Our Bikes

OPEN × Rene Herse U.P.P.E.R.

When we proposed the 'all-road bike' as a new type of bike, way back in 2006, we envisioned modern carbon racing bikes with ultra-wide tires. In fact, bikes exactly like the OPEN U.P.P.E.R. Of all the bikes we've tested for Bicycle Quarterly, the one I really wanted to keep was...

My PBP Bike: Fenders

Until 1991, all bikes in Paris-Brest-Paris had to be equipped with fenders. Traditionally, this had been a way to distinguish randonneur events from races – the randonneurs were expected to ride bikes that were equipped for real-world riding. However, by the 1980s, there simply weren't many performance bikes with fenders...

What We Ride (Part 4): The Mule

In this mini-series, we look at the bikes of the BQ Team. These are the bikes we bought with our own money and/or built with our own hands. These are the bikes we ride most often, because we feel they work best for the rides we do. And – most...

What We Ride (Part 3): Steve’s Frek

This mini-series shows the bikes of the Bicycle Quarterly Team. These are the bikes we've bought with our own money and/or built with our own hands. They aren't show queens, because we ride them hard. They've proven themselves over many thousands of miles on the – often quite rough –...

No Mudflap: What a Mess!

Just one week of riding without a mudflap, and look at my bike! It's a mess! I ride my Urban Bike year-round in rainy Seattle, but thanks to its generous fenders, it rarely gets dirty. I clean it only once a year, because it doesn't need it more often. Then, last week,...

Winter Projects

At this time of year, we plan our rides for the summer. There are so many places we want to explore! We pore over roads and look at event calendars. And we think about changes to our bikes. Some of the changes are intended to make our bikes better suited...

Am I Retro?

Many people see my bike and think "Retro!" In some cases, this is seen as cool. Others are dismissive, like the famous builder who once compared riders like me to civil war re-enactors, who dress up and play civil war in their spare time. It is true that I enjoy riding...

Too Precious to Ride?

Some people wonder whether special bikes can be too precious to ride. They ask me about my bikes: "Aren't you afraid that it will get scratched?" or "What if you crash it?" or "What if it gets stolen while you lock it up on the street?" Those things do happen. I...

Ride the Bike You Have

"You ride the bike you have, not the bike you might want or wish to have at a later time," said a famous secretary of defense. (More or less. He was talking about armies, not bikes, but both are tools toward achieving an end.) That statement paraphrases my thoughts about bicycles....

Half a Century Old and Still Going Strong

I am the fortunate custodian of a lovely 1962 Alex Singer that is in almost-new condition. It has all the features that make an Alex Singer special, and really represents Alex Singer's ideal of the perfect bike: lightweight, elegant and performing. Years ago, Ernest Csuka of Cycles Alex Singer sent the...

Fully Integrated Design

Car drivers are lucky: They can buy sports cars that are fully equipped to be driven in the rain and even at night. And their fenders rarely rattle loose, their lights don't fall off, and most car owners think little of driving 1200 km without having to tighten bolts or...

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. My...

Keeping an Eye on Cranks

I spend so much time assembling test bikes, testing components, etc., that I have little time to work on my own bikes. Fortunately, my Alex Singer (above) has been very reliable, even though it is 38 years old and has been ridden at least 200,000 km (120,000 miles) in its...

Which Bike to Ride?

Most of the time, I ride two bicycles: My 1973 Alex Singer Randonneur for spirited rides with friends, and my Urban Bike for rides that involve carrying loads that do not fit in a handlebar bag. (Due to lack of time, my Alex Singer Camping bike does not see much...

A Journey of Discovery, Part 5: Frame Stiffness

In the previous parts of this series, we have looked at how our preferences in bicycles changed over time. We started out on "state-of-the-art" bikes with mid-trail geometries, 700C x 28 mm tires and saddlebags. How did we come to prefer low-trail 650B bikes with much wider tires and handlebar bags?...

A Journey of Discovery, Part 3: Wide 650B Tires

How did our preferences change from our familiar bikes with mid-trail geometries, 700C x 28 mm tires and saddlebags to low-trail 650B bikes with much wider tires and handlebar bags? In the first two parts of this series, we talked about discovering handlebar bags and aluminum fenders. Inspired by the old randonneurs,...

A Journey of Discovery, Part 2: Handlebar Bags and Aluminum Fenders

In the last installment of this series, we looked at the bikes we rode when Bicycle Quarterly got started almost a decade ago. How did our preferences change from our familiar bikes with mid-trail geometries, 700C x 28 mm tires and saddlebags to low-trail 650B bikes with much wider tires and...

A Journey of Discovery, Part 1: What We Used to Ride

We sometimes hear people criticize our technical analyses: "Bicycle Quarterly's testers simply prefer they bikes that they ride most. You get used to anything, and then you prefer it." Or: "Jan has got his preferences. He started a magazine so he could have a place to talk about them." The reality is a bit...

Urban Delivery

My favorite bookseller called and said: "We just sold the last copy of The Competition Bicycle, and there is a gaping hole next to your other book in our window display." There was only one thing to do: I loaded up the trusty Urban Bike with a 40-lb box of books...

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 were...