Sportbike Performance Handbook Review

March 31, 2009
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

It’s always refreshing to hear someone who knows what they are talking about – experts expounding on what they know and do best. Motorcycle riders will enjoy getting an earful from Kevin Cameron in his Sportbike Performance Handbook, a trade paperback published by Motorbooks for $25.99.

Cameron, a motojournalist perhaps best known for his Cycle World column, delivers his fount of knowledge in the Sportbike Performance Handbook. It’s as if the reader wanders into the race shop and the old race tuner crouched over a torn-down motor says, “Come on over here, I want to show you something.”

Sportbike Performance Handbook
Engine work, suspension tuning, exhausts… It’s all covered in the Sportbike Performance Handbook.

The book, as the title suggests, provides 192-pages of instruction on the ins and outs of tapping performance from a sportbike. The first half of the tome digs into the labrynth of engine modifications, all after a pretty comprehensive introduction to the inner workings of the internal combustion engine. Cameron then pieces through the changes a rider can make to virtually every component, from suspension tuning to braking.

Illustrations are numerous and helpful, especially for the technically challenged reader. Visual explanations are much preferred when the tech speak gets particularly heady, which it often does. But that’s okay and the book will be a real challenge for the beginner, but a rewarding one for someone looking to find the true potential of their mount.

Cameron’s style manages to inject some personality in what can be some dry subjects, i.e. calculating Averaged Effective Combustion Pressure… The author’s obvious wealth of racing experience and reporting is on display and numerous stories abound – like conversations with some of the high priests of tuning racing engines, like Rob Muzzy.

Cameron also brings enthusiasm to his prose, urging his neophyte readers to venture boldly into the sportbike tuning.

“Be ruthless,” intones Cameron in the opening chapters. “Do what it takes to make your bike fit you like a custom suit of clothes.”

With the author’s urging, riders will begin to see their mounts as continual works in progress, rather than unchangeable machines you learn to live with.

As mentioned before, the only downside is that beginner readers may find themselves in too deep, making the Sportbike Performance Handbook a more ideal read for intermediates with a knack at wrenching. That said, beginners or aspiring racers will find the book a welcome resource to the challenging world of engine tuning.
MSRP: $25.99
ISBN: 9780760331835

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