Spring 2015 Bicycle Quarterly

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The Spring 2015 Bicycle Quarterly picks up where the 50th issue left off: After reviewing the progress of “real-world” bicycle over the last decade, we are looking into the future. How can we improve our riding experience further?

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Could we fine-tune the tubing configuration of our 650B bikes to supercharge their performance and perhaps reduce their tendency to shimmy? We built a prototype and put it through its paces…

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Can a titanium mountain bike equal the performance of a good Allroad bike? Jeff Jones thinks so, and he sent us a test bike to prove it. To find out, we headed out into the wilds of the Olympic Peninsula for a mid-winter bikepacking trip. We saw wolf tracks… and realized that we had to rethink some of our assumptions about how bicycles work.

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How wide can you make supple tires and still end up with a high-performance bike? Asking that question, we came up with the idea of the Enduro Allroad Bike: a road bike with 26″ x 54 mm tires. How do tires this wide perform on gravel? And perhaps even more importantly, how do they perform on the road? During our testing, we were charting new territory, and inevitably, there were a few surprises.

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We’ve been fascinated with Rinko, the Japanese system of packing bikes for train travel. We like that a Rinko bike has no significant modifications like couplers or wire splitters that affect its performance or cost. Yet a complete randonneur bike – with fenders, rack and lights – disassembles in less than 15 minutes and fits into a relatively small bag, making it easy to carry. To find out more, we built our own Rinko bikes and headed to Japan to put them to the test.

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Of course, we didn’t just go to Japan to carry our bikes on its excellent trains. We went on a bicycle tour of Hokkaido, exploring Japan far from the hustle of the big cities. We followed this by an attempt at the Nihon Alps Super Randonnée 600 km ride. Never before have I descended passes like these, with over 150 turns on Shirabisu Pass (above). That ride was even more memorable because it happened during a full-moon night.

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Bicycle Quarterly‘s adventures can be leisurely, too. Tim Bird takes you on a wonderful midsummer ramble across the Yorkshire Dales, exploring the landscape and its history from the saddle of his bike.

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We also tested the Soma Wolverine for our “First Rides” (above), as well as Soma’s Cazadero multi-surface tires, and the revolutionary Velogical rim dynamo from Germany. We celebrate Jack Taylor’s life, show you how to do a track stand, and much, much more.

Click here for a full table of contents.

Click here for more information about Bicycle Quarterly or to subscribe.

 

 

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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41 Responses to Spring 2015 Bicycle Quarterly

  1. djconnel says:

    The Soma Cazaderos are no doubt named after the Cazadero Grasshopper, a popular mixed surface ride/race in Sonona County north of San Francisco.

    I organize a hill climb series in the San Francisco Bay Area and we occasionally include dirt climbs. On fire trail climbs with decent traction it is surprising how close different bike types are: cross, mountain, rando, and road. The bike matters but good bikes in all categories can do well.

    • I’d love to do the mixed surface rides in your area! And I totally agree, the quality of the bike is more important than the category. A great mountain bike will be more fun to ride – even on the road – than a mediocre road bike. In fact, we were surprised by the Jones 29er which we tested for the Spring issue.

      • Matthew J says:

        Jeff Jones has some unique ideas about what makes a good bike. Looking forward to reading your review.

      • John Q. says:

        Jan, Love the mag. and an interesting Jones bike review. Perhaps it would be more complete if you could get one of his bikes set up with fenders, racks and whatever tires and wheels would be appropriate for the riding you plan on, maybe with a 650B wheel set up. I ride a steel Spaceframe Jones as well as a 650B Ti Lynskey bike and like both for different purposes. If I was to have one bike though, it would be the Jones. Thanks for the detailed review, could there be a part 2???

  2. Bob Zeidler says:

    THis should be a great issue! It seems like things are headed where motorcycling did a few years ago, specifically BMW with their GS series. Seven kind of does this with their Evergreen bikes-all surfaces, disc brake equipped bikes to allow different wheel/tire combinations, fenders/racks on or off.
    I like to see things go this way.
    Looking forward to it.

  3. Christopher Grande says:

    Your shoes looks sharp in the Hokkaido photo!

  4. Kevan Rutledge says:

    Those look like SRAM bar end shifters converted to downtube use on the Rossman. Can you or Hahn share the details – custom braze ons? Any shifter modifications? Looking forward to the Spring issue!

  5. Michael says:

    So are the new 650b bike tubings you are trying out moving closer to, or further away from the classic Herse/Singer style of frame building?

    • Yes and no. Herse and Singer usually used standard Reynolds tubesets, which had thicker walls than what we prefer. On the other hand, the balance of frame stiffness of those standard Reynolds tubes seems to work very well, and we’ve been thinking about enhancing those characteristics by pushing them a little further. We used an oversize down tube with a standard-diameter top tube. Herse did that on some bikes, but not with superlight tube gauges…

  6. I cannot wait to get my Jones Plus on Wednesday after reading this review! Tour de France and Tour Divide ready!!!

  7. clayton says:

    Looking forward to reading your thoughts on the Jones. Have been riding one as my mountain bike in various configurations for almost two years now and it continues to impress me every time I ride it. Dealing with Jeff and Sheila has been wonderful too.

  8. gasconha says:

    I am so excited about this issue! Issue 50 was good but let me to think that the Bicycle Quarterly team might had come to a “plateau”..I was obviously wrong! A Jones’s, packable randonneur bike, some new 26″ tyres… Well done guys😉

  9. Theo says:

    Jan, seems like another favorite issue again.
    Hope, we do not have to wait too long for here in Europa.

  10. Gerard says:

    Great news on possibility for reduced lag for us in Europe. Thanks for looking at this.

    Looks like another fantastic issue. Can’t wait.

  11. islandbikeguy says:

    I just finished reading the new issue cover to cover while on the Hood Canal this weekend. A past issue of the British mountain biking magazine Privateer published a feature story about Jeff Jones and his unique bike designs. He is as unique as his bikes! Jan, if you haven’t read the story, I’d be happy to photocopy and send to you. Let me know.

  12. Andy Stow says:

    I was planning to build a SON hub into my wheel this year, but now it’s tempting to investigate the Velogical rim dynamo further. A big plus over a hub, for me, is that I could potentially share it between bikes.

  13. Michael says:

    One area of riding that I haven’t seen covered in BQ yet is nutritional products.
    I just finished reading the ad for a nutritional product in the pages of the latest RUSA issue and was wondering about if the ad was a bit overblown. And made me wonder if these concoctions are needed at all or if regular food is fine.
    Would be hard to test these products for sure. But would be an interesting BQ article to have an overview of fueling options from the concoctions to real foods to ensure, etc. and is any option better than another or really even needed over regular food.

    • Nutrition is an interesting issue. Everybody’s preferences are different, but it’s safe to say that for most riders, “normal” food is fine even if you ride 10-12 hours a day. When you go at your maximum, easily digested food is key. In my experience, nutritional products mostly offer convenience of easy-on-the-bike eating, rather than performance benefits.

  14. Nick says:

    Hokkaido has been on my short list for touring for a few years now. Thanks to your trip report I’m even more encouraged to make it happen sooner. Quiet roads and an onsen at the end of the day sounds wonderful.
    I’m also eager to get my hands on some of those wide, supple 26-inch tires. They’ll be perfect for a mixed road trip in Utah next fall!
    Thanks for continuing to provide such quality content.

  15. BH says:

    Do you really not have a cell phone?
    Congratulations if you don’t.

    • I don’t own or carry a cell phone on my rides, since my time away from my desk is special and important to me. However, I am not anti-cell phone, and I’ve used smartphones when traveling to coordinate meetings and find my way around unfamiliar cities.

  16. What shoes wear on rider on photos N6 ?

  17. Phil Randall says:

    I am really enjoying this latest issue. Thanks. I am also excited about the new wide 26 inch road tires coming out.

  18. xtiannaitx says:

    Dear Jan,

    I loved the Jones review! I rode mine this morning with an even greater appreciation for it. I have a steel diamond frame with the ti truss fork and an Eriksen post. I’d love to try the ti frame. I wonder if you can comment on the tires? Did you like the SuperMotos? Andy chance Compass will one day make a wide 700c tire for a bike like the Jones? The current widest you make is 38mm; this seems too narrow. But perhaps not.

    BQ keeps getting better and better. Thanks,

    Christian

    • The Supermoto tires were fine, but certainly not very supple. They seemed to work well with the Jones, where tire pressure changed how well the bike “planed”.

      We may consider a wide 700C tire. For now, we are working on a 26″ tire of similar width, since it’s easier to fit into the frame and also makes for a more nimble handling… A Jones with that tire would be interesting!

      • Michael says:

        Is that planing or just tire bounce?

      • If the tire bounce has the right frequency, it’s planing. We experienced something similar when we tested a Trek 2100C with an elastomer in the rear triangle. It came with three elastomers. The hard one made it ride like an oversize aluminum frame – no planing. The soft one made it bounce too much – no planing. The middle one, on the other hand, transformed the performance of the bike. It doesn’t matter where the energy storage is, as long as it is in sync with the rider’s pedal stroke.

  19. Michael says:

    Where are you guys who already got the issue?
    No sign in the mid Atlantic region for me yet.

  20. Michael says:

    Ok. So planing can happen from any aspect of the build (not only the frame) as long as it’s in synch with the riders pedal strokes. Very cool. Then that definitely is a noteworthy benefit of wider , low pressure, bigger volume tires. Also incentive to experiment with tire pressure.

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