BQ Photo Contest Finalists

The results are in: Hundreds of photos from all over the world were entered in the BQ Photo Contest. It was fun to see so many different photos – in style and subject – and it was difficult to selected eight finalists. Many great photos didn’t make the cut.

Here are the ones we selected – now it’s up to you to vote for the winner, who will receive a $ 200 gift certificate from Rene Herse Cycles. All finalists will get a one-year subscription to Bicycle Quarterly, and their photos and associated stories will be published in the magazine.

So here they are, in random order, with Photo 1 above. Please vote for your favorite at the bottom of the post!

Photo 2

Photo 3

Photo 4

Photo 5

Photo 6

Photo 7

Photo 8

To vote, just select your favorite photo and click ‘Vote’ at the bottom of the post before October 31. We’ll announce the winner on November 4. For U.S. citizens, don’t forget to vote in the ‘other’ election, too!

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Please Vote!

Today I did one of the most important things I will do this year: I voted.

It’s a privilege to have a voice in deciding the future of our country. Like all rights, it’s also a responsibility. The right to vote was not won without a fight – whether it was the break-away from the British crown or the struggles that finally allowed non-whites and women to vote as well. Even today, my vote for president won’t influence the election, because I don’t live in a swing state. It’s quite possible that the candidate who I consider most qualified to lead the country wins the majority of the vote, yet loses the presidential contest. (Thank the Electoral College for that.)

And yet my vote is important. This election will likely be very close. If one party or another claims fraud based on perceived irregularities in one swing state or another, the popular vote conveys legitimacy to the candidate who won the most votes, regardless of where they were cast. As we worry about unrest and violence in the event of a contested election, the best way to prevent it is to make sure one candidate wins by a large margin that leaves no room for doubt.

The local races have their own importance – whether it’s the fight over banning plastic bags (which made it on the ballot here in Washington State disguised as a referendum over a ‘tax increase’) or voting for state leaders who will take us forward as we face the challenges of Covid-19, climate change and racial justice.

That is why I implore you: Vote! I don’t care which party and candidate you favor – I firmly believe that the one with the most votes should win. If you live in a swing state, your vote might actually determine the outcome of the election. If you don’t, it’s still extremely important to convey legitimacy and show that you care.

Because once the election is over, we’ll need to work on making the system more democratic. For the first time, there seems to be momentum gathering to abolish the Electoral College, a remnant from the past designed to enshrine minority rule. Once people feel that their voices are heard regardless of where they live and what color their skin, we might be able to return to a more respectful discourse on the real issues we face as a nation and world. Please take the time to vote! Thank you!

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My PBP Bike: Rack and Bag

When you ride 1200 km (750 miles) unsupported, almost non-stop, you need to carry a few things. Clothes are the most important – it’s cold at night, warm during the day; it can rain; and you need to be prepared for all of it. You’ll want to carry a little food – being able to eat on your bike cuts the time you’ll spend at the controls. You’ll need to bring spare tubes and maybe a few tools, just in case. You may want to bring a camera, too. Continue Reading →

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Gran Fondo Tests the Steilacoom

It’s all nice and well when we talk about our tires – why we design and manufacture them a certain way, how we think they perform, etc. The real proof is when others test them. Especially independent testers who’ve ridden dozens or hundreds of tires. And if the review comes from far away, from riders who don’t know us and who aren’t supported by our ad dollars (or Euros), then it’s doubly meaningful. Continue Reading →

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New Book: The All-Road Bike Revolution

Bicycles – and how we ride them – have changed tremendously over the last decade. Many accepted facts have been turned on their heads. We’ve learned that narrow tires aren’t faster. Higher pressures don’t reduce resistance. More trail doesn’t always make a bike more stable. Stiffer frames don’t always perform better. The list is long, but until now, all this information has not been available in a single place, in an easy-to-digest format. Continue Reading →

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Berthoud and Spokes Arrive

Covid-19 has created many challenges for the bike industry. Supply chains have been disrupted, lockdowns have stopped production, shipping has become erratic, and exchange rates fluctuate wildly. Even staples like inner tubes are in short supply.

At Rene Herse, we’ve been working hard to keep our products in stock, because we know you rely on them for your rides. Even so, a few things have been in short supply. This week, we first received a big shipment from Japan (above), and now also from France. Continue Reading →

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Idaho Stops Now Legal in WA

Politics can be a depressing subject these days, but there are occasional good news, too. Here’s one: Washington State just passed a new law that allows cyclists to roll through stop signs if no other traffic is present. The same law also allows cyclists to proceed through a red light if it does not change because the cyclist cannot trigger the sensors. Continue Reading →

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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 any longer, and most riders struggled to put fenders onto their racing bikes. The rule no longer made sense, and so it was abandoned.

Now that fenders are no longer required in Paris-Brest-Paris, why run them at all? Apart from the fact that the fenders are an integral part of my bike, the weather during a 1200 km (750 mile) ride is always unpredictable. It doesn’t have to be a year like 2007, where I rode 49:49 hours in the rain. Even a short thunderstorm during a sunny afternoon will soak your shorts if you don’t have fenders, and riding in wet shorts can lead to saddle problems and end your ride prematurely. Continue Reading →

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Handlebar Width Matters

When I got my new C. S. Hirose, I was excited to have a bike with wide tires for the gravel roads of the Cascade Mountains. I love my other Hirose, and so I asked the builder to make the new one as similar as possible. Some parts we brought to Japan, like the cranks, fenders for 26″ wheels, and a generator hub, but most components the builder could just order. I wanted to use modern parts as much as possible. Continue Reading →

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Bicycle Quarterly Photo Contest

Now that summer officially has officially ended, we can start to look back on the cycling season. So much has happened since we started riding in late winter under clear, sunny skies! The events of 2020 have upended many plans, but cycling is the one place where we can live in the moment and restore our spirits.

The Bicycle Quarterly photo contest celebrates the joy of riding our bikes – and of sharing that feeling with our community to inspire others and be inspired by them. Entering is simple: Post your photo(s) and short stories of your rides in 2020 on Instagram and tag them #bqcontest. There’s no need to register or purchase – it’s just our way of celebrating the beauty of riding bikes. Continue Reading →

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Why Pros Ride Handmade Tires

In France, the Tour is one of the rituals of summer. I can’t count how many times during my research I’ve interviewed somebody while the colorful images were playing on TV in the background. Racers, randonneurs, cyclotourists – all enjoy the grand landscapes, the beautiful form of the riders, the drama of the mountains… It doesn’t mean that everybody glorifies the racers, but all admire their skill and courage. It’s encouraging that despite all the challenges the world is facing, the Tour is happening after all. Continue Reading →

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Last chance to get the Summer Bicycle Quarterly

The Summer Bicycle Quarterly has been a favorite of our readers. They were gripped by Peter Gaskill’s report from the incredible Atlas Mountain Race. They enjoyed shop visits at Fern Bicycle in Berlin and with the pioneer of American constructeurs, R. T. Jansen. They marveled at beautiful bikes, from a refurbished Jeff Lyon to a brand-new titanium Firefly cyclotouring bike. And they loved joining Natsuko on an overnight trip to Drunken Charlie Lake high in the Cascade Mountains. Continue Reading →

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My PBP Bike: Contact Points

This year’s rides have been more self-supported than usual – cafe stops aren’t really part of the program right now. So the ‘new’ bike that I built for last year’s Paris-Brest-Paris has seen a lot of use, since it’s designed for riding long distances without stopping. In our series about the individual part choices of this build, let’s talk about the contact points.

Riding the 1200 km (750 miles) of Paris-Brest-Paris means spending a lot of time on the bike with little rest. Last year, my longest stop was about 1.5 hours, when I slept after riding 870 km (545 miles). And yet when I arrived in Paris after 56 hours on the road, I was tired, but there weren’t any aches and pains. Continue Reading →

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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; others are still some ways off.

It’s been an open secret that we are working on a knobby version of our 26″ Rat Trap Pass tires. While 26″ has almost vanished from the new bike market – outside a few custom builds like my Firefly – there are literally thousands of wonderful old mountain bikes. With a set of super-supple tires, they can become anything from a bikepacking rig to an ultra-fast all-road machine. Continue Reading →

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Lael Wilcox: Riding out of Nome

Roads in Alaska are precious. Many communities are isolated, only accessible by plane or boat. Pull out a map, and you’ll see village dots inland and coastal, with no road lines connecting them to the outer world. Visiting remote places has been very eye-opening for me: The communities are contained. They’re bonded together. You can hardly wander off as no path or road will take you away. The roads might extend out of town for two miles or maybe twelve, out to a creek or the coast or the dump or a mine, and then they dead-end. It almost feels like being on an island, but there’s land in between. Far to the north, in the tundra, overland travel is possible as there aren’t any trees, but that feels very different from riding a road to visit another community. It’s beautiful and wild, and it puts my mind in a very different place.

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No Un-Meeting this year; BQ Photo Contest

After much thought, we’ve decided to cancel this year’s Bicycle Quarterly Un-Meeting in Marin County, California. We’ve made this difficult decision together with this year’s organizers, Bicycle Counterculture. The pandemic shows little sign of letting up. To have a large number of cyclists travel to the Un-Meeting and gather does not seem like a responsible option. We apologize to all who’ve made plans and have been looking forward. Continue Reading →

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California Fires: We’re heartbroken

We’re heartbroken to hear about the fires that are raging in California and much of the West. Our thoughts go out to all who are affected. Learning of acquaintances in the bike industry who lost their homes and workshops… Seeing old-growth redwoods and historic park buildings burn… Seeing the air above entire states filled with smoke… We’re at a loss for words, and we are thinking about what we can do to help.

—Natsuko & Jan

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Ted King discovers the Cascade Mountains

Ted King called: “I’ll be in Seattle in early August. Want to go for a ride?”

Of course I do – Ted is a lot of fun! But where do you take the King of Gravel for a ride? In August, the snow has melted even on the highest passes, so there are many options.

How about a loop from Packwood that skirts Mount Adams, traverses Babyshoe Pass to the remote hamlet of Trout Lake, then returns via Mount St. Helens and Elk Pass, with one of the best descents I’ve ridden anywhere? Well, that’s 200 miles – maybe a little ambitious for a one-day ride including a drive from Seattle and back. Laura and Ted had already explored the foothills east of Seattle the weekend before, so I wanted to give Ted a taste of summer riding in the Cascade Mountains. Continue Reading →

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Back in Stock: Berthoud Saddles, Bar Tape, Mirrors

Our friends at Berthoud Cycles in France have been working overtime, and we just received another shipment. We’ve got most saddles in stock again, as well as spare parts to rebuild your worn saddle with a new leather top, swap stainless steel rails for titanium, or replace parts that got damaged in a crash. The saddles are fully rebuildable with just a 5 mm Allen and a T20 Torx wrench. Continue Reading →

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15 Years Ago: Three Volcano All-Road Brevet

It’s hard to believe that 15 years have passed since I had my first real taste of the performance of all-road bikes. On a Saturday in August 2005, the second Three Volcano 300 km Brevet was organized by Robin and Amy Piper of the Seattle International Randonneurs. The previous year, I had ridden the event on my road bike with 28 mm tires – which were considered wide then! – but they proved ill-suited for the loose gravel of Babyshoe Pass. In 2005, I decided to ride a 1952 Rene Herse with wider 650B wheels. The result was a FKT (fastest known time) that stands to this day, and a new appreciation of the amazing performance of the best mid-century all-road bikes.

Most of all, it was a perfect day: just me, a great bike, and a wonderful course. We published the story of that ride in Bicycle Quarterly 13. That edition is long out of print, so we’ve decided to reprint the article here. Enjoy! Continue Reading →

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Bikepacking.com reviews the Fleecer Ridge

When we introduced the our Fleecer Ridge 700C x 55 mm dual-purpose knobbies, we sent two sets to Neil and Logan at Bikepacking.com. Since the Fleecers are our first tires specifically intended for bikepacking and the Tour Divide, we were eager to get their feedback. That was a few months ago, and I was just about to drop them a note: “Hope you’ve been able to ride the tires a bit. What do you think?” Before I got around to writing that email, a very detailed review appeared at bikepacking.com – both in words and with a nicely done video. Continue Reading →

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Introducing the Oracle Ridge 700Cx48mm

When bikepacking legend Lael Wilcox talked about the tires she wanted for her bikepacking adventures, she mentioned a 48 mm-wide knobby in addition to the Fleecer Ridge 700C x 55: Ideal for many modern gravel bikes like her Specialized Diverge. Lael suggested a great name for the new tire: One of her favorite routes is climbing the dirt road to Oracle Ridge, then descending the backside of Mount Lemmon on ultra-fast pavement. Continue Reading →

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Finding the perfect tire pressure

There’s a lot of talk about optimizing tire pressure these days. In years past, most of us inflated our tires to the maximum pressure rating shown on the tire sidewall. It’s more complex now. Like Goldilocks, we add air and then let out some again, until we’ve found what seems to work best. And then we still wonder whether we’re giving up speed and/or comfort. Would we be faster if we increased the pressure to optimize our tires for the smoother parts of the ride? Or should we let out air for the rougher sections? Continue Reading →

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Back in Stock: Frame Tubing, Knickers, Bar Tape and Sealant

Keeping everything we sell in stock hasn’t been easy: Lockdowns in the U.S., Europe and Japan have interrupted production, and international shipping is taking longer than it used to. And in some cases, demand has increased as well. Temporary shortages are hard to avoid, but we’re working hard to keep everything in stock. We’ve just received a number of shipments, and many essentials are available again. Continue Reading →

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Customer Service in the days of Covid-19

Over the last few months, we’ve revamped our customer service, both because we’ve had to adapt to the restrictions that came with Covid-19 and because we want to improve your experience. We’ve added a lot of information online – instructions for our parts, specs and Frequently Asked Questions, plus links to blog posts about things like how to set up tires tubeless. This enables you to find the information you need, right away and without having to wait for a reply.

For requests that go beyond that, we had to stop using email and the phone, because the amount of spam and robocalls was overwhelming. The phone rang almost non-stop, and we had to sort through hundreds of emails to find legitimate requests from our customers. Instead, we have switched to forms when you contact us. This has the added benefit that we have all the information we need to work on your request from the get-go. Eliminating the back-and-forth means you’ll get a response more quickly. Continue Reading →

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Why 700C wheels DON’T roll faster

These days, it’s widely accepted that 700C wheels roll faster than smaller hoops. It’s a bit like the old belief that narrower tires are more efficient – so self-evident that it doesn’t even need explaining. After all, simple physics tells you: A bigger wheel rolls faster, because it hits bumps at a shallower angle, and it bridges small holes better, too.

It’s just that we’ve been unable to confirm this supposed superiority in the real world. In Bicycle Quarterly’s tire tests, we’ve tested different wheel sizes in a number of tests. Continue Reading →

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New, Small and Useful

Sometimes it’s the small things that make a big difference. Things that we need or want, but that nobody makes because they are, well, small and not so profitable, since they’ll sell only in small numbers. But we need them for our own rides, and so we’re making them. We’ve recently added a number of these small things to the program. Continue Reading →

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My PBP Bike: The Wheels

When I asked which part of my bike for last summer’s Paris-Brest-Paris our readers wanted to hear more about, the answer was: “Everything.” So I’m writing a series of posts about the parts of the bike. I’ve already talked about the frame and the centerpull brakes. Today let’s look at the wheels.

When thinking about the wheels for my new bike, I started with the tires I wanted to run, since everything follows from that. It was tempting to go with a really huge tire, like our 54 mm Rat Trap Pass. Our testing indicates that they don’t roll any slower, but there are other compromises when your tires get wider than about 44 mm. It’s harder to fit a rim brake around them. Fenders with good coverage start interfering with the chain. Really wide tires can be more sensitive to tire pressure, and their huge supple sidewalls tend to get deflected more on road cambers.

For a bike that gets ridden mostly on pavement, over huge distances and often at night, 42-44 mm-wide tires seem like the perfect compromise. From that followed that my new bike would have 650B wheels. Why not 700C? Continue Reading →

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Where to go from here?

The first half of 2020 has brought unexpected changes in many ways. When Covid-19 spread so suddenly around the world, there was little time to figure out how to deal with this. We stopped everything that was non-essential, we socially distanced, we discovered face masks, and we talked about contact tracing. Just as we were reassessing what is essential and what isn’t, the murder of George Floyd made us realize that systemic racism remains a problem that needs to be addressed.

As we head into the second half of 2020, we are facing a lot of uncertainty. The virus has not been vanquished, and racism won’t stop overnight, either. Thinking about the future can be discouraging, but there’s always hope. We have to stop pretending that all will be fine, and start addressing the issues we are facing. At the same time, we must find a way to live our lives – as much as possible – with the new realities. In other words, we need to pivot from stopping everything that is non-essential to figuring out what we can do safely. Continue Reading →

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Longing for the Mountains: Giovanni’s Covid-19 Experience (Italy)

In this series, we’re sharing the Covid-19 experiences of friends and contributors from around the world. Giovanni Calcagno won our photo contest two years ago with this photo, taken during his ride on the Via del Sale that criss-crosses the Italian-French border. Here is his experience during the Covid-19 lockdown in Italy.
– Natsuko

Tell us about yourself and where you live.

I’m 59 and live in Arenzano, a town of 12,500 people (rising to 40,000 during the summer months) near Genova on the northwestern coast of Italy. I work as a fisherman, catching swordfish with my brother. We come from a family that has been fishing for four generations. Continue Reading →

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People who inspire us: Sofiane Sehili

There are few photos of Sofiane Sehili in full flight, because he’s usually ahead of the photographers… Working as a bike messenger in Paris, Sofiane first dipped his toes into ultra-cycling in 2016, when he rode in the epic Tour Divide, the race that runs along the crest of the Rocky Mountains from Canada to the Mexican border. He came 3rd in this first attempt.

Last year, he started to race more seriously, and he won the Italy Divide, tied with another ultra legend, James Hayden. Then Sofiane led the Tour Divide for a whole week before snow wreaked havoc on the race. Sofiane climbed a 10,000 ft (3000 m) pass in the middle of the night, before turning around after realizing that conditions were too dangerous. He finished the season by winning the Inca Divide, a 1700 km epic through the Andes of Peru.

His success story continues this year: In February, he won the Atlas Mountain Race in Morocco against a very strong international field. And just 10 days ago, he came second in the Hope 1000 that criss-crosses the Swiss Alps. The photo above was taken just before the start of that race…

Sofiane has brought a randonneur’s approach to mountain biking. He’s surprised everybody by riding through the nights and stopping only rarely to sleep, thus opening up gaps on his competitors that become almost unsurmountable. I asked him about the appeal of riding that far and fast, and he simply said: “What attracts me to long distance is both the will to see how far I can push and the fact that I really feel at home on the bike. When cycling, I don’t want to stop because I never seem to have enough. There’s is nothing I’d rather do. Just being there, outside, completely free, it makes me feel complete.”

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How to Choose Your Rene Herse Tires

Choosing Rene Herse tires for your bike is easy, because our program is logical and simple. It’s all based on performance. We started making tires because we wanted to ride high-performance tires on the gravel roads of the Cascade Mountains. We came from a decade of racing on hand-made tubulars on the road and in cyclocross, and we wanted the same feel and performance in wide clinchers for our adventures.

Back then, wide tires existed, but they were heavy touring tires. When you come from 240 g tubulars, it’s hard to fall in love with 600+ g tires! It wasn’t just the weight, the thick casings and heavy rubber coatings made these tires sluggish and slow. So we decided to make our own tires. We started out with the most supple high-performance tires and developed them into wide tires that are strong enough for everyday use. Continue Reading →

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Raymond Henry, 1944-2020

With great sadness, we say Goodbye to Raymond Henry, cycling historian extraordinaire, grand randonneur, and wonderful friend. He passed away today from the complications of a surgery that was to allow him resume his active life of cycling, woodworking and gardening.

Raymond experienced the glory days of French cyclotouring first-hand. As a teenager, he saved all his money and rode his bike to Grenoble to order a custom randonneuse from the great Jo Routens. He rode that bike (and a similar one that he bought used, shown above) all his life.

And ride he did: He completed Paris-Brest-Paris, the Tour de France Randonneur, and all nine Diagonales of France – the famous randonnées that connect the corners of hexagon-shaped France. He rode the Raid Pyrénéen – twice – and completed the Brevet des Provinces Françaises, which had him visit 6 important sites in every one of the 90 départements of France. This last project took Raymond 20 summers. He rode 27,000 km (16,800 miles) in the process – and he enjoyed almost every single one of them! Living at the foot of Mont Ventoux, he climbed the ‘Giant of Provence’ several times a year. Continue Reading →

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New Saddles and Bags and Bottles

In the middle of a global pandemic, delays in shipments from suppliers are not a big concern with everything else that is going on. And yet we’re happy that the situation has improved to the point where deliveries are arriving again – because this means that things are getting better for our suppliers, who are also our friends.

Over the winter, we’ve worked with Berthoud Cycles in France to design a new, bigger handlebar bag, the GB 31. It’s useful for tall riders and those who like their handlebars high – the bag spans the distance from the bars to the front rack, so it’s sized to fit your bike. We’ve not just increased the height of the bag; we’ve also adjusted the size of the pockets: a bit larger so they are proportionate with the bag, but not so large that it becomes difficult to retrieve their contents.

You can see the new GB31 in the photo above, together with the three existing models. All Berthoud bags are available in the classic blue-gray (shown) and in black with leather trim, or in all-black versions. We offer them with and without side pockets. They all include a shoulder strap for easy carrying when you’re off the bike. They’re waterproof, because the cotton fabric swells when it gets wet, and they last almost forever. I’ve used my current Berthoud bag for 9 years, 2 Paris-Brest-Paris, many wet winter rides, countless tours… and it’s still as good as new. Continue Reading →

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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 your tires tubeless, you’d be able to ride lower pressures and not worry about pinch flats even in very rough terrain. An added advantage of tubeless is indirect: The sealant required to make the tires airtight on the rim also seals small punctures, so flats can be much less frequent with tubeless tires.

At first, tubeless bicycle tires were very much hit-or-miss: classic rims were converted to tubeless installations, but on seemingly every other ride, the tires burped or mysteriously went flat. Those problems are behind us, and tubeless technology is maturing. These days, many riders run their tires tubeless without problems.

Most Rene Herse tires are tubeless-compatible, giving you a choice of running them with tubes or tubeless. Running supple bicycle tires tubeless is a relatively new technology, and our understanding keeps evolving. When we built the tire FAQ on our web site, we talked to customers, bike shops and racers to identify the most common questions about tubeless tires: Continue Reading →

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Summer 2020 Bicycle Quarterly

The Summer 2020 Bicycle Quarterly is at the printer. It’ll be mailed at the end of the month, but we just learned that due to staffing shortages at our printer, we need to complete the mailing list tomorrow morning (Thursday). To get your copy with the first mailing, please make sure your subscription is up to date. If it has expired, you will get a renewal notice. If you want to subscribe, please do so today.

And you will want to get this exciting edition without delay! On the cover is the incredible workshop of Fern Bicycles in Berlin, one of the most innovative builders today. We take you into the shop and tell you the story behind their amazing bikes. Continue Reading →

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DIY Gravel: Ted King’s Epic Cross-Vermont Ride

Ted King’s DIY Gravel may have been born out of necessity – there are no gravel races right now, so why not ride our own rides and challenges in the mean time? Ted’s idea has been a lot of fun, and more than a thousand riders have risen to the challenge.

A few weeks ago would have been Dirty Kanza, the biggest and most prestigious of the gravel racing calendar. Ted King used the opportunity ride across the entire State of Vermont on backroads: 312 miles (500 km) and more than 32,000 ft (9700 m) of climbing. His team made a great video about his ride. I was struck by how the emotions of Ted adventure remind me of the great randonneuring challenges, like the Raid Pyrénéen or Paris-Brest-Paris. It’s neat to see how racing, cyclotouring and randonneuring all come together in this epic adventure. Enjoy the video!

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Pure Speed: Time trialling on Rene Herse tires

With all the emphasis on gravel and less-than-smooth backroads, it’s easy to forget the joys of pure speed as you glide over smooth pavement. And perhaps nothing is more about speed than triathlons. Few people know that both BQ team rider Mark and I did triathlons way back in the early 1990s…

So when we learned that Quentin Kurc-Boucau placed 14th in the Cozumel Ironman in Mexico on Rene Herse Chinook Pass tires, we were curious to find out more about his tire choice and his experiences. Earlier this week, I caught up with Quentin (QKB) and chatted about his sport. Continue Reading →

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Committed to Diversity

There is much that needs to change in our world until all humans are treated equal, have equal opportunities, and feel equally welcome. We each must do our part to make it happen!

At Rene Herse Cycles and Bicycle Quarterly, we are committed to diversity. We believe that great stories exist everywhere, and we are confident that our readers want to read about interesting people, rides and stories, without regard to skin color, ethnicity or nationality. In the future, we will seek out more stories from voices that tend to be underrepresented in the cycling world. We will all be inspired and enriched by the results!

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People who inspire us: Nelson Vails

One of the highlights of last year’s North American Handmade Bicycle Show was meeting Nelson Vails. I saw him walking by, and I thought: “That is Nelson Vails! I’ve got to shake his hand!” We ran after him… He turned out to be a most charming gentleman. Natsuko was surprised that Vails speaks Japanese: Few people know that he spent many years in Japan as a Keirin racer after winning the silver medal in the track sprint at the 1984 Olympic Games. Continue Reading →

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People who inspire us: Rachel Henry

Rachel Henry (right) loves her Jo Routens bike. When Natsuko and I visited them for a story about her husband Raymond, the historian of French cyclotouring and long-time Bicycle Quarterly contributor, the two accompanied us out of town on the spur of a moment.

Rachel prefers contemplative cyclotouring, but she’s a competitive gardener: She and Raymond each have their own vegetable gardens, and Rachel’s tends to grow better! She also serves on the city council of their home town in Provence. And yes, that’s Mont Ventoux in the background. Can’t wait to see them again!

The photo above appeared in our story about French bicycle collectors in Bicycle Quarterly 65.

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People who inspire us: JaBig

Now is a good time to think about the people who’ve inspired us. It’s a good time to show that cycling can be welcoming of non-whites. It’s a good time to listen to other voices. They have good stories to tell!

JaBig is a DJ from Montréal in Canada. He first came to our attention when he rode his fixed-gear across Canada. His recent project was even more ambitious: Last year, he embarked on a round-the-world trip to benefit World Bicycle Relief. We enjoyed his updates as he started in London and made his way across Europe. Covid-19 forced him to return to Canada. He is one of the funniest, most positive humans we’ve met, and his observations about cycling, life and music are always inspiring and thought-provoking. Follow him on Instagram @jabig!

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People who inspire us: Eritrean Road Racers

Now is a good time to think about the people who’ve inspired us. It’s a good time to show that cycling can be welcoming of non-whites. It’s a good time to listen to other voices. They have good stories to tell!

Eritrea has a vibrant cycling scene, ever since Ghebremariam Ghebru won the country’s first road race against the Italian colonials in 1937. In the following years, cycling became almost a substitute for religion. To the present day, races are organized in Asmara almost every weekend. Perhaps the most famous Ertriean racer is Daniel Teklehaimanot (right) who wore the polka-dot jersey of the best climber in the Tour de France in 2015.

The photo shows BQ adventurers Toni, Luigi and Thilo with Eritrean pro racers Metkel Eyob and Daniel Teklehaimanot. Gregor Mahringer told the story of their bikepacking adventure in Bicycle Quarterly 68.

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People who inspire us: the Bruce family

Now is a good time to think about the people who’ve inspired us. It’s a good time to show that cycling can be welcoming of non-whites. It’s a good time to listen to other voices. They have good stories to tell!

The Bruce family from Chicago were good friends (and customers) of the Herse family. The entire family and some friends came to France in the 1960s and rode to Lourdes. Above they are shown at the finish of their long tour. All had Rene Herse bikes. Lyli Herse recalled: “They were doctors, and their four children all had bikes from us, too.” The Bruces invited Lyli to Chicago, where they took her photo on the shores of Lake Michigan.

René Herse had many American customers during the 1960s, but it was the Bruce family that was featured in an advertising photo with the caption: “A beautiful American family on the road to Lourdes.” I’ll dig up that advertisement (as well as the photo of Lyli in Chicago) and share them at a later date.

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A Small Thing: BQ Fund Drive to benefit Black Lives Matter

We want to do more than just say nice words. We want to help make change that is real and lasting. With that intent, we’re renewing the tradition of Bicycle Quarterly fund drives to address urgent needs. For 24 hours, from 0:00 on June 2 until 24:00 (Pacific Time) on June 3, 2020, we’re donating $ 36 for each Bicycle Quarterly subscription to Black Lives Matter. Continue Reading →

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George Floyd, Christian Cooper, Ahmaud Arbery and the Couple on the Train

Last year, on the train to Sacramento, we met a wonderful black couple in the dining car. They had gone to Seattle to celebrate their wedding anniversary. They had met when they were part of the civil rights movement in the South. They moved to the West Coast, because, as her husband explained about his wife: “She has a strong sense of justice. She’d have got killed if we had stayed.”

We have to remember that the suffering, the injustice, the racism continue. We have to stand against racism in all its forms, not just today, but tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. If we change our thinking and our behavior, it will change the world.
—Natsuko & Jan

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Rene Herse x Velocio Ultralight Jersey

We’re excited about our new jerseys. For almost two years, we’ve been looking for the perfect jersey. We didn’t just want to get some print-on-demand jerseys, but we wanted a jersey that offers the best performance and quality, as well as responsible manufacture.

The Rene Herse x Velocio Ultralight jersey is a collaboration between our two companies. The jersey really lives up to its name: At 111 g (Men’s Medium), it’s probably the lightest jersey out there. And light weight isn’t its only remarkable feature. Continue Reading →

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Paris during the Lockdown: Elisabeth’s Story

In this series, we’re sharing the Covid-19 experiences of friends and contributors from around the world. It seems that everybody in France (and beyond) knows Elisabeth as an incredible long-distance cyclist. I’ve ridden with her in the Concours de Machines, met her at Paris-Brest-Paris, and marveled at her adventures on Instagram (@elyasmina75). She lived through the lockdown in the center of Paris. Translated from French.
—Jan Continue Reading →

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1952 Rene Herse – Ancestor of Our All-Road Bikes

It’s hard to believe that it was 20 years ago when I first got to experience a 650B all-road bike. The bike in question was a 1952 René Herse Randonneuse. I had been curious about the bikes from the great French constructeurs, but there weren’t many around. And those who collected them treated them as art objects rather than performance bikes to enjoy on the road.

Then I rode my first Paris-Brest-Paris in 1999. At the finish, I met the late Bernard Déon, the historian of PBP, and bought his book about the incredible ride I had just completed. And there I read that riders like Roger Baumann had ridden René Herses through wind and rain in the 1950s, completing the 1200 hilly kilometers (750 miles) in 50 hours or less. As a first-time PBP rider, speeds like those seemed impossible – and they weren’t far behind the fastest riders in modern PBPs.

So when the opportunity came a few months later to sample one of these mid-century bikes, I leaped at it immediately. Continue Reading →

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Covid-19 Experiences: Donalrey in New York City

The first Covid-19 case in the United States was detected near us here in Seattle in mid-January. Back then, we didn’t imagine that this would turn into such a difficult situation. The entire world has been affected. As we’ve stayed in touch with our friends and Bicycle Quarterly contributors in some of the most affected regions, we’ve been encouraged by their resilience. In this series, I’ll share some of their experiences.

I caught up with Donalrey Nieva from New York City. He and his partner Karen Yung photographed and wrote the cover story in the current Bicycle Quarterly.
—Natsuko Continue Reading →

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Shipping and Tracking during a Pandemic

Quite a few customers are asking why their orders aren’t showing up in the tracking information on our web site, why they haven’t received the Spring Bicycle Quarterly yet, and other shipping-related questions. We’re very sorry about these things, because we can’t do anything about them right now. They are out of our control.

One of the consequences of Covid-19 is that there are very few airplanes flying right now. This means that there is much less capacity for airmail, and shipping takes longer. We just learned that many shipments to Europe are going by boat these days – which seems to include the Spring edition of Bicycle Quarterly for readers in France, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium and a few other European countries. Continue Reading →

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Live Talk on Bikepacking.com with Lael, Neil and Jan

If you missed yesterday’s live talk on Bikepacking.com, it’s now uploaded to their channel – click above to view it. It was a fun conversation with two Tour Divide racers, Lael Wilcox and moderator Neil Beltchenko, about what they want in a tire, how we’re developing tires, and how we’ve incorporated Lael’s ideas into our new Fleecer Ridge 700C x 55 mm bikepacking/gravel/adventure tire. Enjoy!

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Fleecer Ridge and Noise Cancellation

We’ve got the new Fleecer Ridge 700C x 55 bikepacking/gravel/all-round tires in stock now. They come in the Standard, Extralight, Endurance and Endurance Plus casings. This means you can get the volume and groundbreaking tread pattern – more of that in a moment – with a full range of casings. At one end of the spectrum is our Extralight, the most supple casing you’ll find anywhere (except on FMB tubulars). At the other extreme is the Endurance Plus, key ingredient to one of the toughest gravel/all-road tires in the world. And in between you have the wonderfully supple Standard casing and the strong-but-ultrafast Endurance.

There’s more to the Fleecer Ridge than meets the eye: They are the world’s first bicycle tires to use noise cancellation. The knobs are arranged so that the noise from one knob hitting the ground has a frequency that overlaps the frequency created by the next knob. The frequencies cancel each other partially to make the Fleecer Ridge much quieter than you’d ever expect a knobby to be. Arranging the knobs so they cancel their own noise is such a new idea that we’ve filed a patent on this feature. Continue Reading →

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Back in Stock and New Fenders

Let’s start with the most exciting part first: We’ve got new 75 mm-wide fenders, both in 650B and 26″ versions to fit comfortably over our widest tires. They’re made from a thicker aluminum for extra strength, so it’s well-suited for bikes with knobby tires which can pick up sticks and rocks that risk collapsing less-strong fenders. (Of course, no fenders are totally fool-proof – always use good judgment and caution when riding off-pavement.)

At 75 mm wide, our H98 fender works well with mountain bike and One-By drivetrains with a wider chainline. If you use a road drivetrain, you’ll either need to indent your fender to clear the chain in the smallest gears – you’ll need about 6 mm clearance – or can run our narrower H80 fenders that have the same radius, but less coverage on the sides of the tire. Continue Reading →

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All tires are back in stock

Most of our customers considers their Rene Herse tires ‘essentials’ – components they need to keep riding. Knowing this, we work hard to keep all models in stock at all times. Sometimes there are unforeseen fluctuations in demand, delays in production and/or shipping, and a model or two may be out of stock.

We just received another shipment, and all tires are back in stock. Thank you for your patience!

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Face Masks Are Back

When we offered our face masks at our cost – and the option to donate them to front-line workers at bike shops – the entire production run was spoken for within just a few hours. Clearly, our customers need masks for their errands and also for their rides when the country reopens. It will be nice stop along the way again during our rides… Continue Reading →

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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 our suppliers are essential to what we do: You can’t make the world’s best parts without a network of the world’s best suppliers. Continue Reading →

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Lael Wilcox: What Makes a Great Bikepacking Tire?

Long distance bikepacking is all about making equipment compromises. Generally speaking, for me, bikepacking is multi-day dirt-road riding and carrying what I need along the way. Road surfaces, conditions, and weather are ever-changing— that’s part of the adventure. When setting out for a tour, I select equipment based on what will be the most fun or make me the happiest for the trip, or simply what I have at hand that’s ready to go. When setting out for a race, I choose what will make me the fastest over time. There are a lot of different elements that factor into the time it takes to cover an immense distance, like speed, efficiency, time on the bike and comfort. Maybe the easiest way for me to dive into these aspects is through specific illustration. I’ll use the it as an example. 

The Tour Divide is a 2,750 mile (4,425 km) self-supported mountain bike race based on Adventure Cycling Association’s Great Divide Mountain Bike Route that travels through the Rockies from Banff, Alberta, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico on the Mexican border. It follows the continental divide as closely as possible, on forest service roads with over 200,000 feet (60,000 m) of climbing along the way.  Continue Reading →

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Round 2 of DIY Gravel

Today would have been the Belgian Waffle Ride in California – which means that Round 2 of Ted King’s DIY Gravel is starting. We’ve got until next Sunday to do our own version of this iconic ride, which offers three versions:

  • Waffle is 138-miles, 53 off-road and nearly 12,000 feet of climbing
  • Wafer is 77.6-miles, 31 off-road miles and 5,600 feet of climbing
  • Wanna is 40-miles, 6 off-road miles, 3,500 ft of climbing

Which will you choose, and where will you go? I’ve had a lot of fun with Round 1, now I’m looking forward to Round 2.

Click here for more on DIY Gravel.

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DIY Gravel #1: Rasputitsa in Washington

When Ted King floated the idea of DIY Gravel, I was intrigued: For each gravel race that’s cancelled, he challenges everybody to ride a similar distance – and elevation gain, if possible – near home and solo, within one week of the original event date. There’s a Strava group and even some prizes to win.

I like the idea of envisioning these courses here in Washington. First on the list was Rasputitsa. Named with the Russian word for ‘Mud Season,’ when roads become difficult to impassable, Rasputitsa coincides with the snow melt in Vermont. Ted King rode the actual course a week ago as he launched DIY Gravel. Continue Reading →

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Join Ted King for DIY Gravel

All of us are figuring out how we can resume our lives safely and responsibly. How can we ride our bikes? Does it make sense to train when races and events are postponed or cancelled? How can we enjoy the community that cycling brings us? I caught up with gravel racer Ted King and asked him about life and cycling in these times.

JH: As the ‘King of Gravel,’ how have you been dealing with the current global scenario? How does riding fit into your schedule these days?

TK: Cycling is an enormous part of my life, but my cycling life doesn’t revolve exclusively around racing. 2020 is already a year that’s completely different from any in the past, because Laura and I are now a family of three, with little baby Hazel as part of the mix. We had decided to limit some of the smaller races that I typically jump into and focus on our family and the bigger events of the year. Continue Reading →

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Thank you!

This post is to say ‘Thank you!’

It’s no secret that times are difficult. The news are not encouraging. Businesses everywhere are struggling, and we’re not exempt.

We appreciate your orders at all times, but now they are doubly important. As we take turns working in our empty office and warehouse, we’re encouraged by the nice notes that you leave in the ‘Comments’ field of your orders.

We’ve noticed that more than usual, you renew your Bicycle Quarterly subscriptions for two or three years. We appreciate the vote of confidence – yes, we plan to keep publishing for much longer than that! – and support. Many have given gift subscriptions to friends. Hopefully, the magazine will brighten their day during these shelter-at-home times.

Our customers – you – are our community. We appreciate your encouragement. We’ll continue to work hard to earn your trust and support. We’ll get through this difficult time together. Thank you!

—Jan & Natsuko

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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 importantly – they are the most fun to ride.

When I first went to Japan six years ago, I realized I needed a Rinko bike, so I could travel by train to the great routes that traverse the Japanese mountains. As it happens so often, the project was delayed until the last moment. In the end, the entire bike was built in ten days. I built the frame under Hahn’s supervision. He insisted that I miter all the tubes by hand, rather than using a milling machine. It was a great learning experience, and it led to many framebuilding parts in the Rene Herse program that make it easier to build a bike like this – like the pre-mitered centerpull braze-ons that fit perfectly on the Kaisei ‘Toei Special’ fork blades. Continue Reading →

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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 – mixed-surface roads of the Cascade Mountains.

The Frek may be the most famous bike here. After Steve wrote up his story of converting a 1982 Trek 614 into a 650B randonneur bike for Bicycle Quarterly, many riders followed his lead and converted similar bikes. Fortunately, there are plenty of 1980s Treks to supply this new demand! Continue Reading →

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Covid-19 Petition: Thank you!

Today, we delivered 1674 signatures to the National Governors’ Association, as well as to each state’s governor, urging them to develop strategies for the time after the current lockdowns. We all want to return to our normal lives – as much as possible – but this requires keeping the virus from flaring up again as soon as the current restrictions are eased. We don’t want to see a second wave that is as bad (or worse) than the first one we are experiencing right now. Continue Reading →

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Weekend BQ Team Ride (socially distant)

Last weekend, the BQ Team went on one of our typical rides: A 100-mile (160 km) romp through the Cascade foothills on familiar roads. Of course, we didn’t ride as a group – we’ve given that up for more than a month now, even before the official social distancing guidelines went into effect here in Washington State. We realized that even though riding side-by-side might be safe, we couldn’t be sure. And most of all, it would send the wrong message to others – that somehow, riding in groups was still OK. So we’re doing our team rides solo. Here’s how we rode last weekend:

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Three more days: BQ 8-packs and R Herse book Special

There are three more days left to order reading materials at our special discount. Pick your own 8-pack of Bicycle Quarterly past editions or select the ‘Surprise Me!’ option with the BQ Team’s favorites, plus one extra (for a total of 9 magazines).

Read up on the ground-breaking technical research that ushered in the ‘wide-tire revolution.’ Continue Reading →

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Covid-19 after the lockdowns end: How to make our world safe again?

This is a post that we’d rather not write. We want this blog to focus on cycling, but we feel that urgent action is needed. This is not a feel-good measure, and it may negatively impact our business, but that is not the question we must ask ourselves. When people are dying, when health care workers are risking their lives to save them, we have a responsibility to speak out. We want to thank Donalrey Nieva (@donalrey) for his haunting photos from New York City that illustrate what we’ve lost, but also what we still have.
—Natsuko & Jan

Social Distancing is working!

Today, the ‘Stay-at-Home’ orders in Washington State are going into their third week. Infections seem to be plateauing, and our governor has even been able to return some ventilators to the National Stockpile. Those are the good news, and we are grateful for them. Continue Reading →

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What We Ride (Part 2): 333fab Titanium Randonneur

In this mini-series, we’re looking at the bikes that the BQ Team rides. These are the bikes we’ve bought with our own money (or built with our own hands). These are the bikes we ride most of the time, whether we’re heading for a quick 2-hour spin or a multi-day adventure in the Cascade Mountains. These are the bikes we think work best for us and our style of riding.

Ryan’s custom titanium bike was built by 333fab as a modern interpretation of a randonneur bike. Like the rest of the team, Ryan’s bike rolls on the 650B x 42 mm tires, it’s got aluminum fenders, generator lighting and compact cranks. That is where the similarities end: Ryan’s bike is a reminder that there are many different ways to build a fast long-distance bike. Continue Reading →

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BQ 8-packs and Rene Herse Book for $50

Everybody needs a good read right now! We all know what to do to keep ourselves and others safe. We all know what is going on in the world. There is a time when it’s important to turn off our screens, make a cup of tea, and enjoy a good read.

To supply you with reading material, we’re offering a big discount on our most popular literature. For a limited time, you can order 8- and 9-packs of Bicycle Quarterly and/or our 424-page book ‘Rene Herse • The Bikes • The Builder • The Riders,’ for $ 50 each. Either will give you many hours of reading enjoyment.

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What We Ride (Part 1): Mark’s 6-Hands

Editor’s Note: We’ve been thinking about our role in the response to Covid-19. Here is what we can do: If there is a way we can positively influence the situation – like advocating social distancing and wearing face masks before these practices had widespread support – it’s our responsibility do so. If we can do something to help directly, we will also act: We are working with our suppliers to make masks. And we also realize that the relentless (and mostly bad) news is taking a toll. One thing we can do is inspire our readers. We’ll try to remind you (and ourselves) that there is a beautiful world out there, waiting to be explored. We’re all in this together – let’s stay strong and positive!

And with that, we’ll start a mini-series of posts about the bikes of the BQ Team. We all love testing the latest wonder machines, the featherweight carbon bikes and the gleaming customs straight from NAHBS, but these are the bikes we’ve bought with our own money (or built with our own hands). These are the bikes we ride when we head out, whether it’s a fast spin around the North End of Lake Washington or a multi-day adventure to explore the forgotten passes of the Cascade Mountains. We ride these bikes because they work best for us. Continue Reading →

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Calling for some real innovation!

April 1, 2020: This is the time of year when we take a break from the daily news and look at areas where real progress is possible in bicycle design. Forget marginal gains – today we’re looking for revolutionary ideas!

The industry likes to crow about disc brakes and carbon frames, but when you really think about it, bikes have not evolved much at all since the 1890s. The very first Paris-Brest-Paris was won on a bike similar to the Humber above, and yet most of the Humber’s features have been carried over almost unchanged to the latest ‘high-tech wonders’! Continue Reading →

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Everybody needs a good read now!

Sometimes, it’s good to take a break from the news, turn off our screens, and immerse ourselves in a good read. Now this need is more urgent than ever, and so we’re preparing a second mailing of the new Bicycle Quarterly this week – sooner than originally planned.

Before you even open the Spring 2020 BQ, you’ll be amazed by an amazing bicycle tour of the Peruvian Andes on the cover. Karen Yung’s words and Donalrey Nieva’s stunning photos take you to remote roads in that far-away place – a perfect way to keep our dreams alive.

Equally inspiring is Paulette Porthault’s incredible life story. An active cyclist for 70 years, she rode for the great constructeurs Barra, Narcisse, Herse and Routens. She won the Poly de Chanteloup hillclimb race during the war. And she never stopped smiling!

Those are just two of the great stories in this exciting edition. Click here to subscribe today, and we’ll dispatch your copy of this exciting edition without delay. Thank you!

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Covid-19 Response: Making Face Masks

In contradicting what we’ve been taught until now – that face masks are not useful – I fully expect this post to be controversial. But too much is at stake, so please read on with an open mind.

The good news from Seattle is that our current lockdown seems to be working. New infections appear to be leveling off. It’s too early to tell whether this will last, but it’s encouraging: We aren’t powerless. We can change the trajectory of this pandemic. Unfortunately, the situation is more difficult in many places, and our thoughts go out to all who are affected. It’s a scary time! Continue Reading →

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Keeping our employees safe

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Yesterday, Washington State finally issued an order for everybody to stay at home to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. It’s something most of us wanted to see much sooner, and we’ve been acting for several weeks as if it had been in place already.

Bicycle repair facilities and companies who supply them – which includes Rene Herse Cycles – are exempt from the shut-down, so we’ll continue to operate. However, that does not mean we’ll act irresponsibly. There is too much at stake here, both for our employees and the community at large.

To keep everybody safe, we have adjusted our work schedules so that no two employees work at the same time in our office or warehouse. None of our equipment and tools are shared any longer. We’ve even split up our bathrooms. Basically, this means that our employees are as safe at work as they would be at home.

All these changes mean that our operations have become more complicated and time-consuming. Some things are barely affected. We are still shipping orders and producing Bicycle Quarterly as before. We’re still offering warranty support and processing returns as long as we can receive mail. Even in these difficult times, we continue to stand 100% behind everything we sell.

Other things are becoming more difficult. Product development has slowed. Shipments from suppliers are held up, so some things may be out of stock soon. And we cannot offer individual tech support any longer, because this requires in-person communication at the office to find accurate and useful answers.

This means that we’re no longer able to respond to customer service emails – except those submitted via our Returns and Warranty forms. And please don’t try to send us your questions via Instagram, Facebook or the Letters-to-the-Editor page on the Bicycle Quarterly web site. It’s simply not possible to respond and maintain a safe working environment.

That doesn’t mean you are left out in the cold when it comes to tech support for our products. We’ve expanded the support pages on our web site, so that they cover most common – and many uncommon – questions. You’ll find illustrated step-by-step instructions, frequently asked questions, tips and links to blog posts. Use the ‘Support’ tab in our main menu (above) to get started.

We hope you’ll find these resources useful. And we appreciate your understanding while we continue to adjust to this extraordinary situation. Thank you, and please be careful and safe!

Top photo: Technical inspection at the 1947 Concours de Machines technical trials (Rene Herse Archives).

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Rene Herse Sample Sale

Let’s face it: Life isn’t the same as it was just two weeks ago. We’re all in this together, and we’ve been encouraged how everybody has been pulling together to face this challenge.

At Rene Herse Cycles, we’ve thought about what we could do to help. Most of us still ride our bikes – solo – for transportation, exercise, and to keep our bodies and spirits healthy. Most of us still need bike parts…

We have a sizable stash of parts that haven’t been used, but that we don’t want to sell as brand-new, either. These are parts that we’ve used for photo shoots or for testing tire fit on rims. Some are prototypes that don’t have the right stickers – we commission the molds first and make a small run of tires for testing, long before the new stickers are finalized. We always make more prototypes than we need for the actual testing, just in case.

Usually, we keep these components for our own bikes, but we’re now offering them to everybody in our Sample Sale.

Update 3/25: The Sample Sale has ended. Thank you. Continue Reading →

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We’re open and staying safe

Many customers and readers have asked and worried about us. This post is to reassure everybody that we’re doing fine at Rene Herse Cycles. For the time being, Seattle is relying on everybody’s best efforts of social distancing and staying home, and there is no mandatory lockdown. Fortunately, people are taking it seriously. I went for a walk today and saw a couple talk to the owner of a classic car – while keeping a distance of 8 feet.

At Rene Herse Cycles, we’ve instated policies to ensure the safety of our employees and others in our community. Where possible, our team is telecommuting. The other employees have staggered their shifts, so there is minimal contact. It’s a bit lonely to be working alone in the office and warehouse, but it’s the best way right now.

We appreciate your support in these difficult times. Thank you! Continue Reading →

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FMB Tubulars

Even in these troubled times, most of us continue to ride our bikes, at least here in North America. We’ve been encouraged that even during the ‘shelter-in-place’ in the San Francisco Bay Area, solo bike rides continue to be permitted.

Over the last year, we’ve worked on re-introducing FMB tubulars to the North American market. FMB tubulars perfectly complement to our Rene Herse clinchers. They feature similar no-nonsense tread patterns for road, dirt and mud. FMB’s three casings all offer supple performance, but they vary in their degrees of sidewall protection. Continue Reading →

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Spring 2020 Bicycle Quarterly

It’s always exciting when a new Bicycle Quarterly goes to print. After months of work, we finally see the magazine take shape on paper, and soon our readers will enjoy their copies. We’re doubly excited about the Spring 2020 edition with its mix of engaging stories. Karen Yung reports from a bikepacking trip to the Andes of Peru – the cover shows one of her fellow adventuresses. Continue Reading →

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Ted King’s Tips for Choosing Gravel Tires

Editor’s Note: ‘Gravel’ means different things in different regions, from the smooth dirt roads of Vermont to the Flint Hills of Kansas. Few riders have as much experience riding and racing all over the world as Ted King. Here is how the ‘King of Gravel’ chooses his tires.

It’s only in the relatively recent rearview mirror that we see cyclists steering their frankenbikes off the beaten path. “Gravel” as a name wasn’t a genre of riding yet; this was merely riding a bike on pavement and then riding a bike off pavement. Most riders were on two-wheeled amalgamated collections of misfit parts, trying to create what did not yet exist: Riders took the best parts of road and mountain bikes and combined them in a single bike. That was the start of “gravel” as we know it, and it’s quickly becoming something of a rarity in this day and age.

With the burgeoning support of the entire cycling industry behind gravel, and with a hyper-focus on components designed specifically for every style of gravel riding, my inbox is continually filled with questions about my choice for bike parts. Specifically, questions revolving around where the rubber meets the (off) road are the most common. So in an attempt to take a proactive approach, I’m excited to offer Ted’s Tips for Choosing Tires. Continue Reading →

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Memories of Summer: Lake Bessemer

As last summer’s 1200 km Paris-Brest-Paris was approaching, my training went into high gear. That meant hill intervals and speedwork, but also occasional longer rides to maintain my endurance – and have fun!

When Mark and Steve suggested a weekend ride up the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River, we came up with an idea: They would take the bus to Mount Si, a popular hiking destination. I’d ride out there and meet them. I decided to add the climb to Lake Bessemer for some extra training. Continue Reading →

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Enve and Zipp hookless rims and Rene Herse tires

Rene Herse tires are safe to use on hookless rims from Enve and Zipp – even when mounted tubeless (for tubeless-compatible tires). Over the last year, we’ve worked with the engineers from both companies to ensure the full compatibility of our tires with their rims.

Tubeless tires are an emerging technology. They’ve been around for decades on cars and motorcycles, and they’ve taken over mountain biking in a storm, too. These are all relatively stiff tires that run at relatively low pressures.

Adapting the technology to road, all-road and gravel bikes has posed special challenges. The supple high-performance tires we love have less casing stiffness, and they run at somewhat higher pressures. (Few cars, motorcycles and mountain bikes exceed 2.5 bar/35 psi.) Both factors combine to create much greater forces at the tire/rim interface than on other vehicles. Continue Reading →

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