Category Archives: Testing and Tech

Why We Don’t Need Rain Bikes Any Longer

I moved from Texas to Seattle 20 years ago and continued to ride and train year-round. At first, I refused to use fenders. I did not want to spoil the beautiful lines of my racing bike. After one miserably wet … Continue reading

Posted in Fenders, Our Bikes, Testing and Tech | 77 Comments

Ride the Bike You Have

“You ride the bike you have, not the bike you might want or wish to have at a later time,” said a famous secretary of defense. (More or less. He was talking about armies, not bikes, but both are tools … Continue reading

Posted in Our Bikes, Testing and Tech | 18 Comments

How to Choose Your Chainrings

When we received another shipment of René Herse cranks recently, we built up and filled our pre-orders first. Some are shown above. All the cranks shown have different setups, except two. (Can you spot the two identical ones?) There are … Continue reading

Posted in Rene Herse cranks, Testing and Tech | 23 Comments

Bike Tests: Design Specifics vs. Intended Use

There are two common yet different approaches to testing products: You can compare design specifics. For example, you test hybrid bikes with disc brakes. Or in the car world, mid-size SUVs. You figure out which company makes the best one … Continue reading

Posted in Testing and Tech | 23 Comments

Suspension Losses

Suspension losses often are overlooked, but they are an important factor in tire performance. When we first tested the performance of tires in a roll-down test, we found that very high pressures offer almost no improvements of performance. This contradicted … Continue reading

Posted in Bicycle Quarterly Back Issues, Testing and Tech | 74 Comments

A Versatile Performance Bike

In last week’s post, I talked about the joys of riding a performance bike. In the mainstream, “performance” means a racing bike, despite the limitations that go along with narrow tires, lack of fenders, etc. Unfortunately, many of the “alternatives” … Continue reading

Posted in Testing and Tech | 82 Comments

Science and Bicycles: Designing Experiments

Designing scientific experiments requires a lot of thought, if you want to arrive at useful results. Most studies of bicycles fall into two categories, which I’ll call observation-based and measurement-based. Observation-based studies starts with an observation. In our case, we … Continue reading

Posted in Testing and Tech | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

LED Replacement Bulbs for Headlights?

LEDs have revolutionized generator-powered bicycle lighting. They are bright, use less power, tend to last (almost) forever, and easily can be combined with a standlight. However, many riders prefer the elegant shapes of classic taillights. Combining LEDs with classic taillights … Continue reading

Posted in Product News, Testing and Tech | 2 Comments

Choosing a Builder for Your Bike

When you choose a builder for your bike, consider their experience with the type of bike you plan to order. Above is one of the first “compact” cars made in the United States during the early 1970s. Seeing that smaller … Continue reading

Posted in Testing and Tech | 12 Comments

Bicycle Quarterly: Performance of Tires

Perhaps the most influential topic in Bicycle Quarterly has been our research on the resistance of tires, first published in Vol 5, No. 1 (above). It is not a coincidence that 5 years after that issue was published, professional racers … Continue reading

Posted in Bicycle Quarterly Back Issues, Testing and Tech, Tires | 50 Comments

New Dura-Ace: Inspired by Classic Technology?

A few days ago Shimano presented their new Dura-Ace group. Many reports focused on Shimano finally matching Campagnolo with 11-speed rear cassettes. To me, other features are more significant: The group reintroduces a lot of classic technology. Look at the … Continue reading

Posted in Testing and Tech | 22 Comments

Preventing Flat Tires: One Year of Tire Wipers

Supple tires with relatively thin tread greatly contribute to the joys of cycling. They roll much faster and are more comfortable. However, they also tend to be more prone to punctures. On the other hand, “flat-resistant” tires are harsh and … Continue reading

Posted in Testing and Tech, Tires | 36 Comments

If it so good, why don’t the racers use it?

A common objection to some of Bicycle Quarterly’s findings is: “If xyz is so good, why don’t the racers use it?” Whether it’s wide tires at lower pressures or front-end geometries, some of what we find to work best is … Continue reading

Posted in Testing and Tech | 47 Comments

Rim Weight

At Compass Bicycles, we are not obsessive gram counters, but none of us want to carry extra weight on our bikes. A few grams here and there add up quickly to a couple of pounds, and that can make a … Continue reading

Posted in hubs/rims, Testing and Tech | 52 Comments

Aerodynamics of Real-World Bicycles

Wind resistance is one of the most important resistances a cyclist has to overcome (together with the rolling resistance of the tires). Most wind tunnel testing has been done for time trial equipment, but aerodynamics are important for real-world riders … Continue reading

Posted in Bicycle Quarterly Back Issues, Testing and Tech | 43 Comments

To grease or not to grease?

Should one grease the tapers of bottom bracket spindles before installing the cranks? Few topics spur as much controversy among bike mechanics as this question. In the old days, Campagnolo not only recommended mounting the cranks dry, they even suggested … Continue reading

Posted in Bottom brackets, Rene Herse cranks, Testing and Tech | 27 Comments

April 1: Taking Off Fenders

Spring is here at last, and so this weekend we took the fenders off our car. While we were at it, we also removed the lights. We don’t use the car much in the rain or after dark, and we … Continue reading

Posted in Fenders, Testing and Tech | 59 Comments

650B Tubulars?

650B wheels have been in the news lately. 650B appears to be the “next big thing” for mountain bikes. The popular 700C mountain bikes (“29er”) don’t offer the nimble handling you need in technical terrain – the same result we … Continue reading

Posted in Testing and Tech, Uncategorized | 21 Comments

Frames Going Soft?

When talking to older cyclists and builders, you sometimes hear that old frames lose their stiffness. This apparently manifests itself in reduced performance – the “snap” is gone from the acceleration when you step on the pedals. On the upside, … Continue reading

Posted in Testing and Tech | 43 Comments

Vision vs. Focus Group

In today’s world, it is crucial for companies to listen to their customers. Give customers what they want, and you’ll be successful, the reasoning goes. Combine that with the economies of scale of mass production, and most manufacturers chase the … Continue reading

Posted in Product News, Testing and Tech | 28 Comments