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 really enjoy the many letters that say “I love Bicycle Quarterly, and you guys have changed the way I ride!” However, publishing them would amount to self-congratulation, and add little new material to the discussion.
Sometimes, readers ask specific technical questions, like: “Should I choose 700C or 650B wheels for my new bike?” Unfortunately, we cannot answer these questions, because there are too many variables involved. They are best addressed to a bike builder, a bike fitter, or perhaps an internet forum like the i-Bob list. You may also look through the index of Bicycle Quarterly back issues. The back issues contain a lot of information that will help you make your decision.
A letter that says: “I read your article on mounting handlebar bags, and decided to build my own rack. Here is a photo.” is of interest to our readers, especially if the photo shows something different from what our article recommended.
If somebody adds a detail to an article, like a date to a historical article, we will publish that contribution, unless it’s obviously in error. Personal experiences – say a reader who visited the shop of a builder we portrayed – also are wonderful contributions.
As with all cutting-edge research, our findings can be controversial. We are well-aware of that, and we welcome open discussions of our methods, data and interpretations. If a reader disagrees with our findings, and spells out why, they are almost guaranteed to have their letter published. (If they prefer to write an entire article that rebuts our findings, the article will be published if it makes it through our standard outside review process, that is, if it is well-researched and if the data presented supports the conclusions.)
I consider Bicycle Quarterly’s “Readers’ Forum” an essential part of the magazine. It is part of the two-way flow of information that connects us with the community of our readers.

6 Responses to Letters to the Editor

  1. Ross August 17, 2011 at 11:38 pm #

    Well, here’s something that falls into “doesn’t add to the discussion”: love you, Jan (and co.)! Thanks a bunch.

  2. Karl Amadeus August 18, 2011 at 3:59 am #

    How do you get your “My Favorite Bicycle” Section at the end of each issue? Are these people you know, or readers that send you these small articles “unasked”? I’d love to contribute with my favorite Bicycle!
    Karl, Vienna, AUSTRIA

    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly August 18, 2011 at 7:00 am #

      Some of them we solicit, but most are just sent in by readers. We try to have a bike featured that either provides a counterpoint to the bikes we had in the magazine, or one that adds to it. So please send your bike and story!

  3. TS Wu August 18, 2011 at 9:35 am #

    All sound like good criteria.
    And, thank you for your attention to grammar and spelling. In this day and age of “web” English, it’s rare to find a place where, for example, the apostrophe is properly honored.
    A quick question: in this quarter’s issue, you have a photo montage of various bikes and riders. I believe it’s part of the article about how you do bike reviews. There’s one with a man on a bike with flat bars and a large front rack with a sizable load. Can you tell us what bike this is? It’s nifty!

  4. DKNHCAGrandPrix August 21, 2011 at 5:24 pm #

    More of a letter to the audience, on Sunday Aug 21:
    Paris Brest Paris is underway, and you can track Jan’s progress on this classic ride by entering frame number “1900” at the PBP website:
    Looks like Jan completed the first 221 km stage at an average of 28.4 km/hr, and is now riding through the first night.