The Perfect Vehicle

What It Is About Motorcycles

Melissa Holbrook Pierson (Author)

Overview | Inside the Book

"This book, a polished, winding meditation on the theory and fractiousness of motorcycles, celebrates both their eccentric history and the wary pleasures of touring."—The New Yorker

In a book that is "a must for anyone who has loved a motorcycle" (Oliver Sacks), Melissa Pierson captures in vivid, writerly prose the mysterious attractions of motorcycling. She sifts through myth and hyperbole: misrepresentations about danger, about the type of people who ride and why they do so. The Perfect Vehicle is not a mere recitation of facts, nor is it a polemic or apologia. Its vivid historical accounts-the beginnings of the machine, the often hidden tradition of women who ride, the tale of the defiant ones who taunt death on the racetrack-are intertwined with Pierson's own story, which, in itself, shows that although you may think you know what kind of person rides a motorcycle, you probably don't.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • May 1998
  • ISBN 978-0-393-31809-8
  • 6.1 × 8.3 in / 240 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

Endorsements & Reviews

“This is an exceptionally sensitive and intelligent book.” — Robert Pirsig

The Perfect Vehicle uses motorcycles as a lens for examining risk, freedom, and most surprisingly, relationships between men and women. . . . Pierson comes through brilliantly, crafting her sentences with precision and a sure ear.” — Ann Marlowe, Village Voice

“As Pierson tells us why she loves riding, many who share her passion will often feel themselves nodding, saying, 'Yeah, she caught it.'” — Andy Solomon, Chicago Tribune

Also by Melissa Holbrook Pierson All

  1. Book CoverDark Horses and Black Beauties: Animals, Women, a Passion


  2. Book CoverThe Man Who Would Stop at Nothing: Long-Distance Motorcycling's Endless Road


  3. Book CoverThe Place You Love Is Gone: Progress Hits Home


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