Journal

Winter Weather Break

Looking at the weather forecast, we realized that the next day had the potential to be a perfect day. So we meet at seven. When the sun rises above Lake Washington, we already are well on our way out of town. After a stop in Snohomish at a café to...

New Bicycle Quarterly Web Site

The new Bicycle Quarterly Press web site is up and running. We have a new design, simpler navigation, and clearer organization. The site better explains what Bicycle Quarterly is all about: Inspirational rides (above) and technical articles that explain how bikes work... ... as well as exciting articles about cycling...

Single-Speed!

I have ridden fixed-gears and single-speed bicycles, but for my own bikes, I am wedded to multiple gears. Part of that is my love of the mountains with their long and steep climbs, and part of it is my allegiance to Vélocio, who fought tooth and nail to get...

Winter Rides and Summer Plans

For me, November and most of December are rest months. That doesn't mean that I don't ride my bike – I use my bike for daily transportation – but there isn't any "training" on the bike. I worked on my core fitness and went for a few short runs....

What Your Money Buys

It often is surprising that high-end components cost not just a little more, but several times as much as budget components. For example, the high-end Sugino cranks (above right) cost more than three times as much as the budget model from the same maker (above left). (This already takes...

PBP: The Movie

Last week, Sur la Route de l'Extreme by Sandrine Lopez and Philip Dupuis was shown on French TV. It's a well-done documentary of this year's PBP, with beautiful shots showing the variety of randonneurs who participate, from the fastest to the slowest. There are great shots of the lead...

Bike Tests

Good bike tests provide information that allow you to choose a bike that is right for you. Your bike need not look like the one that was tested, because it often can be customized to your personal tastes. When we test a production bike, the bike we test is the...

The Technical Trials

The Technical Trials are best known for the incredibly light bicycles that constructeurs built in the 1940s. (The 1946 Alex Singer above weighs a little over 17 pounds fully equipped.) More importantly, the Trials advanced bicycle technology by serving as a test bed for new bikes and components. Low-trail geometries,...

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...

Bicycle Quarterly Charity Drive

We are grateful that we can ride beautiful bicycles, both for enjoyment and for transportation. We discuss issues like geometry, load placement and the advantages of generator over battery lights. Much of the world is less fortunate. Even in the United States, one of the richest countries anywhere, there are...

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...

Why Bolts Come Loose

Fenders, racks and other attachments can remain maintenance-free for 10,000+ miles, yet other bikes require tightening bolts on a regular basis. Why do some bolts stay tight, while others loosen quickly? We have covered this in detail in Bicycle Quarterly's article "Engineering a Bicycle" in Vol. 5, No. 4. The...

The Competition Bicycle – Price Reduced

As a small publisher, we don't have a "publicist" who works full-time to promote our books. Therefore, we always are excited when one of our titles is mentioned in a major publication. Over the years, our books have been featured in the Sunday Times UK, one of Britain's largest...

Paris-Brest-Paris – The Book

Paris-Brest-Paris is an event that captures the imagination. It's not just the epic length of the ride – 1200 km or 750 miles – but also the history that makes this event special. Paris-Brest-Paris (or PBP in short) was created in 1891 by Pierre Giffard, a colorful journalist, with two...

Winter 2011 Bicycle Quarterly

The Winter 2011 issue of Bicycle Quarterly is at the printer and will be mailed next week. Our full report from the Oregon Manifest (pictured on the cover) showcases the innovative and inspiring bicycles that excelled in the technical trials. We also take you on an epic ride across...

Ode to a Road

The German poet Friedrich Schiller wrote his Ode to Joy in 1785, celebrating friendship and the unity of humanity. Ludwing van Beethoven set the poem to music and incorporated it into his 9th Symphony as the final movement. I was thinking about the Ode as we rode a favorite road...

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...

A Mountain Adventure

The Oregon Manifest in Portland was a great opportunity for another long ride in the mountains. The Bicycle Quarterly team took the train to Portland, rode in the Oregon Manifest, and then rode back to Seattle the next day. We left Portland just before 7 a.m. on Sunday to head...

Science and Bicycles: Frame Stiffness

Lightweight frames, made from high-strength tubing, were thought to be stiffer than ordinary frames. They performed better for most cyclists, but the conclusion that stiffer frames were better was erroneous. Eventually, this led the makers of steel bicycles down the wrong path and may have hastened their demise. When the...

A Trip to France

Going to France was a treat. Not just because PBP is a wonderful adventure, but because I love visiting France. In August, Paris loses some of its urban edge, and people become more relaxed. The city organizes Paris Plages ("Beach in Paris"): For a few weeks, sand is trucked...

Autumn 2011 Bicycle Quarterly

The Autumn issue of Bicycle Quarterly is at the printer. It will be mailed next week. On 72 pages, we cover a variety of topics, including: High-wheeler racing in New Zealand today. Test of the Calfee "Adventure" – a carbon fiber bicycle for the real world. Braking: We test how it's done...

Pricing Small Parts

There are different philosophies on how to set prices. The traditional way is to figure out how much something costs to make, add a little profit, and determine the retail price. The more modern way is to keep your prices low on "high-visibility" items for which people comparison-shop, but...

Letters to the Editor

We get many letters and e-mails. We read them all, but we cannot reply to each and every one. We select a few for inclusion to Bicycle Quarterly "Readers' Forum" pages. How do we select these letters? To be published, a letter must add something new to the discussion. We...

The Big Picture

It's amazing to me that  the big picture often gets overlooked. I am not talking about willful distortion, but about well-intentioned people looking at only one part of the equation in an attempt to arrive at a good but simple solution. Here are two examples, both concerned with reducing...

The Aunt

One of the best things of editing Bicycle Quarterly have been the wonderful people I have met all over the world. Even among these amazing people, Paulette Porthault stands out. Most of you have seen her many times: On the Bicycle Quarterly home page, you see her climbing the...

PBP Preparation: Reflective Vests and Rapha Jersey

Rapha recently introduced their "Paris-Brest-Paris Jersey." It is designed specifically for randonneuring, and as a bonus, it comes with a reflective vest. The vest has generated considerable interest among randonneurs... Randonneuring requires riding at night. To improve rider safety, randonneuring rules not only require lights, but also reflective clothing. Reflective...

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...

PBP Training: Recovery

In the past, we've discussed hill intervals and how they make you stronger. They've certainly worked for me this spring, as I achieved one of my big goals this year: I completed my Cyclos Montagnards R60 Honors. You get faster and stronger through overload and recovery. This means not only...

Summer 2011 Bicycle Quarterly

Happy Solstice! This means that summer officially has started, and the Summer issue of Bicycle Quarterly is at the printer. It will be mailed next week. The topics include: Do larger wheels roll faster on bumpy roads than small ones? Collecting roads: How to find the best backroads. Test of the Ellis...

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....

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...

Who Pays for Your Magazine?

My wife was an avid reader of Gourmet magazine. She was disappointed when the magazine ceased publication a little over a year ago. It wasn't that Gourmet was not popular - it had as many readers as before. But in the recession, ad revenues had declined... This points out how...

The Cover Photo

A number of readers have asked where the cover photo of our blog (above) was taken. Here is the story: An old road above Leschi in Seattle switchbacks though an Olmsted Park, with a set of  S-curves that we use for assessing a bike's handling. It's downhill, and with a...

An In-Depth Look at Copenhagen

We finally got our shipment of Cecilia Vanman's book Copenhagen – City of Bicycles. You can order your copy here. City of Bicycles is a full-color, hardcover, 196-page book that provides an in-depth look at what makes Copenhagen the most bicycle-friendly city in the world. Vanman explains how Copenhagen...

Braking Technique

For an article in Adventure Cyclist, I needed a photo on braking technique, so my children and I went to a steep hill in Discovery Park. They rode up and down the hill while I snapped photos. Even though the photo above has a little speed blur, I like...

Quality over Quantity

The earthquake and tsunami in Japan were terrible, and the unfolding nuclear catastrophe threatens to overshadow even those disasters. Our thoughts go out to the people who are affected, and we must do what we can to help them. Beyond that, Japan has shown me once again that there...

Earthquake in Japan

The terrible news from Japan are not getting any better. Our thoughts are with the people who suffer, those who are displaced, and those who worry about their loved ones. We are glad to report that our friends at I's Bicycle in Kyoto are fine. Most of our other contacts...

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...

A February Ride

Last week, we went on a "training ride" into the hills northeast of Seattle. We met at 7:30 and rode to Snohomish (above). The valley of the Skykomish River was filled with cold fog, so a stop at our favorite bakery provided a welcome warm-up. As we headed through the...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Mr. Pedersen – A Man of Genius

David Evans spent more than a decade researching the life of Mikael Pedersen, who is best known for his unconventional bicycles. I have been fascinated by these machines since we photographed a rare racing version for our book The Competition Bicycle (see photo below). I have ridden a reproduction...

Oregon Manifest Technical Trials 2011

The 2011 Oregon Manifest Constructor's Design Challenge will be held in Portland, Oregon, on September 23-24, 2011. The goal is to determine what the ultimate modern utility bike looks like and who can build it. The 2009 Constructor's Design Challenge was an innovative event that focused on riding bikes over...

Winter 2010 Bicycle Quarterly Mailed

The Winter 2010 issue has been mailed. Most subscribers will get it soon, but delivery times vary depending on the whims of the U.S. Postal Service. All subscribers should have their magazines by December 24, 2010. In the mean time, click here for a preview. And for some fun with...

A Neat Bike

When I was working with Peter Weigle on an article on fender mounting for the Winter 2010 issue of Bicycle Quarterly (now at the printer), Peter sent me a photo of his latest bike (above). His bikes always have been special, but on this one, I noticed a lot...