We Aren’t Models!


We aren’t models! Anybody who has looked at our photos will have noticed this… but what I really want to say is that every photo you see in Bicycle Quarterly, on this blog and on the Compass web site is totally authentic. It’s not a posed shot with – yes – a model gazing wistfully over a mountain landscape, where you instinctively feel that they’ve come up here in a van and there is a second truck parked nearby with equipment and perhaps a third one for the catering.


The riders in our photos actually rode their bikes to the location. The camera was carried in a handlebar bag. We may ride back and forth a few times to get the shot “just right”, but that is it. Our photos record actual rides.


In the photos that accompany BQ’s bike tests, you see the actual testers on the actual test rides. To us, that authenticity is important. We want to give you as much of the experience of being there as possible.

Even our famous “To us, it’s just another road” tire ad (above) was shot during a bicycle tour. The lighting was just right, the road looked great and we seized the opportunity.


Shooting photos during our rides keeps our marketing budget small. Those vans, equipment trucks and catering cost a lot of money. Professional photo shoots result in beautiful images, but another way to get great shots is to go out again and again, until everything turns out just right. Since we ride a lot, we get plenty of opportunities… and great rides make for much better stories than great photo shoots!

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 the high-performance components we need for our adventures.
This entry was posted in Bicycle Quarterly Back Issues, Rides, Testing and Tech. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to We Aren’t Models!

  1. starground says:

    Reality works for me! 🙂

  2. heavyman927 says:

    What can I say? Great shots!

  3. Hifast says:

    In photography, quantity yields quality.

    And thank heavens the cost, time, and luck required for film have yielded to free, reliable, immediately available, and virtually unlimited digital images.

  4. Xavier says:

    It works great for me, too. At the same time I see more and more talented professional photographers also riding their bikes and bringing beautiful photos back. I think about Matthieu Lifschitz or the pictures I see in Bunyan Velo for example.

  5. Tom is Seattle says:

    Please consider writing a piece for BQ about how your team gets the great photos in the real world? How do you decide where a good shot will be? How to you keep your camera protected but handy? Any special strategies for dealing with weather? Any tips for us amateurs to capture our adventure rides on “film”? etc.

    • I do support this idea.

    • We’ve been thinking about a ‘Behind the Scenes at BQ’ feature. The main issue with getting photos of high-enough quality for print is that the equipment is large and heavy. You really need a DSLR, and the best lenses for sports photography are quite large, too. There is a big difference in how quickly different lenses focus, especially for Nikon, so choose your lens carefully. As to weather protection, fortunately, the professional camera equipment is rugged and designed to be used in the rain… For social media, a smaller camera is sufficient – the image quality doesn’t need to be so high. A handlebar bag is a great place to carry a camera.

      As to image composition, light conditions, etc., part of it is luck (weather) and part of it is seizing the photo opportunities when they present themselves.

  6. Stephen D Bamford says:

    Rock on! You guys are the real thing!

  7. Brian says:

    I really enjoy knowing this. It is always a bit disconcerting when some major “bike” magazines obviously have someone who doesn’t ride a bike posing next to it. You can just tell by how they are standing or how they are wearing their helmet that they have never done that before.

  8. Dana Shifflett says:

    Well, nuts.
    I wanted to drive the catering truck.

  9. Rick Harker says:

    Whaaaat! For nearly all the photos you’ve selected to accompany your stories they have been perfect for the occasion. You can also write poetically about the ride but without those photos to fill in the imagination it may be obscured.
    Keep up the natural shots Jan.

  10. Conrad says:

    If you weren’t keepin’ it real I wouldn’t subscribe! Keep up the good work

  11. Everytime I see the Ortlieb catalog I try to guess how much crushed paper they have inside their bags.

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