What Cyclists Say

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 really, our goal was to create a book that is fun and accessible to all cyclists.

JaBig is a DJ by profession. He’s also an accomplished rider who has cycled across Canada twice and who was on a round-the-world trip when Covid hit, but he’s not someone who worries about a degree in seat angle or half a watt lost in a derailleur pulley. I didn’t even know he had bought the book until he contacted me and wrote: “Thank you for writing such an excellent guide. It’s so well-written and I am grateful that you kept it simple. I take my time reading it, because I don’t want it to end. I have learned sooooo much and feel confident to discuss bike matters even with experts.”

I was very happy when I read this. The biggest challenge for this project was to create a book that explains the complex nature of how bicycles work, yet remains approachable for cyclists who, like JaBig, “just like to ride my bike and that’s it.”

We also sent a copy to our editor at Rizzoli, who published “The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles” and “The Competition Bicycle,” We just wanted to show them what we’re up to these days, and we didn’t really expect anybody there to read it in great detail… Again, there was a surprise message:

“I got the book! I absolutely love it. Really, really well done. My girlfriend is already sick of me talking about it. I was surprised, since of course I was expecting something larger and photographic, closer to the Herse book or Golden Age, etc. But this is a really brilliant surprise. I’m only just getting into Part 2, so plenty to read yet; but the book seems to me like something you can enjoy reading in solid sittings, but also that you can come back to as a reference again and again.”

We didn’t even know our editor was a cyclist, but he continued:

“Finally I have a book that means I don’t have to scour odd web sites for specialist bits of technical information; and finally it’s written and designed in a way that’s easy and charming and fun. The design is excellent, the illustrations are great, and I love the blue – fantastic idea.”

Our goal was to create a book that would be informative and enjoyable for cyclists of all backgrounds. Getting these messages was the most wonderful feedback we could have imagined.

Further reading:

The All-Road Bike Revolution

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Comments (22)

  • Zach

    Nice write up. Just curious how he went about contacting you? I haven’t seen any easy way to contact anyone at RH other than post sales warranty. Thanks for clarifying when possible.

    February 23, 2021 at 7:22 am
    • Jan Heine

      I’ve been in touch with JaBig from when we featured him in this Journal. And we’ve worked with Rizzoli, so they have my contact as well.

      February 24, 2021 at 8:17 am
  • Ford Kanzler

    Your book has done something exceptional. The content it holds is unavailable anywhere else in a single place. The book serves to further differentiate your brand from competitors. This is valuable for the cycling community and your business. Fine work done by you and your team. What’s next?

    February 23, 2021 at 7:29 am
  • Jean-Francois Rioux

    I also want to say thank you for writing such a great book! I’m far from a pro but cycling keep me sane in this busy world. I’ve been cycling all my life and love to ride. I also love the “tool” we ride on! Bicycles are wonderful machines. I have an even better appreciation for it after subscribing and reading Bicycle Quarterly for the last few years. I pre-ordered the All-Road Bike Revolution book last Fall, got it in November, read it in a few weeks and now I’m referring to it often while preparing for the next season… winter is long and rude for cyclists here in Quebec, Canada, but your book helps make it bearable while waiting an preparing my bikes for the new cycling season!

    February 23, 2021 at 7:36 am
  • Scott Hamilton

    I just received this wonderful book. As part of my personal mid-life crisis I’m planning a cross country jaunt as soon as I get MY shot. This book has me rethinking some of my long held beliefs and changing my plan a bit. Well done! For anyone suffering through midwinter/pandemic blues, this book is the antidote to get off the couch or trainer and go out and ride in our wonderful rain! Just what the Dr ordered.

    February 23, 2021 at 8:03 am
  • Mark Petry

    All right, I’m ordering it !

    February 23, 2021 at 8:57 am
  • yipyf

    Hello Jan,

    I read your book and found the discussion on planing most interesting. This along with some comments I saw on youtube that Tom Ritchey made about how most carbon fiber bicycles being too stiff got me to thinking. The conclusions are intuitively obvious in retrospect but I could never figure out why my old all-steel racing bicycle still seems to fit me better than all the newer bikes I’ve bought and ridden. It would appear that bicycles should be designed to flex like golf clubs, or tennis rackets, or hockey sticks. How to define the optimal flex? It is whatever flex one is able to ‘work’ efficiently and this depends on the rider and the purpose.

    The overall flex pattern of a bicycle is determined primarily by the fork. According to Ritchey, carbon forks are made stiff to pass safety standards. With fiber composites, the fail mode is abrupt. So generally, they are designed not to fail at all. To make a part with much higher yield strength, it needs to be stiffer. That is, the likelihood of failing is lowered if the resin matrix deforms. I imagine it is possible to make a reliable carbon fiber part with a good flex pattern; but it is likely far more expensive to manufacture. The stiff fork in turn requires the head tube area of the frame to be stiffer and this explains the need for all the ‘compliance’ engineering: wide tires (I know, these have other benefits), very thin curved top tubes, suspension in the headset, thin seat stays, ultra-flexible seat posts, and so on. Disk brakes on a road bike push all of this further in the wrong direction. The flex pattern on these bikes is just all wrong. It’s like compensating for a too-stiff ski with some flexible bits in all the wrong places. Aside: you guys tell me but I can’t work the flex on the front end of any carbon fork bike the same way that I can on my old steel race bike.

    A steel fork, OTOH, is normally designed to yield at some lower limit. In a bad crash, it is the crumple zone that absorbs energy to save both you and the frame. This beneficial fail mode is not possible with fiber composites. BTW, this is also true of forged aluminum vs carbon fiber for rims. You can safely, reliably, and cost-effectively design/manufacture a steel fork (and frameset) with a much longer elastic travel: the bike flex that you can ‘work’. It is the key starting point to obtaining the proper flex pattern for any particular rider and purpose. From there, the rest of the frameset can be further customized. The weight penalty to carbon fiber is about 1 lb for the fork and another 1-2 lbs for the frame and this will matter for some racing events. But, you sacrifice a lot for those 2-3 lbs.

    I have been on bikes since about the time of 1st fiber composites. In fact, I had a good friend at the time who repaired his own frames actually tried to make his own monocoque. I’m also a materials engineer. But most relevantly, I ride a lot and am highly-trained in the dark arts of common sense. I think the experiment with fiber composites has been very interesting and many good things have come from it. But, I don’t believe it has proven itself to be a step forward from steel (or metal more generically). Experimenting with fiber composites and disk brakes is great and I’m not the sort to ever discourage exploration. But I am becoming somewhat concerned about, what to me appears to be, the extreme prevalence of those systems to the exclusion of alternatives. The industry is all tooled up to mass produce monocoque fiber composites. Not surprisingly, that’s what’s being sold – hard. Where does the mind go while grinding up a climb … I have this odd fantasy about someone designing a lightweight steel fork so good that carbon fiber frame owners begin installing it to solve their ride quality and safety problems. It’s rim brake only.

    Best regards

    February 23, 2021 at 9:29 am
    • Mark

      I have a custom built steel French randonneur style bike. 790c x 38 mm. It rides very nicely. I had a 2016 Trek Domane on 700c x 32 mm, disc brakes. Apart from the wheel flop, it too rode very nicely. Smooth as butter. It had flex built into the steerer tube and the seat mast. I understand that one of the advantages of carbon fiber is that it can be engineered to flex, eg, in plane wings and boat masts. There’re many carbon frames, seat posts, and saddles designed to flex. Although my experience is that carbon is vulnerable to side strikes—eg, falling against something sharp—it does seem to be able to be designed to flex at least safely enough that manufacturers aren’t going out of business from law suits. Can anyone explain?

      February 24, 2021 at 3:24 am
      • yipyf

        Avoidance of law suits (safety standards) is precisely why the typical carbon bike is too stiff in the wrong places – per Ritchey no less. There are plenty of bits that flex, just not the right bits.

        More than comfort – there’s a performance element. Jan’s explanation of planing describes how good technique stores energy in the flex of the bike from the power stroke to be recovered around the dead spot. But this needs to be stored it the main spring of the bike (fork cantilever + frame torsion) where it can be re-used to act on the crank, not places like the seatpost. A bike is a like a spring that you work to transfer power to the tires. A spring that’s too firm is hard to load, hard to modulate, hard to work efficient power transfer. This is the optimization problem. For performance, the industry sells stiffer is better. It’s not. You want flex that you can work effectively.

        February 25, 2021 at 10:51 pm
        • Jan Heine

          One big problem is having carbon forks made to very exacting specs. It is probably possible to design a carbon fork that flexes in the middle of the blades, while it’s stiff near the crown where breakage could occur, but it requires very precise control of the wall thicknesses. With carbon, that is hard to do, and even harder to check non-destructively. With metal, this is much easier – since you are just pushing metal around when you butt, swage and otherwise manipulate the tubes.

          February 26, 2021 at 3:09 pm
  • Peter

    Is the book only available on your website? As the shipping cost to Europe is the same as the price for the book I’m searching for an alternative here in Europe.

    February 23, 2021 at 9:42 am
    • Jan Heine

      Try our European distributors: 2-11 Cycles (France), Dailybread Cycles (Germany), Sven Cycles (UK), Just Pedal (Benelux), Tactac (Switzerland). Most of them should have the book in stock.

      February 23, 2021 at 10:16 am
    • Johannes

      Peter, have a look at fahrradbuch.de.

      February 25, 2021 at 5:36 am
  • Andrew Black

    I have just designed a frame for front-loaded touring for myself. I started with your “Porteur and Camping Bikes” geometry (p103), and adjusted for my body shape. One thing that I noticed in studying your suggested geometries is that the text and figures don’t always agree. For example, in the text for your Campeur, your say “a trail figure of 40mm works well”, but your suggested geometry has a trail of 46mm (assuming 650B wheels and 42mm tires, not specified in the figure). Similarly, the text describing your suggested geometry for a Randonneuse says “its geometric trail is reduced to 39mm”, but the figures show trails of 29mm for the 650B model, and 41mm for the 700C model. I calculated the trail of your “City Bike” as 43mm, but your figure shows it as 45mm.

    I’ve probably studied these sample geometries much more closely than the average reader, and these small discrepancies in no way spoiled the reading experience. I was particularly interested to learn of Pneumatic trail, which was a new concept to me. So, thank you very much for producing the book. Maybe these small discrepancies can be fixed for the second edition — for which I’m sure there will be demand. (That would let you fix the odd/even page mixup too 😉

    February 23, 2021 at 10:57 am
    • Jan Heine

      Your calculations overlook the tire sag due to the load of the rider. Generally, you want to inflate your tires so that they sag about 10-15% of their height, so a 42 mm tire actually is about 35-37 mm tall, not 42 mm. Fortunately, these small differences don’t really affect how a bike rides, but they do affect pedal strike if you don’t account for it when making a bike for wide tires… As to the page numbers on the inside of the book, that’s intentional and part of the design. (It also makes the book easier to read on a bus or train, since you don’t have to hold it flat while reading.)

      February 23, 2021 at 12:47 pm
      • Andrew Black

        You are absolutely right when you say that a 42mm tire is actually less than 42mm tall. But since the wheel size is in the numerator of the expression for trail, this actually makes the calculated trail less than is shown in the figures. In other words, taking tire sag into account makes the discrepancy bigger, not smaller. For your Citybike, if I calculate the trail with a 36mm-tall tire, I get 41.2mm, not the 45mm shown in the figure. I would need a 47mm-tall tire to get a trail of 45mm.

        For your Racing, Cyclocross, Monstercross, and Randonneuse designs, the calculated trail (rounded to the nearest mm) agrees exactly with what is printed in the figures. It’s just for the Campeur and the City Bike that the trail calculated from your dimensions, the trail in the drawings, and the trail in the text all differ.

        February 23, 2021 at 9:41 pm
        • Jan Heine

          I looked at my notes. We didn’t account for tire sag on the city bike, because it’s hard to estimate what it will be. You can’t get 15% tire sag on a bike that carries most of its load on the rear, as the tire will collapse under hard braking, when the weight all shifts to the front. And with more sag on the rear, the head angle will also get slightly shallower, which increases trail. We decided to just use uncorrected figures. The camping bike also has a significant load on the rear.

          You’re right, there’s a minor typo in the text for the randonneur bike. We switched the geometry drawing for one that was closer in size to the others in this chapter, and we forgot to adjust the text. These geometries are all based on real bikes we’ve measured, so there are some variations. Whether 39 mm or 41 mm trail, those bikes ride the same…

          In the real world, a millimeter or two of trail won’t matter, especially since these geometries are chosen so that they aren’t near a threshold where small changes can have large effects.

          February 25, 2021 at 10:49 am
  • Eric Trouillot

    The timing of the publication of the All-Road Bike Revolution book was great timing for me as I have recently ordered a custom bike with Cycles Victoire where I grew up. As I am working with them to design my perfect adventure ride I find the content of the book super helpful for me in understanding the intricacies of conceptualizing a bicycle. It’s an easy read and I have learned so much. I am now reading it for a 2nd time and picking up more info along the way. This book is definitely helpful for my project as I am adjusting my thoughts and decisions on what I want along the way. Great job with this book!

    February 23, 2021 at 11:24 am
  • Eric

    Hello Jan ,
    is anybody in Australia stocking your book it sounds interesting .
    The postage is more than the book

    February 24, 2021 at 4:02 am
    • Jan Heine

      Try Commuter Cycles in Victoria – they carry many of our products and may have some copies of the book left. Otherwise, I promise that even at double the price, you’ll find ‘The All-Road Bike Revolution’ worth it. International shipping is just expensive – that goes the other way, too, when we Americans order books from Australia, Europe or Japan.

      February 24, 2021 at 8:24 am
  • Yusuf Aziz

    Hallo Jan,
    wann erscheint es übersetzt in deutscher Sprache?
    Grüße aus dem Schwarzwald

    February 24, 2021 at 9:30 pm
    • Jan Heine

      Die deutsche Ausgabe soll im Juni erscheinen. (The German edition will appear in June.)

      February 25, 2021 at 10:41 am

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