Tech editor James Huang rides his Urban Arrow with his daughter in the box.

Our favourite stories: James Huang brings the personal touch to tech

From family to fondos, James' coverage never forgets the people who ride the bikes.

Kit Nicholson
by Kit Nicholson 26.12.2023 Photography by
James Huang
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Welcome to our year-end Favourite Stories series. To pick the best of our over 1,000 stories published this year, we assigned each of our staff and core contributors to write about someone else. Today, Kit Nicholson zeroes in on the not-so-secret sauce that makes James Huang’s tech coverage so relatable.

Trust is something that we built our brand on at Escape Collective – trust in writing quality, trust in writer integrity, trust in one other – and James Huang personifies this.

Like the indispensable Joe Lindsey, James is something of a peloton patron for our motley little crew, someone ready and able to lend an ear on questions both professional and personal. And his writing carries the very same torch. My tech knowledge is adequate for the average bicycler, but lacking in the Escape virtual office, so I don’t mind admitting it takes a little more time and brainpower – an extra coffee and a deep breath – for me to jump into an in-depth tech article, but you’re always looked after by James’s guiding hand.

Combine close to a lifetime of experience with the emotion and personality that ooze from his words, what you get is an assured and passionate authority that might just be peerless in our industry. James has produced a wide-ranging catalogue of articles for our corner of the internet, including bread-and-butter bike reviews, insightful tech news, his own Anger Management series and multiple galleries that you can almost literally get lost in, all of them sprinkled with a personal touch that promises it’s all worth your time.

A fond farewell to Islabikes

James is never more passionate than when he’s talking about family, and it was this mode that he engaged on learning that Islabikes would be closing down. Though he covered the necessary details that made it news coverage, James’s article was personal from the start, recalling his daughter’s first pedal strokes in April 2017 onboard her very own Lime green Islabikes Cnoc 14. It’s exemplary James Huang.

Read “Islabikes is shutting down and a piece of my heart is going with it” here.

Unsolicited (but helpful) advice on how to be a cycling parent

I’m not a cycling parent, nor a parent trying to be a cyclist – or indeed a cyclist trying to be a parent – but James is, and one of his more popular and personal pieces focused sharply on the keystone of life that is parenthood. In this instance, he drew on the learnings of many of our colleagues to provide advice that comes from all sorts of experience with children of all ages, in lieu of attempting to manifest more hours in a day.

Read “How to be a cycling parent and keep riding your bike” here.

A world-class, working-class gravel gallery

If you want to kill a few hours and you like bikes, you can’t go wrong with the vast number of galleries, tech and otherwise, that have stacked up at Escape Collective. One of the most pleasing is James’ offering from the FoCo Fondo, an amateur gravel event in Fort Collins, Colorado. Much like the Fondo itself, a welcoming and democratic event that is for one and all, no matter the experience, James’s gallery incorporates the bikes of ordinary, everyday participants like us who work on a budget, in contrast to the flagship dream bikes that often – more often than not – fill the screens of cycling media sites like ours. I think my favourite is Cheri Fine’s purple Cannondale Topstone Carbon, only beating her husband Mark’s Pink Panther-inspired custom Squid fixed-gear delight because I like gears.

Dive into “Working-class gravel bikes from the FoCo Fondo” here.

The prince and the pauper

It’s hard to narrow down the good old-fashioned bike reviews that James has written over the past eight months, but this one easily stands out to me. On the few occasions that I’ve been in the market for a new bike, I’ve always wanted to know how one compares to another, and when I’m deciding how much to spend, sometimes that comparison goes right down to bikes of the same brand. As James points out, though, it’s typically the flagship (read: most expensive) model that is sent out for thorough review, but not anymore. In a first for Escape Collective, James got hold of two Canyon Ultimates at either end of the range, and essentially asked: how different are they really?

Read who came out on top in “The Prince and the Pauper: 2023 Canyon Ultimate CF SL 7 vs Ultimate CFR” here.

Breck Epic and an assessment of man-AND-machine

Personal experience is so important in storytelling of all shapes and sizes – news, less so, but reviews, certainly – and James’s debrief from his second Breck Epic has it in spades. He’s quick to admit early in the story that he was personally, physically underprepared for the enormously challenging mountain bike stage race in and around the ski resort of Breckenridge, Colorado (i.e. alpine terrain and altitude), but that soon serves only to emphasise the importance of considering both the rider and the bike, in this instance a Rocky Mountain Element Carbon. It’s a piece that only James could have written, and in it is all the colour and passion you’d expect.

Read “Debrief: James’ Rocky Mountain Element Carbon for the 2023 Breck Epic” here.

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