Components

Compass becomes Rene Herse Cycles

Starting in early 2019, Rene Herse Cycles will be the sole brand for all tires and components made now by Compass Cycles. This streamlines our two brands and clarifies the philosophy that guides us. Since Lyli Herse asked us to become custodians of the Rene Herse name more than a...

Why We Don't Do OEM

Wouldn't it be awesome if you could buy a complete bike that is already equipped with Compass tires? Take a bike like the Masi Speciale Randonneur (above), roll out of the bike shop and into the hills, your tires gently humming as they roll over the rough pavement. When...

How Wide is Right for Me?

Our ideas of what is a performance bike have changed a lot in recent years! One of the most exciting bikes of the moment is the Open U.P. – a carbon race bike that accepts 50 mm-wide tires! Not too long ago, every performance road bike had 700C x 23...

Supple Trumps Wide

High-performance bicycles have changed tremendously in recent years. As one manufacturer said at last year's Interbike: "In the past, everybody asked how much your bike weighed. Now all they want to know is how wide a tire it fits." Wide tires have revolutionized how we view performance bikes. In the...

How to Test Tire Performance

In the 15 years of Bicycle Quarterly, one of our discoveries has been that testing bicycle performance isn't easy, and that taking shortcuts often has led to erroneous conclusions. Carefully designed tests that replicate what happens when real cyclists ride on real roads have allowed Bicycle Quarterly to debunk several myths....

Which Berthoud Saddle is Best for Me?

Rene Herse Cycles is the exclusive North American distributor for Berthoud Cycles. We are especially excited about their saddles, which combine amazing comfort with modern design and superior durability. Berthoud saddles start with the best vegetable-tanned cow hides, which are dyed in-house. All Berthoud saddle tops are cut in the...

Myths Debunked: Fenders DON’T Slow You Down

To celebrate 15 years of Bicycle Quarterly, we are looking at ‘Myths in Cycling’ – things that aren't quite what we (and most other cyclists) used to believe. Part 3 of the series is about fenders. Many cyclists here in Seattle install fenders when the rainy season starts, and remove them...

René Herse: The Beauty of Function

At Compass Cycles, we have taken much of our inspiration from René Herse and his legendary bikes. In the past, we've talked about the great performance and incredible reliability of Herse's bikes, but what is even more striking is their beauty. You notice it immediately when you look at...

New SON Generator Hubs!

We are excited to announce the latest SON generator hubs. The biggest news is the connector-less SL system for thru-axle hubs: Now you can remove your front wheel and its generator hub without having to disconnect any wires, even with a thru axle. The system consists of three parts: The heart...

Introducing Rene Herse Cantilever Brakes

The new René Herse cantilever brakes are here! Prototypes of these brakes were one of the secrets that made Peter Weigle’s bike at this year’s Concours de Machines so light. They weigh just 75 g per wheel including bolts, springs and pad holders (without pads). How can the René Herse...

Compass 11-speed Chainrings

Compass Cycles is introducing the first-ever 11-speed-compatible René Herse cranks and chainrings. And the first-ever René Herse chainrings with ramps and pins. These are not just any ramps and pins: They're carefully engineered to shift as well as the best cranks from the big manufacturers. We are proud to offer...

Why René Herse Cranks Aren't Anodized

Sometimes, we get questions about why our René Herse cranks aren't anodized. Some even wondered if this was a cost-saving measure. Rest assured, Compass never will choose a cheaper process over a better one. There is a reason why our cranks aren’t anodized: When I was racing, I bought a beautiful used...

Tubeless-Compatible 650B x 42 mm

The updated Compass Babyshoe Pass TC 650B x 42 mm tires are now in stock in all models. What's new? We took our most popular 650B tire, and made it tubeless compatible. When you are riding fast on rough gravel, tubeless really makes sense – as I found out...

Kaisei Tubing

It's no secret that we love steel bikes. Steel allows us to build the bikes we need for our adventures – bikes where every detail is optimized to the nth degree. You can imagine our concern when True Temper, one of the most important suppliers of steel tubing, decided...

Let's End the Pedal Wars!

Sometimes, it feels as if cyclists are divided into two camps on many issues. One of these divisions concerns pedals. There are those who believe that if you don't have clipless pedals, it's hardly worth taking your bike outside. Others fervently believe that any foot retention will ruin your...

Berthoud Open Saddles in Stock

We just received our first shipment of Gilles Berthoud "Open" saddles. In the past, I've tried many saddles with cutouts, but none were comfortable. While they relieved pressure in the center, the sharp edges of the opening were uncomfortable. So I was skeptical when I received a sample of...

New Tire: Pumpkin Ridge 650B x 42 mm

Many cyclists dream of a dual-purpose tire that rolls smoothly on paved roads, but has knobs that dig into the surface when it gets slippery. In the past, combining these two qualities in a single tire has been elusive. Usually, the knobs were too squirmy for good performance on...

Tubeless-Compatible 650B x 42 mm

If there is such a thing, Babyshoe Pass is our favorite tire here at Compass and Bicycle Quarterly. It's 42 mm width gives it great cornering grip, comfort and puncture resistance. The 650B wheel size offers nimble handling with wide tires. The Babyshoe Pass is named after an iconic...

Choosing Your Tires

We've experienced a profound revolution in road bikes in recent years: It used to be that to go fast, you rode narrow tires and pumped them up to the maximum pressure. If you wanted more comfort, you used wider tires and (maybe) lower pressures, but you knew that you'd...

Berthoud Saddles and Spare Parts

Berthoud saddles are among the most comfortable in the world. What's even better, they are fully and easily rebuildable. Every part for the saddles is available from Compass Cycles, and you can replace all parts using standard tools. Berthoud saddles are designed to be easy to work on, even...

Better Headset Spacers

Spacers with a flat surface on the inner diameter can help prevent your headset from loosening. Just to clarify: If your headset stays put as it is, then don't change it! It's just that my headsets kept loosening on two different bikes, and so I was looking for a solution. Classic headsets...

A True Dual-Purpose Knobby

"Don't do this on knobby tires!" would be most cyclists' advice when looking at the photo above. Everybody knows that cornering hard on pavement and knobby tires don't go together. And yet, the photo shows me on Compass Steilacoom knobby tires. And I didn't take any undue risks. It was a cold winter...

Making Strong and Durable Wheels

When building a bike, one important decision concerns the wheels. How do you get the best performance and still make your wheels strong enough to withstand 20,000+ miles of riding on rough roads without needing service? By now, most cyclists know that spokes don't break from overloading, but from fatigue as...

Compass "Hirose Design" Decaleurs

Compass is proud to introduce what we consider the ultimate decaleur. Combining the ideas of René Herse and H. Hirose with Nitto's craftsmanship, the new Compass decaleurs are strong, light, beautiful and reliable. Here is why decaleurs are important: We love handlebar bags. They are a great way to carry the things...

Why We Don’t Make "Gravel" Tires

At Compass Cycles, we love riding on gravel roads, so it may come as a surprise that we don't make "gravel" tires. Compass tires are road tires, perfected for use on paved roads. The rubber compound is optimized for grip on pavement, and the "chevron" tread pattern interlocks further with the...

Compass UD-1 Rack

The new Compass UD-1 front rack is a "universal" rack intended for bikes where our other racks don't fit. It's an especially good choice for bikes with disc brakes. Like all our racks, it is made by Nitto in Japan to Compass specifications. At 221 g, it's remarkably light for an...

Why Handlebar Shapes Are Important

Riders are realizing the importance of handlebar shapes again. In recent decades, makers tried to make ergonomic shapes by flattening the bars where the most useful hand positions are located. But human anatomies vary a lot, and locking riders into a few 'anatomic' hand position rarely results in the promised comfort. In fact,...

Disc Brake Pros and Cons

Disc brakes have become increasingly popular on bicycles in recent years, especially on all-road bikes with wide tires. Bicycle Quarterly has tested more than 20 bikes with disc brakes. Our challenging adventures have provided excellent opportunities to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of modern 'road' disc brakes. I remember...

A Better Way to Mount Lights

  Small parts often get overlooked, but they can make a big difference in your cycling experience. Take light mounts, for example. Adjusting the angle of your headlight beam is useful: In town, you want to angle the headlight low so it doesn't blind oncoming traffic. Out in the mountains, you need a...

Guide to SON Generator Hubs

Generator lighting make bikes far more versatile. You can ride at night and never have to worry how much charge you have left in your batteries. Your lighting system is always there, not consuming significant energy when off, and very little when turned on. Which generator hub is best for your bike?...

A Photo Says More than 1000 Words

This photo shows our Compass centerpull brake with the straddle cable released. (It also shows a Rinko fender, and a Babyshoe Pass Extralight tire after about 5000 kilometers...) More than a thousand words, this photo explains the design of our brakes: The arms fit around 42 mm-wide tires and fenders...

Steilacoom Tire Testing

We thoroughly test every Compass product before we release it. We also seek unbiased evaluations from experienced riders who weren't involved in the development of the products. For the new Compass Steilacoom cyclocross tires, we gave them to a number of cyclocross and gravel racers. Two of them have...

A Different Kind of Company

A few months ago, Bicycle Retailer and Industry News (BRAIN) ran a feature on Compass Bicycles. It drove home a point that I hadn't really thought much about: Compass is a different kind of bike company. BRAIN quoted Elton-Pope Lance about Harris Cyclery's experience: "The shop doesn’t introduce customers to the brand; they come in...

Minimum Tire Pressure

Over the last few years, the idea that higher pressures don't make your bike faster finally has become accepted. Many cyclists now run lower pressures to improve comfort and traction, without giving up anything in speed. On gravel, lower pressures actually make you faster, since the bike bounces less. On...

Choosing Your Crank Length

Our Compass René Herse cranks are available in three lengths to cover the needs of nearly all cyclists. The lengths we offer are a bit unusual, but there is a reason for this: Our cranks use dedicated forgings for each length. The "net shape forging" makes our cranks stronger than...

A Better Way to Adjust Toe-In

Compass centerpull brakes now come with special washers to adjust toe-in. These washers are easy to retrofit on older Compass and even classic Mafac brakes. With this system, you to adjust toe-in only once, when you initially set up the brakes, and then never worry about it again. What is toe-in? It...

Look-Compatible MKS US-L Pedals

Looking for LOOK-compatible pedals for your travel bike? Here is the solution. The MKS US-L pedal uses a similar retention system as the LOOK Keo. In fact, the cleats are interchangeable. Unlike any other LOOK-compatible pedal, the MKS US-L is available with the EZ-Superior Rinko system. Like all MKS pedals we sell, the...

Compass 31.8 mm Randonneur Handlebars

We are glad to offer our Compass Randonneur handlebars with a clamp diameter of 31.8 mm (for modern stems), in addition to the 25.4 mm model we introduced last year. These handlebars have been very popular, and for good reasons. They support the rider's hands much better than conventional handlebars. Having ridden...

Rat Trap Pass back in stock

This is just a quick note that our popular 26" x 2.3" Rat Trap Pass tires are back in stock in all versions. We've been surprised by the popularity of these tires... Many cyclists have a cherished old mountain bike, an expedition tourer or a tandem that is transformed with...

Improving the "Unimprovable"

A few years ago, I called the Gilles Berthoud handlebar bags "unimprovable". After all, they are lightweight, waterproof and last (almost) forever. The elastic closures are easy to operate (unlike buckles), and they allow overstuffing the main compartment and pockets. And being made from canvas and leather, the bags also...

Gravel Racing on Compass Tires

When the Australian Matt Hayman won the European Paris-Roubaix race yesterday, it came as a huge surprise to everybody, including Hayman himself. However, nobody was surprised that Hayman rode on super-supple tires. With their tan sidewalls, Hayman's tires looked like FMBs or Dugasts, but first reports insist that they actually were...

Straddle Cables Done Right

Straddle cables provide a light and elegant way of transferring the brake force: Every cable-actuated rim brake needs to transmit the force of the single brake cable onto two brake pads that squeeze the rim. In recent years, straddle cables been replaced by direct-action V-brakes or complex linkages (on modern Shimano sidepull brakes)....

Carbon and Leather

The Bicycle Quarterly's Specialized Diverge test bike came out of the box all black. Specialized's photo (below) makes it look like a shadow, but when I saw the actual bike, I found quite unappealing. Everything looked like it was made from plastic. I dreaded taking the bike to the photo studio, where it's our job...

Tire Pressure Take-Home

What is the 'correct' tire pressure for your bike? The simple answer is: Whatever feels right to you. Confused? Here is how it works: In the past, many riders inflated their tires to the maximum pressure rating. Now most cyclists now recognize that the optimum pressure often is much lower. But what is the right...

René Herse Cranks: 177 and 165 mm

The photo above shows raw forgings for Compass René Herse cranks. Perhaps you will have spotted that they are all different: Their length varies in 6 mm steps. We introduce René Herse cranks now available in 165 mm and 177 mm lengths, in addition to the 171 mm we...

Compass Rack Now from Cromoly

The Compass CP1 rack for centerpull brakes now is made from Cromoly steel. This makes it one of the lightest and strongest racks available today. It's one example of how we work with our suppliers: Together, we create components that go well beyond what the suppliers usually offer. A little background on this rack: It is intended to support a...

Why slick tires don't stick well

  During the R&D of the Compass tires, I was surprised how much difference tire treads can make. I rode three sets of tires with the same casing, same tread rubber and same width, but different tread patterns: standard Grand Bois Hetres with large longitudinal ribs throughout the tire tread "shaved" Hetres...

Why Do We Make Custom Chainring Bolts?

Recently, we received our custom René Herse chainring bolts (above). Why in the world would we go through so much trouble and expense to make custom chainring bolts? They are pretty significant little bolts, because they are the finishing touch on the René Herse cranks. René Herse chainrings are 1 mm...

Small Differences Can Matter

Recently, I was on a familiar road, but riding it did not feel familiar. It seemed like I was straining to stay on top of my gear, whereas usually I just spin along. Was I exceptionally tired? I didn't feel that way... Then I remembered that I had replaced my...

Fenders for Different Tire Sizes

As the rains return to the northern hemispheres, many cyclists' thoughts turn toward fenders (or mudguards, as British riders call them). Fortunately, the idea that fenders are just an afterthought is long passé – today, most real-world bikes are designed with fenders in mind from the onset. Just like...

Compass Randonneur Handlebars

Handlebars are one of the most important parts of your bike. As one of the three "contact points", the handlebar shape determines whether you are comfortable on the bike or not. After every Paris-Brest-Paris, numerous cyclists complain about numb hands. Some riders take weeks until their hands feel and...

New Compass Tires in Stock

The four new Compass tires are in stock now! They are the Rat Trap Pass (26" x 54 mm), Switchback Hill (650B x 48 mm), Bon Jon Pass (700C x 35 mm), and Elk Pass (26" x 1.25"). The Rat Trap Pass (above) is the ultimate expression of our new Enduro Allroad tires....