Why We Choose Steel Bikes

Off The Beaten Path

At Bicycle Quarterly, we’ve been testing quite a few titanium and carbon bikes lately, and even a bike made from bamboo. We really liked most of these bikes. And yet our own bikes continue to be made from steel. Why don’t we ride carbon or titanium (or bamboo) bikes?

We choose steel because this material allows us to build custom bikes that are dialed in to the nth degree. High-end steel bikes have benefited from decades of research and development. They now offer a performance that is difficult to equal with other materials. With performance, I don’t just mean speed – although the best steel bikes have no trouble keeping up with ti or carbon racers – but also handling, reliability and all-weather, all-road capability.

Steel tubing is available in many diameters and wall thicknesses, so it’s easy to fine-tune the ride quality and performance of our bikes. For example, my…

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List of Electronic Bike Safety Accessories and the Need to Simplify them

For cycling safety, it’s important to have front, rear, and side visibility, and possibly a horn and cameras.

The following is a list of safety accessories:

  • front bike light
  • rear bike light
  • front helmet light
  • rear helmet light
  • front spoke light
  • rear spoke light
  • helmet camera
  • rear camera
  • electric horn
  • speedometer

There’s 10 items on the list which doesn’t include non-safety or non-electronic accessories such as smart locks, navigation devices, hand warmers, power meter and mirrors. Some cyclists may even install more lights for increased brightness or visibility.

My opinion is that that those features should be in fewer units for convenience. A possible design might be having one larger battery pack and one control unit for the bike’s front, rear, and side lights. The same design can be done for the helmet light which can also be used as a spare light.

The problem with half a dozen bike lights is the need to charge many units, the need to press the buttons for each unit, and the need to remove them when parking your bike.your bike. If the conditions change, you may also need to adjust the light settings for each unit to conserve energy or improve visibility.

If only helmet and bike lights are upgraded to be complete, the number of units can be dropped from 10 to 6. With fewer units, it’s easier to remember to charge them all, turn them on or off, and store them which encourage its use, possibly making cycling safer.

I find it easier to manage with fewer bike lights.

For cars, a single battery powers all or most its safety accessories without having to install and remove them before and after each trip. Why shouldn’t bikes have it too?

Road vs Hybrid Bike Speeds (West Broadway Rides)

I bought a road bike and here are the comparisons of the speeds of my trips on West Broadway.

For the road bike, the average speeds for the two trips on West Broadway were 18.2 and 19.2 km/h.

For the hybrid bike, the average speeds for the three trips on West Broadway were 12.7, 12.2, and 21.5 km/h.


Note that for the rides, only West Broadway was selected. Their lengths were also different.

The accessories on my road bike include: An empty rack, a Planet Bike headlight, a PDW tail light, a foldable lock, a downtube fender, two water bottle cages, and a bell. The bike’s total weight was about 30 lbs. I plan on installing custom lights and horns, and keeping them light if possible.

The accessories on my hybrid bike include: A fixed front basket, front and rear custom made lights with enclosures and batteries, a kickstand, full coverage fenders, a rear rack, two car horns with a battery, an aerobar, a mini pump, spare inner tubes, tire levers, a speedometer, and a foldable lock. The bike’s total weight was about 50 lbs.

I’m still using my hybrid bike for poorer conditions, heavier loads, and unpaved roads. Since the road bike’s lighter, it’s more suitable for hills.

It’s hard to say which is faster yet. The new bike doesn’t feel comfortable enough. It may need getting used to and proper fitting. Hopefully, the performance will improve.

Since West Broadway tends to be busy, it may produce different results compared to River Road in Richmond, BC which has doesn’t require much stopping. Other factors that affect the speed include: Temperature, hills, fitness levels, road conditions, gearing, riding skills, time of day, weather, clothing, and diet.


Tires: How Wide is too Wide?

Reblogged on hanlinsblog.wordpress.com.

Off The Beaten Path


How wide a tire is too wide for optimum performance? Our research shows that wider tires don’t give up anything on smooth roads, and gain a significant advantage on rough roads. This has been shown for tires up to 31 mm wide.

It’s now a well-established fact that wider tires roll faster than narrow ones. Professional racers now use 25 mm tires, which are 20% wider than the tires that most racers used just 20 years ago. Will this trend continue? Can we expect racers to be on 30 mm tires in the future? No matter what the pros do – they are influenced by many factors that have little to do with science – the real question is: Up to what point are wider tires faster?


It is obvious that the tires in the photo above will not roll very fast. Clearly, at some point, the performance benefits of…

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Panel Discussion: The Wide Tire Revolution

Off The Beaten Path


“Buy the nicest, most supple tires you can afford; and buy them in the widest width that you can fit in your frame.”

That is Joshua Poertner’s summary of a panel discussion on Cyclingtips.com. Joshua used to be the president of Zipp, the makers of super-fast aero wheels, and he did a lot of research on how to make your bike faster.

The panel included Joshua, cycling journalist James Huang, and me, with Elden Nelson (who runs the blog “The Fat Cyclist”) moderating. The goal was to explain the science behind the current trend toward wider tires to an audience of racers and performance riders, who want to understand how to make their bikes faster.

In the podcast, we talk about why narrow tires feel faster, but aren’t. We discuss how lower pressures increase the internal resistance as the tire flexes, but decrease the suspension losses from the vibrations of the bike – the two…

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Features I’m Looking for in my Next Bike for Commuting

I’m planning on upgrading my bike so that it’s faster and has the benefits of a hybrid bike. According to forums, upgrading to a road bike from a mountain bike can improve the speed by up to 20%.

I currently ride a hybrid bike. My average speed seems too low based on forums. From my rides on Strava, their average speeds were around 17 km/h even if I pedalled hard.


I’m thinking of getting a used cyclocross or touring bike. Its features should include:

  • Drop bars for a more aerodynamic position.
  • Room for wider tires (at least 32c) which are more suitable when there’s poorer roads which are more common on side streets.
  • Room for fenders because it would be used in the rain.
  • Threaded holes for racks and baskets.

I’m considering adding custom made lights and electric horns to it for safety. To maximize the speed, they should be lightweight and aerodynamic.

I’ve never commuted or biked long distance with a bike similar to a road bike before. I’ll have to try one to find out whether my speed is similar to average.

It’s possible that stopping often reduces the average speed significantly. In Vancouver, the bike routes are mostly on side streets which means waiting at stop signs, slowing down, and stopping are required more frequently.

I think getting to your destination faster by 20% is worth the upgrade. It can encourage more cycling and reduce the need to drive.