Winter 2015 Bicycle Quarterly


The Winter 2015 Bicycle Quarterly is at the printer and will be mailed in a few weeks. It’s another fun-filled, action-packed issue. The Winter issue’s theme is “Riding with Friends”.

We test the Elephant National Forest Explorer, a bike made for gravel roads (above) by riding it to the Bicycle Quarterly Un-Meeting. How does it perform when riding with friends on gravel roads and trails? And how did it and its extra-wide tires handle the (mostly paved) ride to the event?


Tom Moran reports on a ride to the “Magic Bus” (of Into the Wild fame) with an Alaskan friend that is much more than just a winter fatbiking adventure.


My own ride in this year’s Paris-Brest-Paris turned from a quest for speed into a ride with friends, both old and new, over the backroads of France. And it was all the better for it.


Riding through a typhoon doesn’t sound like fun? Unless it’s a great ride with friends that ends at one of the most beautiful Onsen hot springs in Japan.


We visit Jean Hoffmann, a randonneur who turned professional racer and rode in the Tour de France before returning to randonneuring. After looking at the photos from his archives (above: cyclocross in the late 1950s), we join him for a ride up a small mountain pass in central France. I only hope that I’ll be riding like this gentleman when I am 81 years old!


Our “First Ride” looks at the Islabikes Beinn 26. Is it a near-perfect allround children’s bike?


We have a studio photo feature that shows the details needed to make a randonneur bike Rinko-compatible, with full fenders, generator-powered lighting and even low-rider racks. A related feature talks about optimizing the design of those low-rider racks – not just for Rinko.


How to mount fenders on a bike that isn’t quite designed for them? We show you a few neat tricks that solve common problems.

We also test the Gevenalle brake/shift levers, which present an alternative to the systems from the “Big 3”. We try out a Swift Industries handlebar bag and the Haulin’ Colin Porteur rack.


Our “Skills” column talks about maintaining traction on wintry roads, whether it’s in rain or snow. Our “Icons” feature looks at the old Clement silk tubular tires (above). We have a lively discussion about last issues Specialized Diverge test bike in the “Letters” and much more.

Make sure your subscription is up to date, so you receive the Winter Bicycle Quarterly without delay. Click here to subscribe or renew.

About Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

Spirited rides that zig-zag across mountain ranges. Bicycle Quarterly magazine and its sister company, Compass Cycles, that turns our research into high-performance components for real-world riders.
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15 Responses to Winter 2015 Bicycle Quarterly

  1. marmotte27 says:

    Looking forward to this issue, especially since I’m about to launch into rack building myself. Low rider front racks to be precise…

    Daunting, since I don’t even know how to braze yet!

    • At first I thought you were a builder about to expand into racks until I read the part about needing to learn to braze… I’ve heard from Jan and Alex W. that making your own racks is a challenging yet satisfying endeavor. There’s also a place for schools like United Bicycle Institute in Oregon that works with enthusiasts, too, as well as local metal arts like Pratt Fine Arts Center here in Seattle. Good luck!
      Compass Staff

  2. teamdarb says:

    I had no idea what an Elephant was until this posting. Thank you for exposing it.

  3. Dave Berard says:

    Thanks for the heads up on the winter issue Jan. BTW, I have been riding with the Gevenalle (formerly Retro-shift) shifters on my bikes for three years. Last Feb I built up a full rando bike from a new f Boulder Bikes frame and decided to use my original Gevenalle shifters again…after commuting 3000 km (Mar- Nov) I had 0 problems with them. I tend to ride more upright on the brake hoods 95% of the time, so for me they work great…Looking forward to your review.

  4. Random question: what’s the male model of that orange vest you’re sporting? The change in daylight savings along with the drop in temps has me on the hunt for a nice, reflective vest.

    • It’s made by Mavic, and I think they’ve discontinued it. You may still be able to find it at some online spurces…

    • Alex says:

      Mavic has, indeed, discontinued this great vest, and the nearest thing I’ve found (high quality, reflective with CE-EN1150 compliance, not prone to overheating) would be the VISIBILITY WINDSTOPPER® Active Shell vest from the German company Gore Bike Wear.

      • Thanks! It’s shocking how hard it is to find a vest that will:
        1) Block the wind while will still being well vented on the back
        2) Uses the more effective vinyl type reflective material rather than the rapidly deteriorating reflective ink.
        3) Pack down small enough to stuff in a jersey pocket and have a zipper pull that can easily be grabbed with a gloved hand.

        My Plan B is to take a wind vest and have a seamstress stitch on some reflective material.

  5. Mike says:

    I heard they were handing out vests at PBP. How were they? How do you like the deluxe RUSA vest?

    • The vests at PBP are intended for emergency car repairs by the roadside. They work, but they are heavy and soak up sweat. RUSA used to sell the same vest… I don’t know whether the Deluxe version is different.

    • Alex says:

      I agree with Jan completely: my vest from PBP 2011 is very uncomfortable and annoying on a bike: soaks up sweat like a sponge. Awful thing. Visible, yes, but almost useless, I would say, for anything other than standing around as a marshall, or directing traffic . . . The 2015 vests look to be the same. It’s worth spending money on a good one: you’re going to be wearing it a lot as a randonneur . ..
      (I’m the same Alex as above: I’ve no connection to Gore, but I’m amazed that there are hardly any high quality safety vests for cyclists on the market, and I could only find the Gore vest as a serious alternative to the defunct Mavic Vision)

    • Bob C says:

      The L2S Visiolight (L2S made some PBP past vests, I don’t know about the 2015 one) is a little like what Jan describes — kind of like a work visibility vest masquerading as a riding vest.

      I’ve got the Visiolight and compared it to the *current* VOMax made RUSA Deluxe vest and I like the RUSA vest a LOT more and ride with it over the other. The RUSA vest (size large) is 5.5 oz, compared to 6.8 for the L2S Visiolight. But I’m not sweating 1.3 oz! But the big difference is when you wet them out — completely wetted out (and not shaken out) the RUSA vest adds 4 ounces of weight. The Visiolight adds 10 oz and weighs nearly a pound when wetted out. (Plus, the VOMax RUSA vest is harder to wet out to begin with.) The RUSA, because it retains less water, dries a lot faster too.

      In addition, the RUSA vest packs down smaller and can easily fit in a jersey pocket (and feels fluid and weightless when on). The Visio light is stiffer and a bit bulkier to pack although not massively so. Both have ventilated back panels, which is nice.

      The Visiolight has two slits in the back to reach into your jersey pockets. The RUSA vest has its own pockets (with drain holes).

      Overall, the current generation of the RUSA Deluxe is a nicely thought out riding vest, in addition to being high viz, reflective and a good wind stopper. I could do without the logos, but I’m just that way.

      it does have one major downside — the zippers *often* grab the fabric when zipping up or down and it forces you to pull the vest off over your head and work the fabric out from under the zipper. So you’ve got to be really careful zipping and unzipping.

      That’s more detail than anyone wants — and not intended to hijack the conversation — but since it was asked and answered partially, I figured I’d try to fill in some details.

  6. thebvo says:

    Excited for the next issue, although I haven’t finished the last one yet. I used to fly through it in a few days, but the last issue had a bit too much of one bike methinks. I hope there’ll be some tech talk/ research/ testing again soon. I miss the old days when BQ articles could be read many times to soak up all the analysis and tech info.
    Another thing I’d like to see come back is the current issue table of contents being updated with the “at the printers” post. Soon after this post the BQ page would show the new issue’s TOC. It was a nice touch.
    But as always I’ll take it how ya make it, and keep asking for more!

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