Winter 2017 Bicycle Quarterly

Winter 2017 Bicycle Quarterly

The new Bicycle Quarterly is shipping now – subscribers should have their copies in a few weeks. Many of our readers already have enjoyed the video of our tandem trip to the French Alps. Taking an unrestored 70-year-old bike on a challenging tour was full of adventure. Natsuko writes about her first tandem ride, and a companion article explains why this old tandem performed so well.

Even further off the beaten path, Gerolf Meyer and three friends ride their bikes across the Balkans. They encounter grandiose landscapes, plenty of gravel, and fascinating cultures. Reading their story will make you want to pack up your bike and head to Bulgaria, Macedonia and Greece.

Adventure bikes are one of the biggest trends in bicycles. What happens when you increase the tire size beyond what fits into a road frame? To find out, we ride the Rawland Ulv, a randonneur bike designed for 80 mm tires.

Seattle’s 333fab offers the hand-built AirLandSea as ‘one bike to do it all.’ We ride it high into the Cascade Mountains on a quest to re-discover Jack Pass, which was cut off when a river jumped its banks and washed out the road. How does this bike designed for ultra-wide tires handle the different conditions encountered during this adventure?

Shimano has grown from humble beginnings to dominate the bicycle component market. How did Shimano achieve its current status? We visit the company’s headquarters for an inside look at the company. Our journey takes us not only to the beginning of Japan’s cycling industry, but to the roots of Japanese metalworking when we visit a maker of traditional knives, who works not far from Shimano’s global headquarters.

Shimano’s famous ‘7400’ Dura-Ace group represents a pivotal point in Shimano’s history. For the first time, Japanese components were as good as, or better than, anything else in the world in every aspect: function, quality, finish, and even marketing. And yet to me, the ‘7400’ always has looked like the group that Campagnolo should have made to replace its famous Super Record – especially the cranks bear an uncanny resemblance. During our research, we talk to those involved in the development and learn that this is closer to the truth than we imagined.

We report on the Firefly after two years and use the opportunity to test different wheel sizes – above with a 650B front and 26″ rear wheel. Does the handling of a bike remain the same, as long as you keep the outer diameter of the wheels (and thus the front-end geometry) the same? Or are there other factors to consider?

Our report on the Bicycle Quarterly Un-Meeting takes you right into the action of this fun-filled weekend, with many photos of the different riders and bikes that came together to enjoy a weekend of riding with old and new friends.

For my last big ride of the year, I take the superlight J. P. Weigle from the Concours de Machines across the Southern Alps of Japan. My plan was simple: Take the first train from Tokyo to one side of the mountain range, then catch the last train on the other side. In between are four big mountain passes that reach high into the clouds. Failure means sleeping on a bench outside the station in the cold night. Will the performance of the bike and the form of my legs be enough to make it?

Adventures are rides that have unknown outcomes. There is plenty of adventure in the Winter Bicycle Quarterly. Searching the limits of 80 mm-wide tires resulted in a big splash…

…but we also discovered that how great the rewards of heading into the unknown can be.
Subscribe today to get the Winter Bicycle Quarterly. Or if your relatives or friends are looking for the perfect present, suggest a gift subscription to Bicycle Quarterly.
Click here for a full table of contents of this issue.

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Comments (8)

  • lbc

    Was that the XL size Rawland Ulv?

    December 7, 2017 at 3:39 pm
  • Bill Lindsay

    I used this as my reminder to renew my subscription. I hope I did it in time to be on the Winter mailing list.

    December 7, 2017 at 5:28 pm
  • Jon Blum

    An earlier generation of Dura-Ace (I am thinking mid-1970s) bore an even more striking resemblance to the Nuovo Record components of the time, right down to the flutes in the spider arms (which to be fair were a subtly different shape). Not that Shimano was the only one copying Campagnolo’s designs; some Sugino and Zeus models were similar.
    I think the pedals in the photo were made by Look. I have a pair of similar (Ultegra) pedals that say “made in France” right on them. They use standard Look Delta cleats. My assumption is that Shimano contracted with Look to produce their pedals until they came up with their own designs. That might be another interesting story.

    December 9, 2017 at 2:04 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      Correct – we did see a beautiful lineup of bikes with early generations of Dura-Ace when we visited Shimano. (I told them I was researching Dura-Ace, and they pulled them out of their museum’s stores for us!) It was interesting to see how Shimano first copied the state of the art, then tried to innovate with mixed results (remember the ‘aerodynamic’ aero group), before redefining the state of the art in road bike components with a group that looked fairly conservative, but took the function to a new level (indexed shifting, rear derailleur with slant paralellogram AND two spring-loaded pivots, etc.)
      And yes, Shimano’s first clipless pedals were made by Look. It’s funny that the Dura-Ace pedals were way sleeker than Look’s own pedals at the time. Look only introduced a ‘nice-looking’ pedals with the 1990 (?) Carbon Pro, but that is another story again!

      December 9, 2017 at 7:07 pm
      • Mark

        Just a question about the tandem. I meant to ask this in the entry with the video of you riding; the photoon the front of the new BQ reminded me: you appear to have the tandem loaded most heavily at the back. Does the “rule” of putting the heavier panniers at the front not hold for tandems? Or does your stoker’s lighter weight compensate so that you have more or less 50:50 weight distribution? My (not very good and high trail) tandem with 26″ tyres rides best with a loaded front end.

        December 10, 2017 at 10:13 pm
        • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

          The tandem predates the wide adoption of low-rider racks. (They were used in the Concours de Machines, but not on touring bikes until the early 1950s.) So the big rack is on the rear, and that is where the big panniers fit. After the first day, we placed all our heavy stuff in the front panniers, and the tandem handled a lot better. It would have been even better without any rear bags, but we needed the capacity. When we rode the tandem empty back up a mountain pass to see off our photographer, it was even better than what you see in the video.

          December 10, 2017 at 10:34 pm
  • Frank

    Hi, this video on French/German TV station Arte provides some interesting background on the history of the Vercors region, where you took the Herse tandem:
    Online till Dec 17, 2017, German or French language.
    All the best

    December 11, 2017 at 6:52 am

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