BQ Un-Meeting and Volcano High Pass Challenge

The Bicycle Quarterly Un-Meeting and the Volcano High Pass Challenge are just a little over a week away! These separate events will take place consecutively on Labor Day Weekend (Sept. 2-4). You can do one or the other, but of course, we hope you will join us for both!

The Volcano High Pass Challenge is a race or ride – as you desire – from Packwood at the foot of Mount Rainier to Carson on the Columbia River. The route climbs steeply out of the Cowlitz River Valley, then skirts the majestic volcano of Mount Adams, passes through quaint Trout Lake (with excellent huckleberry shakes), climbs another gravel pass, before dropping down toward the Columbia River in a vertiginous descent along Panther Creek. It’s one of the most scenic routes in the Cascades, with spectacular views of Mount Adams and stops at the beautiful Walupt and Takhlakh Lakes.

The distance is 170 km (105 miles), with half on gravel and half on pavement. Much of the pavement is during descents, so you’ll spend most of your time on gravel. The ride is unsupported, but our partners Branford Bike will be at Walupt Lake (after the first and biggest climb) with limited mechanical help, just in case. However, you’ll be riding outside of cell coverage, so please be prepared to ride on your own. The Challenge is an unsupported ride, so please no support cars…

The Volcano High Pass Challenge is open to everybody. We offer two options:

  1. One-day ride/race. Start at 5 a.m. on Saturday, September 2. These riders will get their time recorded at the finish.
  2. Start as you want. If you prefer to do the ride over several days, finishing on Saturday, you’ll be recorded as a finisher.

The start is at the Packwood Library. At each control, including the start, you take a photo of your bike:

  • Start: Sign at Packwood Library or Hotel Packwood.
  • Control 1: Walupt Lake: Sign for the campground.
  • Control 2: Takhlakh Lake: View of the lake with Mount Adams.
  • Control 3: Trout Lake: in front of general store with Sasquatch peering over the roof.
  • Control 4: Goose Lake: Photo with lake in background
  • Finish: Carson General Store

Record the time when the photo was taken. (Most digital cameras do this automatically.) At the finish, show us the photos, or, if you finish late, e-mail them.

The road conditions vary between smooth and somewhat rough gravel. I know of riders who have ridden on these roads on 35 mm tires, but I prefer 42s or wider. It’s a fun course, but as the name “Challenge” implies, it’s more strenuous than most “centuries”. Pace yourself and enjoy it!

The following day is the Bicycle Quarterly Un-Meeting. As in the past, it’s a simple formula: Show up and enjoy a day of riding with like-minded cyclists. Start is at 9 a.m. at the Carson General Store. There are no fees, no registration, and no services. Simply show up and join us for the ride. There will be two rides:

  • To Trout Lake on the Volcano High Pass route, then circling the Weigle Hill and Buck Mountain on beautiful gravel roads. This route covers approximately 150 km (93 miles), almost all on gravel.
  • Calamity Peak. This is a paved course on one of the most amazing mountain roads in the Pacific Northwest. This is an out-and-back course, allowing you to shorten or extend the ride as you like. The distance is 70 – 90 km (43 – 56 miles), depending on where you turn around.

Everybody is welcome at both events. Please make sure your bike is in good condition – there will be no support and no sag wagon.

Riders organize their own accommodations. We have reserved a group tent site at the Wind River RV Park and Lodge in Carson, first come, first served, for $ 10 per night.

On Monday, many of us will ride to Portland, from where trains and other transportation are available… Start for the “Ride Back” is also at 9 a.m. at the Carson General Store.

I hope to see you there. Stay tuned for route sheets for these rides early next week…

Posted in Rides | 7 Comments

15-Year Anniversary BQ: Largest Issue Ever!

With the Autumn issue, we celebrate 15 years of Bicycle Quarterly! Fifteen years is a long time, and much has changed in the bike world since 2003. Most of those changes – wider tires, compact cranks, Allroad bikes – have been for the better, and BQ has played at least a small part in that. So we decided to celebrate not just 15 years of the magazine, but also the industry’s shift toward bikes that are more fun to ride in the real world.

What better way to celebrate than to team up with Peter Weigle, one of today’s best constructeurs, and enter a bike in this year’s Concours de Machines technical trials? The idea was to take everything we’ve learned in those 15 years and test it against the best bicycles on the toughest roads.

The Concours was a great adventure, with more than enough stories and images to fill an entire issue. Peter Weigle talks about how he built the lightest bike to finish the Concours, an amazing machine that weighs just 20 pounds (9.1 kg) fully equipped with wide tires, fenders, lights, rack, bottle cages, pump and even a bell. Making a bike this light is difficult enough, but the real challenge was doing so without compromising performance or reliability.

You’ll read the exciting story about how the bike completed the challenging rides of the Concours without penalties and won the vote of the jury, as well as the silver medal.

No fewer than 24 bikes were entered in the Concours. Builders came from France, Sweden, the UK, the U.S., Slovakia and even Japan. The variety and ingenuity of the bikes were truly amazing. We feature them all  in Nicolas Joly’s beautiful studio photos – above, the winning PechTregon – and we tell you how they performed on the road.

To put the Concours in perspective, we bring you the history of these amazing events. Discover how the “Technical Trials” pioneered aluminum cranks, cantilever brakes, low-rider racks and cartridge bearings – things we now take for granted. Above, Lyli Herse signs in at a secret control during the 1947 Concours. You’ll be amazed at the light weight of the bikes 70 years ago (Lyli’s bike weighed less than 8 kg/17.6 lb) and the speeds at which they were ridden.

You don’t have to be a fan of classic bikes to be mesmerized by the amazing Pitard bike that competed in the 1949 Concours. More than half a century ago, it already featured an aluminum frame and many interesting details.

Another way to celebrate our anniversary was to make this the biggest Bicycle Quarterly yet, with 25% more pages. That way, we could also bring you the story of Paul Component Engineering. We take you right into the factory in California where the famous brakes, stems and other parts are made…

… and we talk with Paul himself to discover the story behind his company and what makes it special.

BQ would not be complete without bike tests. For our “First Ride”, we took a Steve Rex monstercross bike to the limit. Is it a ‘cross bike with bigger tires, or a mountain bike with drop bars?

We also rode a Chapman “light tourer” with generator-powered electronic shifting. How did this amazing machine fare on a challenging 300 km randonneur ride that included everything from smooth asphalt to gravel roads?

To top off this action-packed issue, we take you across one of the most awesome mountain passes anywhere. Kurakake Pass in Japan is a mountain road like I had envisioned in many daydreams. Imagine my surprise when I found that this imaginary road actually exists! Traversing the pass was an true adventure: When you venture this far off the beaten path, you never know what you will encounter!

These are just a few of the features in the Autumn 2017 Bicycle Quarterly. When we started BQ, our dream was a quarterly book, rather than just a magazine. This 124-page issue comes closer than ever: It’ll provide many hours of reading enjoyment.

The magazine is at the printer and will be mailed in early September. Subscribe or renew today to get your copy without delay.

More information:

Photo credits: Nicolas Joly (Photo 1, 3, 4, 6), Rob van Driel (Photo 2), Natsuko Hirose (Photos 8. 9. 11), Duncan Smith (Photo 10).

Posted in Bicycle Quarterly Back Issues | 4 Comments

Let’s End the Pedal Wars!

Sometimes, it feels as if cyclists are divided into two camps on many issues. One of these divisions concerns pedals. There are those who believe that if you don’t have clipless pedals, it’s hardly worth taking your bike outside. Others fervently believe that any foot retention will ruin your enjoyment of cycling.

I’ve never understood this “either – or” attitude. On many of my bikes, I ride clipless pedals (above in Paris-Brest-Paris 2015)…

… but I’ve also ridden 400 km brevets with toeclips and straps. I can’t say that there is a performance difference between the two. I’ve set personal bests and course records on either type of pedals. If you look at the times in Paris-Brest-Paris or in pro races, you’ll see that when clipless pedals became widespread, there was no noticeable jump in speeds.

For me, the advantages of clipless pedals are that my feet don’t get numb on cold days, even after many hours of riding. A disadvantage is that the shoes transmit all the pedaling power, so they must fit perfectly and be tightened just right. If they are just a tad too loose, my feet slide around, which is unpleasant. If they are too tight, they constrict my circulation.

Toeclips and straps have the advantage that I can ride in any shoes. Their disadvantage is that I must remember to open one strap slightly when stopping, so I can remove my foot from the pedal. Natsuko (top photo) prefers half-clips, which allow her to put a foot down anytime, yet they still offer good power transfer.

For shorter rides, flat pedals work great for me. Actually, for quick trips around the city, I often ride in street shoes, even on SPD pedals. It’s not ideal, but it works fine at moderate speeds.

If you don’t use clipless pedals, classic touring pedals are hard to beat: With platforms on both sides, they can be used with street shoes. Add toeclips and straps, and they perform like racing pedals.

Despite their versatility, high-end touring pedals always have been few and far between. Now MKS has updated their popular Sylvan pedals with same silky-smooth cartridge bearings as the company’s other high-end pedals. The new model is called “Sylvan Next” to distinguish it from the lower-end “Sylvan” that has cup-and-cone bearings. (Compass only carries the top-quality MKS pedals. Gritty bearings may not slow you down, but you can feel them as you pedal. A smoothly-working bike is much more fun to ride.)

The Rinko version of the Sylvan Next allows removing your pedals without tools in just seconds. With the EZY-Superior quick-release system, you simply turn the ring on the spindle, push it toward the crank, and pull off the pedal.

Rinko pedals are convenient for travel or storing your bike in tight spaces. And if you want to ride with platform pedals one day and with clipless pedals the next, you can swap between the different MKS EZY-Superior models quickly and without tools. (The photo above shows the USB-Nuevo and the Urban Platform pedals.) We also offer the adapters separately, if you want to use the same set of pedals on several bikes.

The Sylvan Next pedals are now in stock. Click here to learn more about them and the other MKS pedals in the Compass program.

Posted in Components, Pedals | 41 Comments

Berthoud Open Saddles in Stock

We just received our first shipment of Gilles Berthoud “Open” saddles. In the past, I’ve tried many saddles with cutouts, but none were comfortable. While they relieved pressure in the center, the sharp edges of the opening were uncomfortable. So I was skeptical when I received a sample of the Gilles Berthoud Aspin Open.

I was surprised to find that I could not feel the edges of the cutout at all. As expected, there was less pressure in the center, but there also wasn’t a noticeable transition from the cutout to the leather. The curved shape of the hole and its beveled edges really worked to make a gradual transition.

Even after a long day in the saddle, the Aspin Open remained comfortable. In fact, I noticed that the cutout made the saddle a bit more flexible, and thus even more comfortable straight out of the box. As an added plus, the Open version is about 15 grams lighter…

On the downside, the more flexible leather top probably won’t have quite the amazing durability of the standard saddles. (My very first Berthoud saddle is still going strong after a decade of daily use.)

Underneath the leather top is Berthoud’s high-tech frame, made from a composite material that is stronger, lighter and more flexible than the steel traditionally used in this place. The saddles are available with stainless steel and titanium rails, in men’s and women’s models.

With all spare parts available from Compass, you can even convert a standard saddle to the Open version or vice versa, or replace stainless steel rails with titanium to lighten your saddle. These saddles rarely need service, but it’s good to know that all the parts are available.

With the Open version, one of the best saddles has become even more comfortable for riders who need to relieve pressure in the saddle area. And of course, the standard saddles remain an excellent choice for most riders.

Some may wonder why the superlight Galibier model isn’t available with the cutout. The reason is simple: With the cutaway sides, there simply isn’t enough leather to support the rider if the middle of the saddle is removed as well.

Click here for more information about Gilles Berthoud saddles in standard and Open versions. The Men’s versions are in stock now, the women’s saddles will follow this autumn.

 

Posted in Saddles | 8 Comments

Cyclodonia on the J. P. Weigle from the Concours de Machines

Jan’s comment: It’s always interesting to read others’ impressions of our work. Cyclodonia discussed several bikes from the Concours de Machines in detail. Translated and reposted with permission. The French original is available here. The views expressed are those of the original, not mine. Enjoy!

J. P. Weigle (Lyme – USA)

  • 2nd place,  Concours de Machines
  • Prix de la Légèreté [Prize for the lightest bike]

Looking at this bike, the unsuspecting public (and ‘unsuspecting’ includes a good part of the rider in the Cyclosportive Les Copains held the same weekend as the Concours de Machines) might think this is an old bike, built 60 or 70 years ago and restored carefully. And yet, the bike presented by J. P. Weigle did not use any old parts that had been pulled from the drawers of a collector.

weigle concours de machines entier.JPG

The timeless machine of the team  J. P. Weigle / J. Heine.

But why redo what already had been done 70 years ago, especially in a competition where originality was the best way to distinguish your bike? The conviction of Jan Heine, rider and future owner of this bike, a conviction which he has defended for several decades in his magazine Bicycle Quarterly, and which is supported by tests that are of a rigor which we would love to see in the French cycling press, is as follows: During  the 1940s and 1950s, the French randonneur bike, thanks in part due to the influence of the Concours de Machines, had achieved a perfect balance of performance, light weight, reliability, comfort and elegance.

Evidently, this is evidently a counterintuitive opinion when the cycling industry has introduced multitudes of standards and innovations. And it was difficult to show the potential of the products and standards of the randonneur bike of the “grande époque”, when they had mostly disappeared. Hence Jan Heine has re-issued a selection of components that no longer were available, under the Compass brand, notably tires, brakes and cranks. The J. P. Weigle presented an opportunity to showcase Compass products in the Concours de Machines.

The absence of any technical mishaps on the difficult roads of the bike test, the speed of its pilot, and the award for the lightest bike, which the Weigle obtained in addition to the silver medal overall, all show that this was undoubtedly one of the best-performing bikes in the event.

A lightweight bike

The light weight of the bike is first and foremost the result of J. P. Weigle skill. He chose a selection of lightweight tubes, and then he chased every gram while building the frame. The tubes are a “Special Mix” according to the sticker. One can assume that the builder used Kaisei fork blades, but that is all we’ll know: J. P. Weigle keeps his secrets to himself.

But it is also a careful selection of the components that brought this fully equipped randonneur bike very close to 9 kg (9.1 kg with pump and bottle cages, but without bag).

The Herse cranks, one of the most important Compass products, showed the intent: Drilled chainrings brought only marginal weight savings, and they also spoiled the beautiful lines a little, but they drew attention to the fact that this was a bike for the Concours de Machines. (Last year, it was Andouart who gave in to the same temptation.)

weigle pedalier herse.JPG

Three bikes were equipped with the Compass René Herse cranks (Weigle, Berthoud and Brevet). Here, the chainring bolts are aluminum, and the crank bolt (also Herse) has been relieved to eliminate every superfluous gram.

This crank is far from a relic. It is interesting for two reasons: It is one of the lightest on the market, and it offers an unrivaled choice of chainrings with the same bolt-circle diameter: single, double or triple. In each configuration, it can be equipped with chainrings from 24 to 52 teeth. Here it was assembled with 46 and 30 teeth, particularly well-suited to hilly terrain, and yet practically impossible to obtain on a classic double crank with a five-arm spider.

The use of titanium was another means of saving a few grams. There were, for example, the bolts for the brake pads, difficult to see:

weigle canti arriere b.JPG

Other components were drilled and machined to remove material. One of the most noticeable pieces of work were the quick release levers:

weigle patte arriere.JPG

Quick release lever with cutout and drilled dropouts on the frame: the secret to success lies in the addition of marginal gains.

The choice of brakes and cables provided another significant weigh reduction. One notes that the three lightest bikes at the Concours (Weigle, Grand Bois and Tegner) all featured downtube shift levers and centerpull brakes – while the vast majority had chosen the obvious solution of disc brakes and shift levers on the handlebars.

weigle canti

Cantilever brakes (here Compass prototypes): the best compromise between weight and performance. Especially when the pad holders and brake pivots are drilled…

Downtube shift levers (together with non-aero brake levers) are among the distinctive features of vintage bikes. For many cyclists, it’s unimaginable to return to such a shifter. And yet the great speed of the rider during the two bike tests of the Concours shows that this type of shifting system remains perfectly fine for cyclotouring, even at a very intense pace.

Who knows, after the return of vinyl records and Polaroid photos, perhaps downtube shifters will be the next great revival of the early 21st century? Note that Weigle’s solution is far from outdated:

weigle levier vitesse.JPG

Indexed shifter with adjustment screw, allowing precise shifting on this 2 x 10-speed drivetrain.

Exposed cables are lighter, have less friction and are easier to remove (thanks to split cable stops) for maintenance or when disassembling the bike. We will see later that this choice of brakes and shifters also was chosen to facilitate packing of the bike for travel. And in the rare cases where cable housing was used, it was extralight and made from aluminum.

But even if the bike won the prize for the lightest bike, several of J. P. Weigle’s choices show that weight reduction was not the only concern. Without a doubt, aesthetics also played a role, starting with the frame’s lugs that must have added a few dozen grams compared to a fillet-brazed frame. The René Herse straddle cable holders also are more refined aesthetically than simple Mafacs, but also heavier. To make up for it, the screws that hold the brakes are drilled:

weigle canti 2.JPG

Herse straddle cable hanger and Compass brake (prototype) on Jan’s bike…

weigle perso canti mafac.JPG

… and “all Mafac” on Peter’s personal bike.

The stem isn’t made from aluminum, but custom-fabricated from steel. One can bet that J. P. Weigle has used all his skill to limit its weight to an absolute minimum:

weigle potence.JPG

Double bolts on the steerer and on the handlebars: screws with a conical head like Herse, but for Allen keys.

And as if to show that light doesn’t mean spare, J. P. Weigle even allowed himself the luxury of integrating a system to lock the decaleur, a good idea in view of Ambert’s rough roads:

weigle decaleur.JPG

And the comfort of a leather saddle clearly had priority over the light weight of a carbon saddle.

Proof that extra light does not mean poorly equipped, the mudflap – an accessory that is very dear to J. Heine – had not been forgotten:

weigle bavette

The mudflap is removable, with one hand and without tools.

The all-day ride in the rain and through mud was a perfect occasion to test, under real-life conditions, the efficiency of this accessory intended to protect the rider’s feet and the front of the drivetrain. The result is a bit mixed:

CM weigle BdP.JPG

To the defense of the Weigle team, the other bikes of the Concours were not in better condition as they crossed the finish line, and the Weigle remained quite clean after such a hard ride. [JH: I had to remove the mudflap on the rough trails during the first day, because it got caught on the long grass and huge rocks we had to traverse.]

CM Weigle arrivee

I had doubts about the positioning of the pump on seatstay, close to the rear wheel and thus in the path of spray. But the verdict was rather clearer, even on this rainy day. The pump remained as shiny as it had been before the morning start.

weigle pompe

The choice of the generator hub was another example where the search for the lightest weight was not the last word. The SON Delux hub is a descendant of a model intended for small wheels where the dropout spacing often is 75 mm. Used on a large wheel, the resistance is lower, but it also produces less current. The latter point has stopped being a real issue with the amelioration of LED headlights, and the Delux has become interesting for cyclotourists looking for performance. Its only fault stems from its origins: the flange spacing is narrower than ideal for a 100 mm axle. The Wide-Body version corrects this problem and offers a flange spacing optimized for standard forks. In fact, the greater the flange spacing, the stronger is the wheel when subjected to lateral loads. J. P. Weigle chose this version even though it weighs almost 30 grams more than the standard version. To make up for this, the dropouts have been custom-made and are smaller than the standard SON SL dropouts. They incorporate the insulated plate that allows connecting the hub electrically without any apparent wires. In addition to its elegance, the SL system simplifies the removal of the front wheel.

weigle leviers qr.JPG

The SON Wide-Body generator hub is a bit heavier… but the drilled dropouts and machined quick release levers show the focus on light weight. One – almost – makes up for the other.

Lighting

Lighting is one of the few places where Jan Heine agrees that current components are superior: Over the last 20 years, generator hubs, LED headlights and optics specifically designed to project an even beam onto the road have greatly improved night-time cycling.

The electrical circuit on this bike is especially well thought-out: SON SL connector-less hub, switch integrated into the stem cap, and a taillight that is brazed onto the seat tube and connected by internal wires:

weigle feu compass.JPG

The taillight, protected between the seatstays is also ready for Rinko.

weigle feu catadioptre.JPG

The taillight has an integrated reflector which also provides a more diffuse light that is less blinding to riders drafting behind.

Rinko

Several builders at the Concours showed ideas for folding or disassembling the frame, so the more discreet Rinko bike risks being overlooked: The idea of Rinko consists of choosing the components in such a way that a quick and simple disassembly is possible without any modification of the frame itself, thus avoiding extra weight or, worse, a chance in the ride characteristics of the frame. In fact, when pressed for time, the possibility to disassemble the bike in less than 15 minutes makes the Rinko method competitive with frame couplers, which are more costly and not always results in a package that is stable enough to stand on its own.

[JH: Cyclodonia did not have a photo of the bike in its Rinko’ed state, so I added this image of the free-standing package to illustrate how it works.]

When packing a bike Rinko-style, the wheels are placed on either side of the frame. The most compact method consists of removing the fork, while the front wheel remains installed. This requires removing the handlebars, which will be placed on one of the wheels. On the Weigle, the handlebars can be removed from the bike in a few instants: the slotted housing stops and the cantilever brakes allow removing the brake cables in just seconds:

weigle ferule

A chain hook is placed very high on the seat stay, and the rear fender can be split to facilitate the operation. The little wing nut allows to remove the upper part of the rear fender without tools:

weigle garde boue arriere scindable.JPG

The wing nut at the joint of the rear fender.

The chainstays and fork blades are nickel-plated: This lends the bike a timeless beauty, but most of all, it protects against the scratches: The rear dropouts are one of the three contact points with the ground of the Rinko package. [JH: The back of the saddle forms the third.]

weigle butee gaine

Chain- and seat stays, as well as fork blades, are nickel-plated.

Classic

What makes the Weigle so classic is that its aesthetic decisions always appear to be justified by practical function.

weigle porte paquet

Weigle chape herse avant.JPG

Twin-plate fork crown and minimalist rack: beauty in lightness.

Weigle fentes.JPG

Aluminum cable housing, pinstripe along the seatstay, René Herse cable hanger, end of the seat post binder bolt slotted to help extraction in case the bolt breaks… and the super thin lugs.

weigle garde boue

Aluminum for light weight, paint for a touch of elegance.

Finally, chance sometimes does a good job, too. The integration of the bell into the stem had been forgotten, so J. Heine placed it under the saddle. A position that is hard to reach in emergencies, but a beautiful reference to the bikes of the classic age:

weigle sonnette

The bell is attached to the titanium rails of the Berthoud saddle, which at 360 g is one of the lightest leather saddles on the market.

The Compass / Herse components have been featured in an earlier article of the blog.

More information about the J. P. Weigle bike:

Posted in Rides, Testing and Tech | 41 Comments

New Tire: Pumpkin Ridge 650B x 42 mm

Many cyclists dream of a dual-purpose tire that rolls smoothly on paved roads, but has knobs that dig into the surface when it gets slippery. In the past, combining these two qualities in a single tire has been elusive. Usually, the knobs were too squirmy for good performance on pavement – especially when cornering hard – and yet the knobs were spaced too closely to shed mud when the going got rough.

When we designed our first knobby tire, the 700C x 38 mm Steilacoom, we made the knobs big enough so that they don’t squirm, but left enough space in between to clear mud. We distributed the knobs so that the tire always is supported by the same amount of rubber, whether it’s rolling forward or leaning into a turn. This gives you uniform grip at all times.

Does it work? Even we were surprised how well the Steilacoom rolls and how hard you can lean it into corners (above). If it weren’t for the (unavoidable) noise of the knobs, you’d soon forget that you were on knobby tires at all. I am aware that this sounds too good to be true, so I gave the Steilacooms to other riders to test. Mark’s initial comment was: “Why would I ride knobbies on a paved ride?” When he rode the tires, he was surprised how “un-knobby-like” they felt on pavement. And gravel racer Matt Surch found that he had no trouble keeping up with fast road pacelines on Compass knobbies. Both these riders confirmed that the Compass knob pattern works exceedingly well on pavement.

What about mud? After all, the whole point of a knobby isn’t just to ride on pavement, but to provide extra traction when conditions get slippery. A full season of cyclocross, including the single-speed world championships, have shown that the knobs have no trouble shedding mud. Your bike will get dirty, but your tire tread stays clean – as it should be. And the knobs are tall enough to dig into the surface and provide excellent traction.

With so many Allroad bikes running 650B wheels these days, it made sense to offer the same tread pattern in a 650B tire with a little more volume. Enter the Pumpkin Ridge 650B x 42 mm. We named it after Pumpkin Ridge, a quiet paved road near Portland, Oregon, that has a number of promising dirt spurs heading toward the Tualatin Mountains. Past explorations failed to reveal a connection, but filled our fenders with mud. We wished for knobby 650B tires that would not get bogged down in the mud, yet would also roll well on pavement. Imagine where you might go with these tires….

The Compass Pumpkin Ridge is designed for rides that mix pavement, gravel and muddy dirt. “Road” tires quickly reach their limits here, yet if you ride knobbies, the paved sections of the ride aren’t much fun. The Pumpkin Ridge performs equally well on all these surfaces. And of course, if you race cyclocross on 650B wheels, like BQ Team rider Steve Frey, there finally is a tire that offers the ultimate in performance in that wheel size.

The Pumpkin Ridge is now in stock, in Standard and Extralight casings. Click here for more information or to order.

Posted in Tires | 18 Comments

Tubeless-Compatible 650B x 42 mm

If there is such a thing, Babyshoe Pass is our favorite tire here at Compass and Bicycle Quarterly. It’s 42 mm width gives it great cornering grip, comfort and puncture resistance. The 650B wheel size offers nimble handling with wide tires. The Babyshoe Pass is named after an iconic gravel pass in the central Cascade Mountains, because it’s great on gravel, too. Virtually everybody at Compass and on the “BQ Team” rides more than 90% of the time on these tires.

The Babyshoe Pass is an obvious choice for modern Allroad bikes. Some, like the Cannondale Slate, already are equipped with 650B tires, and they can realize their true potential with a set of supple tires. Others are designed around 700C x 35 or 38 mm tires, but 650B x 42 fits nicely and provides more air volume for gravel, as well as more nimble handling for paved descents. It’s a win-win situation, as evidenced by the Bicycle Quarterly test bikes that were equpped with these tires (above).

Being intended for pavement and gravel alike, the Babyshoe Pass tire always was an obvious choice for tubeless. However, tubeless-compatible tires have a different bead, so this required a new mold. We first wanted to gain experience with our other tubeless-ready tires before we replaced the molds for the Babyshoe Pass. Now that time has come…

When we designed the new mold, we increased the size of the Babyshoe Pass by 1.5 mm to make it a true 42 mm wide on most rims. If you mount it tubeless, it will be a little wider yet.

Currently, the new Babyshoe Pass is in stock with the “standard” casing. Later this year, the Extralight version also will get the tubeless-ready bead and extra width.

Click here for more information or to order.

 

 

Posted in Tires | 6 Comments