Bicycle Quarterly Back Issues Back in Stock

Bicycle Quarterly back issues always are popular, and a number of magazines have run out in recent months. Recently, we found a box of magazines that we had put aside in case we needed to replace copies that were lost in shipping. This means that all but two Bicycle Quarterlies (BQ 15 and BQ 18) are available again, but some editions are limited to a handful of magazines.

As you can imagine, 15 years of Bicycle Quarterly have produced some fascinating content. Below are some of my favorites:

BQ 27 has my favorite cover: It shows the winning team in the 1943 tandem taxi race: During the World War II, there was no gasoline in France (except for ‘important’ functions like the press motorcycle in the background that is covering the race), so bike racers earned a living pulling trailers as taxis.

Tandem taxis were faster, but also cost twice as much. Once a year, there was a race of the tandem taxis, where the teams used lightweight cargo trailers instead of their usual ‘taxicabs.’ When I found this photo in the René Herse archives, I knew it would make a great cover: The two racers are going all-out across the cobbles of Paris’ boulevards, while the ‘passenger’ crouches as aero as possible in the trailer, the brevet card between his teeth as he holds on during the wild ride.

The rest of the issue is just as fascinating, as it explores the roots of long-distance cycling through period documents and reports.

Another favorite is BQ 28, dedicated to the Taylor brothers (of Jack Taylor fame). Mark Lawrence spent months talking to them. He discovered a fascinating story of three ‘lads’ (and a woman) who started making bikes, went to the Paris Salon du Cycle to discover the best bike parts, raced in ‘outlaw’ races that culminated in the Tour of Britain, and saw their bikes being ridden all over the world. It’s the definitive history of this famous maker, and it shows that true stories can be as gripping as the best novels.

BQ 26 is dedicated entirely to bicycle brakes. I find brakes even more fascinating than derailleurs, and in this Bicycle Quarterly, we explore how bicycles have stopped and slowed down over time, with photos and drawings from the pen of Daniel Rebour (below). You’ll see early hydraulic brakes and disc brakes from the 1970s, which already grappled with the challenge of translating the linear pull of a brake cable into a clamping force on a disc rotor.

The sheer variety of brakes boggles the mind: Above are eight different cantilever brakes, all completely different from each other and from the standard models we know today. To date, we haven’t been able to figure out how No. 7 actually works! If you are at all interested in bicycle technology, this issue is an absolute must-read.

There have been too many fascinating stories to list more than a fraction. I enjoyed meeting the porteurs de presse, the newspaper couriers of Paris, whose annual race had them carry heavy bundles of newspapers around Paris at incredible speeds (above, from BQ 19). Or the story of Cycles Alex Singer in our very first issue. Each of these histories provide insight into an incredibly rich cycling culture, where the boundaries between racing, touring and working by bike were much more fluid than they are today.

My all-time favorite is BQ 9 with the story of ‘the Aunt,’ Paulette Porthault – nick-named, because she was the aunt of one of the young riders on the Herse team. I met her when she was in her 90s, but her memory was as sharp as ever. She told of touring all across Europe in the 1930s (above), when currency restrictions required hiding your cash in your bike’s tires before crossing from one country to another. She was an incredibly strong rider, setting times in brevets that are unbelievable today: Riding a hilly 200 km (125 miles) on a tandem in 5 1/2 hours seems almost incomprehensible.

‘The Aunt’ won the Poly de Chanteloup hillclimb race during the war. She rode in the famous post-war Concours de Machines for René Herse, where she kept an eye on young Lyli Herse, who was just a teenager, and who told me how her incredible cycling exploits were inspired by ‘the Aunt.’ Madame Porthault recounted all these adventures with incredible wit and humor. I’ll never forget my encounters with her, and I am glad that Bicycle Quarterly readers can share them. (And I am glad to report that she is still doing well, now aged almost 105.)

Paging through Bicycle Quaterly‘s back issues makes me a bit melancholic, because we’ve seen a changing of the guard over the last 15 years. Many of these inspirational people (above, Ernest Csuka of Cycles Alex Singer) no longer are with us. I am glad we’ve documented their stories so they can inspire future generations, but once these magazines are sold out, you’ll have to hunt for them in used bookstores (or online). Fortunately, Bicycle Quarterly back issues are treasured (and printed on durable, archival-quality paper), so these stories won’t be lost.

In recent years, we’ve taken this inspiration to plot our own adventures, like a trip to Japan with renowned constructeur J. P. Weigle. Seeing the experience of riding the incredible roads of the Japanese Alps through his eyes was a special treat, as was his report from last year’s Concours de Machines in France.

We now take our test bikes on real adventures, because our technical research has brought us bikes that can cover distance and terrain in a way that would have seemed impossible in the past. If you’ve missed our ride across Odarumi Pass in Japan or the search for an elusive passage across the Sawtooth Range in the Cascades (above), you’ll enjoy reading BQ‘s more recent back issues.

Most of all, the amazing stories we’ve documented will inspire your own cycling adventures. Browse the illustrated table of contents of all Bicycle Quarterlies online, or simply buy the full collection of the ‘First 50 Bicycle Quarterlies at our special price – I don’t think you’ll regret it.

Building on this great content, we can promise you many more exciting Bicycle Quarterlies in the future: We’ve unearthed some great stories that will surprise and amaze you. Subscribe today and be among the first to get the Spring 2018 Bicycle Quarterly that includes the story of Lyli Herse, a gravel adventure across the Alps from Torino to Nice, and a bike test over a snow-covered pass in Japan. Our journey continues, and we look forward to every discovery along the way!

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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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17 Responses to Bicycle Quarterly Back Issues Back in Stock

  1. I’ve got all but BQ18. Is there no chance to get that issue? I know, Maxi has already asked for it but I keep on trying to get it. 🙂

  2. Keith Gaunt says:

    Fascinating look into the back issues of Bicycle Quarterly. Brake #7 in Daniel Rebour’s drawing is an interesting one. I suspect the brake uses a cam setup to push the pad towards the rim. I’m not sure what kind of power and modulation it could achieve but…

  3. Toby says:

    I was lucky enough to be able to buy a complete collection of back issues from #1 to #50, which is when I started subscribing.

    I treasure my set of BQs. Last winter when I got them, I started with #1 and read them straight through. I have now reread most of the articles at least a second time.

    Getting the back issues is worth it for any bicycle lover and reader of BQ.

    Jan, thanks for all of the riding and thinking inspiration. I went from someone who was interested in bicycles and used bicycles to get around, to an obsessive who started randonneuring last year and is training now for PBP 2019 (and who is also waiting for a custom 650b randonneuring bike).
    It sounds like a bit of a “fanboy” thing to say, but I am happier, healthier, and have met a great community of people who I can talk bikes with.

    Toby Whitfield
    Toronto, Canada

  4. marmotte27 says:

    I’m going to check once again if I’ve really got all the issues. I already had to reorder BQ27 which I mislaid, god knows where. And I’m making a note to myself to never lend them to anyone, friend or foe…

  5. Rick Thompson says:

    Is it too soon to ask for online availability? Maybe after an issue is completely sold out it could be made available online.
    Give me a hardcopy magazine to hold in my hands and flip through the pages first read, but for reference to old articles it should be online. I don’t keep shelves of old Nat Geos anymore, even my small readership boating journals are backed up online.
    If the issues are going to become completely unavailable in paper then that is a real loss to those who do not want to spend their hours scouring eBay and paying collector prices (not that there is anything wrong with that type of hobby).

    • Online contents is easy for a ‘zine, where the entire content fits in a pdf file. Putting the print file online costs very little.

      Bicycle Quarterly‘s content, even in the early issues, had too many high-quality images to put in a downloadable pdf file. This means that creating online content isn’t easy. Making high-quality content accessible online requires technology that is totally different from printing a magazine. Big magazines have the resources to do this (as well as digital subscriptions), but for us, the cost would far outweigh the benefits, unless we switched completely to digital magazine. But then, all this contents would be lost as soon as the platform on which it is viewable goes away.

  6. Ulrik Haugen says:

    Seeing the the ad on page 57 of Bicycle quarterly 62 claiming “All back issues are available” had me going me straight to the Compass web site. As noted above though issues 15 and 18 are still out of print. 😦
    The title of this post gave me the same first reaction…
    (And while that makes me somewhat unhappy that is of course because i enjoy your magazine very much!)

  7. Mikko says:

    It would be great to purchase the first four issues ever made, but shipping to Europe is over 60 bucks. Is there a more affordable shipping option available?

  8. Conor says:

    I’m going to hazard a guess as to the operation of brake 7.
    Terminology:
    R: Straddle rod from hanger
    C: Caliper arm holding pad
    L1, L2, L3: Ligatures connecting caliper post to rod. L1 attached to post, L3 attached to R, L2 connects L1 & L3
    P1, P2, P3, P4: Pivot points, P1 is canti post, P2: pivot between L1&L2, P3: pivot between L2&L3, P4: pivot between L3&R.
    (Labeled Diagram here: https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4714/25443745557_8fb2a1df76_m.jpg)

    C is free to move
    L1 is fixed at P1
    L2 & L3 are free to move on all pivots
    R is free to move on P4

    Operation
    When brake is pulled the angle between R and L3 straightens and L2 moves upward, cantilevered on P2.
    The result is that L3 moves closer to the wheel.
    I propose that there is some sort of stop behind the Caliper that L3 pushes against. We can’t see this on the drawing but it could be the back of the pad holder or the draw bolt holding the pad holder. Regardless, this action would give very good compression and hence stopping power

    • That is an ingenious solution! Basically, you have two mechanism – one with the pad swinging freely on arm C, and the other just pushing against the pad to move it inward. We should build a prototype to see whether it works!

      Interestingly, it seems to be designed to convert a bike with high braze-ons for the 1930s Jeay roller-cam brakes to the more modern cantis… I think the brake was designed before centerpulls became popular, which again used the high braze-on location.

    • Rustilicus says:

      This was my theory as well, with L1 being fixed the key to the function.

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