About Bicycle Quarterly’s blog

Off The Beaten Path is my blog about the goings-on at Bicycle Quarterly and Compass Bicycles: Rides we do, how we keep our bikes on the road, new products, glimpses of topics in upcoming issues of the magazine, and more.

Bicycle Quarterly is our passion. The magazine existed long before we ever thought about developing and selling bike parts. As we learned more and more about ‘real-world’ bicycles, we found that many of the parts needed to make these bicycles were not available. We founded Compass Bicycles to make these parts. We sell the parts we use, and we develop the components that we need for our own bikes.

The blog is a way to share what we are working on, where we ride, and what is on our minds. We encourage discussion in the ‘Comments’ section. Enjoy!

Jan Heine, Founder, Compass Cycles

28 Responses to About Bicycle Quarterly’s blog

  1. Bobby Birmingham says:

    The timing is perfect… I’m a new subscriber to BQ.

    Best of luck, Jan; looking forward to learning (and contributing).


    • ascpgh says:

      Same as Bobby. What a wonderful gift from another rider in my coffee shop riding group.
      Looking forward to the enlightenment and insights.

      Andy Cheatham

  2. Paul Germain says:

    As someone who has (nearly) all the BQ issues filed away for future reference (and enjoyment), I welcome this blog! I cannot get enough of BQ!

  3. Paul Germain says:

    Oops, add me to the email updates, please.

  4. I am sure this is going to be a very interesting site. I have all the copies of Bicycle Quartely and I am looking forward to the good stuff coming this way.
    Tell Hermanson, Sweden

  5. Keith Andrews says:

    Really enjoy the blog as it adds to an already very fine magazine.
    I am still adjusting to the rando bike style as I am a long time
    20mm to 25mm wide tire kinda guy, but with every year that
    passes I find my appreciation for the bicycle grows as well.

  6. Rik says:

    Really enjoy the blog as it adds to an already very fine magazine. I am still adjusting to the rando bike style as I am a long-time 20mm to 25mm wide tire kinda guy, but with every year that passes I find my appreciation for the bicycle grows as well.

  7. Ford Kanzler says:

    Have enjoyed BQ for years and hope it continues.
    Thank you for your great editorial work and expanding the awareness of cycling for pleasure and fitness.

  8. Floyd Biery says:

    Please subscribe me to the blog.

  9. Very nice blog. Clear and objective technical articles.

  10. Jeroen Kleijn says:

    Dear Jan,

    In search for new tires I encountered your blog. I thought “look if this Dutchman can enlighten me”. Your tire test didn’t help me much, but I am really happy to have found your site! Great stuff. I almost want to pick up the restorationproject of my 1958 Locomotief! But I am lacking time and money…..
    Keep up the good work
    Jeroen Kleijn
    The Netherlands

  11. skoester1 says:

    Recently read the latest issue of the magazine where you talked about not putting much weight on one’s hands and arms while riding. This has always been difficult and wonder how to change my riding style to avoid sore wrists. Almost all riders I see seem to be leaning on the bars.

    • To get weight off your bars, there are two things to consider: 1. Move your handlebars far enough forward so that your hands no longer are below your shoulders, but stretched forward. 2. Now that your back (instead of your arms) is holding you up, move your handlebars up high enough that the inclination of your back is in tune with your power output and your core strength.

      As we discussed in the latest Bicycle Quarterly, the inclination of your back should balance the upward thrusts of your pedal strokes. The harder you pedal, the more inclined your back should be. Unfortunately, many modern bikes try to look “racy” by placing the bars lower than the seat, but since many beginning riders don’t have the power output to balance a low position, bike makers have shortened the reach and have the riders lean on the bars. Getting the bars higher and further forward would be a better solution, but it wouldn’t be as easy to sell.

      Wrist problems also may be caused by vibrations. Reducing vibrations is most effective at their source, so wider, more supple tires are your best remedy. Another thing is to change hand positions from time to time, and get handlebars that support your hands well and allow multiple positions.

  12. Ted Herman says:

    I recently installed Grand Bois Cerf 700 x 28 tires on my litespeed touring bike. l think they are fine tires, but I found little difference in handling or speed between them and Continental 4 Season 700×28 tires. When aired to 105 psi, they seem as rigid as the Continentals. Am I missing something?

  13. Leighton Bohl says:

    I thought that you might like to add to your ‘favorite blogs/websites’ the French ‘Cyclotourisme Tandem Noir (http://tandem.noir.pagesperso-orange.fr/). There is an extensive bibliography of, mainly French, cycling literature, a technical section, and much information about PBP and their own site sponsored fleches and randonees. Highly recommended.

  14. Philip Waites says:

    I really enjoy reading your blog and articles. Have been a cyclist in the UK for over 50 years from early club cycling and racing in the 60’s and 70’s through many extensive European camping tours of several months duration so it’s refreshing to see some logic and sense brought to the cycling world.
    However, there is nothing new in good quality complient wide tyres on 650b or 26″ wheels. The last 25 years I have been riding a custom lugged 531 touring bike with 26″ wheels and Panaracer pasella 26 x 1.75″ (since they first came out). Mudguards and Racks included. The bike was built by Dave Yate, it’s called “The Hosteller” and performs beautifully loaded or otherwise. I also ride a Thorn XTC short wheelbase 26″ wheeled audax bike built in Reynolds 725, fast and fun but very comfortable with 26 x 1.5 Pasella’s.
    Back in the 60’s quite a few old timers in our club swore by, and toured on 26 x 1.3/8″ tyres.
    I now have a couple of sets of your Compass tyres waiting to be installed on these bikes that will hopefully make great bikes even better.

    I’m sure you will have encountered the great frame builder and cycle constructer Dave Oliver’s book “Touring Bicycles” from the early 90’s he was a strong advocate of 650b and 26″ wheeled touring bikes with high quality supple wide tyres, many of us in the UK were turned onto the concept by him many years ago. Glad to see you are building upon that work.

    • I think you’ll find a very noticeable difference between the Compass tires and the Paselas. The Paselas are great for a mid-range tire, but they don’t use a high-end casing with ultra-fine threads. But you are right, wide high-performance tires are nothing new. Vélocio swore by them during the 1920s, and until the 1950s, Barreau made wonderful hand-made clinchers as wide as 42 mm. It’s just that wide tires with truly high performance (and the associated comfort) hadn’t been available for almost 50 years…

      I am glad you enjoy your bike so much.

  15. Philip Waites says:

    Thanks for the encouraging response about the Compass tyres. I did use the Panaracer Hi-Road 26 x 1.5″ folding for a long time until they discontinued them and they were better rolling and more comfortable than the paselas. So if the Compass prove to be a good step up from the Hi Road I’ll be very pleased.
    I’m a huge fan of the 26 X 1.75 size for general touring and switched over from 700c in the late 80’s, However, were I not so well set up for wheels etc in that size I would seriously consider converting one of my bikes to 650B and may possibly go that way at some point down the line. That said though, my touring/Audax bikes seem very stable yet nimble with 26″ wheels, possibly as they are custom designed and built to use that size for touring so maybe not much if anything to be gained from a set of 650B wheels?

    • Once you go to tires wider than 42 mm, you don’t gain much from 650B wheels. In fact, I prefer the Rat Trap Pass 26″ tires (54 mm wide) over the Switchback Hill 650B (almost the same width). The bigger wheel and heavier tire make the bike too stable for my taste. The opposite applies to narrow 26″ tires, which result in a bike that isn’t stable enough.

  16. andr3s_diaz says:

    Hi Jan,

    A spanish reader here 🙂

    When we are talking about 700x32c, 700x35c, 700x38c, 700x40c…etc road/gravel tires… does the higher TPI means always lower rolling resistance ?

    In the 700×25-28c I can see how the fast tires are around 320TPI but when I go wider it is hard for me to find something higher than 160TPI. Only Challenge has some 700x32c with 260TPI.

    I´m asking because I can´t find the TPI value of your Compass tires and I´m not sure if higher TPI value means lower resistance also in big tires.

    My type of riding is 70% tarmac – 30% offroad and when I roll on tarmac I want to make sure I have a fast tire (I also put attention to tire pressure).

    Looking forward to hearing from you.


    • Generally, TPI is related to performance, but only indirectly. You want thinner threads, and higher TPI usually has thinner threads. But you also get higher TPI by pushing the threads closer together – with a denser weave. That makes a stronger, but less supple tire. The complete information on this topic is here.

  17. Keith Benefiel says:

    Have been touring since the 60s, on pro quality gear since ’71, pro mechanic for 20 years, owned by my bike shop for 15 years. Ridden every kind of rubber from Del Mundos to 26×13/4 S-6. The new supple tires are THE greatest single improvement in performance to roll down the pike in my bikelife. Running Cayuse and Babyshoes now. My bony, highly calibrated butt is very happy. Cheers

  18. Bert Paul says:

    Enjoyed your thoughts on what is a road bike. Frankly, every bike that you ride it is a road bike. My Coast-to-Cost single speed, Schwinn Corvette three speed with balloon tires, Nishiki Professional vintage race bike, custom made Stevenson Tandem and Single, Schwinn Varsity, 80’s REI touring 15 speed, they have all been road bikes. In my childhood 20 mile rides on the Coast-to-Coast and Corvette in Levi’s and Red Wing Flyer half boots. There was no argument then, just riding, freedom, and that still rides with me today.

    Bert Paul

  19. citooljoe says:

    Hello, I ride vintage steel bikes. They were light for their day (23lbs) , but heavy by today’s standards . I have found for me a wider tire, say , 26-28cm gives me a faster, more comfortable ride on my bikes( I have a few!). My latest steed is a 1972 Super Mondia Special that came with 27″ wheels. I am running Michelin 27 x 1 1/4 tires at about 80psi and have my fastest recorded time on Strava for me . The tires barely clear the frame so I may re lace the wheels with 700c and switch to about 28-30 wide tires.I am not sure if I will get that done before Eroica California , but the bike is my choice for the ride! Joe

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