What Is a Road Bike?

Off The Beaten Path

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, the randonneur bike is a racing bike with integrated fenders, lights and a small rack. (The geometry also has been tweaked to carry the load.) If you take the meaning of “road bike” literally, a randonneur bike fits it at least as well as any other bike.

And then along came wide tires, and suddenly you have a bike like the Open U.P. (above) or my Firefly. “It has 26″/ 27.5″ wheels and fat tires. It’s a rigid mountain bike with drop bars,” 

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Concours de Machines: Results

Off The Beaten Path

The 2017 Concours de Machines in Ambert (France) was a great success for everybody involved. The bikes were amazing – and much-improved over last year’s machines – the routes were truly challenging, and most of all, the spirit among all participants was wonderful.

The goal was to find the best “light randonneur bike”, with 24 builders bringing their interpretations of this theme. Most participants were French builders, but others came all the way from Sweden, Slovakia, Great Britain, the USA and even Japan. Builders from Germany and Spain had entered the Concours, too, but weren’t able to finish their bikes before the start of the event.

After two days of challenging rides, 18 bikes made it to the finish. The course was very hard: The first day, we covered 230 km (140 miles) on backroads and mountain bike trails with more than 4600 m (15,000 ft) of climbing and…

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Compass 700C x 35 mm and 38 mm Back in Stock

Off The Beaten Path

The long days of summer see us heading far into the mountains. Often, our ambitious plans push the limits of even the longest days… Above, Natsuko descends the incredible chain of passes in the Cevennes mountains of France. This amazing tour is featured in the latest Bicycle Quarterly.

Just in time for the adventures of the summer, our latest shipment of Compass Barlow Pass 700C x 38 and Bon Jon Pass 700C x 35 mm tires has arrived. We appreciate your patience while demand outpaced supply during the last few weeks. All of us at Compass Cycles work hard to keep all our products in stock at all times. Because for us, excellent tires are essential supplies for great rides.

Click on the links below for more information about:

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Frame stiffness

Flex, elasticity, minimum loss of stored energy, controlling the axes of distortion and return to equilibrium.

Pole vaulters now using composite poles take a one-dimensional object (pole) distort it into two dimensions and slightly off to the side (third dimension) storing their horizontal kinetic energy and translate it to the vertical. There lies a simple beginning point to study the storage and return of energy in a slightly flexible frame.

https://janheine.wordpress.com/2017/06/06/expert-discussion-on-frame-stiffness/

Berthoud Saddles and Spare Parts

Off The Beaten Path

Berthoud saddles are among the most comfortable in the world. What’s even better, they are fully and easily rebuildable. Every part for the saddles is available from Compass Cycles, and you can replace all parts using standard tools. Berthoud saddles are designed to be easy to work on, even though it is rarely necessary:  The 10-year-old prototype saddle I am using on my Urban Bike shows no sign of wearing out.

The most important spare parts are probably the leather tops (above). After a few decades of hard riding, you may need a new one. Or if you want to change the color of your saddle, it’s easy enough to do. Simply unbolt the top and install a new one.

All the other parts are available as well. If you want a lighter saddle, you can replace your stainless steel rails for titanium ones. A friend once lost one of…

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J. P. Weigle for the Concours de Machines

Off The Beaten Path

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, with points for light weight and desirable features. Then they are ridden over an extremely challenging course to see how well they hold up, with penalties for anything that goes wrong. Click on the link for the complete rules of the Concours (also available in English).

Building a bike for the Concours is a major undertaking, because most parts have to modified for light weight and other features. It’s almost unavoidable that the bike is finished barely in time for the event. In our…

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Choosing Your Tires

Off The Beaten Path

We’ve experienced a profound revolution in road bikes in recent years: It used to be that to go fast, you rode narrow tires and pumped them up to the maximum pressure. If you wanted more comfort, you used wider tires and (maybe) lower pressures, but you knew that you’d be slower.

Now we know that comfort and speed aren’t opposed, but inextricably linked: A bike that absorbs shocks better rolls faster. Narrow tires don’t have any speed advantage, and inflating your tires to the maximum often makes your bike slower.

But what does this means in practical terms, when it comes to choosing new tires for your bike? Do you need to get a new bike with clearances for ultra-wide tires? Or is there a way to benefit from the “tire revolution” on your existing bike?

The simple guidelines below are based on more than a decade of research into…

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