Spring BQ Press Check

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“Stop the Presses!” is a term you really only understand once you have seen these gigantic machines churn out sheet after sheet in rapid succession. They do seem almost unstoppable. Yet here they fell silent again, after just a few sheets had been printed. It was time for the press check. We were at our printer, meeting with the press manager to make sure the printed sheets match the vibrancy of our proofs. This is where our vision for Bicycle Quarterly becomes reality.

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The press manager pulls a few sheets off the press. We compare those sheets to the proofs and tell the manager what we envision. The scanner (shown above) determines the amount of pigment actually put down by the press. The press manager adjusts the color balances and intensities to obtain the most vibrant, life-like image quality. Then the gigantic press starts up again and spits out a few pages with the new settings.

As I see the photos come off the press, I think back to when we were out riding and scouting for photo locations. Back then, I was trying to envision how the shot would look on the printed page. And now that printed page is coming off the press! It’s been a long process to get to this final, vital step in making it all come together.

This time, it seemed to us that the printed sheets looked even better than before. When asked, the press manager told us they started using a new ink with a higher pigment load, which allowed them to push their press settings a little further. He was visibly proud of this change. Once you’ll hold the Spring issue in your hands, I think you’ll agree with him – the new issue looks even better than the previous ones.

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. Bicycle Quarterly's sister company, Compass Bicycles Ltd., turns the results of our research into high-quality bicycle components for real-world riders.
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19 Responses to Spring BQ Press Check

  1. Hurry up and mail BQ to help me survive this sub-freezing weather in the mid-Atlantic states. It’s another day on the hamster wheel (trainer) today and tomorrow. My lovely wife is more dedicated to riding the hamster wheel than me. We use several training videos by Robbie Venture to make the suffering more interesting and less boring.

    • The new issue will be mailed next week. Please be patient… and I hope your weather will improve and allow you out on the road!

    • Riggo Deezil says:

      Yep, the mid-Atlantic has taken a first class beating from Mom Nature. Brutal winter and lots of time on the “hamster wheel” going nowhere and seeing nothing. Lowest amount of Feb. outdoor bike time I have had in 25 years of riding. Early in the month we had one really nice day when it almost hit 70F…and then the bottom just dropped out and we have been in the ice box ever since Today it was a steady barrage of ice and freezing rain. A foreboding start to March. Hope it turns around soon. Bikes are not really meant to be permanently locked onto the old “hamster wheel”. Just signed up for BQ myself and looking forward to getting my first issue.

  2. Jason says:

    If I were to subscribe today, would the spring issue be mailed first? I’m in the USA.

  3. Cynthia says:

    I’m sure most won’t agree with me, but I preferred Bicycle Quarterly when it was in black and white. I spent more time looking at the images. They left more for the imagination. The brilliant colors make BQ seem like all the other magazines. Having said that, it’s still the best bicycling magazine out there, hands down.

    I’m with you Rod. I just heard this is one of the coldest winters on record, with more snow and icy rain tomorrow. Yuk! And I haven’t been able to ride the trainer this year.

    I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems to take a long time for BQ to reach the east coast once we’re given the heads up that it’s been mailed out.

    • I can understand the preference for black & white. It’s a beautiful, subtle medium. That said, I remember what these rides looked like when we were out there, and I want to share the beauty of the evergreen forest in the Pacific Northwest, the vibrancy of the autumn leaves in Hokkaido, and the contrast between blue sky and snow-covered hills during our mountain bike test with our readers. Our goal is to inspire you to ride more, to explore off the beaten path…

      When we went to color, we promised ourselves that we’ll do some articles in black & white. Several times, we’ve laid out an article both in B&W and in color, and so far, color always has won out. We usually have plenty of black & white in our historic articles. Even those look better when printed in color, as you can get half-tones and sepia that isn’t available with pure black & white. And some day, we’ll do a modern article all in B&W again.

      In the mean time, I hope you’ll thaw out soon so that you can go out riding!

      • marmotte27 says:

        I’m a really divided about the b&w vs. colour question. On the one hand I liked the understated, serious aspect of the b&w issues a lot, on the other hand the pictures of nature in colour a just great. I’d really appreciate some articles in b&w again, at the same time, I’d like to have acces to colour photos of your earlier test bikes in a larger format than in your colour supplement on your home page.

      • Shane says:

        Hi Jan,

        I like both the b&w and the colour but I’ve noticed that the b&w older magazines opened out more naturally, ie. you they will sit fully open naturally, it had a more rounded spine whereas the new colour mags have a more squarish spine, which means they won’t sit open naturally rather they close up if left open. Am I being a bit picky? I’m sure I am, just something I noticed. I wait keenly for every issue. Other magazines just seem fake after discovering BQ

      • The old magazines were much thinner, so they could be stapled. The square spine costs more, but it’s the best way to make a magazine that is as thick as the current Bicycle Quarterly – each issue is more a book than a thin magazine. The square spine also means the magazines stand better on your bookshelf.

      • Shane says:

        Yes I can see all the advantages and the reasoning for the square binding. I suppose it also allows you to see the issue no from the spine too which is another advantage. Anyway, looking forward to coming issue, best regards

  4. Ford Kanzler says:

    I’ve shared your enthusiasm for seeing content become tangible, printed material. As a newspaper reporter, magazine editor and book author, its gratifying seeing the thing become real rather than just pixels on a screen.
    Seems readers are eager to have your new issue in their hands as well. Me too!

  5. Michael says:

    I feel that color is the way to go for cycling mags as the colors of the outdoors plays such a big part of the cycling experience.

    Some things come across very powerfully with B&W but I find B&W photos flat, bleak, and depressing, unless the context is bright enough to buffer that, as in the case of a cycling magazine. But can you imagine the latest issues being in B&W? Oregon Outback? The “Touring Japan” spread?

    • Landscape photography can be stunning in black & white, but it takes a lot of time and skill to get the conditions just right. Even a master like Ansel Adams spent whole summers in Yosemite and came back with only a handful of great photos. To me, great black & white photography is art – creating something that didn’t exist before – whereas great color photography is reporting what is actually out there (or at least what the eye sees).

  6. B&W and color images have a place in Bicycle Quarterly. The editor should have the option of selecting the image tone/hue which is best suited for the article and story. I am a B&W photographer and have no problems looking at color or B&W images. Nor will I drop my BQ subscription because the images are color and not B&W.

  7. David Pearce says:

    Whenever I talk to some random bike enthusiast I meet, whether they be young and unattached or a family man out food shopping by bike with his little daughter, I mention Off the Beaten Path, and how BQ is the best bicycling magazine I know, (and the only cycling magazine I know that has footnotes! That’s total commitment.), and that Jan Heine is a great bicycle journalist and historian, and that his components company, Compass Cycles, has some just really great and rare stuff.

    It must be thrilling for you to see the fruits of your labors come off the press onto the printed page, and I just really salute you and the whole team again for making such an “old school” and yet thoroughly “modern” product, and of such great quality. Thank you very, very much for your high standards and attention to detail.

    I have two BQ 2015 calendars open on two separate floors in my house, open now to March, the René Herse technical trials bike of 1947. Thank you for those, too.

  8. J-D Bamford says:

    As an amateur photographer, I am thrilled with the high quality of BQ and its photos, whether color or B&W. The photos are as high quality as the written content. Keep up the great work Jan.

    Since you mentioned photography – I’ve been meaning to inquire for some time about your method, since your outdoor (non-studio) shots have a consistent look and rich, natural colors without exaggeration. I know that photography is a rabbit hole of its own (much like explaining why it’s so complicated to make cranks, beginning with forging). But perhaps a good topic for a blog post? Your preferred format (APS, Full frame, etc) and how that camera carries on the bike / in the bag. OOC jpegs or processed from raw, and what typical steps you employ to achieve the final look. And of course lens selection, which is important in accurately depicting a bike’s geometry with minimal distortion. I have a hunch a number of your readers, photogs or otherwise, would enjoy hearing more…

  9. J-D Bamford says:

    I recently though of the photography inquiry when I saw the BQ article discussing counter steering, with the photos of you on your CX bike. I figured they were shot at a fairly high frame rate, again making me ponder how much planning you do in setting up shots – knowing that so many experiences can/do feed directly into future articles.

    • That series was fortuitous. The photographer was trying to get good shots for the cyclocross article, and by pure chance, caught the split-second counter-steering during the “burst” of photos. It’s hard to set up shots of fast-moving objects like bikes!

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