Journal

Winter 2021 Bicycle Quarterly

The Winter 2021 Bicycle Quarterly is at the printer. We are preparing the mailing list this week – subscribe now to be among the first to get a copy of this exciting edition! It's another un-missable BQ, starting with the cover story: Donalrey Nieva and Karen Yung climb Mauna Kea....

Holiday Gift Guide

It's the season for giving nice things to people you like. It's an opportunity to show appreciation and love. Giving something that delights and is useful creates lasting memories. Every time we use a gift, we think of the person who gave it to us. It's always fun to use...

Rene Herse Merino Wool Jerseys

Our Merino Wool Jerseys have landed! I've been wearing the prototype for the past year, and I'm glad we can finally offer them to our customers. Some may ask: Why Merino wool? It's all about performance. Synthetic fabrics have improved a lot in recent years, but wool has a few...

More Umtanum Ridges and Hatcher Passes!

Just a quick note that we've received a restock on our most popular tires of the moment, the new 650B x 55 Umtanum Ridge knobbies and 700C x 48 Hatcher Pass all-road tires. A few other models are available again, too. Ever since taking prototypes of the Umtanum Ridges (above) on...

Books!

Whether it's after a long ride (and shower and good meal) or on a day when it's not appealing to head out at all – there's nothing quite like making a cup of tea and sitting down with a beautiful book. Great books don't just tell stories and convey information,...

Let’s Focus on Humans, Not Things

The latest U.N. Climate Talks concluded this weekend. There was some encouraging progress, but not nearly enough. Yet bike companies and social media has been mostly silent on what is probably the most urgent problem humanity faces. It's almost as if we don't want to talk about what many perceive...

Dumonde Tech Chain Lube

When I was racing on fender-less bikes, chain lube was an important topic here in the wet Pacific Northwest. Back then, it was generally accepted that Dumonde Tech was by far the best lube. It was the only one that allowed you to complete a rainy ride without the chain...

Cal Poly Pomona x Rene Herse Cycling Research

We're excited to announce our partnership with the Mechanical Engineering Department at Cal Poly (Pomona) to explore cycling-related research topics. Starting this semester, 38 undergraduate and 2 graduate students are working under Dr. Nolan Tsuchiya on a variety of projects, including: Measure drivetrain losses: Does cross-chaining decrease efficiency? What about...

Travels with J. P. Weigle

Today would have been J. P. (Peter) Weigle's French Fender Day, the gathering of cyclotouring bikes old and new at the master's workshop deep in the woods of New England. The meeting went virtual this year, with a photo contest on Instagram with the tag #ffd2021v. You can still enter;...

Introducing Rene Herse Stems

They are here! What is probably the most iconic stem of all time, the Rene Herse stem, is now available again, updated for the 21st century. And we're not just making the stem, but a complete, integrated system consisting of stem, decaleur and light switch, plus a few other parts. Typical...

80th Anniversary Rene Herse Update

It's been a while since we announced the 80th Anniversary Rene Herse bikes and frames and started taking orders. From the beginning, we had decided to offer just eight bikes and eight frames – this isn't a money-making project, but a celebration of our heritage and a way to share the...

We Love Fenders!

Many years ago, the biggest American bike magazine published a short note about aluminum fenders with the comment: "We are charmed by the idea that there actually are fender snobs!" I had to smile, because the reason we care so much about fenders is simple: We like to ride in...

The Ideal Tires For Paris-Roubaix?

Before there was gravel, there was Paris-Roubaix. The famous race used to be a relic from a past when many races of northern Europe went over cobblestones. While other races – especially the Tour de France – became 'sanitized,' the Queen of the Classics played up its image as the...

Packing for the Oregon Outback

People have commented to the stats of the Oregon Outback FKT. I find it interesting to review the ride – what went right and what could be improved in the future. These numbers can also help others who plan a long ride. Distance: 585 km / 363 milesElevation gain: 4,382 m...

Jan sets Oregon Outback FKT

Few rides have captured my imagination like the Oregon Outback. It's not just the epic scale of it – traversing the entire state of Oregon on gravel roads – but also the varied landscapes. I love the wide-open sagebrush country in the south. There are few better roads than the...

Another Go at the Oregon Outback

The Oregon Outback has been a huge influence for us at Rene Herse Cycles. Back in 2014, the inaugural ride/race over the course made us realize the potential of truly wide tires. Ever since, I've wanted to come back with a bike built specifically for riding rough gravel roads at...

Introducing Hatcher Pass 700C x 48 mm

When we asked Lael Wilcox which tires she needed for bikepacking, the Fleecer and Oracle Ridge dual-purpose knobbies were the result: great traction on loose and muddy surfaces (and snow), but fast and grippy on pavement. Plus quiet thanks to our noise cancellation technology. These tires cover the multitude of...

How Tough are Rene Herse Extralight Tires?

We just received another tire shipment, this one mostly with Extralight models that had been out of stock for a while. For me, the Extralight casing is one of the things that defines our Rene Herse tires. It's the most supple casing you'll find anywhere, matched only by the finest...

Lights for the Tour Divide

Before our ride on the Oregon Outback, Lael replaced her headlight – which was designed for mountain biking – with a more road-oriented SON Edelux II. The more even illumination of the road surface by a shaped beam makes riding at speed much easier and less fatiguing. And a single LED...

More Umtanum 650Bs and a New 26″ Tire

Let's start with the new tire: We're excited to expand our 26" offerings with the 26" x 1.8" Naches Pass Endurance. The Naches Pass is the 26" equivalent of our iconic 650B Babyshoe Pass – the tires we ride on our own bikes more than any others. In fact, Natsuko runs...

All-Road Interview in DIE ZEIT

"Racing bikes are defined by the riding experience, not by a few millimeters in tire width," says Jan Heine. The German edition of our book 'The All-Road Bike Revolution' just launched, and there's been a lot of interest in the German media. Gravel bikes are a brand-new phenomenon in Germany, at...

BQ Un-Meeting Dates and Routes

The 2021 Bicycle Quarterly Un-Meeting will be hosted by Bicycle Counterculture (BCC) in Marin County, California. A group campsite is reserved at Samuel P. Taylor State Park on What: Bicycle Quarterly Un-MeetingWhen: Thursday and Friday, September 16-17, 2021Where: Madrone Group Campsite, Samuel P. Taylor State ParkWho: Everybody who enjoys cycling off...

Nivex or eTap?

We're offering the 80th Anniversary Rene Herse bikes with a choice of two drivetrains: either SRAM eTap or a Nivex rear and Rene Herse front derailleur. It's a choice between best electronic or the best manual shifting. Both the current Nivex and modern electronic drivetrains stand at the pinnacle of...

80th Anniversary Rene Herse Ordering

There's been a great response to our 80th Anniversary Rene Herse bikes and framesets. There's a lot of excitement. Even people who don't want to order one are glad that they'll exist. Just like I'll probably never own a great sportscar, but when I see one, I smile. Perhaps the biggest...

650B x 55 Umtanum Ridge Back in Stock

The response to the new 650B x 55 mm Umtanum Ridge surprised everybody: The Endurance casing was sold out within 4 hours, and the Extralights lasted only a little less than a day. We just received another shipment, so both models are back in stock. The Standard casing will follow...

80th Anniversary Rene Herse Bikes

To celebrate 80 years of Rene Herse bikes, we're excited to offer a limited edition of bikes and frames. René Herse entered the cycling world in 1938, when he introduced innovative superlight components that drew on his experience making prototype aircraft components. A few years later, during the German occupation...

Umtanum Ridge Tires Are Here!

The new 650B x 55 mm Umtanum Ridge tires have landed! Now our widest knobbies are available in the three most popular wheel sizes: The award-winning 700C/29" Fleecer Ridge is perfect for the latest drop-bar mountain bikes. The 26" Humptulips Ridge has made classic mountain bikes fun again. And now...

Cross is Coming – Get Your Tires Now!

We're excited that cyclocross is back this autumn in North America. It's something we've missed more than almost anything else during the pandemic. 'Cross is so much fun in part because you get to ride multiple laps of the same course, so you get the opportunity to fine-tune your lines....

Rift Iceland 2021

The Rift Iceland gravel race has fascinated me since it was first announced. I've only been to Iceland once, during a short layover on the way to France for Paris-Brest-Paris in 2015. I was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the landscape – everything seemed vast and inhospitable, yet also magnificent...

Tour de France Cyclotouriste

This year's Tour de France provided gripping racing and a worthy winner: Tadej Pogačar rode a smart, powerful race, and his second win in a row promises more for the future. Especially since he's just 22 years old and at the beginning of his career. And yet one of the most...

Bikepacking.com: Best Tires for the Great Divide

With the 2021 Tour Divide happening this year – on a shortened course, since the Canadian border is still closed – Neil Beltchenko from bikepacking.com looked at what he considers the best tire for this challenging 2,745-mile (4,418 km) course. Neil has more experience than most: He has ridden and raced...

Amanda Nauman: Racing Unbound XL

Amanda Nauman is a true inspiration: Not only is she a top-tier cyclocross and gravel racer, but she also works full-time as an engineer – and she's putting together a gravel event, Mammoth Tuff, that takes riders into the beautiful eastern Sierra Nevada. We caught up with her after her epic...

Summer 2021 Bicycle Quarterly

The Summer 2021 Bicycle Quarterly is another action-packed edition. We test one of Fern's dreamy creations, a pure adventure bike equipped to handle everything from fast road riding (with aerobars) to ultra-steep technical terrain (with a dropper seatpost). Outfitted with a full complement of custom-made Gramm_Tourpacking bikepacking bags, it's made...

Italian Fixed Champion on Rene Herse

It's been exciting to see the first stages of the Tour de France. A little too exciting, in fact, when spectators aren't aware that the privilege seeing racers zipping so close comes with responsibilities. Here's a little secret: Every bike racer, deep down, just a little bit, dreams of riding...

A Mid-Summer Ride to Spada Lake

"Let's go to Spada Lake," suggested Steve when we discussed where to head for a one-day ride. Now that the entire BQ Team is vaccinated, we can return to our long-missed team rides. Steve mapped a route that combined favorite gravel and paved roads through the Cascade foothills to Sultan. From...

The Unsung Heroes of Unbound

One thing that's great about gravel racing is its inclusiveness. Where else can you line up with world-famous pros and ride the same course, under the same conditions, and be cheered by the same spectators (who cheer even more for those who push themselves just to finish the event)? We've...

German Edition of The All-Road Bike Revolution

Exciting news: The German edition of our book The All-Road Bike Revolution is set to appear in July. We've worked with Covadonga, a specialist publishing house for cycling books, who already published The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles (Meisterwerke des Fahrradbaus) and The Competition Bicycle (Die Räder der Sieger). Translated by...

Congrats to all Unbound riders!

Congratulations to all riders at last weekend's Unbound. It was exciting to see so many riders ride through heat and the infamous Flint Hills – and enjoy the challenge. Special kudos to Ted King, who overcame breaking his collarbone just 5 weeks ago (and a veritable invasion of Euro-Pros) to place fifth...

Women Racers at Unbound

Gravel racing – like randonneuring, passhunting and other cycling adventures – has always welcomed women racers as equals. We're excited to see so many women head to the Flint Hills of Kansas this weekend for Unbound, the world's most famous gravel race. We caught up with three of them to...

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 the...

Oregon Outback with Lael

It's been a busy weekend planning, packing, figuring out how to make a Spot tracker work, and going on a shake-down ride on my new bike. Now all is ready, I'm heading down to Portland on the Coast Starlight to meet Lael and Rue. Lael and I plan to start...

Returning to the Oregon Outback

Over the last seven years, the Oregon Outback has evolved from a crazy adventure (and race) to one of themost popular bikepacking routes. Back in 2014, when Donnie Kolb first mooted the idea of this ride, gravel bikes were still in their infancy. I rode the first Outback on my...

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 – without...

Visiting Makino, the Japanese Builder

Just before the pandemic made travel next-to-impossible, Natsuko and I visited Makino Cycle Factory, one of Japan's most renowned builders. It was intended as a short visit to take a few photos, but it turned into a wonderful day of watching the craftspeople at work, discussing frame geometry and stiffness...

A Shipment Arrives With a New Tire

We finally receive a big shipment of tires that had been on the seas for what seems like ages. And we've also got a new tire: The 26" x 2.3" Humptulips Ridge is now available with the ultra-tough Endurance Plus casing. Whether it's adventures into the unknown or gnarly singletrack,...

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 joy...

Taking a Break from Comments

We've decided to turn off the comments on our Journal for a few months. We really enjoy the interactions with readers and value the discussions, but running one of the more popular cycling sites on the web risks becoming a full-time job. A recent post had 80 comments, and reading...

A Street Named After Lyli Herse

Lyli Herse lived in Boisemont, on the hills above the Seine River. Now the town has named a street after the 8-times French champion. I found out the news when I talked to Lyli's neighbor, who has adopted her dog after Lyli died three years ago. We talk once in...

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 Slower?...

Umtanum Ridge 650B x 55 / 27.5 x 2.2

Ever since we've worked with Lael Wilcox to develop the 29" / 700C Fleecer Ridge dual-purpose knobbies, we've been deluged with requests for 26" and 650B versions with the same noise-cancelling tread pattern. We launched the 26" Humptulips Ridge late last year. Now we're excited to announce the 650B /...

Talk with Ted and Lael about Tires

We've been working with Ted King and Lael Wilcox on developing tires for bikepacking and gravel racing for a few years now. When riders who've registered for Rooted Vermont, Ted and Laura King's big gravel race/ride, asked about tire choice, Ted suggested to bring Lael and me onto their Water...

The Next Revolution: Smaller Wheels

April 1, 2021: Rene Herse is announcing a new wheel size for performance bikes: 13-inch wheels. With a bead seat diameter of 230 mm, the smaller wheels will improve performance by allowing the tires to operate closer to their optimum temperature range. "It's our latest innovation, and another way of...

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 for...

Lael’s Bike

Riding with Lael Wilcox, I was impressed not just by her speed and positive attitude, but also by her efficiency and planning. When we stopped at the small (and sparsely stocked) store in Index, I was still surveying the shelves when Lael was already checking out, having snagged the only...

Rene Herse Cable Hangers

Cable hangers aren't a very exciting topic. We love to talk about derailleurs or brakes, because they are complicated parts with many intricacies. But cable hangers...? And yet they're as important for the performance of your bike. It's small parts like these that can make a big difference when it...

Stop Asian Hate

I never thought of myself as Asian, because I lived in Japan most of my life, where I was just like everybody else. Only when I came to Seattle did I notice that I may look like a stereotypical Asian woman: I'm not very tall; I tend to smile when...

Aerodynamics: Rando vs Racer

A few weeks ago, we talked about the difference between the soon-to-be-illegal 'Super Tuck' and the more stable 'Aero Tuck.' In that discussion, we touched upon the idea that a handlebar bag can act as a fairing and make the bike more aerodynamic. For years, I've noticed that I coast...

The 75th Bicycle Quarterly

The Spring Bicycle Quarterly is at the printer! It's our 75th edition, and we've put together a very special magazine for the occasion. We visit an amazing framebuilder in Japan. Makino-san shows us how his small workshop builds frames of amazing quality and beauty, for professional Keirin track stars, road racers...

The Bike Sauce Reviews our Book

When The Bike Sauce reviewed our book, it came as a surprise. We aren't really part of the book industry, and it's not like we've sent out hundreds of review copies. It's nice to hear that the book meets the target of summarizing all the research that has transformed the...

What Cyclists Say

It's one thing to write a book that the experts enjoy, and you may have read what bike designer Gerard Vroomen (Cervélo/OPEN) and gravel racers Lael Wilcox and Ted King had to say about "The All-Road Bike Revolution." It was great to see that even they learned new things... But...

Why Light Weight?

Recently, a reader asked: "Why are you so focused on saving a gram here or there? For the 99.999% of us who are not professionally racing, but just wanting to get out there and ride, shouldn't the focus be on function and longevity?" Of course, the reader is right – some...

New Products: Technomic Stems, Tire Bead Jack…

We're excited to add a few new products to our program. The Technomic stem is the workhorse among Nitto's stems. Like the top-of-the-line NP, it’s forged from aluminum for ultimate strength. Functionally, the two stems are almost identical. Most of the differences are aesthetic: The NP is polished to an...

A Long, Slow Winter Ride

Winter is a great time for riding in the Cascade Mountains. The high passes are covered in snow, but our favorite roads in the foothills spear far into the deep valleys of the mountains. These are long, cold, hilly rides. Rides that are about getting in a rhythm without stopping,...

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 the...

Riding with Lael

When Lael and Rue came to Seattle late last year, I didn't know what to expect. I mean, I think I know Lael. I've watched her in countless interviews and videos. We've talked on the phone dozens of times. We've worked together to develop two tires, the Fleecer Ridge and...

Live with Path Less Pedaled

Chatting with Russ from Path Less Pedaled about our new book 'The All-Road Bike Revolution' was a fun way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon. Russ asked why we wrote a book, we talked about front-end geometry and the future of 650B. I especially enjoyed Russ' take on bike design,...

Design & Innovation Award for Fleecer Ridge

We're excited that our Fleecer Ridge tires won the 2021 Design & Innovation Award in the Category Off-Road Components. This prestigious European prize is based on real-world testing. The 30-strong, international jury consists of journalists, test riders and engineers who are amongst the most renowned experts in their respective fields....

Optimizing the Cantilever Brake

Cantilever brakes have traditionally been the way to make brakes for bikes with wide tires. Invented by Nicola Barra in 1936, they were the first direct-mount brakes with pivots that attached to the fork blades and seatstays. This eliminated the flex that is inevitable with long brake calipers that reach...

Lael Rides Alaska Scholarship

I’ve dedicated three summers over the past six years to riding all of the major roads in Alaska, some 4,500 miles. What started as a dream to see my home state under my own power and push my limits in endurance has evolved. A condensed backstory – in 2014, I started...

A Winter Ride

January is a great time for riding. A new year is starting, and it's a time for those long, slow miles that build our distance base. After a month of rest, our minds are eager to get out and start preparing for the adventures that will come later in the...

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 the...

Happy New Year!

It's official: A new year has started. As 2020 recedes into the past, we're looking forward to a new year that brings hope and promise. May your 2021 be filled with joy, health and great cycling adventures! Natsuko & Jan

Rides to Remember

It's been a difficult year, but cycling has provided one way to deal with the challenges we've faced. Whether riding alone or with a good friend, it's allowed us to get away from it all, recharge and return with new energy to tackle what lies ahead – and have a...

Video: How a Bicycle Is Made

A reader sent a link to the video "How a Bicycle is Made," filmed in the 1945 at the Raleigh factory in Britain. It's definitely a period piece, but look beyond that, and the 17-minute movie has a lot of interesting content about how bikes were mass-produced. Some production methods...

Humptulips Ridge Tires Are Here

The new Humptulips Ridge 26" x 2.3" knobbies have arrived! Usually, we airship just a few tires for photography, but with so many riders eagerly awaiting these tires, we sent over a few more. We have a small quantity with Standard and Extralight casings (tan sidewalls), as well as the...

Our Holiday Gift Guide

Every year, we enjoy the autumn cycling season, and then, suddenly, the holidays are almost here. And with that, we are looking for gifts for others, and we're being asked what we want ourselves. Gift giving is a wonderful tradition, and Natsuko and I really enjoy gifts that we use...

Gear of the Year Award for Fleecer Ridge

We usually don't expect to get 'Gear of the Year' awards – we don't advertise, since we prefer to spend our resources on R&D and high-end materials rather than marketing. And our products are expensive to make, so we can't send out a lot of review samples, either. We're especially...

Introducing the Humptulips Ridge 26″ Knobbies

It's been a long time coming – the latest of our dual-purpose knobbies, the Humptulips Ridge 26" x 2.3", is in production now. The tires renew our commitment to the 26" wheel size, whether it's for modern all-road bikes like my Firefly or classic mountain bikes that can be a...

NPR Interview: Books, Brakes and Fit

It's always fun to chat with Diane Jenks on her National Public Radio show The Outspoken Cyclist. This week, we talked about our new book and about bike fit, disc vs rim brakes, and the state of the bike industry in the age of Covid. Click here to listen to the...

Behind the Scenes: The All-Road Bike Revolution

For me as an editor, seeing a new book come out is a very special moment, especially if it's a new and challenging project. Before I joined Bicycle Quarterly and Rene Herse Cycles, I edited more than 180 books and magazines, but our latest project, The All-Road Bike Revolution, has...

Natsuko’s Alps

One of the most amazing bikes I've ever seen is Natsuko's Alps. It converts from a cyclotouring bike... ... to a passhunter in less than 10 minutes: just remove fenders and rack, and swap the bars. To disassemble it for Rinko, you need only a single 6 mm Allen wrench for...

My PBP Bike: Lights

Nothing else has changed our riding as much as modern generator hubs and LED lights. When I first started riding the almost-mythical (and now long-defunct) cross-state races in Washington – Cannonball and S2S – I ran a Nightsun battery light. These races started just after midnight in Seattle, so you...

Introducing Rene Herse One-By Cranks

After months of R&D and testing, we're now offering Rene Herse cranks with a 40-tooth one-by chainring. One-by is a great idea: Get rid of the front shifts that always break your rhythm, and you end up with 11 or 12 consecutive gears. For most riders, that's enough for all...

And the Winners Are…

The vote is in, and the winner of the Bicycle Quarterly photo contest is Samuel P's evocative B&W study of his bike during a recent trip. He writes: "I'm a LatinX cyclist from the Bay Area, California. I've been riding since I was five years old. I enjoy cyclotouring and...