Bicycle Quarterly Back Issues

Bicycle Quarterly Back Issues

From its beginning more than a decade ago, Bicycle Quarterly was intended as a timeless resource, rather than a magazine you read once and then recycle. Most of our content is still relevant and interesting, and our back issues continue to be popular. We are glad that new readers enjoy timeless articles like these:

  • The interview with Ernest Csuka, long-time owner of Cycles Alex Singer, who took us back to cycling in France during the 1940s and 1950s. (Vol. 1, No. 1)


  • Our testing of the influence of wheel size on bicycle handling. We rode three identical bicycles, except one was made for 700C, the second for 650B and the third for 26″ wheels. Do they feel different? And which one is best? (Vol. 8, No. 3)


  • The wonderful interview with mountain bike pioneers Jacquie Phelan and Charlie Cunningham. Jacquie was the first NORBA champion (three years in a row), and she rode one of Cunningham’s revolutionary aluminum mountain bikes (photo above). (Vol. 8, No. 1)


  • The Volcano-High Pass-Super Randonnée on a Calfee 650B carbon bike. A ride over 600 km and 8 mountain passes, much of it on gravel: That was probably the most challenging bike test any magazine ever has done! (Vol. 12, No. 1)


  • The insightful article about female riders during the golden age of randonneuring. (Vol. 12, No. 3)


  • The amazing story of the porteurs, the newspaper couriers in Paris. Not only did they earn more than the directors of the papers they delivered, but they also had a suspenseful race every year (above). (Vol. 6, No. 3)


  • Our Randonneuring Basics series with advice ranging from “what to bring on a long ride” to “how to ride most efficiently over hilly terrain”.

With 50 issues published so far, there have been many great articles: tire tests, the Jack Taylor story (above), touring in India, the Raid Pyrénéen…
Instead, I’ll ask our readers: Which is your favorite Bicycle Quarterly back issue or article?
Special Offer: We’ve made it easier to read up on past Bicycle Quarterlies: If you order all back issues from Vol. 1 through 12, you get two volumes free (so you pay for 10 instead of 12). We additionally reduced the price of complete sets to reflect that the combined shipping is less expensive than 12 individual parcels. Bicycle Quarterly back issues are now more affordable than ever. The discount is applied automatically when you select “order by volumes” and then “Vol. 1 – 12” in shopping basket.
Click here for more information on Bicycle Quarterly back issues.

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Comments (27)

  • marmotte27

    My favourite article still is ‘Are Modern Bikes faster’ from the Summer 2010 issue. It debunked all the myths the bicycle industry and press had managed to foist on us since the nineties, in order to sell their unaesthetic and overpriced bikes. I had long suspected their claims were wrong, but here was the scientific proof of it.

    January 10, 2015 at 3:22 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      That was a fun project! We looked at the speeds in the Tour de France and in a one-day event, Milan-San Remo. We tried correlating increases in speed with innovation in bicycles (derailleurs, clipless pedals, indexed shifting, carbon-fiber frames) and found no correlation. In other words, none of the innovations made a difference in the speeds of these races.
      We also compared at the times of runners over 10 km, as a measure of how much human performance has improved. If bicycle technology made a big difference, you’d expect the improvements in cycling to be greater than in running. (Cycling improvements = human improvements + bike improvements) Again, the two lines tracked each other well, showing that increased speeds in the Tour and Milan-San Remo can be explained with increased human performance alone.
      This doesn’t mean that the bike doesn’t matter at all – the old racers had very nice bikes, too – but that a great bike from 1950 can be as fast as a great bike from the 21st century.

      January 10, 2015 at 3:35 pm
  • Tim Gormley

    I was kind of thinking along those lines too, but you’re not going far enough.
    Just sell back issues ? OK. I’ve bought some. That said, you’re really undervaluing your product. Add a bit of flexibility, and you can have a host of niche products that will be relevant as long as feet move pedals. Consider
    1) a volume of concatenated articles on tires – pressures, widths, wheel sizes. Think about 15 articles pulled from all your back issues, published in a new book
    2) a similar concatenated tome on geometries, frame materials etc
    3) a similar volume on builders and their histories
    4) a similar volume on riding gear
    Perhaps much easier said than done – but you’ve really accumulated a fairly definitive and timeless body of work. It only seems sensible to organize it in ways that will be both marketable and referenced as the body of work that it is.
    Best wishes

    January 10, 2015 at 8:59 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      Those are good ideas, and we’d love to do these special compilations. However, the costs and effort of creating and printing these is prohibitive. It works for big magazines, since they can sell the special issues at newsstands, and they include new advertisements.

      January 11, 2015 at 8:10 am
      • Ford Kanzler

        As to creating special compilations, suggest taking a look at Road Bike Rider’s eBook approach. I appreciate the tactile benefits of print, but digital is how more people are consuming content these days. Doing special publications that way makes economic, environmental and marketing sense.

        January 12, 2015 at 9:02 am
  • Christopher Bernique

    For me it has to be the Winter 2013, issue 45. I enjoyed the cyclocross, the Alan Cyclocross bike (beautiful bike btw),Icon: Reynolds 531, Islabike Luath 700: A real bike for kids, Getting Statrted in Cyclocross, etc. etc. Actually I have enjoyed every issue that I have gotten my hands on and plan to get more as I am starved for quality bicycle information. Thank you, Mr Heine.

    January 11, 2015 at 1:52 am
  • Mike Jenkins

    It’s a tie. Vol 3, #3 & Vol 5, #3. As Doug Fattic said to me, “Jan has contributed more to our understanding of how geometry contributes to [bicycle] handling than anyone else.” This was on the occasion of my handing him copies of “What makes a well-handling bike”.

    January 11, 2015 at 6:45 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      Thank you for introducing Bicycle Quarterly to Doug and others. Yes, the geometry tests were eye-opening for us as well.

      January 11, 2015 at 8:11 am
  • Christian Bratina

    My favorite issue was the first one I read, your first tire test. As an engineer I love accurate comparison tests and had immediately seen the fallacy of the drum tests performed up till then. It turned me on to BQ. The second best was the first Peter Weigle test. Having mountain biked with Peter, I have a lot of respect for him and to see his frame rated so highly I knew that my bike frames were not optimal. Based on your research, I had Mike DeSalvo build me a custom titanium frame with thin top tube, seat tube, and chain stays that planes delightfully. We set it up to perform as both a dirt road bike and a long distance bike suitable for light touring. It does all wonderfully. Thanks.

    January 11, 2015 at 6:53 am
  • PedroMJ

    I think it would be good to have access to separate articles (or even full issues) in a digital format, preferably PDF or similar. Sometimes we want only some articles (such as the case described above to get only articles about tires) or some issues in a quick way and easily carried with us in our digital devices.
    I know that protecting your material against illegal copies is an important issue but there you have DRM and publishing platforms that may help in the process. Even though I am against such copyright protection practices, it is better than not having easy and quick access to the articles.

    January 11, 2015 at 10:54 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      I can see the appeal of a digital format, but unfortunately, the costs are prohibitive. With paper copies, we handle the distribution, and we pay ourselves a lot less than digital print service providers. Even for us, extracting an article and making a pdf for you would cost more than just sending you the entire issue. And then you’d get a low photo resolution that is far from the beauty of the print edition.

      I am against such copyright protection practices

      As far as the copyright goes, without it, Bicycle Quarterly wouldn’t exist. Whether it’s research into technical issues, interviewing French randonneurs from the golden age, or visiting Japanese framebuilders, it all costs money. In the mainstream cycling media, that money comes from advertising, so you get articles about the companies who have the most money to spend. We are financed by subscribers, which is why we can write about what is of interest to our readers, not what our advertisers want you to read. However, this means that we have to ask readers to pay for this content.

      January 12, 2015 at 8:55 am
  • John Duval

    Back issues are indeed relavent and valuable today. Planning a new bike prompted me to re-read every issue from volume 1. The impressions and descriptions of ride experiences were at least as valuable as the technical articles. While the knowledge and preferences expressed in the pages of BQ have evolved, there are surprisingly few articles that I think are contradicted today. Over the years it is like watching an artist work on a painting, with the overall structure sketched in early, and then watching how each brush stroke adds more life to the vision. Yet there are more questions today than in the beginning. For anyone who loves bikes and cycling, that is the best part.

    January 11, 2015 at 11:04 am
  • Paul Ahart

    Yes, the tire test issues are the ones I value most. It’s allowed me to ask my customers, “What is most important to you: speed and comfort, or puncture resistance?” I then let them make up their minds. I also recommend they use the largest section tire that will fit under their brakes/fork crown/fender, assuring them the fatter tire, within a given model, will likely be as fast, but more comfortable and longer-lasting. I’ve reprinted your tire tests and loan copies to customers to read. They always return and chose performance tires, often Grand Bois or Compass.
    Several weeks ago I replaced a set of Schwalbe Marathon Plus 20×1.5 tires with a set of high-performance 20×1.6 tires on two Bike Friday folding bikes. Admittedly, they’d never had a puncture with the Marathon tires, but the customers were amazed at the performance of the new treads. Weight difference per tire: 260 grams, with the Schalbes having such stiff sidewalls they were nearly impossible to remove. The customers agreed the difference was worth putting up with an occasional puncture.
    Thanks again for your work on providing objective tests on the performance of bicycles and components.

    January 11, 2015 at 3:26 pm
  • thebvo

    I just completed my BQ set, but sadly it was purchased piecemeal over the past 3 years. Big thanks to New Orleans LBS Wallbike for getting me hooked on it!
    The articles that I’ve read over and over again are those that inform the bike-nerd within me like braking technique, frame flex tests, tire testing (air pressure, width, roll-down etc.), and all the geometry charts.
    BQ has helped to shape the real-world bicycle revitalization, but I wonder if it will expand its horizons as well. Vintage/ French inspired 650B randonneur bikes have been tested/ boiled down to their essence to the point where we readers know what BQ will and won’t like on a test bike: a flexible set of tubes lugged and brazed with an “ideal” set of parameters like generous and equidistant clearances, fenders, lights, Hbar bags, etc. These things/ small details add up to a flawless rando bicycle (and make us dream daily about a future custom 650B bicycle), but the future of bicycle travel is wide and diverse enough to push testing in commuting, touring, and even bike-packing.
    I look forward to every issue and topic covered by such a reputable and informative publication. I wish all journalism was so thorough and well-balanced. Keep it up Jan!

    January 12, 2015 at 2:55 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      You’ll like the Spring 2015 issue: It’s main topic is “Where do we go from here?” It explores alternatives to the 650B randonneur bikes, as well as future directions in which our bikes can evolve.

      January 12, 2015 at 5:43 am
    • marmotte27

      I think that the most precious thing we have learned with and from Jan througout the BQ adventure is that innovation and more particularly ‘innovation at all costs’ is more often than not a wrong track. Going back to go forward has been the right way, and the BQ dicoveries were in fact redicoveries most of the time, the added value being putting things that have been long known on a sound scientific footing.
      I doubt actually that the future will bring us many really useful things in cycling.

      January 12, 2015 at 6:13 am
      • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

        I think the truth lies in between. In areas where builders truly care, some of the latest bikes are amazing. The Lynskey Helix titanium bike was a joy to ride, and so was the carbon-fiber Calfee Adventure. And modern generator hubs and LED headlights have revolutionized our riding. Riding the unfamiliar gravel roads of the Oregon Outback at night would have been difficult (and much less fun) with 1980s lights.
        There is still ample room for improvements. I’d like to see some clipless touring pedals that may have less mud clearance, but a bigger, better cleat interface for long-distance comfort. And how about a handlebar bag with an integrated touchscreen for GPS and navigation? Disc brakes also have some potential in certain applications. And the idea of a full-carbon, 19-pound randonneur bike has a lot of appeal, too. It may not yet possible to make that in a way that is economical, but with all these gravel bikes becoming popular, the right forks and carbon BB shells for wide tires may be just around the corner.
        And beyond that, we have seen a resurgence of things we thought were long-dead. Even Shimano now offers brakes again that have two pivots mounted high on the fork blades. Sometimes progress is bringing back ideas that worked well in the past and had been almost forgotten.

        January 12, 2015 at 6:56 am
  • marmotte27

    I’m going to sound a bit polemic, but carbon fibre shows no real advantage to steel, is apt to fail, any damages being most likely a total write off. You can’t just put on or take off any braze-ons you find necessary and the Calfee Adventure was at best a compromise, quite far from the bikes the constructeurs made decades ago. Carbon is a material that lends itself best to the sort of myth- and moneymaking around road bikes I mentioned in my post above.
    As for GPS-navigation, it cannot replace and is even detrimental to real orientation skills learnt by the use of maps in the field, to say nothing of its cost compared to a map, paper and a pencil for a cue sheet.
    As you say, the most substantial innovations are in fact rediscoveries like the Shimano brakes.
    I’ll be looking forward to the spring issue nevertheless, hoping you’ll reveal something more substantial there.

    January 12, 2015 at 8:02 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      A superlight bike feels different, and for those who aren’t going to abuse it, it can be very attractive. However, you can rest assured, we are looking for things that are useful. You won’t find the typical “It’s 14% stiffer, so it’s much better” hype in Bicycle Quarterly.

      January 12, 2015 at 8:50 am
  • Emmanuel

    My most wanted issue is the one on the return of transportation cycling. I have yet to order it though.

    January 12, 2015 at 10:35 am
  • the coasting frenchman

    I am not sure what issue is my favorite, maybe the one with the article on ‘what makes a well-handling bike’, and I plan to continue buying back issues when I renew my subscription. I discovered your blog through the chart on tire pressure that was published on Sheldon — ‘I’m still guiding you from above’ — Brown’s website; having problems with a slipped disk at the bottom of my neck, I was looking for info about what made a bike more comfortable, and the site mentioned steel tubes and fat tires; one thing led to another, and I stopped renewing my subscription to French magazine ‘Le Cycle’ which definitely is on the side of “the new lighter-stiffer carbon bike will bring you something more than last year’s”, and started getting round to your explanations about trail and geometry that seemed to me totally counter-intuitive at the time. Reading the blog and magazine definitely was an enlightenment, however, I have now found a French magazine that is different from others and complements BQ well; it is called ‘200’, for ‘200 k’, which the editors seem to consider a sort of ‘threshold distance’ to cover on a bike; they are not into 1940s randonneur bikes and may never be, but their articles and the way they test bikes, by riding them over fairly long distances (reminds you of anybody?) are a nice change from usual road-bike papers. Here is a link to their website, for those of you who read French:
    I hope to continue reading it and BQ for a long time, even if one day I get a custom bike too!

    January 12, 2015 at 12:11 pm
  • TonyP

    My favorite issue is the first one that I read. It prompted me to collect and read all the back issues, maintain my subscription and now begin the process of assembling a 650b low trail bike of my own.

    January 12, 2015 at 3:48 pm
  • mickb13

    I ordered all 12 volumes at the end of summer last year. I suppose a late bloomer to the world of bicycle quarterly, and to think I though I knew my stuff! Simply put, the wealth of information I’ve gained from reading and soaked up has turned my bicycle knowledge upside down. The magazine puts to the test everything I though was ‘golden’ and ‘set in stone’. I always have an issue on hand to read, old or new, the relevance is timeless. For me the ‘jack taylor’ issue is extra special, living a stones throw from where those lads built. Thank you bicycle quarterly.

    January 13, 2015 at 9:48 am
  • twowheelrevival

    As a new subscriber, I’m really loving Bicycle Quarterly. Issue 50 is chock full and I keep rereading it. Great job with the magazine, the books, and Compass. Cheers.

    January 14, 2015 at 5:12 pm
  • Atle

    I really liked vol7no2 (brakes! handlebars!) , a lot of information, beautiful pictures and photographs in black and white. (who needs colors?), it was a nice and well thought issue, difficult to not enjoy these pages.
    vol 5 or vol 4, I am not sure which one, I couldn’t find it here.
    There was several pages about geometries of bicycles, a comparison. That took a lot of work and was very well thought, I have readed it several times, it’s interesting to see how blind companies are to history, a bicycle are as it is. And thank you for including a few of the fixies in it.
    vol7no3 had a cool double page about “paris on wheel”, a vintage compilation of what people did with their bicycles in 1940. it’s always fun with history in a personal perspective.
    vol4no1 had a cool doublepaged picture of paris-roubaux. A picture says more than 1000 words!
    vol1no3 (“what makes a good randoummeur bike, french trailer designs)
    vol4no2 (a very good issue, a lot to read, interesting to read about deraillers)
    vol6no1 (aerodynamics)
    generally I likes the reviews, “builders speak”, “how it works” articles, interviews, and most of all discovering new things such as planing, how things works in a broader perspective: scientific articles.
    BQ has a lot of information, reviews, tests, deep articles, well thought out layout and design, driven by a strong vision very few magazines have.
    It would be nice to see more vintage fixie into it, but it’s something very few are interested in, there’s a little here and there, but I want more! 🙂
    Sadly I had to put these on a hold to sort out issues in my life, so I have a lot of to catchup as I only have vol 1 to vol 7. I look forward to it.

    January 16, 2015 at 4:55 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      The geometry article was in Vol. 5, No. 3. Measuring all those bikes was eye-opening for us, too. (We started that research in Vol. 3, No. 3, and it led to the low-trail 650B bikes we like so much today.)
      Vintage fixed-gear bikes – it’s an interesting topic, we should research it more. From what I know, fixed-gears were used mostly for winter training in the old days, at least on the Continent. In Britain, there was more of a fixed-gear culture, and that is worth looking into.
      I hope your issues don’t keep you off the bike, even if they (temporarily) keep you from reading BQ!

      January 16, 2015 at 5:43 am
      • Atle

        No, they won’t! 🙂
        I’m on my seventh year, and it’s unique to experience that everything else are volative but the gearratio.
        I also loved to read about porteurs bikes for newsagents in Paris in the same issue, these who rides hard for money, the bike was a tool to earn money.
        Fixed/singlespeed bicycles can be coupled with people who rides a lot, don’t have a lot of money/time to maintenace, must be extremely reliable, maybe the workclass of bicycles?
        I am not sure, since one have to be mad or poor to reject the freewheel, they’re not that expensive for that amount of discomfort, so it’s something else. If it was just for wintertraining, it means that the cyclist has two wheels or bicycles, it’s not something everyone could afford.
        I like contrast of history, what people could do compared to now and then.

        January 17, 2015 at 11:08 am

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