Components

Compass Tires and Tubeless

  I was trying to put a photo of the new Compass tires' bead here, but it's hard to photograph the difference... What is important is this: our upcoming Compass 26" x 2.3", 650B x 48 mm and 700C x 35 mm tires will be tubeless compatible! You'll just need to use...

Testing the Compass Elk Pass Tires

We recently received the first production samples of the new Compass tires. We've been testing the high-volume tires on our own bikes, but we don't have any bikes designed for the 26" x 1.25" Elk Pass tires. Fortunately, a Japanese friend was visiting, and she took the new Elk Pass...

Centerpull Brake Parts and Tools

For our Compass centerpull brakes, we started with a design that had proven itself in decades of hard use: the Mafac Raid brakes. In fact, we had logged tens of thousands of miles on our own bikes with these brakes. We thought hard about how to improve them, but...

Inner Tube Quality

Inner tubes often seem like generic commodities. One is as good as the next – so buy the cheapest one... I used to think that, too, until I started to see split seams, valves separating from the tube, and other mysterious flats that were not caused by "outside influences"....

Which Hand for which Brake?

One of the most confounding questions in cycling is this: Which hand should control which brake? In the U.S., the law requires that all bikes are sold with the left hand controlling the front brake, and the right hand the rear brake. It's the same in France. In Italy...

Reviews of Compass Tires

When you design a product, develop it, test it and finally bring it to market, you wonder how it will be received. Of course, you are confident that others will like it as much as you do – you wouldn't have released it if it didn't meet your high...

Rene Herse Tires: Standard vs. Extralight

Rene Herse tires are available in two versions: standard and extralight. What is the difference between the two? The difference is in the casing. The standard casing is already quite light and supple, but for the Extralight, we worked with our Japanese supplier to push the envelope further. These tires...

Research & Development

Over the last decade-and-a-half, I've thought a lot about product development. Long before Bicycle Quarterly and Compass Bicycles, I was involved with several companies as a technical writer and translator. Part of my job was writing instructions, so I got to see product development up close. From my experience, product...

Compass Centerpull Brake Specs

The new Compass centerpull brakes have been very well received. Numerous builders have asked for the complete specifications for the brakes, since many riders plan to use them on their new bikes. We sold so many of the centerpull braze-ons that we are currently out of stock of these...

MKS: Pedals and more in Japan

During our recent visit to Japan, we had the privilege of visiting Mikashima Industrial Company, better known as MKS, the makers of bicycle pedals. We had expressed an interest in MKS to our trading company. Fortunately, the MKS's president, Toshiyuki Ogino (right), had heard about Bicycle Quarterly and was...

TPI and Tire Performance

Tires with supple casings are faster, more comfortable and simply more fun to ride. Most cyclists know this, but how do you measure "suppleness"? A measure that often is used to describe the quality of tires is "threads per inch" (TPI). The idea is that tires with higher thread counts...

Supporting the Classics

When we became custodians of the René Herse name, we had three goals in mind: Bring back some of the best designs of René Herse, so that today's cyclists could enjoy their excellent function and aesthetic. Support classic René Herse bikes with components, so that they can be kept on the...

Compass Centerpull Brakes Are Here!

We received the last parts for our centerpull brakes, test-assembled them, wrote the instructions, and now they are ready to ship. Click here to read more about the advantage of centerpull brakes. There are a lot of parts to a centerpull brake. It all starts with the braze-on posts that mounts...

ISIS Bottom Brackets

When we took over the distribution of SKF bottom brackets, we didn't have high expectations for the ISIS bottom brackets. We were surprised when they became one of our more popular products. We sell them to customers who haven't heard of Bicycle Quarterly, supple tires or any of the...

Compass Centerpull Brakes

When we started Compass Bicycles, we dreamed of a new centerpull brake. We started developing and testing right away, but it has taken a few years for that work is coming to fruition. We just received the first production samples! The new Compass brakes will be in stock in...

Optimizing Tire Tread

Most tire manufacturers agree that supple sidewalls and a thin tread make a tire fast, but the role of the tread pattern remains poorly understood. Most modern tires have either a completely smooth tread (slicks) or a coarse tread pattern similar to car tires. Many high-performance tires are smooth...

SKF Bottom Brackets after 5 Years

It's been five years since Compass Bicycles started selling SKF bottom brackets, and three years since we became the world's exclusive distributor. At that point, we extended the warranty to 10 years, since we had great confidence in the quality of these bottom brackets. They have patented labyrinth seals,...

Meet Our Polisher

Eric Hayes is the craftsman who polishes our René Herse cranks, locally on the outskirts of Seattle. These days, most bike parts are black, and few in the bike industry still have the skills to polish metal without grinding off too much material, which looks ugly and affects the...

My Favorite Bottle Cages

It's rare that I fall completely in love with a product, but it happened with the Nitto bottle cages. Ever since I began cycling seriously, I have been looking for the perfect bottle cages. In the late 1980s, almost everybody used the aluminum TA bottle cages. They were lightweight,...

The Actual Width of Tires?

Sometimes we get an e-mail or a phone call from a customer asking, "I bought the Compass 32 mm tires, but they only measure 28.5 mm on my rims. Why is this?" Decades ago, some tire makers cheated when stating tire widths. Why? To make their tires appear lighter than...

The Art of Compromise

It may be popular to talk about "no-compromise" products, but the reality is that the best products involve a careful balance of features and properties. Take our new Compass tires... We could have made them lighter! The only place to remove material is in the middle of the tread. We might...

The New Compass Taillight

When building my René Herse randonneur bike, I was unable to find a taillight that combined the functions I needed along with a classic appearance. I ended up making my own taillight. Now this light is available from Compass Bicycles Ltd. I wanted a generator-powered taillight that matched the appearance...

Crank Bolt Wrench

Our René Herse cranks come with classic 15 mm crank bolts. They are beautiful and easy to tighten. However, it can be hard to find a matching 15 mm wrench. Most wrenches have walls that are too thick to fit inside the hole of the crankarm. (We cannot make...

Choosing Your Headlight

We just got our first shipment of the new Schmidt Edelux II headlights. The Edelux II and the B&M IQ Cyo Premium really have raised the bar in headlight design. Their wide, even beams make night riding at any speed even more pleasant. At the same time, older versions of...

New Lights!

It's not often that we get excited about new technology around here. Whether it's 11-speed cassettes or 31.8 mm-diameter handlebars, we often fail to see the need to improve upon what works perfectly well. So when Busch & Müller announced new LED headlights, we wondered how much better than...

Tire Wipers

Many cyclists are tempted by the performance and comfort of supple tires, but they are afraid that they might get too many flats without puncture-resistant belts and reinforced sidewalls. Tire Wipers improve the flat resistance of your tires without detracting from their comfort and performance. Few foreign objects are so...

Trouble with STI Triples

Triple cranks are a good choice for some riders. The most common shifting system for triple cranks, Shimano's STI, only works with Shimano chainrings. Unfortunately, Shimano's chainring combinations are of limited use to most riders. If you want to customize your chainring sizes, you will have to use downtube...

How Wide a Tire Can I Run?

Many cyclists want to ride on wider tires, but are limited by the clearances of their bikes. So they want to use the widest tires their bike can fit. How do you determine your bike's maximum tire width? You need a set of calipers (below). If you don't have any,...

Fake Metal vs. Honest Plastic

Few taillights available today complement the aesthetics of a classic randonneur bike, where you want to see finely detailed components, typically in metal. Most modern lights are chunky black plastic, but one succeeds in being more understated: Busch & Müller's Seculite Plus (above). So Compass Bicycles decided to sell...

Does My Bike Take Fenders?

We often extol the virtues of aluminum fenders over plastic ones: They keep rider and bike drier and cleaner, they last longer, they don't make noise on rough roads, and they are lighter. (I also think they look better.) Metal fenders' major disadvantage is that they require a bike designed...

Passing the Test

When we designed the new René Herse cranks, our goal was to create a crank that was as reliable and safe as any on the market. After all, we ride these cranks ourselves. We are especially proud that these cranks pass the stringent EN standards for racing bikes (EN...

Bottom Brackets Demystified

Replacing a square taper bottom brackets can seem a bit daunting. What threading do I need? How long should the spindle be? Which taper? It's really quite simple, and here is how to figure it out. Threading The bottom bracket screws into your frame. If your frame was made in the...

Will I be able to get chainrings?

Question from a potential customer: "If I purchase a Rene Herse crankset with its non-standard bolt-circle diameter, what guarantee do I have that Compass Bicycles will continue production of the chainrings for 5, 10 or 15 years?" Compass Bicycles makes products that we expect to last for decades. We have...

Overview of SON Generator Hubs

When "Schmidt's Originaler Nabendynamo" (SON) was introduced more than a decade ago, the choice was easy: There was only one model. Today, Schmidt offers three models of their revolutionary generator hubs. Here is what distinguishes them: SON Delux: Weight: 386 g. Lightest generator hub available today. Least resistance of all generator hubs. Narrow flanges. Aluminum...

100% Quality Control

Some customers of our René Herse cranks have noticed that their brand-new cranks show traces of having been mounted on a bottom bracket. Did they receive used cranks by accident? No, the cranks are brand-new. As part of our quality control, we mount each crank, with the chainrings the customer...

Unimprovable: Berthoud Handlebar Bag

Berthoud handlebar bags are among the few things in this world that are so well-designed and have proven themselves for so long that they have become unimprovable. These bags first were introduced by Sologne in the 1950s, and they have been made almost unchanged ever since. Handlebar bags have...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

SKF Bottom Brackets: World Exclusive

Compass Bicycles is proud to be the sole distributor of SKF bottom brackets world-wide. Svenska Kugellagerfabriken (SKF) has been the leader in bearing technology since 1907. Today, SKF is the largest bearing manufacturer in the world, and their bearings are used in Formula 1 racecars and other high-end applications. SKF's...

Handlebar Width

A few people have asked about handlebar width in our handlebar discussion. Compass handlebars come in widths between 40 and 46 cm, which may appear narrow by some standards. Many riders, even very tall ones, prefer relatively narrow handlebars. Above is my friend Ryan, who is 6' 4", riding on...

Carbon Fiber Handlebar 911

Emergency Roadside Repair in 3 Easy Steps Materials required: • wooden stick • steel strap • big rock • 5 mm Allen wrench (optional) Time required: 25 minutes. On a spring-time ride in the Cascades, we took a side road from Sultan to Gold Bar in the Skykomish River Valley. Our destination was Index, and we...