At Bicycle Quarterly, we sometimes discover products that are superb, but nobody imports them to North America. Or our research indicates that certain classic components work better than those available today, but nobody is making them.
We have suggested some of these products to existing manufacturers. I told Paul Price how wonderful centerpull brakes were, and sent him a set of Mafac Racers. The Paul “Racer” centerpull brakes were the result. In other cases, we have imported cycling components to make them available to North American cyclists. For example, we now import Grand Bois tires and components, as well as SKF bottom brackets. There are plenty more components that we would like to have available.
We are starting Compass Bicycles Ltd. to provide these components. Compass Bicycles will take over the bicycle components from Bicycle Quarterly Press, which focuses on publishing the magazine and books. In addition to the components already on offer, we are working on a number of new components.
Compass Bicycles’ first new products are Grand Bois 650B fork crowns with matching Kaisei “Toei Special” fork blades. These classic fork crowns provide the right amount of tire clearance for 38-41 mm tires. The crowns are a reproduction of those used by René Herse and Alex Singer, which have proven themselves over decades of hard use.
The fork blades use the “Imperial Oval” cross section at the fork crown for strength, and a small diameter in their lower half for optimal shock absorption.
The small diameter near the bottom also makes them easy to rake to a graceful curve, as on this fork raked by Mark Nobilette for a René Herse bicycle.
For the future, I dream of a Nivex derailleur, with constant chain tension, superlight weight, and immediate, light-action shifting due to its twin-cable operation without a return spring.
I still use Maxi-Car hubs on my bikes, with twin labyrinth seals and adjustable cartridge bearings. A cassette-hub version of these would be nice. I also would like to see a centerpull brake with forged arms for light weight and safety, so that riders no longer have to scour eBay for “new old stock” Mafac “Raid” brakes.
As before, the Bicycle Quarterly team will develop and test all components before they become available. You will know that the components you buy from Compass Bicycles have proven themselves over thousands of kilometers. Check out the new web site www.compasscycle.com.