René Herse Book: UK and German Shipping


Our René Herse book is a big book: 424 pages! That is 2.5 times as thick as The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles. We didn’t plan it that way, but the René Herse story has so many fascinating parts, and the Herse family archives contained so many wonderful photos that we wanted to include. In fact, when I look through the left-over photos, I often think: “This is a great photo. Why didn’t we include it?” (Four of my favorites are included as ready-to-frame prints with the Limited Edition of the book.) I think we made the right choice, and in any case nobody has complained that the book is too big or contains too much text or too many photos.

The downside of the René Herse book being so big is that it is heavy: 6 pounds (2.7 kg). Heavy books easily get damaged in shipping (their corners are no stronger than those of lighter books, but there is much more mass to cause havoc). We designed special packaging to ensure the book will survive mailing. The weight also means that shipping the book to international readers is expensive. We are lucky that the U.S. Postal Service has a “Flat Rate” service, but even so, it costs $ 60 to ship one book to destinations outside North America. Ouch!


We found a temporary solution for customers in the United Kingdom and Germany. We’ve been airfreighting Bicycle Quarterly directly to Britain and Germany for a few years now. Friends of the magazine then re-posts the magazines, which has allowed us to keep our international subscription rates at a reasonable level. For the next shipment, we will include the orders for the René Herse book from UK and German customers. The shipping costs will reduced by half ($ 30). You can also order our other books to be included in the shipment, as well as back issues of Bicycle Quarterly.

To use this offer and have your book included in the shipment, we must receive your order by Friday (Nov. 29) at 5 p.m. (Greenwich time). The order must be shipped to a UK or German address. We’ve made a special order page for these orders of our books. Click here to place your order. The prices on that page include shipping already. (If you order multiple books and we find that shipping is even less expensive, we’ll refund the excess.)

You should receive your book in early December. Click here for more information about the René Herse book, or click here for reviews of the book.

Sorry, we cannot extend this offer to other international destinations, because the airfreight costs are so high that there wouldn’t be any savings in the end.

Posted in books | 4 Comments

Choosing Your Headlight


We just got our first shipment of the new Schmidt Edelux II headlights.

The Edelux II and the B&M IQ Cyo Premium really have raised the bar in headlight design. Their wide, even beams make night riding at any speed even more pleasant. At the same time, older versions of these and other lights continue to be available, some on close-out at enticing prices. For many riders, they offer a great light at an affordable price. All these headlights provide exceptional illumination as a part of a generator-powered system.

A full review of the new Edelux II, the B&M Luxos U and the B&M Eyc headlights is in the Winter 2013 Bicycle Quarterly. Here is a brief overview over the headlights that Compass Bicycles sells. Click on the links for more information or to order:


Schmidt Edelux II: You cannot do better than this. It uses the best optics in a sturdy and beautifully machined housing. The LED is placed with precision, so every light is perfect. (With plastic lights, you get a little variability from one light to the next.) The glass lens is scratch-proof and has an anti-glare coating on the inside to reduce light absorption. If you  do a lot of night riding, the Edelux II is definitely a worthwhile investment.


B&M IQ Cyo Premium: With the same beam as the Edelux II, the IQ Cyo Premium offers 90% of the performance at 60% of the price. The plastic housing isn’t as pretty, and you have to be careful not to overtighten the mounting bolt. (The plastic mounting eye can split.) It’s a great light for serious night-time riding.


Schmidt Edelux I: The original Edelux offers the same appearance and quality as the new model at a closeout price. The beam has been good enough for fast night-time descents on gravel roads. Especially in urban settings with light pollution, you’ll be hard pressed to notice the difference to the new lights. If this appeals to you, get one while they last! The Edelux I also is available for “hanging attachment” (shown above), which is useful is you want to mount your headlight underneath the handlebars or underneath a front rack.


B&M IQ Cyo: The original IQ Cyo still is available at an unbeatable price. You get what was a state-of-the-art light just a few months ago for the price of a budget light. Just like the Edelux I, it remains a smart choice for riders who don’t often descent mountain passes at night.


B&M Eyc: They Eyc is the lightest real headlight available today. It offers a very good beam – very similar to the original IQ Cyo/Edelux – at a very competitive price. I would have no qualms doing Paris-Brest-Paris with this light, and for a bike that sees only occasional night-time use, it offers amazing performance for its weight and price.


B&M Lyt: The Lyt is a good light for around-town riding. It’s the least expensive light we sell, so if you are on a budget, it’s a great choice. Even this basic LED light offers much more light and a better beam shape than the best halogen lights of old.

At Compass Bicycles, we only sell what we consider the best products, based on our own on-the-road experience. I believe that our program features a headlight for almost every application. If you still use battery-powered headlights with poorly shaped beams and questionable reliability, now is a great time to upgrade to a generator-powered system. You won’t regret it!

Click here for more information on these headlights and the generator hubs that power them.

Posted in Lighting | 18 Comments

Gift Ideas


With the holidays approaching, many relatives and friends wonder what to give their favorite cyclist. So here are some great gift ideas. Forward them to anybody who asks “What would you like for …” Click on the links for more info.

For the cyclist who just loves riding:


Bicycle Quarterly is a gift your cyclist will enjoy over the entire year. The magazine provides inspiration for rides, tests great products, explores fascinating history, and is simply an overall good read. Now it’s in color, too. The most common complaint is that it does not appear often enough! We also offer back issues, in case your cyclist already has a subscription. $32

For the cyclist who enjoys a great story:


René Herse • The Bikes • The Builder • The Riders takes you into the world of René Herse: Beautiful bikes, meticulously crafted and ridden in amazing events. Whether touring, randonneuring, cyclocross, racing or just riding to work, these riders enjoyed the friendships they forged through cycling. Includes studio photos of 20 René Herse bikes and hundreds of historic photos. 424 pages, hardcover. $86

Signed Limited Edition comes in a slipcase and includes four ready-to-frame prints. $185

“I can hardly put it down. This book is so much more than I expected.”
Constance Winters, Lovely Bicycle


Our posters feature two of our favorite photos from the René Herse book. Enjoy these wonderful images on your wall. Large (23″ x 32″) posters printed on coated stock and varnished for protection. Choice of two images. $20 each or $35 for both

For the cyclist who loves looking at beautiful bikes:


Our Calendar of Classic Bicycles 2014 features beautiful studio photographs of classic bicycles. A magnificent René Herse on the cover leads into a year’s worth of racing machines and cyclotouring bikes. $15 (Quantities are limited.)

Mise en page 1

The Competition Bicycle features stunning full-color photographs and insightful texts that chart the development of the bicycle. Marvel at a rare racing high-wheeler. Smile about the amazing Labor “Monobras” with its single fork leg. Admire Fausto Coppi’s Tour de France-winning Bianchi. Join the Paris newspaper couriers in their races across the cobblestones of Paris. Relive the exploits of Greg LeMond and Andy Hampsten as you examine the details of their bikes. 176 pages, hardcover, $50


The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles: If your cyclist doesn’t have this trend-setting (and best-selling) classic yet, now is the time! See the most beautiful bicycles ever made. Learn about the builders who made them and the riders who rode them. Cycling was their life, and their bikes reflected that. 168 pages, hardcover, $50

For the cyclist planning their 2013 season:


Tires are not just a better gift than socks. These Grand Bois and Compass tires will bring a smile on your cyclist’s face, over and over again. Now also available in superlight “Extra Léger” models. Ask them what size they need. $120 – 196 (pair)


The latest headlights offer wider beams and more even illumination for more cycling enjoyment. It’s a great upgrade if your cyclist rides a lot at night. If they still use battery lights, get them a generator hub, too, and never worry again whether they’ll be safe when they get caught in the dark. $ 64 – 194


Handlebar Bag: Perhaps your cyclist has been dreaming of the convenience of a handlebar bag. The Gilles Berthoud bags are beautiful and durable. Your cyclist also may need a front rack and a decaleur. They’ll wonder how they ever rode without a front bag. $148 and up


Bottom bracket: Does your cyclist spend his time overhauling his bike instead of with his family? Give them a maintenance-free SKF bottom bracket designed for 65,000 trouble-free miles! Comes with a 10-year warranty. Ask them what size they need. $149


Waterbottle cages: Nitto and Iribe cages combine beauty and function – a great addition to any bike. Add a Compass Water Bottle to make it a complete set. $60 and up

For the urban rider:


Everyday Bicycling provides an easy-to-read, yet in-depth introduction to riding your bike in the city. Every cyclist should read it, then pass it on to somebody else. 127 pages, paperback. $10.

For the technically-minded cyclist:


Bicycling Science is a compilation of scientific research related to bicycles. Find out why bicycles work the way they do. Your favorite cyclist will exclaim time and again: “Now I understand why…” 477 pages, softcover, $27.

Still don’t know what to give?


A Compass Water Bottle will make any cyclist happy. Our Camelbak bottles are so much better to use than most water bottles. BPA-free and taste-free. $10

Have a happy holiday season!

Posted in Uncategorized

The Courage to Try


Watching a recent beginners’ cyclocross race, my son and I noticed a middle-aged woman riding a commuter bike, complete with upright handlebars, fenders and a rear rack. She was a marked contrast to the other racers on purpose-built cyclocross bikes, wearing club jerseys with sponsors’ logos. As the pack rode off into the mud, we could not help but smile. What was she thinking, entering a race equipped like a commuter?

When the riders came by after the first lap, the “commuter” was near the back. Approaching the barriers, she slowed deliberately, got off her bike, picked it up, climbed over the barriers and remounted. It was a far cry from textbook cyclocross form, but she was smooth and fluid and fun to watch. Most of all, I admired her for putting herself out there, unafraid to be last. I hope she had a good time, but most of all, I am glad she tried something that must have intrigued her, without the inhibitions that so often make us hesitate.

Posted in Uncategorized | 30 Comments

Cyclocross in Paris during the 1940s


Cyclocross has been on my mind lately – I’ve returned to the sport after a 16-year hiatus – and so it was with special interest that I watched some old newsreel footage of ‘cross races in Paris during the 1940s.

Sports were among the few pleasant distractions that Parisians had during the German occupation, and cyclocross races were organized in the city to make it easy for spectators to attend. The biggest race was held on the steep hill of Montmartre. The 280 steps leading up to the basilica of Sacré Coeur were a great runup (or, during other years, run-down), and the dirt roads around the famous windmills provided a nice off-pavement challenge. Click on the image to go to the web site where you can watch the video.

As I watched the video, the newsreel announcer exclaimed that Robert Oubron (in striped jersey above) was taking the lead. I knew of Oubron: He had his frames built by René Herse.


In fact, in the René Herse book, there is a photo of him after a cyclocross race in 1943 (above). The video is too grainy to say with certainty, but Oubron’s bike looks like the one shown in the book.


The web site of the French National Audiovisual Institute (INA) has other newsreel footage from 1940s cyclocross (click here to view), but unfortunately not of the 1942 race, which was won by René André on one of the very first bikes René Herse made after opening his shop in 1940. The photo above shows André as he jumps a step in front of the windmill on his superlight bike.


I also would have loved to see footage of the Cross the Clamart with its tandem category, which was won by René André and Lyli Herse (above after the race). We are fortunate to have the historic photos in the book that take us back in time.

The videos provide wonderful context to the photos. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. Please feel free to share other sources in the comments.

Posted in books | 15 Comments

Winter 2013 Bicycle Quarterly


Looking at proofs of a new Bicycle Quarterly always is exciting. It’s the first time we see the results of months of testing, riding, writing, photographing, and editing on actual paper. The Winter issue is at the printer, and this afternoon, I rode my bike over to approve the final proofs.

The Winter Bicycle Quarterly is about pushing beyond what we usually do. We are not talking about taking crazy risks, but about going a bit outside your normal comfort zone.


Going outside your comfort zone can mean riding unknown roads, like Gerolf Meyer did when he explored the unpaved backroads of the Western U.S. What is it like for a European to embark on 50 miles of gravel without a house or even a water source?

Going one step further, Jeremy Scott gave up everything to cycle from London to Saigon, and then on to Australia. BQ contributor Alycia Kiley reports on his trip and what made it special and worthwhile.

Our editor (that’s me!) took another stab at the Raid Pyrénéen, only to find that the best-laid plans can go awry.


You don’t need to travel half-way around the world for adventure. Together with my son, I returned to cyclocross this autumn. He tested an affordable children’s bike both on the road and in ‘cross (see cover).


I dusted off my 1980s Alan to see whether both bike and rider still could make it through the mud and across the barriers. The result was a lot of fun and a wonderful bonding experience with my son.


Bicycle Quarterly’s product tests are renowned for their thoroughness. In the Winter issue, we test the latest LED headlights. Are they so awesome that we should consider replacing our existing great lights?


We also test tires from Challenge and FMB, new 650B rims that hopefully eliminate the tire seating woes that have plagued this wheel size, as well as clothing from Ibex and Rapha.


Our Icon feature brings you the story of Reynolds 531 tubing. For almost half a century, 531 was the material of choice for top-of-the-line frames all over the world. It was also used in Jaguar E-Types and even for land speed record cars!

Those are just some of the highlights of the Winter 2013 Bicycle Quarterly. Click here for more information, or here to subscribe.

Posted in Bicycle Quarterly Back Issues | 10 Comments

New Lights!


It’s not often that we get excited about new technology around here. Whether it’s 11-speed cassettes or 31.8 mm-diameter handlebars, we often fail to see the need to improve upon what works perfectly well. So when Busch & Müller announced new LED headlights, we wondered how much better than our current favorites they could be. After all, with the current lights, we often descend curving mountain roads in the middle of the night at 40 mph or more, and even ride gravel descents at speed.

We tested the B&M Luxos and Eyc models, as well as the Schmidt Edelux II for the Winter issue of Bicycle Quarterly. Without giving too much away, I can tell you that we were impressed. The old lights are perfectly fine, but the new ones are really a big step up.


Here is the beam pattern of the Edelux II, courtesy of Andreas Oehler from Schmidt Maschinenbau. Not only is it much wider than the previous version, but the illumination is incredibly uniform. There is just light on the road, no bright and dark spots. And that is how it feels – most of the limitations of riding at night no longer apply.


The Edelux II will be available at the end of this month. The B&M IQ Cyo Premium uses the same optics, and we just received the first shipment, so it’s available now.

The new IQ Cyo looks like the old one, but you can spot the “P” for Premium in the photo above. This means it has the new optics and a brighter LED that produces more light for the same power consumption.

In addition to the new beam, the IQ Cyo Premium has “daytime running lights.” This features two smaller LEDs that shine slightly upward. During daytime, the main LED is dimmed, and the two small LEDs make the cyclist more conspicuous to other traffic. At night, the main beam shines at full brightness. The two daytime LEDs continue to shine, which may be useful for riders who like to set their beam so it illuminates the road right in front of their bikes, making them hard to see from a distance. A light sensor switches between the daytime and nighttime setting.


Another new light is the B&M Eyc. This tiny headlight packs an amazingly powerful beam. In fact, the beam resembles that of the old IQ Cyo/Edelux. It’s a bit narrower than the new lights, and it has a few bright and dark spots, but it’s very affordable and at just 44 g, it is the lightest headlight I have used. I would have no qualms doing Paris-Brest-Paris with this light, it’s really that good.

It’s amazing how far lights have come in recent years, but it’s also sad that many headlights of other manufacturers still use symmetric beams that put too much light in the nearfield, not enough in the distance, and then waste half the light output by shining upward, into the eyes of oncoming traffic.

So if you have one of those other kinds and are waiting for deep discounts, now could be a good time for you to change to a generator light: we’ve reduced the prices of the remaining stock of first-generation Edelux and IQ Cyo headlights. At these prices, they provide an amazing value. Remember, these are the lights that we use on our own bikes, lights that until a few weeks ago were state of the art and seemed hard to improve.

To facilitate installation of these great lights, we now install connectors for SON generator hubs for a small fee. We use state-of-the-art crimping tools to create a connection that is durable for many years to come.

Click here for more information on the headlights and accompanying generator hubs that Compass Bicycles sells.

Posted in Lighting | 33 Comments