Excerpts from Book Reviews on the 2nd Edition of
The Dancing Chain by Frank Berto


Garret Lai. Bicycling. If you love stumping your friends with your grasp of mechanical trivia, this is your dream book - a 350-page distillation of the history of the derailleur, charting the influence of touring and racing (and that relative newcomer, the mountain bike.) The Dancing Chain is simple enough for rank novices to understand how derailleurs work and why they evolved in the manner they did. Techno-geeks will use it as a reference, flip through it for highlights or simply ogle the photographs.

Lennard Zinn. Velo News. Think that the history of the bicycle is dry? It could be one of the greatest stories ever told, rife with tragedy, chance breakthroughs, bitter rivalries, and passionate and quirky characters. That said, I couldnít imagine any bicycle technology enthusiast not being enthralled by Frank Bertoís new book, The Dancing Chain. There is moreÖmuch more, but why should I spoil it. Suffice it to say that I think for the list price, The Dancing Chain is a bargain.

Grant Petersen Rivendell Reader. Thereís a lot of information, of detail, of facts, people, and dates, and itís fun to read and look through. Thanks to good text and tons of photos and illustrations, modern and ancient. You will see more Rebour illustrations here than in any other single publication out there. If you are a bicycle person, and you can afford a $50 book, then this is a good one. It ought to sell for $65.00

David Feldman. Oregon Cyclist. I have not been reading but almost wallowing in this book for the last few days since it arrived by mail. It is not a dry, nerds-only read, there are fascinating historical and biographical sketches sprinkled through it. The illustrations are fantastic; patent drawings from the 1860s on, a couple of hundred Daniel Rebour drawings, vintage ad illustrations right and left. The three men who wrote it have produced a magnificent piece of work. Iíll probably read my copy many many times.

David Isbell. Bicycle Trader. Very possibly the greatest single publication about a technical aspect of the bicycle ever to appear in English, if not altogether. To put it simply, for those who collect and/or restore bicycles of virtually any vintage, this book is indispensable but for any cycling enthusiast of whatever stamp, it is highly recommended.

Gabe Konrad. On the Wheel. As a vintage lightweight enthusiast and a fan of the golden era of cycle racing, there are two types of books that I have always wished would be published. The first is a detailed history of all of the great frame builders. The second is a concise history of the evolution of gearing. This dream book would document all of the major derailleur producing companies, as well as the minor ones. It would explain all of the successful gearing ideas, along with the ones that failed. It would include company histories, put faces on the various manufacturers, and include a dating guide that would help collectors date their bicycle and their parts. Now with the publication of The Dancing Chain, my latter wish book has become a reality. If youíve never paid any attention to my book reviews in the past, trust me on this one. On my normal rating of one to ten, I give this a 12!

Derek Roberts. Fellowship News (Britain). The Dancing Chain is the title of a magnificent book setting out the history and development of the derailleur gear (plus information on other gears.) It has 352 pages and more than 1000 illustrations (over 200 by Daniel Rebour), and fully justifies the authors claim that it is the definitive work on the subject. The book is understandably expensive but I think that it is well worth the price.

Mike West. Bycycle (Britain). The reader is spared the minutiae of year-by-year development of particular mechs. Instead we have a very readable book (if, understandably, a little dry in its delivery) looking a one aspect of the quest for speed from generations of cyclists. It was interesting to read an American view of why the British clung on to enclosed hubs while the French had gone over almost entirely to the more efficient but messy-looking external gears. Because the British are (were?) a more tidy race. An intriguing and lavishly produced trawl through the history of the derailleur.

Ron Sant. IVCA Journal. (Britain).  The prolific use of drawings, particularly those of Daniel Rebour, sketches, and photographs make this a reference book of the highest order, particularly for those who wish to have details about, or wish to date, a particular model. The printing is of the highest quality and a comprehensive bibliography and index is included. A book which will appeal to technophiles but which deserves a place on the shelves of all cycle historians.

Chris Juden. CTC Journal (Britain).  The chapters from the golden age of French cyclotourisme provide many examples of how itís all been done before. -- I reckon there must be a picture of almost every kind of gear mech up to 1995. For this reason alone I reckon that any enthusiast for old bicycles will want a copy of this book

DP. Bicycle (Australia). While many books detail the early development of the bicycle from boneshaker to high wheel, but generally stop at the introduction of he  the safety cycle towards the end of the ninteenth century, the three authors have concentrated on the last 100 years - or as they prefer to put it, the first 100 years of the derailleur bicycle. Very Highly Recommended.

Neil Irvine. Australian Cyclist.  One can only marvel at the painstaking research undertaken to produce this book and one cannot fail to be entertained and enlightened by it. The Dancing Chain will fascinate almost anyone with the slightest interest in what makes the modern bicycle tick and change gear.

RRP. Bicycling Australia.  If you just ride and never wonder why bikes have derailleurs, then you probably donít need a book to destroy your bliss. However, if youíve ever wondered why the derailleur prevailed as the best method for changing gears, then The Dancing Chain is the book for you. The book is a comprehensive history of the development of bicycle gears from 1865 to the present with a look ahead to the trends of tomorrow.

Copyright © 2000/09The Dancing Chain.com Last modified: February 07, 2009


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