top of page
Reviews - Nov. 22, 2016

Discovering the Motorcycle by Armand Ensanian

If Bruce Brown’s classic motorcycle film “On any Sunday” were done in book form, it might come out something like Armand Ensanian’s new book, “Discovering the Motorcycle."

That is not to suggest the book is a derivative of the film; rather it is to say that just as Brown’s movie brings you into the range of motorcycling’s many nuances, so does “Discovering the Motorcycle.”

Indeed, the book may take you further into the sport than the movie did, particularly since the it takes you from its earliest days to the cutting edge of the sport today.

Whether you’re relatively new to the world of motorcycling or you’re an old hand, Discovering the Motorcycle will show you some things you probably haven’t seen before. The quality of the book’s content is further enhanced by an insightful foreword by Richard Backus, Editor-in-Chief of Motorcycle Classics magazine.

When you consider the breadth of the subject, and depth of its history, Ensanian deserves a lot of credit for even making the attempt to cover it at all, but given the excellent job he did, he deserves a standing O.

Full review:
 - Nov. 28, 2016

Christmas Gift . Discovering The Motorcycle. The History. The Culture. The Machines.

Almost all great motorcycle books focus on one unique theme, topic or brand. Just released, Discovering The Motorcycle is an exception. It’s a rather complete overview and history of motorcycling since the late 1800’s to today. Author Armand Ensanian devoted more than 5 years of his life to compile info, write and photograph such a reflective journey. The result is a 510-page full color book featuring more than 1000 photos explaining and illustrating the vast world of motorcycling, its history, social impact and how these machines are built and function.

Discovering The Motorcycle includes 12 main chapters, each devoted to a major aspect of motorcycling. From historical discussions of the machines that lead the way to today’s modern sport bikes, to vintage and classics, to choppers and bobbers, to off-road machines and touring machines, to one-off customs, to racing and new electric motorcycles, to bike events and motorcycle museums.

Full review:



Book Review: Discovering the Motorcycle
By Richard Backus, Editor-in-Chief, Motorcycle Classics
Tags: Discovering the MotorcyclebooksRichard Backus
Bulletin Board,

Full disclosure: I have some personal involvement in Armand Ensanian’s impressive new book, Discovering the Motorcycle: The History. The Culture. The Machines. Since 1867. I first spoke with Armand sometime in mid-2015, when he called asking if I’d be willing to spend some time talking with him about a book he was writing about motorcycles and the history of motorcycling.

His proposal was ambitious. He didn’t want to just explore a corner of motorcycling; he wanted to explore the entire universe of motorcycling, from its history to its culture to the machines themselves. I have to admit that I listened with a bit of skepticism as he laid out his planned book, because while he had experience in the publishing world, he’d certainly never done anything like this. The almost encyclopedic tome he proposed was no small project. Acquiring and parsing the necessary information was in itself a formidable task; pulling it together in a compelling and coherent way that will draw new and long-time riders — and perhaps more importantly, non-riders — to its pages quite another. I’ve fielded more than a few calls from would-be book authors, but Armand was different, his enthusiasm and love for motorcycles and motorcycling approachable and clear. Before I knew it, I had agreed to review his manuscript for publication and write its foreword.

When Armand sent me an early version of the manuscript to review, it became clear just how serious he was about making this book a reality and just how capable he was of seeing that reality through. What follows is my foreword for Armand’s book. While not a typical review, it expresses, I hope, my appreciation for what Armand has done, self-funded, working basically alone and without the benefit of a supportive publisher. — Richard Backus

Full review:

Discovering the Motorcycle:
the History, Culture & Machines
A book by Armand Ensanian
Book Review by Andy Tallone, Classic British


In my business, that being the fleshing out of this website with history, specs and anecdotal trivia about classic British motorcycles, I have read a lot of books about bikes. For me, they fall into one of three categories: 1.) Repair or Shop Manuals; 2.) Consumer-grade books (ie: coffee table books); or 3.) Professional-grade books (ie: in-depth histories of specific models or marques, restoration guides, etc.). I only read Repair Manuals when I’m trying to put one of my bikes together. Consumer-grade books bore me, they’re usually much too broad in scope and quote the same rudimentary facts that people like me committed to memory eons ago. So, in the end, they don’t do me any good, I don’t learn anything from them. For me, it’s all about the Professional-grade stuff, with a depth of focus into a very thin slice of subject matter. Everything you ever wanted to know about Vincent Black Shadows, for instance. So, when I see a book like ‘Discovering the Motorcycle’, with over 500 pages covering virtually all aspects of motorcycledom, my first thought is “another coffee-table book”.

Was I ever wrong! Upon quickly perusing the book for the first time, I immediately saw that this was something very different. Sure, Chapters 1 and 2 started out a little ‘consumer-grade’ with the titles “The World of Motorcycles” and “Motorcycles in our Society”. A little general-purpose for my tastes. However, the combination of the author’s total grasp of the subject matter and its historical relevance to the times, his writing it in short sections that are interesting and easy to read, and punctuating it all with eye-popping pictures, many of which I’ve never seen before, made even these mundane subjects very palatable.

Next up came the good stuff, the stuff that guys like me live for. Chapter 3 was one of the most in depth and thorough chronicles of “The History of the Engine” that I have ever read. Most of the information I normally come across I’ve seen before, but this book is full of factoids that I learned for the first time here. From there, ‘Discovering the Motorcycle’ delves into layer after layer of our world, including the ‘Cruiser Craze’, ‘Superbikes’, ‘Off-Road’, ‘Touring’, ‘Racing’ and much more, 508 pages in all.

The author, Armand Ensanian, has spent his entire life riding motorcycles. He rode up and down the East Coast in the 60s and 70s, and lived the life. He was trained as a Kawasaki tech and became a journalist and photographer along the way. 49 years later, his life still revolves around motorcycles, and it shows in his knowledge and in his passionate writing. Clearly, an awesome amount of research and organization went into the writing of this book. Having some experience in this area, it’s a very impressive achievement, in my view.

If you could only own one book about motorcycles, this would be it! I know that’s a tall statement, but after reading ‘Discovering the Motorcycle’, that’s how I feel. This book is an indispensable reference piece as well as a wonderfully entertaining read. If you love motorcycles, you will love this book.


bottom of page