’s descriptions of the race and the participants’ extraordinary physical and psychological strength make for a gripping story that you won’t want to put down. Spirit Through No Man’s Land is a unique read which is sure to capture the hearts and imaginations of any cyclist.

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3. Emily Chappel — Where There’s a Will

Emily Chappel — Where There's a Will best cycling book

  • Best for: Anyone looking for inspirational bike books highlighting the boundless capabilities of the human mind and body
  • Summary: A bike courier turned endurance athlete accomplishes one of the most incredible feats in amateur cycling
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In 2015, Emily Chappell entered the 4000-mile transcontinental race across Europe. This race is a single-stage event to be finished entirely unsupported.

In the book, Chappell elegantly documents the adventure, which she completed in 13 days and 10 hours, as well as the events that transpired in her life afterward. This is by far one of the best cycling books for anyone who appreciates the incredible things humans can accomplish and the human story behind those that achieve them.

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4. Matt Rendell — The Death of Marco Pantani: A Biography

Matt Rendell — The Death of Marco Pantani: A Biography

  • Best for: Any cycling fan
  • Summary: A tragic story depicting the highs and lows of a cycling legend
  • Price: Check on Amazon

Matt Rendell masterfully tells the story of Marco Pantani, his cycling achievement, and his tragic death.

Following his Giro d’Italia and Tour de France double in 1998, Pantani suffered a cocaine addiction, leading to an overdose in a cheap motel in 2004. For any cycling fan, young or old, Pantani’s rise and tragic fall offer an insight into the struggles our top athletes can face.

This book gives the reader an intimate account of Pantani’s last years through Rendell’s own encounters with him, interviews with the rider’s psychoanalysts, and discussions with his family and friends.

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5. David Millar — Racing Through the Dark

David Millar OBE — Racing Through the Dark professional cycling book

  • Best for: Curious sports fans and cyclists who want to look behind the curtain during the most infamous sporting scandal in history
  • Summary: Ex-pro cyclist David Millar recounts his career story in three stages, before, during, and after doping.
  • Price: Check on Amazon

Britain’s David Millar was a professional cyclist during the tumultuous late ’90s and early ’00s. He tells us his story of being a talented amateur, a doping rider, and an anti-doping advocate and racer.

His exceptional talent on the bike and legacy will always be tainted by the period he spent doping, but through his book, Millar aims to tell the world the nitty-gritty details to help others avoid his mistakes.

He does an excellent job of highlighting the pressure cyclists faced in this era and the highs and lows that doping caused for most of those riding at the time. So if you want to learn more about this topic, this is one of the best cycling books to pick up.

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6. Peter Sagan — My World

Peter Sagan — My World

  • Best for: Aspiring cyclists and professional cycling fans who want to learn about one of the world’s greatest riders
  • Summary: A autobiographical account of the life and career to date of the legendary Slovakian rider Peter Sagan
  • Price: Check on Amazon

In 2017, Peter Sagan cemented his name in the history books with a third consecutive win of the UCI World Championships, which had never been done before. This autobiography tells his story, one which is still being written.

Sagan is not only an incredible racer but one of the most entertaining individuals ever to race a bike. He’s known for his flamboyant bicycle tricks and joking demeanor in the peloton. The book gives the reader insight into what it takes to succeed at the highest level: the brutal training programs, grueling psychological battles, and the highs and lows top cyclists experience; easily among the best cycling books for professional racing fans.

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7. Epic Bike Rides of the World (Lonely Planet)

Epic Bike Rides of the World (Lonely Planet)

  • Best for: Adventurers wanting inspiration for their next bicycle tour
  • Summary: Individual guides to 200 different routes worldwide, including information, photos, and stories. One of the best cycling books for finding ride ideas
  • Price: Check on Amazon

Lonely Planet is the world’s leading travel guide company with complete books and shorter online guides to almost any destination you can think of.

In this guide, they’ve compiled 200 uniquely beautiful routes, covering everything from flat family-friendly spins to rugged backcountry adventures on all seven continents.

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Whether you need inspiration for your next trip or a detailed guide for one already planned, this catalog of epic routes will be the perfect book for you. The rides are organized by continent, and each includes practical details like maps, transport, lodging, and more. Additionally, there are plenty of photos to illustrate the routes.

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8. William Fotheringham — Half Man, Half Bike: The Life of Eddy Merckx

William Fotheringham — Half Man, Half Bike: The Life of Eddy Merckx

  • Best for: Any sports fan who wants to learn about the most extraordinary rider in history
  • Summary: A biography of Eddy Merckx’s complex life of both incredible successes and terrible tragedy
  • Price: Check on Amazon

Eddy Merckx, nicknamed “The Cannibal,” is the greatest cyclist in the sport’s history. Any person interested in cycling or sporting greats will appreciate Merckx’s absolute dominance over the sport during his career.

The Cannibal finished his career with 445 victories, more than any rider could dream of amassing in cycling today, where the margins are much more narrow.

In this biographical account of his life, Fotheringham details Merckx’s soaring highs and the crushing lows, including his terrible injury, doping scandal, and personal anxiety; this is a story of a legend.

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9. Lennard Zinn — Zinn & the Art of Road Bike Maintenance

Lennard Zinn — Zinn & the Art of Road Bike Maintenance book

  • Best for: Any road or cyclocross bike owner who wants to learn maintenance and repair and save money too
  • Summary: A comprehensive, illustrated guidebook for road and cyclocross bike repair and maintenance
  • Price: Check on Amazon

Lennard Zinn has crafted a complete manual for bike repairs and maintenance. While the book is primarily for road and cyclocross bikes, any bike owner will learn plenty.

Zinn covers everything from changing a flat tire to full groupset replacing and performing regular maintenance on every bike part. Using his clear step-by-step instructions, illustrations, diagrams, and photos, you will be able to follow along with ease.

This book is not a cover-to-cover read but one you can reference for many years to come. Example chapters include Basics, Easy Shifting, Overhauls, Troubleshooting, and more. The book is now in its 5th edition.

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10. Alan Murchison — The Cycling Chef: Recipes for Getting Lean and Fuelling the Machine

Alan Murchison — The Cycling Chef: Recipes for Getting Lean and Fuelling the Machine

  • Best for: Any cyclist, competitive or non-competitive, who wants delicious and simple recipes to fuel their rides
  • Summary: A recipe book of nutritious, delicious, and easy-to-make meals for cyclists
  • Price: Check on Amazon

Alan Murchinson has amassed three complementary sets of expertise: a Michelin Star chef, elite athlete, and cycling nutritionist, giving him unique insight into making delicious and nutritious carb-loaded meals.

He has compiled 65 sumptuous recipes for cyclists in this book, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and snack options. The best part about this recipe book is that each is doable in under 30 minutes using everyday ingredients and standard cookware.

Each meal is nutritionally balanced and aimed towards fueling cyclists on their journey to achieve performance goals and reach their desired weight. 

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11. Simon Warren — 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs of the Tour de France

simon warren 100 greatest cycling climbs

  • Best for: Any cyclist planning a vacation to France or looking to learn about the world’s most famous bike race
  • Summary: Detailed guides to 100 of cycling’s most famous climbs from the Tour de France.
  • Price: Check on Amazon

Cycling’s most famous race, the Tour de France, is iconic for its grueling length and monstrous climbs, and thanks to coverage of the Tour de France, these climbs have worldwide recognition for their spectacular beauty.

In this book, Simon Warren provides detailed descriptions of the race’s 100 greatest climbs. For each, he includes photos, maps, how to get there, and complete profiles with gradient, altitude gain, and more. Some highlights include Alpe d’Huez, Col du Tourmalet, and Mont Ventoux.

Therefore, if you’re looking for ideas for your next big ride, this is one of the best cycling books to buy.

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12. Tim Moore — The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold

Tim Moore — The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold bike travel book

  • Best for: Anyone looking to enjoy a hilarious, exciting adventure
  • Summary: A 6,000-mile bicycle journey across the iron curtain in winter makes for a thrilling story
  • Price: Check on Amazon

Tim Moore is a British travel writer who undertakes incredible challenges in the hopes of writing great stories. This witty book details his 6000-mile trip across the iron curtain, now designated as EuroVelo Route 13.

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This testing adventure begins in the winter at the Norway-Russia border, an unimaginably hostile area at this time of year. Moore’s experience takes him through extreme Arctic terrain on an old MIFA 900 East German shopping bike. He encounters incredible hospitality and many close calls that make for an exceptional read.

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13. Chris Froome — The Climb

Chris Froome — The Climb

  • Best for: Cycling fans who want to learn about the exciting life of one of the most successful riders in history
  • Summary: An account of Chris Froome’s life up until 2013 when he won his first Tour de France and one of the best autobiographical bike books
  • Price: Check on Amazon

Chris Froome has some of the most impressive cycling credentials in the sport’s history, including four Tour de France (TdF) wins. His autobiography tells the story of his life and career up to his first TdF win in 2013.

Although he’s British, Froome was born in Kenya, where he grew up and fostered his passion for cycling. His life story is one of overcoming challenges, including crippling illness and the death of his mother, to achieve the tremendous heights of sporting success.

Now, his book is both a heartwarming and inspiring look into the much-respected life of a cycling hero.

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14. Tim Krabbé — The Rider

Tim Krabbé — The Rider bike book

  • Best for: Sports lovers and cycling fans looking to enter the mind of a cyclist on race day
  • Summary: A  short novel detailing the perspective of a racer during an amateur 150km race in France, widely regarded as one of the best cycling books
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The Rider is a semi-fictional novel written by Tim Krabbé the year after taking part in a race in southern France. He wrote this book with fresh memories of the challenge and delivered a masterpiece and long-lasting tribute to bicycle racing.

This book is a short 150-page account of a rider’s mental and physical journey during a 150-kilometer amateur road race. Readers follow his stream of consciousness punctuated with descriptions of the race and his fellow competitors.

The rider offers an exceptionally detailed portrayal of what it is like to compete in cycling, perfect for any lover of sport or cycling enthusiast.

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15. Phil Gaimon — Pro Cycling on $10 a Day

Phil Gaimon — Pro Cycling on $10 a Day

  • Best for: Aspiring cyclists and sports fans who want an honest insiders look at professional cycling
  • Summary: One rider’s perspective of the professional cycling world, how he got there, and what it took to stay there
  • Price: Check on Amazon

Cyclist Phil Gaimon documents his journey from chubby 16-year-old to the professional peloton and the years that ensued. This witty book is both a guide and story, highlighting the joys and struggles of working in professional cycling.

From the team directors and contract negotiations to peloton cycling etiquette, Gaimon uses his excellent storytelling to show us what it takes to succeed in the big league covering the good and the bad and leaving the reader with an insider’s point of view.

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16. Charlie Wegelius — Domestique

Charlie Wegelius — Domestique best cycling book

  • Best for: Sports fans and cycling enthusiasts who want an insight into the most grueling job in the sport
  • Summary: The career and life of a professional cyclist and master domestique
  • Price: Check on Amazon

Most biographical cycling books are about the most successful and famous riders, but Domestique is different. As any fan of the sport knows, the winner of a race is just the tip of the iceberg,

This book tells Charly Wegelius’s story of being one of the most respected men in the peloton, not for his wins but for his ability to suffer and put his leader in the best place to win the race; a previously untold story of professional cycling.

Learn about his early career, why he chose to serve instead of lead, and the pain tolerance required to succeed as a domestique in this excellently written autobiography. If you’re a fan of professional racing, this read by Charly Wegelius is one of the best cycling books you can get.

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17. Nathan Doneen — The Divide: A 2700 Mile Search for Answers

Nathan Doneen — The Divide: A 2700 Mile Search for Answers

  • Best for: Adventure readers and cycling enthusiasts looking for an inspirational cycling book
  • Summary: A memoir of a 2700-mile bike journey that provides the rider with fresh perspectives and renewed self-confidence
  • Price: Check on Amazon

The Divide is a unique read as it is both a coming-of-age story and an exciting travel adventure. Nathan Doneen’s journey along the 2700-mile Great Divide mountain biking route provides the catalyst to help him change his life.

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The Great Divide runs from Canada to Mexico, covering extraordinarily demanding terrain. Along the way, Doneen encounters terrible weather and brutal climbs, all while completely isolated from other people.

Nonetheless, this challenge provides the perfect conditions for him to understand the strength and courage he has within so he can look to the future with excitement.

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18. Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle — The Secret Race

tyler hamilton the secret race bike book

  • Best for: All cycling and general sports fans who want the nitty-gritty details of sport’s largest doping scandal
  • Summary: An inside look at the world of professional cycling and the dark truths about what it took to succeed during the height of EPO use
  • Price: Check on Amazon

Tyler Hamilton was at the top of the professional cycling world, known among the peloton for his incredible ability to suffer. Once, he finished the Tour de France in fourth place despite having sustained a broken collarbone in the early parts of the race.

In 2004 he was found guilty of doping and was excommunicated from the cycling world. Almost a decade later, this book emerged from over 200 hours of interviews with Daniel Coyle. It is a tell-all of the biggest doping scandal in the sport’s history and one of the best cycling books out there.

Hamilton was intricately involved with Lance Armstrong and U.S. Postal Service, holding nothing back in his revelation of what went on during his time working with him and the other teams he rode for during his career.

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19. Paul Kimmage — Rough Ride

paul kimmage rough ride cycling book

  • Best for: Curious sports fans and cyclists who want to learn about doping pre-Lance Armstrong
  • Summary: A revelation of doping’s deep roots within the world of professional cycling and the problems it caused for one honest rider
  • Price: Check on Amazon

Paul Kimmage is a renowned sports journalist and ex-pro cyclist. He first published Rough Ride in 1990, following his early retirement from cycling. His cycling book tells of the extreme pressure within the peloton to take performance-enhancing drugs and the code of secrecy among professionals.

Kimmage partially achieved his childhood aspirations of Tour de France glory when he was selected to ride the prestigious race for the first time. However, in the ensuing years, he learned what it took to succeed at the top and that it wasn’t the sport he once dreamt of competing in as a child.

In Rough Ride, Kimmage becomes the first to break the silence on doping and give the public a window into the sport’s crisis.

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About the Author

Jordan Grimes

Jordan Grimes is an avid cyclist who loves to travel and has found his bike to be perfect company on road trips in the USA, through national parks, and in countries such as Canada, Ireland, and Spain.
His passion for travel and work in the tourism and hospitality sector has allowed him to live in incredible places like Ireland, Canada, the USA, and the Cayman Islands. He has since relocated to southern Spain, where he works as a freelance writer, practicing Spanish and cycling in the famous Sierra Nevada mountains. He specializes in writing cycling blog articles, health and performance-related topics, and other informative pieces. You can contact him on Linkedin.