Author - Jan Heine

"Pre-Riding" the 600 km Brevet

Last weekend, Ryan and I were fortunate to have glorious weather for our "pre-ride" of the Seattle International Randonneurs 600 km brevet. A "pre-ride" is done by the ride organizers to make sure the route sheet is accurate, instead of relying solely on sometimes-erroneous maps and outdated satellite images:...

Doping in Randonneuring?

With the recent news that Lance Armstrong effectively admitted to a large-scale doping conspiracy on his teams, the issue of doping has been front and center in the cycling news. A few readers have asked whether doping exists in randonneuring, too. The short answer is yes – doping exists in...

Riding Fast is Fun!

The cycling community sometimes seems to fall into two camps: Those who emulate racing, and those who don't care the least about racing and performance. On the one side, you have the mainstream bike industry, who finds it easy to sell racing bikes to anybody interested in cycling for recreation...

Online Resources

The Bicycle Quarterly web site provides a number of useful resources. Most popular is the Color Photo Supplement. It shows color photos of the classic bikes that have been featured in Bicycle Quarterly over the years. Most of the bikes we feature are unrestored originals, so they are not...

Science and Bicycles: Designing Experiments

Designing scientific experiments requires a lot of thought, if you want to arrive at useful results. Most studies of bicycles fall into two categories, which I'll call observation-based and measurement-based. Observation-based studies starts with an observation. In our case, we ride a lot of bikes. Then it goes like this: We...

Hutchinson 650B x 32 mm Tires

Compass Bicycles now carries the Hutchinson "Confrérie des 650" tire. The Confrérie des 650 was created by French riders who loved their 650B bikes. They were concerned that the wheel size might become extinct, leaving them without rims and tires for their bikes. So they formed the Confrérie and...

Daniel Rebour

Even though Daniel Rebour retired almost 40 years ago, his drawings remain recognizable to many cyclists today. Rebour's drawings distilled the essence of components and bicycles better than photographs ever can. He managed to make even the most mundane bicycle appealing, and his drawings greatly added to the allure...

Dedication to Details

At Compass Bicycles, we tend to be a bit obsessive when it comes to our bicycles. "Good enough" usually is not good enough when we're out on our bikes, and we apply the same exacting thoroughness to the components we sell. Take the Honjo fenders as an example: When you...

We sell what we like

When the owner of a bicycle magazine also runs a company that develops and sells bicycle components, the words "conflict of interest" inevitably come up. Does Bicycle Quarterly only like products that Compass Bicycles sells, and disparages those of other companies? Is the magazine blind to the flaws of...

Fleche 24-Hour Ride

Last weekend was the 24-hour Flèche team ride, traditionally held over the Easter weekend. The Flèche was officially inaugurated in 1947, but its origins go back further to the early 20th century when Vélocio gathered cyclotourists every spring in Provence. Riders from all over France rode their bikes to these...

People who have inspired us: Roger Baumann

I learned about the history of Paris-Brest-Paris from the late Bernard Déon's excellent book Paris-Brest et Retour (unfortunately out of print). Déon was a great storyteller, and I found his report from the epic 1956 particularly gripping. The main protagonist of that dramatic edition of PBP was a young...

Wiring a Light for a SON Generator Hub

Before I explain how to connect your light to a SON generator hub, I'd like to summarize the advantages of quality generator-powered lights. They simply allow you to ride more safely and enjoyably: Light when you need it, at the turn of a switch. No worries about batteries running out. Asymmetric beam...

Bicycle Quarterly Spring 2012

Cyclists come in all sizes, as illustrated on the cover of the Spring 2012 Bicycle Quarterly. In this issue, we look at riders that are outside the range of our usual testers. How will a low-trail bike handle for a novice rider? Is “planing” something that all cyclists can...

Frames Going Soft?

When talking to older cyclists and builders, you sometimes hear that old frames lose their stiffness. This apparently manifests itself in reduced performance – the "snap" is gone from the acceleration when you step on the pedals. On the upside, the bike is said to become more comfortable as...

Winter Weather Break

Looking at the weather forecast, we realized that the next day had the potential to be a perfect day. So we meet at seven. When the sun rises above Lake Washington, we already are well on our way out of town. After a stop in Snohomish at a café to...

New Bicycle Quarterly Web Site

The new Bicycle Quarterly Press web site is up and running. We have a new design, simpler navigation, and clearer organization. The site better explains what Bicycle Quarterly is all about: Inspirational rides (above) and technical articles that explain how bikes work... ... as well as exciting articles about cycling...

Single-Speed!

I have ridden fixed-gears and single-speed bicycles, but for my own bikes, I am wedded to multiple gears. Part of that is my love of the mountains with their long and steep climbs, and part of it is my allegiance to Vélocio, who fought tooth and nail to get...

Winter Rides and Summer Plans

For me, November and most of December are rest months. That doesn't mean that I don't ride my bike – I use my bike for daily transportation – but there isn't any "training" on the bike. I worked on my core fitness and went for a few short runs....

What Your Money Buys

It often is surprising that high-end components cost not just a little more, but several times as much as budget components. For example, the high-end Sugino cranks (above right) cost more than three times as much as the budget model from the same maker (above left). (This already takes...

PBP: The Movie

Last week, Sur la Route de l'Extreme by Sandrine Lopez and Philip Dupuis was shown on French TV. It's a well-done documentary of this year's PBP, with beautiful shots showing the variety of randonneurs who participate, from the fastest to the slowest. There are great shots of the lead...

Bike Tests

Good bike tests provide information that allow you to choose a bike that is right for you. Your bike need not look like the one that was tested, because it often can be customized to your personal tastes. When we test a production bike, the bike we test is the...

The Technical Trials

The Technical Trials are best known for the incredibly light bicycles that constructeurs built in the 1940s. (The 1946 Alex Singer above weighs a little over 17 pounds fully equipped.) More importantly, the Trials advanced bicycle technology by serving as a test bed for new bikes and components. Low-trail geometries,...

New LED Taillight Solutions

Taillights can be very elegant and beautiful. Some are shaped like raindrops, others emerge from the fender like a submarine parting the waves. There are minimalist taillights like the beautiful JOS lights that René Herse mounted on the seat tubes of his randonneur bikes. In recent years, the LED revolution...

Bicycle Quarterly Charity Drive

We are grateful that we can ride beautiful bicycles, both for enjoyment and for transportation. We discuss issues like geometry, load placement and the advantages of generator over battery lights. Much of the world is less fortunate. Even in the United States, one of the richest countries anywhere, there are...

Bottle Cages

When I knew Ernest Cuska, the long-time owner of Cycles Alex Singer, he did not have bottle cages on his bikes. After riding with him a few times, I realized why: He did not drink anything while riding. Imagine my surprise when I looked at old photos of him...

Why Bolts Come Loose

Fenders, racks and other attachments can remain maintenance-free for 10,000+ miles, yet other bikes require tightening bolts on a regular basis. Why do some bolts stay tight, while others loosen quickly? We have covered this in detail in Bicycle Quarterly's article "Engineering a Bicycle" in Vol. 5, No. 4. The...

The Competition Bicycle – Price Reduced

As a small publisher, we don't have a "publicist" who works full-time to promote our books. Therefore, we always are excited when one of our titles is mentioned in a major publication. Over the years, our books have been featured in the Sunday Times UK, one of Britain's largest...

Paris-Brest-Paris – The Book

Paris-Brest-Paris is an event that captures the imagination. It's not just the epic length of the ride – 1200 km or 750 miles – but also the history that makes this event special. Paris-Brest-Paris (or PBP in short) was created in 1891 by Pierre Giffard, a colorful journalist, with two...

Winter 2011 Bicycle Quarterly

The Winter 2011 issue of Bicycle Quarterly is at the printer and will be mailed next week. Our full report from the Oregon Manifest (pictured on the cover) showcases the innovative and inspiring bicycles that excelled in the technical trials. We also take you on an epic ride across...

Ode to a Road

The German poet Friedrich Schiller wrote his Ode to Joy in 1785, celebrating friendship and the unity of humanity. Ludwing van Beethoven set the poem to music and incorporated it into his 9th Symphony as the final movement. I was thinking about the Ode as we rode a favorite road...

SON Generator Hubs and Lights

Compass Bicycles has added SON generator hubs and Edelux lights to our program. We are excited to carry the best bicycle lighting systems ever made. A few years ago, a reporter asked me what I considered the most important innovation in bicycles during the last half-century. After thinking about the...

A Mountain Adventure

The Oregon Manifest in Portland was a great opportunity for another long ride in the mountains. The Bicycle Quarterly team took the train to Portland, rode in the Oregon Manifest, and then rode back to Seattle the next day. We left Portland just before 7 a.m. on Sunday to head...

Science and Bicycles: Frame Stiffness

Lightweight frames, made from high-strength tubing, were thought to be stiffer than ordinary frames. They performed better for most cyclists, but the conclusion that stiffer frames were better was erroneous. Eventually, this led the makers of steel bicycles down the wrong path and may have hastened their demise. When the...

A Trip to France

Going to France was a treat. Not just because PBP is a wonderful adventure, but because I love visiting France. In August, Paris loses some of its urban edge, and people become more relaxed. The city organizes Paris Plages ("Beach in Paris"): For a few weeks, sand is trucked...

Autumn 2011 Bicycle Quarterly

The Autumn issue of Bicycle Quarterly is at the printer. It will be mailed next week. On 72 pages, we cover a variety of topics, including: High-wheeler racing in New Zealand today. Test of the Calfee "Adventure" – a carbon fiber bicycle for the real world. Braking: We test how it's done...

Pricing Small Parts

There are different philosophies on how to set prices. The traditional way is to figure out how much something costs to make, add a little profit, and determine the retail price. The more modern way is to keep your prices low on "high-visibility" items for which people comparison-shop, but...

Letters to the Editor

We get many letters and e-mails. We read them all, but we cannot reply to each and every one. We select a few for inclusion to Bicycle Quarterly "Readers' Forum" pages. How do we select these letters? To be published, a letter must add something new to the discussion. We...

The Big Picture

It's amazing to me that  the big picture often gets overlooked. I am not talking about willful distortion, but about well-intentioned people looking at only one part of the equation in an attempt to arrive at a good but simple solution. Here are two examples, both concerned with reducing...

The Aunt

One of the best things of editing Bicycle Quarterly have been the wonderful people I have met all over the world. Even among these amazing people, Paulette Porthault stands out. Most of you have seen her many times: On the Bicycle Quarterly home page, you see her climbing the...

PBP Preparation: Reflective Vests and Rapha Jersey

Rapha recently introduced their "Paris-Brest-Paris Jersey." It is designed specifically for randonneuring, and as a bonus, it comes with a reflective vest. The vest has generated considerable interest among randonneurs... Randonneuring requires riding at night. To improve rider safety, randonneuring rules not only require lights, but also reflective clothing. Reflective...

René Herse Cranks

Compass Bicycles and René Herse Bicycles are proud to introduce a modern version of the classic René Herse crank. The new crank will be available this fall. Some products are hard to improve; they make you wonder why all components are not made that way. The classic René Herse cranks...

PBP Training: Recovery

In the past, we've discussed hill intervals and how they make you stronger. They've certainly worked for me this spring, as I achieved one of my big goals this year: I completed my Cyclos Montagnards R60 Honors. You get faster and stronger through overload and recovery. This means not only...

Summer 2011 Bicycle Quarterly

Happy Solstice! This means that summer officially has started, and the Summer issue of Bicycle Quarterly is at the printer. It will be mailed next week. The topics include: Do larger wheels roll faster on bumpy roads than small ones? Collecting roads: How to find the best backroads. Test of the Ellis...

A Performance Bike

In recent years, the bike industry has realized that most riders don't race, and so the racing bike has been renamed: It's now called a "road bike" or a "performance bike." In the minds of most cyclists, a performance bike has narrow tires, no fenders, no lights, no racks....