Richard Ballantine, the author of million-selling Richard’s Bicycle Book, has passed away. He had been ill for some time. He was one of the most influential voices in cycling in the 1970s and 1980s and was a magazine publisher, bicycle advocate, trend starter, writer, and event organiser. An American by birth, he lived most of his life in the UK.
Richard’s Bicycle Book was first published in 1972 and was the "bible" of cycling, riding on the early 1970s rejuvenation of cycling. In the 1980s, Ballantine was the first person to import mountain bikes into the UK and – via magazine articles and the first races – helped kickstart the popularity of mountain biking on this side of the Atlantic.
Richard’s Bicycle Book was famous for its trenchant and radical pro-bicycle views, and, of course, the advice on how to deal with dogs yapping at your heels (think frame pumps and not just as whackers).
His book was a compendium of sound advice, including how-to advice on bicycle serviving. If you were a keen cyclist in the 1970s and 1980s it was highly likely you owned a well-thumbed, grease-smudged copy of Richard’s Bicycle Book. It went on to be reprinted many times, with the cover strapline "million-selling" being on later editions.
Ballantine was also involved with The Bicycle Buyers’ Bible and published Bicycle, one of the key cycling magazines in the 1980s.For a time he also edited Bicycle Action magazine and contributed to New Cyclist. He was a long-time populariser of HPVs, human powered vehicles. He was chair of the British Human Power Club and of the World Human Powered Vehicle Association.
I worked with Richard on a series of books for Snow Books. His knowledge of all things cycling and his never-dimmed passion for cycling was inspirational.
Pic by Chris Hill