One Down, Four Up

My Bikes, My Life

Non-Fiction - Memoir
324 Pages
Reviewed on 08/12/2019
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Carine Engelbrecht for Readers' Favorite

Nigel Sainsbury's love affair with two-wheelers began at an early age. Long before he was street legal, he was already tinkering around with a motorized bicycle - learning to make it work and also testing its capabilities on the road with a mate as ballast. Soon he moved on to obtaining a riding license and owning his first store-bought vehicle. Over a period of roughly four decades, he would come to own 24 motorbikes, representing around ten different brands. One Down Four Up - My Bikes, My Life chronicles the ups and downs of this journey. It includes a few hair-raising moments on the road, two serious accidents, but also the exhilarating adventure of traveling along the iconic Route 66 and riding from Land's End to John O'Groats in aid of charity. With each bike, he discusses the motivation for ownership as well as the varying merits and mechanical quirks of each.

I feared that this book might be jargon rich and incomprehensible, but was pleasantly surprised when the author proved to be a good and patient explainer. I also found the brand histories filled with fascinating detail. One Down Four Up - My Bikes, My Life by Nigel Sainsbury is probably not for everyone, but for the right sort of reader - a motorcycle enthusiast with fork oil flowing through his veins, for instance - it will be a treat. New and would-be bikers might learn valuable lessons from his tips and caveats, many earned through bitter experience and spiced with humor to make it more palatable. It also offers an insightful glimpse into the logistics behind planning a long-distance trip or moving motorcycles across borders, and the overall impression balances inspiration with a reality check.