Bicycle Quarterly Back Issues

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When we started Bicycle Quarterly almost 12 years ago, I got a phone call from Frank Berto: “I give you two years max. I’ve seen all the others fail. In the mean time, I’ll give you all the help I can.” 

Similar enthusiasm from numerous people enabled us to assemble a great team of contributors, but really, our loyal and engaged readership has been key to our success. We are glad that so many of you have shared our passion. Looking back over almost 12 volumes of Bicycle Quarterly (almost 3000 pages!), we’ve published a lot of neat and timeless material.

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Our very first issue was dedicated to Cycles Alex Singer. We interviewed Ernest Csuka, who started working for his uncle, Alex Singer, in 1944. He talked about the days when a beautiful bike was a status symbol. He reminisced about the cyclotouring rides of the post-war era, before cars began to push bicycles off the roads of France.

In addition to photos from the Singer family, this issue included beautiful Daniel Rebour drawings from a classic Alex Singer catalogue (above). Most readers probably wonder how such an Alex Singer actually rides. To find out, we took a 1962 Alex Singer on a 300 km brevet. We reported how its Nivex derailleur shifted and how its Alex Singer cam-actuated cantilever brakes performed. To date, our first issue remains the most complete look at this famous constructeur.

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Magazine features of inspirational stories of classic builders has remained an important part of Bicycle Quarterly. Paul Charrel (above) set himself the challenge to ride from his home town Lyon to the top of Mont Ventoux and back, a distance of 530 kilometers, in 24 hours. He attempted this half a dozen times, but never succeeded. He did enjoy many other amazing rides, and he built supremely elegant and innovative bikes, as Raymond Henry recounted in Vol. 8, No. 2.

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Our technical research has changed the world of bicycles. Whether it’s tandem geometries, rolling resistance of tires, or the aerodynamics of real-world bicycles (above), much of what we learned has had pronounced influences on mainstream bicycles. The wind tunnel tests showed that wider tires weren’t significantly less aerodynamic than narrow ones, and our tire tests showed that they rolled as fast. When you see racers adopting wider tires today, it’s at least in part due to this research.

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Our research on front-end geometry has been as influential. We challenged the widely held belief that more trail made bikes more stable. Our findings contributed to a more nuanced understanding of steering geometries based on load, tire size and speed. And if you see more and more bikes adopting front racks, it’s because of our research showing that a front load is easier to balance than a rear one, provided the bike’s geometry is designed for it.

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We may have Ph.D.’s and conduct peer-reviewed scientific research, but we are avid cyclists first and foremost. This means that ride stories are our favorite parts of the magazine. An epic race in Arizona in 1894. Riding a 1946 tandem in a recent Paris-Brest-Paris. Exploring gravel roads in the Cascade Mountains. Each ride provides a fresh perspective on how bikes can be enjoyed.

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Better bikes make riding more fun. We’ve tested more than 60 bicycles from a variety of makers. Whether you are in a market for a new bike or just curious, learning about how these bikes ride is bound to be interesting. It’s amazing how much better real-world bicycles have become in the last 12 years!

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We shared our experience in our Randonneuring Basics series: How to train for a long ride? How to pack all you need without overloading your bike? How to make your bike faster? When to pedal and when to coast?

We keep all back issues available, so all our readers can enjoy this timeless content. A few online resources help you find your way around this extensive catalog of back issues:

Order your back issues today – or subscribe – so you can enjoy the wonderful articles that you don’t want to miss!

Which is your favorite Bicycle Quarterly article?

About Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

I love cycling and bicycles, especially those that take us off the beaten path. I edit Bicycle Quarterly magazine, and occasionally write for other publications. One of our companies, Bicycle Quarterly Press publishes cycling books, while Compass Bicycles Ltd. makes and distributes high-quality bicycle components for real-world riders.
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19 Responses to Bicycle Quarterly Back Issues

  1. Lar Davis says:

    Quality of intent, content, and presentation – I find value in every issue, and look forward to sharing them with my bicycle mentor and friends. Well worth the price of the subscription, and a joy to read.

  2. Jason Marshall says:

    Thanks Jan and team for all the great work!

    What are the chances of you binding up and publishing a complete BQ book?

    • That would be a massive book: almost 3000 pages!

      I think your best bet is to take your back issues to a book binder and have them bound. Publishing an entirely new book would be hard, since most of our readers have the back issues already, so there wouldn’t be enough demand to make a print run economically feasible. At least when you buy all back issues, you get one volume free…

  3. marmotte27 says:

    My favourite article? There are too many, but if I had to pick one, I would choose your research into frame stiffness. Ever since I started riding seriously in 2004 and reading bicycle magazines, I’ve had the inkling that there was something profoundly wrong about the stiffer equals better (and more broadly new=good, old=bad etc.) ideology that was in full swing then, pushing out any elegant bicycle designs at the same time. So what a relief to find in your magazine scientific proof of my hunch, along with many other enjoyable articles. You’ve changed my view on cycling, thanks!

  4. RosyRambler says:

    I used to see ads for a magazine called Vintage Bicycle Quarterly every so often and thought “Gee, that sounds interesting, but too expensive.” Several years ago when I finally gave in to my curiosity and subscribed for a year, I didn’t hesitate to order every single back issue. I consider it a wise investment, even though I missed out on the “get one volume free” deal (I think I did. Just kidding either way, Jan. About the free volume deal I mean, definitely not about the wise investment!!)

    Anyone who opens an issue of Bicycle Quarterly and ANY other current cycling magazine and lays them side by side, can immediately see the vast difference in “quality of intent, content, and presentation”, as Lar Davis so succinctly put it. The thing that has impressed me the most with BQ is it’s straightforward and honest (I love the footnotes included in the articles, declaration of who reviews an article, the opportunity of bike builders to respond to reviews, etc.) form of journalism. There’s no telling readers that they “should have, must have, gotta have” this, that, or the other thing. No outrageous proclamations.

    The only bias there is, is towards equipment that has been given thorough, transparent testing and proven to be effective. When Compass Bicycles came along I thought there might be some conflict of interest with it’s connection to BQ. I’m happy to see that has not been the case.

    Jan, I do hope that you continue to print the wonderful articles from “Le Cycliste”, provide more How-To articles, and get more “Builder’s (to) Speak”. I can appreciate the Ph.D contributions as important to the cycling community as a whole, as I consider Bicycle Quarterly to be the 21st Century sister to “Le Cycliste”, and having an important historical place in cycling history, but some of the tech info goes waaay over my head.

    The past several years health problems have drastically limited my riding time, and having Bicycle Quarterly around has helped me get through the non-riding. Hopefully it won’t be too much longer before I can get my copy of your Rene Herse book. And the BQ Blog is almost an online magazine in itself.

    Having said all that, I’m a little embarrassed to say that I prefer BQ in black and white, not color. With B&W I found myself spending more time scrutinizing every inch of the photos, as if I was able to get inside the photo. The color is top notch, as I would have expected it to be coming from BQ, but it doesn’t hold the same interest for me and I’m disappointed with the change. But that’s me, you can’t please everyone.

    Thank you for a fantastic magazine and your contributions to the cycling world!

  5. Brian Gangelhoff says:

    Thanks for all the work!!
    The picture of what you bring on a ride from your last issue reminds me that I spent some time looking for some of those blue Gor tex? mittens that you have and was unable to find anything like them. What brand are they? Where might I find some?
    Thanks
    Brian

    • The Gore-Tex mittens used to be made by OR (Outdoor Research). I don’t think they make them any longer. Last I saw them, they were called the Rain Claw. (We tested a set years ago in Bicycle Quarterly.) The blue ones are the “Lobster Claw” and are a bit lighter, since they don’t have a drawstring. It would be nice if OR started making them again…

      • Doug says:

        I had a pair of those. Very nice because they weren’t insulated. Unfortunately one fell off my bike during a late night ride and when I went to replace it, I found that OR no longer sells them!

        I ended up getting their new version, which has a small amount of insulation. It’s a bit too warm for Seattle, however.

  6. Doug says:

    I was looking at my collection and saw that I’ve been reading your magazine for nearly six years! I have learned a lot about cycling in those years. Not just from your magazine, but my main bike is a total heinemobile. Well, except it’s 700c. Gotta have something to dream about, right?

    Anyways, thanks for putting out the magazine. It’s a valuable resource I refer to often. I would like to add that I consider the color issues to be a lovely improvement, especially for your articles about your rides. Looking forward to the fall 2014 issue!

  7. Bob says:

    One of my favorite features was the interview with Peter Rich of Velo Sport in Berkeley CA (don’t recall the volume #, but it was several years ago). Your magazine picks up where the old Bike World of the 70s left off. It was a good magazine, kind of a refreshing break from the flashy marketing hype that was starting to characterize other cycling magazines. Bicycle Quarterly continues in that vein (emphasis on real world cycling), but goes into much more depth with its technical analysis.

    • David Feldman says:

      Thanks, I interviewed Peter and wrote it up. I have long had an interest in US cycling’s dark age from @ 1940 to 1970 and Peter lived through a lot of that. He’s one of the people without whom many of us wouldn’t have had any clubs to join or guidance to be had.

  8. David Pearce says:

    Favorite? Now you’re asking an impossible task! I suppose I like your Brake Special issue, Winter 2008, but then again, I haven’t ordered all your back issues (Yet! And I hope you printed many extra copies, so many copies that it gets on your nerves and you ask yourself, “Why the heck did I print so many extra copies??!!”).

    On the other hand, I could say I love your Winter 2013 issue best, because it features your great son, riding on & writing on a good quality kid’s bike, and it may be part of the solution getting my 10 & 7 year-old nephews to learn to ride. Your articles are loved for different reasons: Some are inspirational for travel plans, some are explanatory and instructional, some are historical, reminding us that many of the things we think we’re thinking up now have previously been considered by avid minds in the past, and we can see farther because we stand on their shoulders. We love the articles because cycling is one of main all-encompassing parts of life, from technical decisions about the right parts for the task, to traveling on a tour or a ride, to bringing home the groceries.

  9. Dave says:

    I have enjoyed all of the articles dealing with frame flex/mechanical feedback, and frame geometry.
    Seeing the geometry of good bike designs on paper helps give a “how” to why these bikes ride well.

  10. Steve Palincsar says:

    My favourite is the series on front end geometry and handling. That was downright revolutionary: like we woke up one morning and suddenly it was The Renaissance.

  11. Paul Richard says:

    Jan,
    The writing style in BQ has had a lasting influence on me. I’ve tried to learn from the straightforward readability, and I try to use the same elements in my own technical writing at work. But the real treats are the ride reports. Some favorites: “Boggle Hole and Back” (Vol. 11 No. 3), “The Raid Pyreneen” (Vol. 10 No. 2), “Two Friends, Two Bicycles, 100 Hills” (Vol 4. No. 2), and “Riding the Mountains on a 1952 Jo Routens” (Vol. 3, No. 2). BQ is a real treasure. I’m happy you’ve dedicated your talents to sharing it with us!

  12. Alan Williams says:

    Have you done a winter test on “Fat Bikes” yet? My friends and I all ride through the Chicago winters and love the snow. Mtn. and Cross bikes are what we ride, and a few of us have studded tires for the Mtn. Bikes. I would love to know how a Puglsey type of bike would perform on deep snow and bumpy, hard-packed snow and ice. Would one be worth the investment?

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