Product Review: On the Road. Growing up in Eight Journeys – My Early Years

By Phil West -

Parts & accessories

 23 July 2014 10:30

On the Road. Growing up in Eight Journeys – My Early Years, by Richard Hammond, £18.99
Miles covered/time: Read in a week or two

What's good? A humble, pleasant sort of bio, this, with a few biking references most of us will identify with and which mark the Top Gear presenter out, not just as a car nut, but a true biker and all-round good egg. The ‘Hamster’ uses significant vehicles from his youth, and his journeys, travels and relationships with them, to recount charmingly, honestly and entertainingly, his childhood and youth – all many years before Top Gear. Eight vehicles/eras form eight chapters, all written with real skill in a light, entertaining and brutally honest way and presented in an easy-read (the type’s so big your Gran could read it), tactile package interspersed with two sections of glossy, amusing snaps from the family album. I liked it. I’m glad I read it. I now feel Hammond could be my mate. Yes, I’m foolish and deluded.

What's not? If you’re expecting a full-on motorcycling biopic about fantasy motorcycles and epic deeds, you’ll be disappointed. Bikes get a mention (in particular a fabulous reminiscence about the trials (literally) and tribulations of being a 16-er on an MTX50 in the Dales in the late ‘80s, something I certainly can identify with) but they’re very much in the minority. There’s also, annoyingly, no mention of the ZZ-R600 on the cover, and only briefly one of the CBX750F on the reverse. Instead pushbikes, vans and crap cars fill the majority of its pages.
I must admit I also felt a little underwhelmed by the scale of Hammond’s ‘adventures’ around Solihull, Ripon and Weston-Super-Mare. Baring your soul and finding significance in humble events is one thing, but even I’d done more exciting stuff than that by the same age (well, at least one or two…)
Quality rating: 3/5
Value rating: 2/5 (4/5 if bought for £12.72 on Amazon)