The Inspiration: Bicycle Quarterly

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Bicycle Quarterly is the inspiration for everything we do. It’s the basis for our research and development: The all-road performance of Compass tires was developed through Bicycle Quarterly’s testing of tires. The supreme comfort of Compass’ Randonneur handlebars became apparent as we rode many bikes across varied terrain for BQ features. But more than that, Bicycle Quarterly has been the inspiration for the riding we do. All the wonderful parts in the world really serve only one purpose: to make your and our rides more memorable and fun.

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The latest BQ is a good example: We test a Firefly Enduro Allroad bike on the amazing road over the Paso de Cortés in Mexico (above). Rides like these inspire us to search for improvements, not just in our own components, but also in the way things are done across the bike industry. The recent move toward wider tires is a good example.

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Who would have thought that 54 mm-wide high-performance tires offer so much cornering grip that the low-rider panniers scraped on the road when we leaned deep into corners?

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Studying the past can be an inspiration for the future, too. Takayuki Nishiyama’s big article about Suntour in the current Bicycle Quarterly has us thinking about derailleur design. Should we look at slant parallelograms not just for rear derailleurs, but also for fronts?

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The most important inspiration is to go and ride. Natsuko Hirose’s article about touring Hokkaido with a group of students shows that any bike can be used for memorable trips – just go, and figure it out as you go along. These are just three of the articles in the current Bicycle Quarterly.

The best part of my job as editor of Bicycle Quarterly is when readers write to us how much they enjoy the magazine. The last issue received more mail than any before – here are a few samples:

  • “Why can’t this amazing quarterly come out six times a year?”
  • “The magazine is the only one, on any subject, I always read cover to cover, and it just keeps getting better. The current mix of travel stories, reviews, historical information, and technical stories is, for me, ideal.”
  • “The ride across the Paso de Cortés was a great read.”

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We are already working on the Autumn BQ, but you don’t want to miss the Summer issue. Subscribe today, and you’ll get the Summer issue automatically as the first of your subscription. If you enjoy what we do, you’ll enjoy the magazine – guaranteed. (We actually refund the unused portion of your subscription if you cancel, yet that happens only once or twice a year.)

Which was your favorite article in a recent Bicycle Quarterly?

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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10 Responses to The Inspiration: Bicycle Quarterly

  1. Nikolas says:

    Hello Jan, I just wanted to tell you that I’m enjoying your Bon Jon tires a lot. I put them on my Diverge and rode the STP on Saturday. No flats and super comfortable all day long. I used tubes so far because I’ve never used a tubeless setup before, and didn’t want to experiment on a 200 mile ride. Thank you for making a nice set of lightweight 35mm tires available.

  2. Hidgolf says:

    The Mexico trip with the firefly and the chain line article inspired me to download a free bike CAD program and really start comparing geometry of my current production steel cycle cross bike I assembled with 40mm wide 700c tires and fenders and understanding how much better the packaging becomes with 26″ wheels. The Rat Trap Pass tires help justify my desire to have a custom bike frame made as there are so few options available in the market, all with expensive, heavy, and less effective disc brakes.

    I’m greatly looking forward to the Technical Trials article! So many of the bikes used 1x drivetrains, which is something I’ve been wanting to try since BQ’s review of the Swiss Cross with sram’s system. The chain line article also leads me towards trying a 1x drivetrain.

  3. Lee says:

    My favorite article in the Summer Issue: the history of Suntour. I’m still running a Cyclone front derailleur and a Perfect freewheel on my commuter. Maybe I’ll put the Cyclone rear derailleur back on, just for fun!

  4. Michael says:

    I really enjoyed Natsuko’s article “Cyclotouring Is About Discovery”, in the Spring 2016 issue.
    I am a normal, average rider, not an elite, ultra rider like many of the BQ staff (don’t try to deny it :)) so it was encouraging and refreshing to read something written by a regular rider.
    I tremendously enjoyed her descriptions of her approaches to problem solving the challenges that are posed to her on rides, and would have been posed to me also on those kinds of rides.

    Although I love the BQ rando ride reports and all the high adventure, it is great to finally have a writer for the rest of us! Keep it up!

  5. Jon Blum says:

    Thanks for the interesting publication. I may not agree with every word in it, but it’s always interesting reading, well-written, beautifully produced, and unique in the field.
    Two comments about issues you mentioned:
    1. For those scraping panniers, since most front racks these days are low riders, why not design panniers with a slanted bottom to improve clearance? There’s no real reason the bottom has to be level as it moves away from the rack, it could tilt upward. This could be done with some combination of fabric cut, stiffeners, and/or compression straps. Might even be possible by using your current bags and having two laces instead of one on each side, then tightening the bottom one more to pull the outer part of the bottom of the bag toward the midline of the bike.
    2. You mentioned slant parallelogram front derailleurs. Don’t current FD’s already do that? They move up and down as well as in and out as they shift. (Some older models, like Campagnolo Valentino and Simplex Prestige, did not do that.) Since the slant was designed to keep the jockey roller closer to the cogs, I think the rising/falling motion of the FD achieves the same goal already. I am having trouble visualizing what additional slant to add to that action.

    Jon

    • Thanks for the kind words. I am actually glad you don’t agree with everything we say – it would be a boring magazine without much new content if that was the case. When we discovered low-trail geometries, tested wide tires and suggested that stiffer frames were not more efficient, we knew that these ideas would be controversial.

      Scraping panniers: I think an easier solution is to move the rack up a bit. Panniers are quite squishy, and to get them to hold a shape that isn’t roughly square would be difficult.

      Derailleurs: Modern front derailleurs have parallelograms, but they move straight in and out. The Suntour slant parallelogram moved forward as it moved outward as well. I wonder whether moving backward instead wouldn’t help the chain to climb the big chainring.

  6. huges84 says:

    At first I subscribed for one year, when my final issue came, the only indication was some small plain print on the little card included in the plastic wrap. I almost missed it. I am sure many do miss it and inadvertently let their subscription lapse. I suggest that you make it harder to miss that an issue is the last of someone’s subscription and they need to renew. Most magazines will make that fact impossible to mud and even send letters as well to encourage renewal. I know you have better taste that, but I think you are being too subtle.

    • Sorry that it can be easy to miss when your subscription expires. If we have your e-mail, then we send you a renewal notice by e-mail as well. We’ll look into making it more clear that your subscription has expired when the last issue arrives. Thank you for the suggestion.

  7. Kyle Brooks says:

    I’m a huge fan of vintage SunTour, and have dedicated a lot of words to them on The Retrogrouch Blog, so I really enjoyed the article on SunTour in the last issue. About slant parallelogram front derailleurs – I’m not quite sure how you envision that kind of development, but I believe Shimano has introduced front derailleurs that might fit the description — that is, the cage would move slightly forward as it moved outward (and upward) to the larger chainring. One example would be the early ’90s 105 (FD-1055 in Shimano-ese). I don’t think it was the revelation that the slant-parallelogram rear derailleur was, and the design quietly faded away after a couple of years.

  8. The various equipment technologies used this year’s Tour de France offer some confirmation that BQ has been on the right track for innovation in tires and brakes.

    The “direct mount” brakes used widely throughout the tour, mentioned previously on the Compass Instagram, are very similar to the Compass Centerpull. This design is likely to be a long-term racing technology. Disc brakes have seen a diminished favor in the peloton due to their tendency to cause injuries in big crashes. I didn’t see any discs at this year’s tour.

    Also, the Continental Pro-Ltd tires, built exclusively for professional riders, sound a lot like Compass Tires. The following is a quote from the bicycling magazine article “More Totally Awesome Tour de France Gear,” published July 18, 2016:

    “Continental provides its 11 sponsored teams with ProLtd-badged tires. These tires are not available to the public, and according to sources, often employ different casing or tube materials, rubber compounds, and, as shown in this photo, tread patterns. This slick center with textured edges is not offered on any publicly-available Continental tubular”.

    Thank you to BQ and Compass for continuing to create innovation in the world of cycling!

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