Spring 2016 Bicycle Quarterly

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The Spring 2016 Bicycle Quarterly is at the printer and will be mailed in a few weeks. In this issue, we focus on the sense of exploration and discovery, from a trip across the world to a trip to get groceries. Mark Eastman explored a sense of history with his classic bike at Eroica California. The rustic roads, fine local food and wonderful camaraderie in sunny California beautifully evoke the Tuscan gravel roads of the mother event, the Italian L’Eroica.

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Join me on a ride in the Cevennes of southern France (above), and on the roads where I became a cyclist when I was a teenager. I revisited places that seemed unchanged over these decades. My bike and skills are different now, but the sense of discovery and the wind rushing through my hair feel as exciting now as they did then.

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We discover the camaraderie of young cyclotourists on a 1957 tour around Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps, in our exclusive photo feature. All who were there agree that it was a fun trip!

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We test MAP’s take on the ultimate urban bike. Is it possible to combine the speed and comfort of a randonneur bike with the versatility and ease-of-use of a city bike? Mitch Pryor of MAP Bicycles thinks so, and we test the prototype for his 650B Urban Randonneur Project to find out.

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How good are modern carbon-fiber production race bikes? We climb the highest peak in Taiwan on a Giant to assess how it climbs and descends.

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Our Specialized Diverge test bike is back for a long-term test. Has Specialized fixed the issues that marred our initial experience with this bike? What better excuse than to take the “BQ Team” on a fast-paced ride into the Cascade foothills?

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A Flèche 24-hour ride in Japan evoked the travel route of a famous 17th century Haiku poet. Today’s challenges may be different from those he faced, but what we took away from the voyage was similar in the end.

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While in Japan, we visited a few amazing bicycle collections. We saw super-rare (and beautiful) components and bicycles, including a René Herse that is the star of a comic book! Enjoy our exclusive studio photos of components that you didn’t even know existed, and read how these collectors became fascinated by bicycles and components.

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Bicycle Quarterly always has a strong technical focus. In this issue, we look at the relationships between tire and rim width. Do wider tires need wider rims? The answer, as so often, is: “It depends.”

Of course, there is much more: a ride across the highest roads in the Cascades at cyclotouring pace, our “Skill” column about developing a good spin, the story of Bianchi’s celeste color…

Click here to subscribe or renew, so that you will be among the first to receive the Spring 2016 Bicycle Quarterly.

 

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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20 Responses to Spring 2016 Bicycle Quarterly

  1. The Coasting Frenchman says:

    I haven’t even finished reading the winter issue, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the spring one! I guess the article on the Giant bike will only go as far as your untimely encounter with a car down that pass in Taiwan, and I hope your body is really starting to forget it.
    There’s another ‘bicycle quarterly’ I’ve been reading for a while, the French ‘200’; in their winter issue, they’ve got an article on the new ‘randonneuse’ trend, with a pic of a PBP rider wearing a ‘Seattle Randonneurs’ shirt, and they are announcing a re-birth of the ‘concours de machines’; all that sounds good to me!
    Please keep up the good work, even if the ‘experts’ don’t always agree, it does seem to be spreading around!

    • marmotte27 says:

      I’ve had a look at this new french magazine and their article about randonneur bikes too, unfortunately they don’t really seem to get what randonneur bikes and randonneuring are really about. Don’t hold your breath concerning a rebirth of all this in France.

  2. katzenfinch says:

    I’ve been wondering how fat of a tire I can run on our Burley tandem’s Sun rims, so the Spring issue will be timely! I’ll look forward to reading about the MAP URP too.

  3. Oglethorpe says:

    I built up my first 650B randonneur bicycle on a SOMA Grand Randonneur frame. You may recall you reviewed it in the same issue as the MAP S&P. A year of riding sold me on this type of bicycle, and I recently snagged one of the last S&P’s and moved much of the build over to the MAP, which is an amazing machine. I am now rebuilding the SOMA as a city bike with flat pedals, more upright bars, and a 1X drivetrain, much like what is pictured. It won’t be as nice as the MAP, but it will outperform it one regard–I’ll be less afraid to lock it up outside!

    • afraid to lock it up outside!

      In the article, we address the issue of how much bike you need. Of course, we all are concerned about theft, but fortunately, most bike thieves look for anonymous bikes that are easy to sell. A custom “Urban Randonneur” hardly qualifies! If all else fails, there is insurance…

  4. C.Williams says:

    Solid, solid content as always! There are many things that make this mag great, such as the balance of ride reports, tests, history and science, but what it comes down to is content, and lots of it. I read and re-read and when I am tired of re-reading, the next edition comes out🙂 That and the focused intentionality of it. I don’t agree with Jan on everything (esp. handlebars) but I love that he encourages us to bring our intellects and intentions to bear on what we are doing. And he shares the love, not just the gear.

  5. mike bike says:

    Hey Jan, just curious if BQ has addressed high speed turning techniques in one of it’s issues. Aside from just doing what feels natural, I’m always wondering if there is consensus on how to make a good high speed turn. Or if your readers have feedback on this…

  6. David Pearce says:

    I am so glad I found you, those maybe four years ago! You have enriched my life.

    I used to say, “Three publications are all I need to fulfill my magazine needs: The New Yorker, The Magazine Antiques, and Scientific American.”

    The New Yorker is still part of my world, I’m happy to say, and my parents before me saved EVERY issue from 1960 on until today. I kind of liked it better when only the “departments” , say, the Critics, or “Up and Down the Avenue” [shopping], made it into the Table of Contents, such as it was. Otherwise you were just supposed to read the whole darn thing from cover to cover, and then you’d know what was in it! And my mother, bless her heart, did just that! ********* And it came out EVERY week come hell or high water, some years 52 issues, some years 53. Since Condé Nast took over, the schedule has been regularized at 48 issues per year. [I have only a limited supply of New Yorkers from the period 1956-1960, sorry. As opposed to my mother, I grew up on the advertisements and the cartoons. But I am the curator of those magazines now! That’s a lotta magazine boxes: We have a bedroom called “The New Yorker Room”.]

    Antiques Magazine, my subscription lapsed several years ago, but I have nothing against it, except my available time.

    Scientific American, I’d like to subscribe to again, but once more, time presses!

    One thing I do know, Bicycle Quarterly is a magazine I will subscribe to until the day I croak (which I hope is a long way off), and four issues a year is just about the right amount of magazine to be absorbed in our times now.

  7. Roger says:

    Looks like a lot of great reading in the upcoming issue of BQ. Bicycle quarterly is a great resource for any cyclist but especially for those of us who have gone with the hype and tried the current modern approach and realize that great riding bikes are nothing new and in some cases the older schools of thought out function the new. Thanks to BQ for introducing me to low trail, wider tires, canti or center pull vs disc, light steel frames, and the great genre of Randonneuring.

    However I must say I’m not interested in more Diverge. I feel the point was made in your previous review(s), it’s a bike that rides well and does many duties, but to me it just has no soul. And one of the most hideous looking seat posts ever!

    I imagine that Specialized had the bike’s short comings “corrected” for additional testing so to avoid “bad” press and, as most of their products do, it will function exceptionally well. They (Specialized) have had their hand in many bicycling advancements in the last decades. Much due to having hired many bright and talented engeneers and designers over the years. The bikes can hardly help but be excellent riding machines.
    The problem I have is that the “company” has such a history of bullying anyone with products that so much as resemble something from Specialized as well as squelching the efforts of prior employees to create their own products. They’ll present lawsuits and cease and desist decrees and throw so much money on the legal fires that some of the “competition” are forced to close their doors even if they have a solid case to stand on.
    Case in point, the folks who founded Volagi cycles, who had previously worked for Specialized and we’re sued for intellectual property violation because they created a bike that some said looked similar to something from specialized. Mmm “looks like a bike”! Did Specislized invent the bicycle?
    Funny, not!, that Volagi had the intent to create a bike that could be used much like the diverge, long distance comfort, road or cross, and disc brakes, but they were about five years ahead of specialized. Specialized won that case but was awarded just one dollar. Specialized’s legal fees were a drop in the bucket to them but took almost all of the Volagi founders savings but thankfully they have survived.

    • Thank you for the kind words. We give every maker a second try when their bikes underperform. Few take us up on it… perhaps they lack the confidence that the “issues” can be fixed, or they don’t understand the value of a good review in Bicycle Quarterly. It amazed me how many readers contacted us to tell us that our reviews had persuaded them to buy Ritcheys and Calfees in recent year, to say nothing of the small custom builders.

      Specialized’s ethics have been much-discussed, including the “Letters” page of the Winter 2015 Bicycle Quarterly. Everybody has to decide for themselves what they think of it. All we can do is test the bikes. And if that pushes Specialized and other big makers to making better and more versatile bikes, all the better. And of course, we also tested two Volagis…

      So you don’t need to worry about Specialized bikes taking too many pages in BQ… The upcoming issue has another steel bike from a small maker, and for the future, we’ve got a number of exciting bikes lined up.

      • Roger says:

        Thanks Jan!
        Reading about the “little” guys and also seeing the spaces they work in are high points for me in every issue. The photos of bike frames and tools in their shops are like little treasure troves of interest. I frequently say aloud “What’s that for?” and “Oh that’s how they do that” and of course “I want that!”. The photos of bikes and also the scenery during rides are always exceptionally well done too.
        After decades of being just a mtn biker I tried a carbon road bike but soon went back to dirt. The frame was light and stiff and tires were too skinny and hard! It hurt to ride more than three hours.
        Fast forward… now I’m a 650×42 covert and ride a Boulder All Road with light skinny tubes complete with Nitto rack, Honjo’s and Maes Parallel’s all due to BQ! I have put 1,000 miles on it so far and the bike is working so well for me that I rode my first 200K brevet in January and loved it! I completed it, solo, in just under 8.5 hrs on a glorious day with rain showers, sunshine and rainbows everywhere! It was the longest and possibly best ride of my life but not the hardest (8 hrs racing a mtn bike is way harder!). I look forward to doing more brevets and getting a bit faster in my old age.
        Cheers
        Roger

  8. Lloyd McMahon says:

    Hi Jan,
    Regarding Roger’s comments above I also struggle with Specialized as company, however I just recently bought a Diverge- partly because of your review- but also because It seemed to really suit my needs. And I bought it from a good friend who owns and runs my LBS and I felt just fine about giving him my business. These things are rarely black and white. I’m (out of obvious self-interest) looking forward to the concluding report on the bike. On a technical note, and since you’re obviously the man to ask, will the 38mm Compass tire fit the bike or should I stick with the 35 (when not using fenders, of course)? Looking forward, as always, to the next issue.

    • I haven’t run the Diverge without fenders. (I know that with fenders, 32 mm is the max. I tried 35 mm, and it didn’t clear.) To determine how wide a tire you can fit, check out this post.

      • Bill Wood says:

        Jan, what are your thoughts on building 650b wheels for the Diverge? I’m wondering if it would give more room for bigger tires, and improve the handling?

    • Bill Wood says:

      Lloyd, I have the Diverge Carbon Pro with Barlow Pass 38s and they just fit at the bottom bracket. I didn’t have any issues, but recently got the Bon Jons to compare, although its been too cold to try them yet. They are less of a tight fit, the Barlow Pass are a bit of a stretch although they do work.

      Join the Facebook group Specialized Diverge Owners and Enthusiasts, there is much lively discussion and photos! 🙂

  9. William says:

    I’m sorry, if I wanted to read another article about a Specialized, Giant, Trek or some other mainstream mega-cycle company’s offering, I’d just pick up a copy of Bicycling magazine. There are many bikes out there that cover the same functionality as the Specialized and Giant offerings BQ has included in the Spring edition, I’m not at all swayed by the argument that BQ is just reporting on important product advances.

    • I’d just pick up a copy of Bicycling magazine

      Do you think any of the mainstream magazines will do a thorough test of any bike? Do you think they’d dare to say that a hand-made steel bike is just as fast as the latest wonder bikes? (And vice versa, honestly say that a wonder bike is faster than our steel machines?)

      The reason I am interested in the Diverge isn’t so much for Specialized, but I want to find out whether Shimano’s hydraulic road discs are a flawed product, or whether our test bike was an outlier. I think that is of interest to all cyclists…

  10. Jack Whorton says:

    Looking forward to the tyre / rim width article. I am using your 32mm tyres with a set of Fulcrum Racing 3 wheels and they work a treat.. Light, fast yet super smooth and comfortable at 50-60PSI. Really turns the crummy road surfaces over here into something pretty bearable… I’d like to try even wider in the future but 32mm is the maximum recommended with those rims (inner width 15mm).

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