Farewell, James

In which we pay a small tribute to the GOAT of tech writers as he moves on to his next adventure.

Escape Collective
by Escape Collective 24.05.2024 Photography by
James Huang
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Today, May 24, Escape Collective will say goodbye to one of its key contributors, James Huang. One of the most knowledgeable, experienced, and widely respected tech editors in the cycling industry, James is about to ride off in search of a new adventure.

Many of us have worked with James for the best part of a decade – at CyclingTips and now Escape Collective – and to honour his great contribution, a bunch of us have put pen to paper to reflect on our time working with him. As you’ll read below, James has made quite an impression and he will be sorely missed.

Thanks for everything, James, and all the very best on the road ahead. We’ll be watching with keen interest.


Wade Wallace

Back when I was writing my daily blog at CyclingTips I remember going to one of my first press events in 2012. It was the release of Trek’s new Madone in Spa, Belgium. I had only been to one product launch before and was feeling incredibly inadequate in a sea of experts.

I didn’t know anyone there but I did recognize one person: James Huang. In my eyes, he was the most respected and prolific tech editor in the cycling media industry. He moved around with quiet authority and I could see how much respect he garnered from the product managers and marketing staff at Trek. I didn’t summon the courage to go up and say hello to James, but he remained the gold standard that I aspired to in our product reviews going forward. 

By December 2015 I had turned CyclingTips from a blog into a business and was shooting for the stars. I wanted to work with the best tech editor in the business and I found myself in Boulder, Colorado doing the biggest sales pitch of my life. I met with James and told him my vision for CyclingTips and that I’d be honoured if he joined us.

I had to pinch myself when James agreed to leave his longtime post at the biggest cycling website in the world at the time – Cyclingnews and BikeRadar. That was eight years ago.

Working with James was a dream come true for me professionally. James has not only contributed his own work at the highest level and integrity possible, he has also elevated each and every one of us in some way. He’s challenged my own thinking and decisions, and I’ve grown because of him. I couldn’t ask for anything more out of a colleague. 

From those early days at CyclingTips to now at Escape Collective, what a ride it’s been, James. Thank you for everything.

Dave Rome

What a run.

I feel like I’ve known James for a lifetime, and in a sense, I have. The early days of my discovering mountain biking and all of its glorious tech aligned with stumbling upon James’ AngryAsian blog and an insight into the inner workings of suspension. A decade later I joined BikeRadar to begin my first full-time role in cycling media, and a key part of that excitement was due to the credibility and consistent quality that James brought to that publication.

James has a habit of keeping his cards close. In fact, I didn’t think he liked me all that much until I learned he was why CyclingTips reached out.

More than a decade working together across three publications has given me a lifelong friend. In our time working together I’ve seen him become a father, a manager, a connoisseur of gummy bears, a cargo bike enthusiast, and just a whole lot less angry. In this time we’ve spoken almost daily, shared countless bad AirBnbs with too few beds, and had many a memorable ride (none more than getting caught in a thunderstorm on our way to Eurobike one year – James had packed spare clothes; I spent the day feeling wet and silly).

Writing this feels like I’m laying flowers down and saying farewell, but no doubt it won’t be long before I see James’ sly smile again. Chapeau on two decades of raising the bar!

Ronan Mc Laughlin

I have a document on an old hard drive titled “100 x 1%s.” [1% means marginal-gain style improvements – Ed.] The “created date” on it is sometime back in 2005. It was only when I started working with James around three years ago that I realised most of that list, including photos of old TT tech, ceramic bearings, oversized pulley wheels, pro mechanic hacks etc., are from James Huang articles dating back almost as long as I’ve been in the sport.

I was 18 when I created that document, and although I didn’t know it back then, James not only fed and shaped my nerdy tech fascination but arguably my entire adult life. First, with a closer look at the latest tech, and later in being the only head of tech in the industry with the gumption to hire someone regardless of how unqualified they were on paper. “It’s my job to make you look good until you can do it yourself,” he told me once.

He must have known the easier option would be to hire someone with experience, but in hiring me, he gave himself a mountain of extra work in training me up. He taught me to be concise, so I’ll make this bit quick. James taught me beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so I can’t say for sure if his training worked. And he taught me that while some might not like what we have to say, we’ve done our job right if they can’t say we are wrong. For all that, I can’t thank you enough. Thanks, James!

Caley Fretz

We’ve known James was headed out for a few weeks now, and yet, if you checked the homepage, you’d never know. Prolific and excellent, a continuation of the things that made him and will always make him the absolute best at what he does. James has set the bar for an entire career path. If tech writing was a line of work that had pundits they’d be doing sports talk radio debates over whether he’s the GOAT. (He is)

A bit over a decade ago, when I was at VeloNews and he CyclingNews, we “competed.” I put the air quotes on there because I was about 23 years old and an idiot and he had an advanced degree in materials science and has never been an idiot a day in his life. We hung out at press launches and sometimes rode in Boulder and I lapped it all up. 

Here at Escape, James has modeled what it means to be professional, often in the trying circumstances of a brand-new business. He’s always pushed us to be better. He has always valued the right things. I will miss working with him and Escape will miss his superb work. I can only say thank you for it all. 

Dane Cash

Since James and I cover pretty different things, we rarely worked closely on this or that individual story together, even if we’ve been coworkers for years. But that never stopped James from being an awesome teammate, the kind of colleague anyone would want on their side. Whether I needed advice, the help of an expert mechanic, or new tires from his garage of wonders, James was always there to help.

Anyone who has read or listened to him over the years will know that he is one of the best in the entire world at what he does (and that’s also how I’ve described him to my non-cycling friends if they’ve ever asked about Escape) but not everyone will know how giving and hard-working he is.

We’ll miss you James!

James looking very tired at the top of French Pass

Abby Mickey

When I first met James, back in 2019 fresh off a cycling career, my first impression was of a guy who doesn’t take himself too seriously but does take his work incredibly seriously. I made cookies, because I wanted to make a good first impression, and I think it worked because we’ve been fast friends ever since.

When it comes to industry knowledge, in-depth product reviews, and insight into what the average bike rider wants to learn about, there is no one better than James, and I am sure a novel could be written about his work in cycling. But I also know James away from that world.

I know James as a hilarious guy who loves his family more than anything, who bakes very good bread (and other delicious treats), and who will go out of his way to help the people in his life. Getting to know James both at Escape and at the Other Place has been one of the highlights of stepping into this job, and thankfully because our friendship is very separate from the cycling bubble, and thanks to those chocolate chip cookies, nothing will change.

I will always cherish the memories of those early days at Vecchio’s bike shop recording the podcast live and in person, back before the world turned upside down. James is definitely going to be missed here at EC, and whatever he does next, anyone is lucky to have his energy in their lives.

Matt de Neef

If I’ve ever worked with someone who writes cleaner, more polished copy than James, I can’t remember them. That might seem like a small thing, but when you’re regularly editing 4,000-word tech reviews, it makes a huge difference that those words are as well-crafted and error-free as James’ are.

James’ clean writing speaks to the quality of his work and his attention to detail more generally, too. It’s not just that his knowledge and experience of the bike tech world is deeper than just about anyone’s, he truly cares about doing things right. His integrity is one of the things that I admire most about James, and there’s no doubt that this trait has improved Escape Collective (and CyclingTips before that).

You’ll be missed, James. Thanks for all that you’ve done, and all the very best in whatever comes your way next. I’m sure it will be great.

Andy van Bergen

It’s been an absolute pleasure working alongside James all these years. While he is known and respected by readers and the industry for his deep-dive analysis and reviews, and his considered opinions, it’s actually a somewhat hidden trait that I feel is his biggest strength.

James holds editorial integrity above all else. In a world where it is becoming increasingly difficult to trust reviews and opinions, his honest approach went from being a great quality, to becoming a differentiator (which is a little sad in itself!)

James will be missed. His multi-part Sea Otter coverage is just the most recent of a never-ending line of examples, and the reason we’ve all been so proud to work with him.

Jonny Long

Hi James, we never met in person, so I’m still not entirely sure you exist, but it was fun working with you all the same! If it wasn’t for the fact that other colleagues have actually met you in real life, I would be inclined to believe you could be an AI created to scare the bike industry into doing things better.

Your presenting of a freshly baked loaf of bread or tinkering in your workshop during Zoom calls provided the sort of ASMR-esque relief required by the drain of online meetings. So thank you for that. In fact, if you started livestreaming you just working in your workshop on Twitch as your next thing I would watch that and I’m sure others would too. You can chuck my royalties in the post.

Jase de Puit

I’ve been a fan of James’ work for many years. There’s a lot of reasons why but it boils down to this: every time I’ve taken James’ advice on a bike-related purchase my riding experience has been better for it.

From shoes, to jackets, to entire bikes – James has influenced many many hours in the saddle and always for the better. I’m not really sure how you develop such a valuable skillset. Likely many years of experience coupled with some really valuable personal qualities.

It’s been a privilege to work alongside James for a brief time. The Escape team is full of superstars and I’m sad that one of them is calling an end to their time here. However I’ve no doubt that James is making the right call in this regard, just as he has in so many others! All the best with the future James. You’ll be missed!

Joe Lindsey

I’ve known James for almost 20 years, meeting at industry events or bike launches or occasionally the Costco just outside Boulder, but until Escape I never had the chance to work with him. And that experience confirmed pretty much everything I felt I knew about him. He’s insightful, thorough, detailed, accurate, and passionate about bikes, all things that were clear already from reading his work over the years.

But working with James also confirmed how thoughtful and dedicated he is not only to his craft, but his colleagues. An example: I’m a newbie bread baker, and James – who has mastered far more of that dark art than I – texted me some months ago (from Costco) to let me know about a deal on stand mixers and did I want him to grab one for me? I said no thanks because, as it turns out, the stand mixer I’ve actually been eyeing is the same one James wants, and so we nerded out over its quality and features, like a 600-watt motor with a belt-driven worm-gear transmission. (Geeks: we geek out about almost everything.)

I’ll miss James’ polished story drafts, his cranky Anger Management rants, and the privilege of having his irreplaceable insight on cycling gear on this website. But I’m fortunate; while this may mark the end of a too-brief professional relationship, it won’t end entirely. If James humors me in person as much as he does in our Slack, maybe we can go for a ride or a coffee now and then, or at least have a random meetup at Costco.

James, I’ll have my eye out in the unlikely event a pallet of Ankarsrum Assistents lands in the appliances aisle; if they do, I’ll be sure to text you to see if you want me to snag you one.

Iain Treloar

There aren’t too many people in the field of bike journalism that can accurately be described as legends in their field, but for the duration of James Huang’s tenure at The Old Place and Escape Collective, we could claim to have one in our midst. The integrity and attention to detail of James’ reviews is one part of that – and is perhaps the most visible marker of the quality of his output – but what differentiates him from most other tech writers is the humanity behind his work.

A James Huang tech piece is not just measurable metrics, but what a product makes you feel. He taps into something much bigger, because really, isn’t emotion what we all chase when we’re riding? The feeling behind the facts is also what always made his Anger Management columns must-reads and that has made him an influential and passionate voice advocating for bike riders of all flavours. It is also what has made him such a great colleague, always ready to offer advice or a helping hand.

You’ll be missed, James. Thank you.

Kid learning to ride a bike on an Islabikes Cnoc 14

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