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Smart Move: Bicycles from the Embacher Collection

Review, Road Bike 6 505

It probably won’t surprise many of you to hear that I have a pretty extensive collection of bicycle books at home. Some of you may even remember when I mentioned a few of my favorites some time ago in a post about old bikes. Well, now I have a new book to add to that list of favorites- Smart Move: Bicycles from the Embacher Collection. Michael Embacher is an architect and designer in Austria with a pretty amazing bike collection– over 200 total including several one-of-a-kind pieces. This book spotlights 50 bicycles from the collection; each one beautifully photographed by Bernard Angerer.

There is text to accompany each bike that is shown, but the photographs are what the book is really about. Each bike is shown in a side view and accompanied with several really nice detail shots. Many of the detail shots spotlight the interesting features or design elements of the individual bikes. I found myself noticing details on some of the bikes that I had never seen before in pictures from other sources. The quirkier details are the ones that really caught my attention. Things like the crazy Colrout cranks on the 1970’s Gazelle racer, the ultra narrow saddle on the rather odd Diamont racing bike, the unconventional split handlebar assemblies on both the 1960’s Duemila commuter and the 1960’s Tokyo Katakura, the rather strange folding mechanics of the 1950s Inconnu, and the fiberglass ring rear suspension of the 1950’s AFA, all stood out to me. I could probably go on indefinitely listing interesting details that I noticed in the book, but you get the idea.

In a recent review of the book in VeloVision magazine, Peter Eland said:

“One thing that struck me about this book was how many bikes were new to me- I’m no cycle historian, but I’ve seen quite a few books on bikes in my time.”

When I first flipped through the book, I had the exact same reaction. I have spent a lot of time looking at bikes from different time periods, so how did I ever miss some of these? Take a look at all of the bikes featured in the book to see if some of them are new to you as well. My guess is that most of you will see a bike or two that you have never seen before.

Unfortunately, the book is listed as currently unavailable on You can still order it from the German Amazon site or direct from the publisher though. I have thoroughly enjoyed my copy of the book over the course of the last month or so. It is one of those books that I find myself going back to over and over again and each time I notice something new. I would definitely recommend the book to anyone who is interested in bikes and design. You can bet that I will be continuing to look through my copy for a long time to come.

Update: Vintage Bicycle Press also has the book for sale. Thanks to jimmythefly for pointing that out.

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  1. Charlie June 12, 2009 at 1:11 pm -  Reply

    You can read about that pedal/crank design, and why it's a silly idea, here.

  2. GhostRider June 12, 2009 at 6:17 pm -  Reply

    The bike listed here:

    is listed as "unknown maker"…but it is clearly a Bianchi C-4 Project, which was introduced in 1988. That was one of the very first monocoque carbon frames, but I'm not sure if this ever went into full production.

    I'm definitely adding this book to my list…lots of stunning bikes!

  3. James June 13, 2009 at 9:01 am -  Reply

    Thanks for that link, Charlie. No doubt it is a silly idea, as are most cranks designed to increase pedaling efficiency. I still love to see ideas like that from the past though.

    Ghostrider, good eye! You are right about that being a C-4 Project. Apart from the overall form, some of the details, like the rear dropouts and the seatpost binders are very distinctive.

  4. bikesgonewild June 17, 2009 at 2:19 am -  Reply

    …james, hello…it's been a while since i've visited or contributed but allow me to jump right in…

    …i've always very much enjoyed your site but somehow i got waylaid…

    …anyway, in mentioning the "embacher collection" book, you referred back to a post from 11/02/05 about older bikes…

    …if i'm not mistaken, you did a post maybe just 2 years ago that directly referred & linked to the collection itself…i know i was "introduced" to the collection & spent time familiarizing myself w/ many of the bikes & i'm sure you were the host…

    …either way, good to read your work once again…

  5. James June 17, 2009 at 3:50 pm -  Reply

    jimmythefly, thanks for that link! I’ll update the post.

    Bikesgonewild, great to hear from you again! Welcome back. If I ever did post about Mr. Embacher’s collection in the past, I don’t remember it. Of course, it would not be the first time that I forgot about something that I posted previously. A few times recently, I have realized after posting something that I had already mentioned it before. It is even more confusing now that I am throwing out links on Twitter…too much to keep track of.

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