Testing and Tech

A Rene Herse for the Outback

Last week, Lael Wilcox and I rode the Oregon Outback, the 364 mile (585 km) gravel route across the length of Oregon. It was an adventure, full of beauty and challenge. Starting the ride with Lael as the full moon (with a partial eclipse) was to our side, then seeing...

Why narrow tires FEEL faster

All our research shows that wide tires roll as fast or faster than narrow tires (if they use the same casing). How come that generations of cyclists believed that narrow tires are faster? The answer is simple: Narrow tires feel faster. They simulate the sensation of higher speed –...

My PBP Bike: Derailleurs

Why would anyone make custom derailleurs when modern electronic shifting works extremely well? It's a bit like driving a car with manual transmission even though the latest automatics are very sophisticated. It's about being involved in the operation of my bike, rather than just pushing a button. There's a...

Tire Test Results

Last week, we talked about how real-road tire tests have revolutionized our understanding of how bicycles work. We've looked at different ways of testing tires, and why it's so important to perform tests carefully and under realistic conditions. Today, let's look at some results of our testing. Are Wider Tires...

How We Test Tires

One of the secrets behind the performance of Rene Herse tires lies in our R&D. We run our tests under real-world conditions, so we can optimize our tires for what matters: riding on real roads. When we started our research 15 years ago, high-performance tires were narrow and designed...

Super Tuck vs Aero Tuck

The big news in bike racing is that the UCI wants to ban the Super Tuck position. It's a position pro racers sometimes use during fast descents, when reducing your wind resistance provides more benefit than pedaling hard. With the UCI decision, many cyclists wonder: How much benefit does...

What Makes a Bike Fast?

It used to be easy: If you wanted a fast bike, you chose a racing bike. End of story. And what made a racing bike special were first and foremost the narrow tires. Light weight was a plus, too, and so was the lower, more aero riding position. Then came...

Testing Prototypes

Product development is fun, because we get to think about bike parts, figure out how to improve them, and then test them on our adventures. This summer has seen plenty of excitement in that respect. Some of the parts we've been testing are almost ready to go into production;...

Tubeless Tire FAQ

Car and motorcycle tires have been tubeless for decades, but bicycle tires have continued to use tubes. That changed during the 2010s, when first mountain bikers and then the riders of all-road and gravel bikes started to experiment with tubeless technology. They reason was simple: If you could run...

Our Suppliers

We're glad to report that all our suppliers are doing well, considering the current circumstances. Production has slowed at some factories, there may be some shortages of products in the future, but the most important thing is that all the people we work with remain healthy. Our relationships with...

Tune Your Tires!

With wide tires, you can tune the ride of your bike to the terrain and to your personal preferences. This gives you options that simply did not exist in the past. Gone are the days when we inflated our narrow tires to the maximum pressure and rode on rock-hard rubber....

Bicycle Quarterly Movie: A 30-Hour Ride

[youtube https://youtu.be/MBUSuXHhsBQ?rel=0&w=640&h=360] How do you test a bike like Mitch Pryor's latest MAP All-Road? With its 48 mm-wide tires, fenders, racks and full lights, this is a bike designed for epic rides. How about taking it on a 30-hour, non-stop ride that traverses four mountain passes and crosses the crest...

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....

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...

Cyclodonia on the J. P. Weigle from the Concours de Machines

Jan's comment: It's always interesting to read others' impressions of our work. Cyclodonia discussed several bikes from the Concours de Machines in detail. Translated and reposted with permission. The French original is available here. The views expressed are those of the original author, not mine. Enjoy! J. P. Weigle (Lyme...

What Is a Road Bike?

In past decades, there was little doubt about what made a "road" bike: narrow tires, drop handlebars, no fenders. Then randonneur bikes were re-introduced into cycling's mainstream, leading to some confusion. "That is a touring bike," said many. "It has a rack and fenders." But the performance of the randonneur bike...

Concours de Machines: Results

The 2017 Concours de Machines in Ambert (France) was a great success for everybody involved. The bikes were amazing – and much-improved over last year's machines – the routes were truly challenging, and most of all, the spirit among all participants was wonderful. The goal was to find the best "light randonneur...

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...

Expert Discussion on Frame Stiffness

"I no longer believe that the ultimate rigidity defines the ultimate bike!" That revolutionary statement came from Damon Rinard, Road Engineering Manager at Cannondale, in a recent Cyclingtips.com podcast on frame stiffness and "planing". For many decades, stiffer frames were thought to perform better. Frame flex was equated with wasted...

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...

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...

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...

Riding the First Recumbent

Bicycle Quarterly hasn't really covered recumbents much. It's not that we aren't interested, it just seems difficult to do such totally different machines justice. And yet recumbents are a perfect fit with Bicycle Quarterly's research into the history of cyclotouring. During the mid-1930s, recumbents were quite popular among French cyclotourists. Many...

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...

The 2016 Technical Trials

This summer saw the first Technical Trials in France since 1949. Then as now, the goal was to find the best "light randonneur" bike. Organized by Christophe Courbou, the magazine 200, and Victoire Cycles, this year's event was a great success. The original Technical Trials of the 1930s and 1940s brought incredible...

Suspension Losses Confirmed

Recently, Bicycle Quarterly's experiments on suspension losses have been replicated and confirmed: Higher tire pressures don't result in faster speeds – even on smooth pavement. Replicating results is a crucial part of science, which makes the new results an important milestone in the understanding of bicycle performance. No longer is it just...

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)....

Prepare for Gravel Riding

Gravel riding is becoming increasingly popular, and we are very happy about it! It was natural for Bicycle Quarterly to become a co-sponsor of the Eroica California ride in April, since it combines two things we love: gravel roads and classic bikes. But gravel riding isn't limited to riders...

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...

Riding my Own Bike Again

When I test bikes for Bicycle Quarterly, I treat them like my own bike. I ride them for several weeks, often exclusively so I get used to the bike and get attuned to its peculiarities. Features that were unfamiliar at first soon become second nature. And conversely, minor issues may become significantly...

Weight Limits?

We sometimes get the question whether there is a weight limit for Compass tires or components. The answer is "No". That doesn't mean that our components are indestructible. It's just that we have found rider weight to be a poor predictor of component failure. Neither is power output. Heavy and...

Not A Museum Piece

When bikes are as stunningly beautiful as the machines from René Herse, Alex Singer and other French constructeurs, it is easy to dismiss them as "beauty queens" or "show bikes." This would be a mistake: The performance of these bikes is as outstanding as their appearance. They confirm the...

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...