It Takes a Team


This Thanksgiving, we would like to share our gratitude for our Bicycle Quarterly editorial team, contributors and advisors. Their qualifications and enthusiasm are second to none, and their contributions run through every issue of the magazine. Here are a few of them:


Mark Vande Kamp  is our go-to guy for data analyses and reviews of test protocols, utilizing his Ph.D. in social psychology with a minor in statistics. Whether he trains or not, there aren’t many who can shake him off their wheel, whether up or down a hill. He provides a second opinion on almost every bike we test.


Hahn Rossman is our metal fabricator extraordinaire. His ability to make things and test them is a huge asset to Bicycle Quarterly. Hahn’s background in art also makes him a great photographer, as evidenced in the recent issues of the magazine. He’s a great rider, whose passions are cyclocross and gravel roads.


Alex Wetmore always provides a unique and valuable perspective. He is a keen observer, and in recent years has taught himself how to build frames and racks. His rides on the gravel roads of the Cascades, usually loaded up with camping gear, are legendary.


Raymond Henry has spent the last few decades studying the history of cyclotouring in France. He has written a number of books on the history of derailleurs, Vélocio, and the history of cyclotouring. When we need a piece of information, a reference from a century-old magazine or a hard-to-find photo, he is there to help. When he isn’t making olive oil from his orchard, he often climbs nearby Mount Ventoux on his favorite Jo Routens bicycle, which he ordered new from the builder in 1968.


Frank Berto needs little introduction – you probably know of his book The Dancing Chain, the book about the history of derailleurs. Frank’s engineering background and his love of cycling enabled him to write hundreds of technical articles for various bicycle magazines. We especially appreciate Frank as a sounding board for our ideas.

Jim Papadopoulos has thought more about why bicycles stay upright and which physical forces affect their handling than anybody else I can think of. He prefers to stay in the background – hence no photo of him – and he is keen to note that he doesn’t endorse anything that he hasn’t researched himself. Because of his expertise and his independence, his advice and feedback for our technical articles are invaluable.


Andreas Oehler works for the German lighting manufacturer Schmidt Maschinenbau, whose SON generator hubs have revolutionized bicycle lighting. As a keen cyclist with a training in mechanical engineering, he is always interested in discussing technical articles and testing procedures. He also works with independent experts on measuring the performance of generator hubs and headlights.


Christopher Zider is an artist and randonneur who lives in Houston, Texas. He created Bicycle Quarterly’s masthead and numerous illustrations that we have published over the years. Above is his drawing of my René Herse bicycle. The original (drawing, not bike) is framed and hangs on my office wall.


George Retseck is a professional illustrator whom many still remember from the 1990s Bridgestone catalogues. His ink drawings of the XOs and RBs contributed to making these bikes such icons. We are excited when we have the opportunity to commission drawings from him.


Barbara Van de Fen brings her varied backgrounds in engineering, art and education to her job as our copy and photo editor. Every article Bicycle Quarterly publishes is radically changed – for the better – by her suggestions and ideas. She is able to bring out the essence in the sometimes rambling or unfocused stories that the rest of us write.


Kris Hicks-Green is a keen cyclist, too, but his day job is as a proofreader. And that is what he does for us. If you notice typos in the magazine, they probably were added during last-minute edits, rather than overlooked by him.


Mark Eastman is a graphic designer who created the layout of Bicycle Quarterly, as well as our web site. He has been able to translate our somewhat vague ideas into layouts that look sharp on page and screen.

We hope their contributions have enriched your lives, too! We are very honored and grateful to work with them. Wishing you and yours well this holiday season…

Posted in Bicycle Quarterly Back Issues, People who inspired us | 14 Comments

René Herse Book: UK and German Shipping


Our René Herse book is a big book: 424 pages! That is 2.5 times as thick as The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles. We didn’t plan it that way, but the René Herse story has so many fascinating parts, and the Herse family archives contained so many wonderful photos that we wanted to include. In fact, when I look through the left-over photos, I often think: “This is a great photo. Why didn’t we include it?” (Four of my favorites are included as ready-to-frame prints with the Limited Edition of the book.) I think we made the right choice, and in any case nobody has complained that the book is too big or contains too much text or too many photos.

The downside of the René Herse book being so big is that it is heavy: 6 pounds (2.7 kg). Heavy books easily get damaged in shipping (their corners are no stronger than those of lighter books, but there is much more mass to cause havoc). We designed special packaging to ensure the book will survive mailing. The weight also means that shipping the book to international readers is expensive. We are lucky that the U.S. Postal Service has a “Flat Rate” service, but even so, it costs $ 60 to ship one book to destinations outside North America. Ouch!


We found a temporary solution for customers in the United Kingdom and Germany. We’ve been airfreighting Bicycle Quarterly directly to Britain and Germany for a few years now. Friends of the magazine then re-posts the magazines, which has allowed us to keep our international subscription rates at a reasonable level. For the next shipment, we will include the orders for the René Herse book from UK and German customers. The shipping costs will reduced by half ($ 30). You can also order our other books to be included in the shipment, as well as back issues of Bicycle Quarterly.

To use this offer and have your book included in the shipment, we must receive your order by Friday (Nov. 29) at 5 p.m. (Greenwich time). The order must be shipped to a UK or German address. We’ve made a special order page for these orders of our books. Click here to place your order. The prices on that page include shipping already. (If you order multiple books and we find that shipping is even less expensive, we’ll refund the excess.)

You should receive your book in early December. Click here for more information about the René Herse book, or click here for reviews of the book.

Sorry, we cannot extend this offer to other international destinations, because the airfreight costs are so high that there wouldn’t be any savings in the end.

Posted in books | 4 Comments

Choosing Your Headlight


We just got our first shipment of the new Schmidt Edelux II headlights.

The Edelux II and the B&M IQ Cyo Premium really have raised the bar in headlight design. Their wide, even beams make night riding at any speed even more pleasant. At the same time, older versions of these and other lights continue to be available, some on close-out at enticing prices. For many riders, they offer a great light at an affordable price. All these headlights provide exceptional illumination as a part of a generator-powered system.

A full review of the new Edelux II, the B&M Luxos U and the B&M Eyc headlights is in the Winter 2013 Bicycle Quarterly. Here is a brief overview over the headlights that Compass Bicycles sells. Click on the links for more information or to order:


Schmidt Edelux II: You cannot do better than this. It uses the best optics in a sturdy and beautifully machined housing. The LED is placed with precision, so every light is perfect. (With plastic lights, you get a little variability from one light to the next.) The glass lens is scratch-proof and has an anti-glare coating on the inside to reduce light absorption. If you  do a lot of night riding, the Edelux II is definitely a worthwhile investment.


B&M IQ Cyo Premium: With the same beam as the Edelux II, the IQ Cyo Premium offers 90% of the performance at 60% of the price. The plastic housing isn’t as pretty, and you have to be careful not to overtighten the mounting bolt. (The plastic mounting eye can split.) It’s a great light for serious night-time riding.


Schmidt Edelux I: The original Edelux offers the same appearance and quality as the new model at a closeout price. The beam has been good enough for fast night-time descents on gravel roads. Especially in urban settings with light pollution, you’ll be hard pressed to notice the difference to the new lights. If this appeals to you, get one while they last! The Edelux I also is available for “hanging attachment” (shown above), which is useful is you want to mount your headlight underneath the handlebars or underneath a front rack.


B&M IQ Cyo: The original IQ Cyo still is available at an unbeatable price. You get what was a state-of-the-art light just a few months ago for the price of a budget light. Just like the Edelux I, it remains a smart choice for riders who don’t often descent mountain passes at night.


B&M Eyc: They Eyc is the lightest real headlight available today. It offers a very good beam – very similar to the original IQ Cyo/Edelux – at a very competitive price. I would have no qualms doing Paris-Brest-Paris with this light, and for a bike that sees only occasional night-time use, it offers amazing performance for its weight and price.


B&M Lyt: The Lyt is a good light for around-town riding. It’s the least expensive light we sell, so if you are on a budget, it’s a great choice. Even this basic LED light offers much more light and a better beam shape than the best halogen lights of old.

At Compass Bicycles, we only sell what we consider the best products, based on our own on-the-road experience. I believe that our program features a headlight for almost every application. If you still use battery-powered headlights with poorly shaped beams and questionable reliability, now is a great time to upgrade to a generator-powered system. You won’t regret it!

Click here for more information on these headlights and the generator hubs that power them.

Posted in Lighting | 18 Comments

Gift Ideas


With the holidays approaching, many relatives and friends wonder what to give their favorite cyclist. So here are some great gift ideas. Forward them to anybody who asks “What would you like for …” Click on the links for more info.

For the cyclist who just loves riding:


Bicycle Quarterly is a gift your cyclist will enjoy over the entire year. The magazine provides inspiration for rides, tests great products, explores fascinating history, and is simply an overall good read. Now it’s in color, too. The most common complaint is that it does not appear often enough! We also offer back issues, in case your cyclist already has a subscription. $32

For the cyclist who enjoys a great story:


René Herse • The Bikes • The Builder • The Riders takes you into the world of René Herse: Beautiful bikes, meticulously crafted and ridden in amazing events. Whether touring, randonneuring, cyclocross, racing or just riding to work, these riders enjoyed the friendships they forged through cycling. Includes studio photos of 20 René Herse bikes and hundreds of historic photos. 424 pages, hardcover. $86

Signed Limited Edition comes in a slipcase and includes four ready-to-frame prints. $185

“I can hardly put it down. This book is so much more than I expected.”
Constance Winters, Lovely Bicycle


Our posters feature two of our favorite photos from the René Herse book. Enjoy these wonderful images on your wall. Large (23″ x 32″) posters printed on coated stock and varnished for protection. Choice of two images. $20 each or $35 for both

For the cyclist who loves looking at beautiful bikes:


Our Calendar of Classic Bicycles 2014 features beautiful studio photographs of classic bicycles. A magnificent René Herse on the cover leads into a year’s worth of racing machines and cyclotouring bikes. $15 (Quantities are limited.)

Mise en page 1

The Competition Bicycle features stunning full-color photographs and insightful texts that chart the development of the bicycle. Marvel at a rare racing high-wheeler. Smile about the amazing Labor “Monobras” with its single fork leg. Admire Fausto Coppi’s Tour de France-winning Bianchi. Join the Paris newspaper couriers in their races across the cobblestones of Paris. Relive the exploits of Greg LeMond and Andy Hampsten as you examine the details of their bikes. 176 pages, hardcover, $50


The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles: If your cyclist doesn’t have this trend-setting (and best-selling) classic yet, now is the time! See the most beautiful bicycles ever made. Learn about the builders who made them and the riders who rode them. Cycling was their life, and their bikes reflected that. 168 pages, hardcover, $50

For the cyclist planning their 2013 season:


Tires are not just a better gift than socks. These Grand Bois and Compass tires will bring a smile on your cyclist’s face, over and over again. Now also available in superlight “Extra Léger” models. Ask them what size they need. $120 – 196 (pair)


The latest headlights offer wider beams and more even illumination for more cycling enjoyment. It’s a great upgrade if your cyclist rides a lot at night. If they still use battery lights, get them a generator hub, too, and never worry again whether they’ll be safe when they get caught in the dark. $ 64 – 194


Handlebar Bag: Perhaps your cyclist has been dreaming of the convenience of a handlebar bag. The Gilles Berthoud bags are beautiful and durable. Your cyclist also may need a front rack and a decaleur. They’ll wonder how they ever rode without a front bag. $148 and up


Bottom bracket: Does your cyclist spend his time overhauling his bike instead of with his family? Give them a maintenance-free SKF bottom bracket designed for 65,000 trouble-free miles! Comes with a 10-year warranty. Ask them what size they need. $149


Waterbottle cages: Nitto and Iribe cages combine beauty and function – a great addition to any bike. Add a Compass Water Bottle to make it a complete set. $60 and up

For the urban rider:


Everyday Bicycling provides an easy-to-read, yet in-depth introduction to riding your bike in the city. Every cyclist should read it, then pass it on to somebody else. 127 pages, paperback. $10.

For the technically-minded cyclist:


Bicycling Science is a compilation of scientific research related to bicycles. Find out why bicycles work the way they do. Your favorite cyclist will exclaim time and again: “Now I understand why…” 477 pages, softcover, $27.

Still don’t know what to give?


A Compass Water Bottle will make any cyclist happy. Our Camelbak bottles are so much better to use than most water bottles. BPA-free and taste-free. $10

Have a happy holiday season!

Posted in Uncategorized

The Courage to Try


Watching a recent beginners’ cyclocross race, my son and I noticed a middle-aged woman riding a commuter bike, complete with upright handlebars, fenders and a rear rack. She was a marked contrast to the other racers on purpose-built cyclocross bikes, wearing club jerseys with sponsors’ logos. As the pack rode off into the mud, we could not help but smile. What was she thinking, entering a race equipped like a commuter?

When the riders came by after the first lap, the “commuter” was near the back. Approaching the barriers, she slowed deliberately, got off her bike, picked it up, climbed over the barriers and remounted. It was a far cry from textbook cyclocross form, but she was smooth and fluid and fun to watch. Most of all, I admired her for putting herself out there, unafraid to be last. I hope she had a good time, but most of all, I am glad she tried something that must have intrigued her, without the inhibitions that so often make us hesitate.

Posted in Uncategorized | 30 Comments

Cyclocross in Paris during the 1940s


Cyclocross has been on my mind lately – I’ve returned to the sport after a 16-year hiatus – and so it was with special interest that I watched some old newsreel footage of ‘cross races in Paris during the 1940s.

Sports were among the few pleasant distractions that Parisians had during the German occupation, and cyclocross races were organized in the city to make it easy for spectators to attend. The biggest race was held on the steep hill of Montmartre. The 280 steps leading up to the basilica of Sacré Coeur were a great runup (or, during other years, run-down), and the dirt roads around the famous windmills provided a nice off-pavement challenge. Click on the image to go to the web site where you can watch the video.

As I watched the video, the newsreel announcer exclaimed that Robert Oubron (in striped jersey above) was taking the lead. I knew of Oubron: He had his frames built by René Herse.


In fact, in the René Herse book, there is a photo of him after a cyclocross race in 1943 (above). The video is too grainy to say with certainty, but Oubron’s bike looks like the one shown in the book.


The web site of the French National Audiovisual Institute (INA) has other newsreel footage from 1940s cyclocross (click here to view), but unfortunately not of the 1942 race, which was won by René André on one of the very first bikes René Herse made after opening his shop in 1940. The photo above shows André as he jumps a step in front of the windmill on his superlight bike.


I also would have loved to see footage of the Cross the Clamart with its tandem category, which was won by René André and Lyli Herse (above after the race). We are fortunate to have the historic photos in the book that take us back in time.

The videos provide wonderful context to the photos. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. Please feel free to share other sources in the comments.

Posted in books | 15 Comments

Winter 2013 Bicycle Quarterly


Looking at proofs of a new Bicycle Quarterly always is exciting. It’s the first time we see the results of months of testing, riding, writing, photographing, and editing on actual paper. The Winter issue is at the printer, and this afternoon, I rode my bike over to approve the final proofs.

The Winter Bicycle Quarterly is about pushing beyond what we usually do. We are not talking about taking crazy risks, but about going a bit outside your normal comfort zone.


Going outside your comfort zone can mean riding unknown roads, like Gerolf Meyer did when he explored the unpaved backroads of the Western U.S. What is it like for a European to embark on 50 miles of gravel without a house or even a water source?

Going one step further, Jeremy Scott gave up everything to cycle from London to Saigon, and then on to Australia. BQ contributor Alycia Kiley reports on his trip and what made it special and worthwhile.

Our editor (that’s me!) took another stab at the Raid Pyrénéen, only to find that the best-laid plans can go awry.


You don’t need to travel half-way around the world for adventure. Together with my son, I returned to cyclocross this autumn. He tested an affordable children’s bike both on the road and in ‘cross (see cover).


I dusted off my 1980s Alan to see whether both bike and rider still could make it through the mud and across the barriers. The result was a lot of fun and a wonderful bonding experience with my son.


Bicycle Quarterly’s product tests are renowned for their thoroughness. In the Winter issue, we test the latest LED headlights. Are they so awesome that we should consider replacing our existing great lights?


We also test tires from Challenge and FMB, new 650B rims that hopefully eliminate the tire seating woes that have plagued this wheel size, as well as clothing from Ibex and Rapha.


Our Icon feature brings you the story of Reynolds 531 tubing. For almost half a century, 531 was the material of choice for top-of-the-line frames all over the world. It was also used in Jaguar E-Types and even for land speed record cars!

Those are just some of the highlights of the Winter 2013 Bicycle Quarterly. Click here for more information, or here to subscribe.

Posted in Bicycle Quarterly Back Issues | 10 Comments