As the magazine has progressed there has been a growth in interest in this world, and new more builders have started making bikes inspired by the classics (Herse and Singer, most famously), so the focus broadened to include these. I believe that Jan Heine started the magazine on his own, and over the years has gotten help from Alex Wetmore, Frank Berto.
There are a number of reasons that it’s our favourite bike magazine. For one, we’re interested in the bikes and people they talk about. But as much as that, it’s how thoughtful the articles and reviews are that really endears BQ to us. The reviews are always based on long, serious test rides of the bike, and are always very thoughtful and considered. When they find a problem with the bike being reviewed they often suggest solutions to the problem – in one issue the bolts attaching a mud guard jiggled loose and they suggested that the problem was that the bolt had too small a head to get sufficient torque with the appropriate allen key – how many other magazines look at details this small.
We also like that the articles are opinionated in the best possible way – there’s a very clear type of bike that they like, and very clear preferences, both aesthetic and functional. The fact that they overlap to some degree with our own leanings is nice, but more than that, the preferences are cogently expressed, sensibly defended and clearly the result of real experience and testing. They are also very good at marking potential conflicts of interest – often their reviews come with little notes stating that the product being reviewed is sold by someone who advertises in their magazine. This is a very welcome contrast to magazines in which content is indistinguishable from advertisement.
There are some sample articles on the BQ site which will give you a good sense of the range of things talked about. This is the first page of the BQ review of the Long Haul Trucker, a bike we build a few of.
Jan has also published two books, one about French Constructeur bikes called The Golden Age of the Hand Built Bicycle, and one with a more general range of bikes used in a variety of elite competitions, called The Competition Bicycle. Whereas BQ is printed in black and white and has a lot of technical discussion, the books are beautiful and lavish with much more of a focus on full-colour studio shots and archival photographs of the bikes with less accompanying text. We’ll soon have a shop copy of each, if you’d like to take a look.
Having stocked a few issues, we’re planning on increasing our order, so if you’re interested in a copy shoot us an email and we’ll get even more.