Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Bicycle Quarterly & Other Visual Goods

Yesterday I received my first copy of The Bicycle Quarterly in the mail! I've just recently stumbled across this publication and it seems geared towards where I'm heading: the randonneurring world.

Local rando legends like Jan Heine write about bicycles they've tested out, with tons of techincal data as well. For instance an article with nice graphs & bar charts of a survey of PBP riders: DNF rates for those that had fenders vs. those that didn't (guess who DNF'd more?), what people would change about their bikes (mostly bag/rack related), reasons for DNFing. Very good reading!

One of my favorite parts of the current issue was Jan's review of the Pereira Randonneuse - a newly made rando bike, and the coolest part about it is the front derailer: a simple wire cage! (picture on the right) It apparently weighs somewhat less than a Shimano Ultegra front derailleur, and apparently works silky-smooth. I want one!

To the untrained eye, you might take one glance at the bikes in the Quarterly and think, "but these are all super-slow touring bikes!" Don't be confused by the look of some of these bicycles; they are built for serious cycling, including fast-paced rides. Sure, you might not see them at your local crit, but most certainly on local brevets or ultra races. (I've yet to move into the "boutique bike" world and am happy with my 1980's Miyata for now, but one day in the future I plan on straddling a custom rando bike of my own!)

I also purchased a copy of "The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles," which arrived along with my Quarterly issue:


It has lots of pictures of older (and some not so old) Rene Herse bikes, Alex Singer, all of those bike brand-names you start hearing about when you enter the rando world. The bikes of old had such beautiful detail! Brazed-on rear light fixtures, spoke holders, custom racks, etc. Sure, you can find some of that today, but it's too bad that cycling has moved away from "utility" towards "speed & lightness." Most road bikes people buy today can't fit decent fenders on, much less carry any real weight.

Anyway, if you're looking for some good reading in between Brevets, check out both of these publications!

1 comment:

Robert Higdon said...

I am always borrowing Chris' copies of Quarterly. I need to finally subscribe to it one of these days.