Three Great American motorcycle books

If you’re like us, you appreciate and use solid motorcycle reference material. That can range from manuals to tech books to motorcycle history. We looked through the offerings currently available on and strongly recommend these three motorcycle history books. American Iron columnist Cris Sommer Simmons wrote one of them, and Editor-in-Chief Buzz Kanter wrote another. Please note all three have long been out of print, but Greaserag has a good but limited inventory of them for sale.

The Harley-Davidson And Indian Wars
by Allan Girdler, published in 1997, hardbound, 180 pages. $19.99

There is so much history in the rivalry between the last two American motorcycle powerhouses, Indian Motorcycle (founded in 1901) and Harley-Davidson (founded in 1903). The first time an Indian rider met up with a Harley rider you know they each said, “I bet mine is faster,” and for the next 50 years the two companies went head to head on the track, on the road, and in dealerships.

Read about the people, the machines, and the legends. Indian Sport Scouts and Chiefs, Harley Knuckleheads and 45s. Dirt track, hillclimbing, and road racing! Lots of great photos and info in this book. The Harley-Davidson and Indian Wars is a story of triumph and tragedy, never told before, and it’s as American as Indian and Harley-Davidson!

The American Motorcycle Girl’s Cannonball Diary
by Cris Sommer Simmons, published in 2012, hardbound, 192 pages. $49

Motorcycle Cannonball! Just the name is powerful and romantic. This book, written by American Iron Magazine columnist Cris Sommer Simmons, is her personal diary leading up to and riding across the US on Effie, her 1915 Harley-Davidson.

What’s it like to prepare for an event like this that had not been done before? Follow along as Cris learned how to ride a foot clutch motorcycle, and then ride it and push herself from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, to Santa Monica, California, in 16 days. Cris and her all-female mechanics and support team were joined along the way by her husband Pat Simmons of the Doobie Brothers. The fun, frustration, and fantasy of it all! Photos and foreword by world class photographer Michael Lichter.

Indian Motorcycles
by Buzz Kanter, published in 1993, softbound, 96 pages. $9.98

A wonderful book for anyone interested in learning the basics of Indian motorcycles and their history. More of a coffee table book than historical reference, this is an easy read with lots of great color photos of various Indian motorcycle models through time. Chapters include the early years, Indian racing, Indian Scouts, Indian Chiefs, and the Indian Four. A great reference book for yourself or as a gift. And you can have it autographed by author Buzz Kanter free if you request it when ordering the book.