Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Merckx: Half Man, Half Bike” as Want to Read:
Merckx: Half Man, Half Bike
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Merckx: Half Man, Half Bike

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  541 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
The first ever English-language biography of Eddy Merckx, the greatest cyclist of all time, by William Fotheringham, Britain's top cycling writer.

Eddy Merckx is to cycling what Muhammad Ali is to boxing or Pelé to football; quite simply, the best there has ever been. Throughout his professional career Merckx amassed an astonishing 445 victories. Lance Armstrong, by compari
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published July 28th 2012 by Yellow Jersey Press (first published March 22nd 2012)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Merckx, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Merckx

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Everybody with even a passing acquaintance of cycling as a sport has probably heard of Eddy Merckx. Anybody who has an interest in the sport will also know that Merckx was the greatest cyclist the sport has had – 'The greatest there is; the greatest there was; the greatest there ever will be' to steal (and change) a line from Bret Hart. What I didn't realise until I read this book was quite how great that great was. That such a cyclist doesn't seem to have written an autobiography, let alone had ...more
Martin Mccann
Apr 15, 2012 Martin Mccann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished Friebe's The Cannibal immediately prior to reading Fotheringham so naturally my instinct is to compare the 2- generally both books come to more or less the same conclusions regards Merckx, what drove him etc. Fotheringham does have the advantage of actually having interviewed Merckx himself although this turns out to have been in 1997.
As a summary of Merckx's career, this is well structured and draws on a wide range of interviews from those who worked with or against The Cannibal. Th
Raja Ram
Sep 10, 2013 Raja Ram rated it really liked it
A well researched book providing a detailed insight into this great cyclist. Merckx was before my time so this was a journey into the relatively unknown. What I learned was amazing. this guy truly dominated the sport. I know about Hinault, Lemond, Indurain, Armstrong. Merckx was head and shoulders above. His obsession to entertain, to perform in every race, to allay his fears, to push himself at every opportunity was fascinating. He took the definition of selfishness, of dedication to his ...more
Sep 21, 2014 Aaron rated it really liked it
Merckx: Half Man, Half Bike is a very thorough account of Eddy's Merck'x cycling career. While the book does an admirable job of retelling the history of his races and competitors, it does not tell us much about his motivation and personality.
Feb 12, 2014 Josh rated it liked it
i like cycling books but this was a little monotonous. similar to the guy's racing I guess.
Sep 07, 2013 citybeagle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book if you enjoy the golden age of cycling or want to know more about Eddy Merckx's career, although I think many others would enjoy this book, too.

Eddy Merckx raced before my time but I have always heard stories about the legendary "Cannibal" and wanted to know more. Fotheringham traces the rise of the Belgian athlete who completely dominated his sport the way no cyclist will again. Merckx didn't just win the big races; he competed in and won almost every cycling race or competition know
Jun 18, 2013 Abby rated it really liked it
If you told me even 2 years ago that I would ever read a sports biography and find it difficult to put down, I would have laughed in your face. But this book totally captivated me. I knew very little about Merckx before reading the book and was amazed to learn about the feats he accomplished in his cycling career, many of which have still not been surpassed and never will. 525 wins, 54 wins in one season, most stage wins in the Tour de France (34), most stage wins in a single Tour de France (8), ...more
Aug 03, 2013 Tore rated it really liked it
Good account of Merckx' career, sprinkled with some fascinating stories about the man and the races he entered. He was one of the most incredible athletes of all time. Up there with Ali, Laver, Joe Louis, Bill Tilden, Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt.

A demanding captain, but not less so with himself: One of his "domestiques" told how Merckx demanded a lot for them to help him, but would smile and acknowledge their hard effort after they one by one had given their all in front of the peloton, and had
Andrew Doran
An enjoyable but frustrating read. The story is completely carried by Merckx's achievements and unfortunately not by the author's writing. This is the second book I have read by William Fotheringham and he seems to take a very factual and journalistic approach to his narrative without whipping up a sense of excitement. At times the writing bordered on the annoying; he uses the sentence "It was not that simple, however." on p.144 followed by "It was not that straightforward, however." on the next ...more
Aug 01, 2013 Cade rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eddy Merckx: Cycling BADASS. The Cannibal. In a world be for blood doping, EPO, & riders that only focused on 1 race a year (TdF) Merckx dominated… EVERYTHING. He won basically everything 5 times over. Riders raced for 2nd place and considered it 1st. It was good enough to be the guy that came in after Merckx won. La course en tête. Attack early. Attack often. Attack when you hurt. Attack when they hurt. Especially attack when they hurt. And do it with honour.

The book was a decent read and g
Sep 03, 2012 Martyn rated it it was amazing
As a self confessed bikey, I found this book to be a wonderful insight into the ultimate cycling legend, Eddy Merckx. William Fotheringham's angle is to uncover the background to Merckx's unrepeatable success and reveal what made this half man half bike. I'm not convinced this is achieved as Merckx's life before and off the bike is relatively uneventful, especially compared to some of his contemporaries. The fact of the matter is that Merckx enjoyed so many victories in such a variety of ways ...more
John Richardson
Jan 28, 2013 John Richardson rated it liked it
Only for the cyclists out there. I bought this after I saw the guy in the flesh just before the Olympics. Fotheringham doesn't get too bogged down in the "who dropped who on the 15th stage of the '72 tour" stuff, keeping the tale spinning along like a long bike ride on a warm spring day. He mentions the Cannibal's bust for doping, but the Merckx story is a reminder post-Lance of what cycle racing should be like: all sweat, mud and blood. Even at the age of 72, Merckx still looks hard. When I saw ...more
Jun 28, 2014 Lee rated it really liked it
An excellent biography of the Cannibal Eddy Merckx the greatest cyclist in history. It tells a little bit about his early childhood and how he became involved in cycling and then tells the story of his career and his desire to win all the races he entered. Dominating the sprints, classics and grand tours like no other before him it tells of his greatest victories and his rivals who realized how tough it was to defeat him.
Jan 28, 2014 Nick rated it really liked it
Shelves: cycling
The book is about a legend of a man, Eddy Merckx. It follows his life and the qualities and upbringing that created the Cannibal. A gifted athlete he chose to forego school to pursue cycling. His quiet sensibilities make it easy for many to relate to him and feel the drive that laid beneath the skin. Great book worth a read.

Jude Nonesuch
Don't know when I finished this; ages ago.

Merckx as a cyclist is great and all, but I'm afraid his story just isn't really that interesting. Fotheringham tries his utmost to make this a 'psychological' profile -- "What made him need to win so much?" and all that, but I don't think the answer is especially interesting so I don't really care.
Jun 03, 2012 Peter rated it liked it
Recommends it for: cycling anoraks
A typical William Fotheringham book in as much as it is very detailed. The depth of his research is amazing. Having said that if you are interested in Eddy Merckx and just about every minute detail of his cycling life then this is the book for you. Well written but definitely only for people with a severe case of'cycling anorak disease'.
Jack Tweddle
Sep 30, 2013 Jack Tweddle rated it it was ok
The author has a tendency to jump back and forth in time, which makes for a disjointed read rather than a nice linear biography. Throughout the book the same points are reiterating over and over; I know Merckx was the best cyclist ever, that is why I am reading this book! Lots of bad metaphors and spelling errors are annoying.
roy o'mahony
Jan 31, 2016 roy o'mahony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Super insight into the man. Ever so slightly soured by the mentions of Armstrong and almost reverence of Armstrong who I think should not be mentioned in the same breath as merckx never mind a book Lille this.
Nick Sweeney
Nov 19, 2013 Nick Sweeney rated it it was amazing
Another cyclist biography from the expert William Fotheringham, exploring Merckx the man, the competitor, the legend. I'm not going to write too much about it here, except to say that Fotheringham's writing is, as ever, superb, and his research just right. One for cycling fans, mainly!
Mark Zodda
While I liked the book, it was a bit of a slog because the author assumes the reader is more well-versed in bicycling than I am. It is also written for a British audience. Despite all that, it was an interesting and informative look at one of cycling's greatest champions.
Oct 31, 2014 Phil rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book it goes into his racing in detail and gives a degree of insight into the greatest cyclist. The one issue I have is after reading the book I still don't feel as though I know him as a person.
Colin Lowndes
May 22, 2013 Colin Lowndes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cycling
Excellent read! Detailed account of what drove "The Cannibal" and not how he became simply the greatest but why.excellent research with accounts from the man himself long with accounts from former mechanics, domestiques and rivals. Brilliant book!
A. J.
Jan 30, 2016 A. J. rated it really liked it
Great read about the Velominati's God, Eddy Merckx. Well written, a few funny translation gaffs. The Cannibal was truly a unique cyclist. Likely never be another prolific aggressive rider of his ilk.
Dooley Gilchrist
Aug 30, 2013 Dooley Gilchrist rated it really liked it
Good historical account of how dominant Merckx was in his prime and why. Also a good retrospective on how far Merckx pushed himself, providing insight into why riders in today's generation may have fewer wins but longer careers. Worth a read for any fan of bicycle racing.
Feb 03, 2014 Chris rated it really liked it
Excellent book. Perhaps a bit too much detail for me and I skipped through some parts - this is a cyclist's book on Merckx - but none-the-less I'm glad I read it.
James Webster
Apr 17, 2013 James Webster rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't put this down. Whether it's the man or the writing that makes this so compelling, I'm still not sure. One thing is clear: we shall never see the likes of Merckx again.
Jul 06, 2015 Eugene rated it it was amazing
I've always heard of Merckx and how he was the greatest. This book makes it clear that he was. Great read.
May 07, 2012 Gavin rated it really liked it
Excellent insight into the career of the greatest of them all. Although it did seem to finish rather abruptly.
Feb 03, 2015 Jamie rated it it was ok
Unfortunately, I think you need to be very knowledgable about cycling history before reading this book. It is very hard to follow.
Richard K
Would have preferred more insight into the man himself. There were very few direct quotes or even interview excerpts from the man himself that made the book a view from afar
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Slaying the Badger: LeMond, Hinault and the Greatest Ever Tour de France
  • The Death of Marco Pantani: A Biography
  • Eddy Merckx: The Cannibal
  • A Race for Madmen: The History of the Tour de France
  • Racing Through the Dark
  • How I Won the Yellow Jumper: Dispatches from the Tour de France
  • Riis
  • Boy Racer: My Journey to Tour de France Record-Breaker
  • Flying Scotsman: Cycling to Triumph Through My Darkest Hours
  • Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong
  • My Time
  • Sex, Lies and Handlebar Tape: The Remarkable Life of Jacques Anquetil, the First Five-Times Winner of the Tour de France
  • Rough Ride
  • We Were Young and Carefree: The Autobiography of Laurent Fignon
  • Road to Valor: A True Story of WWII Italy, the Nazis, and the Cyclist Who Inspired a Nation
  • The Climb: The Autobiography
  • Domestique: The Real-life Ups and Downs of a Tour Pro
  • A Dog in a Hat: An American Bike Racer's Story of Mud, Drugs, Blood, Betrayal, and Beauty in Belgium

Share This Book