Reviewed by: Cheryl LaGuardia, Research Librarian, Widener Library, Harvard University
Published twice a year in the spring and fall, the International Journal of Motorcycle Studies is “dedicated to the study and discussion of motorcycling culture in all its forms—from the experience of riding and racing to the history of the machine, the riders and design to the images of motorcycling and motorcyclists in film, advertising and literature.” The editorial board, which “welcome[s] submissions on all areas related to the cultural phenomenon of motorcycling,” is an international one, both in their institutional affiliations (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, University of Alberta, Canada, Cardiff University, Wales, Fiji National University, Lautoka Campus, etc.) and in their choice of rides: a Triumph Sprint ST, a red 1999 BMW R1100S, a 2005 Yamaha FZ1, “the world’s first "burnt orange" Harley-Davidson,” a 1983 Moto Morini 3.5 Strada, a Velocette Thruxton, a 2005 Suzuki DRZ400SM, a 2008 Kawasaki Ninja 650R, a Ducati, and more).
These folks are serious about motorcycles. At the journal’s, “Why Motorcycle Studies?” page, members of the editorial board explain their interest in, and devotion to, studying motorcycles. These range from “The sensation of being on a motorcycle embodies what we’re all seeking in life. Freedom,” to “I am particularly intrigued by the ways motorcycling culture has either reinforced or subverted traditional assumptions about masculinity and femininity,” to “because it's fun.” But the articles here are serious scholarship, ranged around a variety of sub-topics.
The entire run of the journal is available online. The most recent issue, Volume 10, Issue 2: Fall 2014, is formed around the theme: “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values by Robert Pirsig: A Retrospective Roundtable, Forty Years Down the Road,” and includes an Introduction (which is definitely worth a read), five articles (“Reflections on Philosophy and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” “ZAMM and the Art of Philosophical Fiction,” “Less Zen and More Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” “Drinking (just a little) on the Fault Line,” and “ZAMM and the Art of Shelf-Life Maintenance”), and three book and film reviews (Review of Evel: The High-Flying Life of Evel Knievel by Leigh Montville, Review of Hogs, Blogs, Leathers and Lattes: The Sociology of Modern American Motorcycling by William E. Thompson, and Review of Why We Ride directed by Bryan H. Carroll).
Previous issues offer such articles as, “Passing It On: Youth and the Future of Vintage Motor Clubs,” “Newspaper Coverage of Motorcycle Accidents: A Content Analysis from a Media Framing Perspective with Implications for Practice,” a Roundtable on Bike, Body, Consciousness, conference summaries of the journal’s annual conferences, a Roundtable on Teaching Motorcycle Studies, a book excerpt (from Steve Koerner, The Strange Death of the British Motor Cycle Industry, Chapter 1, pp. 1-3), and more multimedia reviews.
Although the writing and research here is scholarly and of high quality, much of it will also be of interest and accessible to all motorcycle enthusiasts, students of cultural studies, sociologists, philosophers, and members of the general public who (like me) reveled in reading Pirsig’s classic, having spent a portion of my life riding on the back of a Yamaha dirt bike. Recommended for all academic and public libraries and many special libraries with potentially-interested readers.