Quality Bicycle Products Catalogue
When we're away from the office, off the clock, at dinner, on vacation, wherever, we field bike questions. Just like any professional. Instead of people asking us about kidney stones or liability, though we get those sometimes as well, we usually get queries about the bikeworld. Some of the questions are about the bread-and-butter stuff of CC, some are not.
Many concern bikes and gear that are introduced as, “we're not planning on racing or anything.” We have to tell people not to apologize for riding whatever bike is handy. Whatever the bike is, if the urge strikes, you should ride it. Whether that's a rusty Rudge that you found in the basement or a pristine Pinarello. The questions often have to do with getting the bike ready to ride. Cleaning, replacing parts, that sort of thing. It's hard for people to know what to ask for when they don't know where to look.
Likewise, we often are pressed into service for small bike projects of friends and relatives. Finding parts for a nephew's BMX bike or an uncle's hybrid, that sort of thing.
Times like these we usually pull out the shop employee's friend, the Quality Bike Products catalogue. QBP is the biggest bike part distributor around. They sell to most shops in the country. We buy from them. Your local bike shop buys from them, as do most shops in between. The reason everyone uses them is that they have a huge selection of parts and cover both the breadth and depth of what's available. Looking for an extra washer for a front hub? QBP has it.
In the days before the web, we tried to weasel our way into a free copy of their catalogue every year. We kept it at home and put it with our bike reference material. It was, and remains, thick and informative. It's not just a super-catalogue, but a super-duper catalogue. Not only is it overflowing with specs, but it also has sidebars with info on threading, sizing, installation, and part variations.
Several years ago, QBP wisely came out with a version that didn't contain prices. Smarter shops would put the catalogue on the counter and people could scan, or research, or poke around to their heart's content. Since the CC counter is virtual, you can order this up and put it on your own counter or coffee table.
On the bad side, the catalogue is physically huge and in some ways, a waste of resources. It is comprised of two volumes. Volume One is Bikes and Components. Volume Two is Accessories, Apparel, and Tools. They are bricks, doorstops, anchors. Volume One weighs 5lbs, 10.3 oz (2560g). Volume Two is 3lbs, 5.2oz (1508g). Together, that's just shy of 9lbs of paper in an 8.5” by 10.5” by 2.5” box.
While the catalogue isn't indexed, QBP wisely breaks down all the components into alpha order and then sub-group within each section alphabetically, by discipline and then by brand. For example, the Rim section is after Pedals and before Saddles. Within Rims, the sections are BMX, Mountain, and Road. Within Road, the rims start with the Alex brand and go through to Velocity.
We were in the Rim section because we're in the midst of a mini bike project. Customize a bike for a woman. The woman, “isn't planning on racing or anything,” just wants the bike comfy for commuting and fitness rides. The bike came with cheap tires and Schrader-valve rims. We wanted to upgrade the tires for both performance and durability. We found on p.849 that Continental has a 650cx23 Ultra Gatorskin tire. Perfect. We also wanted to pull out the Schrader-valve tubes and put in Presta-valve tubes. Finding the tubes is easy, but finding a grommet to fill the extra space is not. Ask around, you'll see what we mean. Most shop people don't know what a rim grommet is. When you describe it, they might even think you mean a brass Presta-to-Schrader converter.
On p.667, QBP has several options for the grommet. One rubber, two metal. Armed with this knowledge, you can either call us up and present the QBP part number -- we like RM9002 -- or take the number to your local bike shop (lbs) and ask them to order it for you.
Another aspect of this customization is finding handlebars that work for short women. This is an ongoing dilemma for many women. Since men who are scratching 6' are using shallow-drop bars, it seems crazy that 5' women are using the same bars. We wanted to find an ultra-shallow drop bar. And, as per our bias, a round, classic drop. While we could change the stem, we're trying to work with as many existing parts as possible. We therefore want a handlebar with 26mm clamp diameter, 38cm width, 130mm or shallower drop, 70mm or shorter reach.
Looking through the catalogue, we found that Alpha Q has a 125mm drop, 70mm reach anatomic bar in the 38cm width. But it has a 31.8 clamp. Deda also has a bar pretty close, 132/80, but also in a 31.8. FSA has a 125/78 anatomic in the 38, both in carbon and aluminum, but once again for the 31.8 clamp. Zipp has a few bars with 128/84.5, but they're in carbon and not narrower than 40cm. While we're disappointed there isn't more selection, especially in a size we were looking for, we have to admit that the selection is better than we can find anywhere else.
A final consideration is a water bottle cage. Short people on compact frames have a problem with seat post-mounted water bottle cages. It's hard to get a bottle in or out. We used to think that Arundel made the only side-loader. Turns out Dimension and Elite also have versions in aluminum. They're in Volume 2.
We could go on and on about the selection. Sora derailleurs. Cassette ratios that no retailer would consider stocking. Unique tools that could come in handy, but are low-volume sellers. And if you're looking to soup-up your modern-day race bike, QBP is equally valuable. Sizes, weights, photos galore of Tour de France-caliber gear is everywhere inside, too.
While QBP doesn't have everything, the consumer catalogue opens up a world of possibility for those who have a desire or need to track down bike stuff that's off the beaten path. Sym's, a clothing discounter has long had the tagline, “an educated consumer is our best customer.” They've even registered it as a trademark. We agree with that sentiment.