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Off The Beaten Path

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11.01.2016
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Favicon Off The Beaten Path 05. September, 08:04 Uhr

Smiles all around: That is perhaps the best summary of the Bicycle Quarterly Un-Meeting. A couple of dozen cyclists met in Carson, WA, for a weekend of exploring with like-minded cyclists. This year, the weekend started with the Volcano High Pass Challenge, an unsactioned ride/race over 103 miles (166 km) and 10,000 ft (3000 m) of climbing. Fifteen riders set out on Saturday morning, plus...

Favicon Off The Beaten Path 11. September, 11:46 Uhr

It’s no secret that we love steel bikes. Steel allows us to build the bikes we need for our adventures – bikes where every detail is optimized to the nth degree. You can imagine our concern when True Temper, one of the most important suppliers of steel tubing, decided to leave the bicycle market. Without steel tubes, especially the superlight ones that True Temper was specializing in, there...

Favicon Off The Beaten Path 18. September, 11:37 Uhr

The updated Compass Babyshoe Pass TC 650B x 42 mm tires are now in stock in all models. What’s new? We took our most popular 650B tire, and made it tubeless compatible. When you are riding fast on rough gravel, tubeless really makes sense – as I found out when I had dual pinch flats on a Bicycle Quarterly test bike on the original Babyshoe Pass tires (below). You may wonder how I pinch-flatted...

Favicon Off The Beaten Path 06. September, 18:50 Uhr

The results are coming in for the Volcano High Pass Challenge. As the name implies, it was a challenging ride with much elevation gain, much gravel, and much scenic beauty. Fifteen intrepid riders set out from the Packwood Library shortly after 5 a.m. on Saturday. The long gravel climb up to Walupt Lake – more than 3000 ft up – separated the pack into small groups. Even the race leaders...

Favicon Off The Beaten Path 13. September, 11:39 Uhr

Open made a video to introduce their facelifted U.P. wide-tire racing bike. They went for a beautiful ride in the Alsace Mountains of France, coincidentally the same region where the first post-war Concours de Machines was held in 1946. A few months ago, we sent Open’s Andy Kessler a set of Compass 650B x 48 mm Switchback Hill tires for testing. He put them on the new bike and featured them in...

Favicon Off The Beaten Path 15. September, 12:10 Uhr

Last weekend was the first cyclocross race in Seattle. Almost every year, the first race catches me by surprise. Summer is over? It’s ‘cross season already? Usually, I oil the chain on my trusty Alan ‘cross bike and head to the races. This year, the Alan’s tubular tires needed regluing. The glue must cure for 24 hours, and the race was too close for that. What to do? I looked at my Firefly,...

Favicon Off The Beaten Path 30. August, 03:53 Uhr

Volcano High Pass Challenge (Saturday, 9/2) Part race, part scenic ride with friends, this unsanctioned event challenges riders of all abilities. The distance is 170 km (105 miles), with half on gravel and half on pavement, from Packwood, at the foot of Mount Rainier, to Carson, on the Columbia River. Anyone is welcome: Just ride the course and have fun. For the one-day ride/race, show up at...

Favicon Off The Beaten Path 14. März, 11:54 Uhr

When building a bike, one important decision concerns the wheels. How do you get the best performance and still make your wheels strong enough to withstand 20,000+ miles of riding on rough roads without needing service? By now, most cyclists know that spokes don’t break from overloading, but from fatigue as the spoke is loaded and unloaded when the wheel rotates. The wheel flattens at the...

Favicon Off The Beaten Path 21. August, 11:24 Uhr

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...

Favicon Off The Beaten Path 09. März, 05:16 Uhr

A highlight of my visits to Japan is going to the Panaracer factory. It’s a magical place, where some of the world’s best tires are made largely by hand. It resembles a storybook factory: Huge machines emit hissing steam. Skilled hands assemble casing, beads and tread. Hot tires cool as they move along conveyors under the roof. The main reason for my visits to the factory is to discuss ideas...

Favicon Off The Beaten Path 18. August, 11:16 Uhr

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...

Favicon Off The Beaten Path 05. März, 13:37 Uhr

Tokyo’s Mountain Cycling Club reminds me of the Groupe Montagnard Parisien: almost unknown, yet fascinating and influential far beyond their limited membership. The French riders brought us the Technical Trials and modern randonneur bikes, while their Japanese counterparts co-invented mountain bikes. The Mountain Cycling Club started exploring the mountain passes in the Japanese Alps decades...

Favicon Off The Beaten Path 02. März, 08:15 Uhr

We’ve been fans of Gilles Berthoud saddles and bags for many years. Above is Theo’s bike with Berthoud GB28 bag and Aspin saddle. These parts have been incredibly durable: I still use the very first Berthoud handlebar bag that he bought 17 years ago, and the prototype Berthoud saddle on my Urban Bike is still going strong after a decade of hard use. There simply aren’t better-quality or...

Favicon Off The Beaten Path 10. August, 11:30 Uhr

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...

Favicon Off The Beaten Path 04. August, 06:36 Uhr

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...

Favicon Off The Beaten Path 23. Februar, 12:55 Uhr

We now offer Compass centerpull brakes with a backing plate for bolt-on mounting, in limited quantities. Many customers have asked for this: Wouldn’t it be nice to get the superlight weight and superior performance of these brakes on an existing bike? A backing plate connects the pivots with the fork crown, which makes it possible to bolt these brakes onto any bike with brake-mounting holes in...

Favicon Off The Beaten Path 01. August, 11:50 Uhr

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...

Favicon Off The Beaten Path 21. Februar, 11:37 Uhr

Most of the staff at Compass Cycles consists of avid cyclists. In fact, we knew each other on the bike long before we started working together. Occasionally, Compass has a “company ride”. Our last ride went north. It was one of those perfect mid-winter rides. The snow-covered mountains were crisp and clear, full of promise for our summer adventures. Conversation alternated with working...

Favicon Off The Beaten Path 15. Februar, 12:32 Uhr

Compass has long championed the use of “road” tires on gravel. More and more gravel racers agree: When gravel is sliding on gravel, knobbies are of little use. So then why does Compass offer a knobby tire, the Steilacoom 700C x 38 mm? Knobs are useful in mud. They dig into the surface, and since the mud is viscous (gooey), it provides something for the knobs to push against. That is why...

Favicon Off The Beaten Path 25. Juli, 13:25 Uhr

Long-time Bicycle Quarterly reader Matt Surch (above) put his name on the map when he won last year’s Steaming Nostril gravel race on Compass Bon Jon Pass tires. We checked back in with him to see how the tires performed in the year since then, and to hear about his road racing on Compass Cayuse Pass tires. JH: With another season of riding and racing on the Bon Jon Pass tires, how do you feel...

Favicon Off The Beaten Path 23. Juli, 04:55 Uhr

When Bridgestone USA closed in 1994, many mourned the loss of what they saw as the last bastion of sensible design in the quickly changing world of bicycles. They rejoiced when later that year, Bridgestone’s marketing manager Grant Petersen started Rivendell Bicycle Works. The new company’s first project were three hand-built frames, the Road, Mountain and All-Rounder. Looking back, it is hard...

Favicon Off The Beaten Path 21. Juli, 01:11 Uhr

During its last week, the Tour de France heads for a final showdown in the Alps. This year’s race is incredibly close, with less than 30 seconds separating the first three riders. The penultimate stage is a time trial, so we may even see an almost-repeat of 1989, when Greg LeMond won the big race on the last stage by just 8 seconds. Anything remains possible – a welcome change from previous...

Favicon Off The Beaten Path 09. Februar, 12:45 Uhr

Compass is proud to introduce what we consider the ultimate decaleur. Combining the ideas of René Herse and H. Hirose with Nitto’s craftsmanship, the new Compass decaleurs are strong, light, beautiful and reliable. Here is why decaleurs are important: We love handlebar bags. They are a great way to carry the things you need during your ride: accessible without having to get off the bike. The...

Favicon Off The Beaten Path 18. Juli, 11:34 Uhr

The official results of the 2017 Concours de Machines are in! Peter Weigle’s machine did even better than we thought: Lightest bike: First place Choice of the jury: First place Technical points (bonus for features, penalties for problems): First place Zero penalties for technical problems Faster than required speed on each stage: zero penalties Overall: Second place We were especially excited...

Favicon Off The Beaten Path 07. Februar, 19:08 Uhr

We are always excited when the final files for Bicycle Quarterly go to the printer. We think that our readers will especially enjoy the Spring 2017 issue. We tested no fewer than three really amazing bikes. The Open U.P. (above) promises the performance and feel of a modern carbon racing bike and the go-anywhere ability of wide tires. Does it deliver? To find out, we took it to one of the...

Favicon Off The Beaten Path 05. Februar, 10:40 Uhr

During our Bicycle Quarterly adventures and travels, we generate hundreds – sometimes thousands – of photos. Only a fraction of them make it into the magazine, and there are many great shots that linger in the archives forever. Now Bicycle Quarterly has its own Instagram account (@bikequarterly) to share more of these inspirational photos with our readers. It’s a collaborative project of the BQ...

Favicon Off The Beaten Path 14. Juli, 15:47 Uhr

Allways pedal At Compass Cycles, we sell only parts that we want to ride on our own bikes. It’s important that we can rely on the components we use to carry us through all conditions, problem-free. This is why we offer the top-of-the-line pedals from MKS. Each of the MKS pedals we offer features silky smooth cartridge bearings, beautifully finished bodies and elegant design. Our most recent...

Favicon Off The Beaten Path 11. Juli, 11:45 Uhr

In past decades, there was little doubt about what made a “road” bike: narrow tires, drop handlebars, no fenders. Then randonneur bikes were re-introduced into cycling’s mainstream, leading to some confusion. “That is a touring bike,” said many. “It has a rack and fenders.” But the performance of the randonneur bike is the same as that of a racing bike, and far from a touring bike. Basically,...

Favicon Off The Beaten Path 30. Januar, 09:00 Uhr

At Compass Cycles, we love riding on gravel roads, so it may come as a surprise that we don’t make “gravel” tires. Compass tires are road tires, perfected for use on paved roads. The rubber compound is optimized for grip on pavement, and the “chevron” tread pattern interlocks further with the road surface. Everything about our tires is optimized for performance, both in a straight line and...

Favicon Off The Beaten Path 30. Juni, 17:36 Uhr

In this year’s Concours de Machines technical trials, I am riding J. P. Weigle’s entry (above). The Concours is a competition for the best “light randonneur bicycle”. The rules stress light weight, reliability and innovation. Bikes must be fully equipped with lights and the ability to carry luggage, plus a pump and a bell. There are bonus points for fenders. Bikes are examined at the beginning,...

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