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  1. #1
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    Rene Herse Reintroduction

    This probably seems like an advertisement, but I really don't have anything to do with the company. It's just very exciting to me to see the name brought back, especially with what appear to be very high quality and "true-to-the-name" bicycles.

    Rene Herse Bicycles. Don't forget to click on the pics.

  2. #2
    Senior Member bobbycorno's Avatar
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    Couldn't a picked a better builder than Mark Nobilette for the new Herse bikes. He learned the craft from THE MAN (Albert Eisentraut), and his work is just stunning. The new RH prototypes portend great things. If I could afford one, and was still into riding DF's...

    Scott P
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    Someone beat Bikes Direct to the marque?

  4. #4
    Senior Member BengeBoy's Avatar
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    Frame + fork + rack + stem = $6,000 (not chrome as in photos).

    I saw the bike at the bike show in Portland at the NAHBS. I asked about the price of the complete bike as shown (chrome, integrated lights) and got a vague answer that suggested "If you have to ask, you can't afford it." After further pressing, the answer was, "around $10,000."

    Maybe a Bikes Direct version wouldn't be so bad after all -- maybe it could be *just* a bit cheaper?

  5. #5
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    It "looks" like there are a lot of things to love about their bikes but not nearly enough to justify the huge price differential over other quite expensive, yet far less expensive, bikes. Of course, one can only glean so much from photos and promotional materials.

  6. #6
    Senior Member bobbycorno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
    Frame + fork + rack + stem = $6,000 (not chrome as in photos).

    I saw the bike at the bike show in Portland at the NAHBS. I asked about the price of the complete bike as shown (chrome, integrated lights) and got a vague answer that suggested "If you have to ask, you can't afford it." After further pressing, the answer was, "around $10,000."

    Maybe a Bikes Direct version wouldn't be so bad after all -- maybe it could be *just* a bit cheaper?
    Go to the ReneHerseCycles.com site, and check out their "Boulder Bikes" brand. Made by "a builder whose name starts with W, in a city whose name starts with W" and in a state whose name begins with W, IIRC. Under 3 grand for a complete bike. Almost makes me want to ride a DF again.

    Scott P
    Bend, OR

  7. #7
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    Yeah, it's a lot of money. Handmade lugs, handmade stems (with switch for lights built in), and you wouldn't believe the amount of finishwork it takes to make a chrome plating job come out looking good. Is it worth it? Well, the orders are coming in, so the answer seems to be "yes" for at least some folks. I can think of better uses for $10,000, but then I've already got my "old-school custom rando bike".

    Personally I just think it's interesting that the market for this type of bike seems to be blossoming. Five years ago I'd never heard of this style of bike. Now they're just about everywhere.

  8. #8
    Senior Member BengeBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Six jours View Post
    Five years ago I'd never heard of this style of bike. Now they're just about everywhere.
    Like this?

    Lugged frame: $2400, 1-year wait.

    http://www.hampsten.com/Tournesol/audax.html

  9. #9
    Senior Member akatsuki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zowie View Post
    Someone beat Bikes Direct to the marque?
    I have to agree. How is this any different than BD?

    Mark has a good rep, so why not just sell under his own name?
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  10. #10
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by akatsuki View Post
    I have to agree. How is this any different than BD?

    Mark has a good rep, so why not just sell under his own name?
    RH bikes are still being custom handbuilt instead of assembly line mass produced; outside of that, it's the same sort of business move. Not selling under his own name could be for any number of reasons. There's already brand recognition for the RH name, there's a certain history behind RH which is an immediate association when people see the name, there's no need to explain a change in branding and why the quality is unchanged, etc.
    I don't have any animosity towards either operation. Then again, I don't have a spare $6000 sitting around for a frame and fork, so it doesn't really affect me.
    ... someday, maybe.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
    - Mandi M.

  11. #11
    Senior Member bobbycorno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by akatsuki View Post
    I have to agree. How is this any different than BD?

    Mark has a good rep, so why not just sell under his own name?
    1) You mean other than selling individually hand crafted custom bikes vs mass produced chinese s**t?

    2) He does.

    Scott P
    Bend, OR

  12. #12
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    Huh. This is the last subject I would think of being a topic of contention. If it's not worth the money to you (and it isn't to me) then don't buy one, is my attitude. I'm just A) glad to see that there is a market for this kind of bike, and B) excited that the grandest name in French cyclotouring has been revived with a best-quality bike.
    Last edited by Six jours; 04-17-08 at 09:13 PM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member bobbycorno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Six jours View Post
    Huh. This is the last subject I would think of being a topic of contention. If it's not worth the money to you (and it isn't to me) than don't buy one, is my attitude. I'm just A) glad to see that there is a marker for this kind of bike, and B) excited that the grandest name in French cyclotouring has been revived with a best-quality bike.
    +1!

    SP

  14. #14
    Senior Member Goonster's Avatar
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    The comparison with Bikesdirect is silly and not even worth a proper debunking.

    However, I don't see the need to resurrect the Rene Herse marque. As I understand it, Rene Herse actually built very few frames himself, but the atelier was always run under his, or a direct family member's, auspices. What's the point in starting it all up again, thirty years later, in Colorado? Lyli's blessings notwithstanding, there's just no continuity.

    Sure, the pricing is high, but we live in an age of $500 brifteurs and $10,000 carbon fiber frames that have to be scrapped if they get a deep scratch.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Goonster View Post
    What's the point in starting it all up again, thirty years later, in Colorado?
    Same reason you can buy a "John Rigby" dangerous game rifle made in California, or an Indian motorcycle made with Harley parts, or a 427 Cobra assembled in New England last week. Some marques have intrinsic value, at least to a certain type of personality. Of course, in the instance of RH bikes, there's the fact that the things are being made on original tooling and come with exact duplicates of "special" parts like the stems and headlights.

    If I had money falling out of me arse, I'd probably add my name to the waiting list.

  16. #16
    Senior Member akatsuki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Goonster View Post
    The comparison with Bikesdirect is silly and not even worth a proper debunking.

    However, I don't see the need to resurrect the Rene Herse marque. As I understand it, Rene Herse actually built very few frames himself, but the atelier was always run under his, or a direct family member's, auspices. What's the point in starting it all up again, thirty years later, in Colorado? Lyli's blessings notwithstanding, there's just no continuity.

    Sure, the pricing is high, but we live in an age of $500 brifteurs and $10,000 carbon fiber frames that have to be scrapped if they get a deep scratch.
    You say it is silly, but you use the exact same argument about why Bikesdirect is problematic. I think they are exactly the same. BD is selling a relatively high quality CF and steel frames under names that made racing bikes, and, if they were around today, would probably be selling something similar. The only difference is that Mark Nobilette is charging Herse prices for a Nobilette bike, and Bikesdirect is selling cheaper bikes.
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  17. #17
    Senior Member Goonster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Six jours View Post
    Of course, in the instance of RH bikes, there's the fact that the things are being made on original tooling and come with exact duplicates of "special" parts like the stems and headlights.
    Can you please elaborate on this? What tooling has been brought over from France, and what parts are they making? I haven't heard anything about this.

    With respect to the stems . . . OK, they are worth reviving, although arguably lots of outfits with a CNC machine could make them. I didn't realize RH made headlights, just thought they used JOS, or similar.

    Anyway, I'm a good mood because I'm picking up my new 650b tandem, built specifically for the next PBP, painted something approaching Herse blue, from its constructeur this afternoon. Oh happy day!

  18. #18
    Senior Member Goonster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by akatsuki View Post
    if they were around today, would probably be selling something similar.
    You've got a point there.

    I guess what bugs me is that BD's ad copy makes a big deal about TdF winning marques, when that connection is spurious to the extreme (the actual frames bearing those decals having been built by otherwise unaffiliated artisans).

    Quote Originally Posted by akatsuki View Post
    Mark Nobilette is charging Herse prices for a Nobilette bike
    I don't think he is charging an exorbitant premium for the marque. AFAIK, no one in North America has ever built bikes to this standard, with these kinds of details before. A bike with custom components, wireless current transmission, extensive chroming, full accessories, etc. will cost $10k no matter whose name is on it.

    The bikes are cool, but I'd still never want to explain that my Herse was built in Colorado. Sorry.

  19. #19
    Senior Member bobbycorno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by akatsuki View Post
    You say it is silly, but you use the exact same argument about why Bikesdirect is problematic. I think they are exactly the same. BD is selling a relatively high quality CF and steel frames under names that made racing bikes, and, if they were around today, would probably be selling something similar. The only difference is that Mark Nobilette is charging Herse prices for a Nobilette bike, and Bikesdirect is selling cheaper bikes.
    And a Nobilette frame is inferior how?

    (BTW, a frame with Mark's name on it with handmade lugs, stem, bb, rack, internal wiring, etc, etc, etc, would most likely cost somewhere between 4 and 5 grand - same as a "Herse").

    Scott P
    Bend, OR

  20. #20
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    Anyone who has read the book The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles cannot help becoming enamored with these bikes. Even if hub generators are more practical and efficient I still think it would be cool to have a little lever under the seat that moved the shiny chrome bottle generator on and off the tire. And the current makers of lighting systems need to go to the library and study the work of industrial designer Raymond Loewy and design for us a properly polished and streamlined headlight because we cyclists are all about slicing through the air.

  21. #21
    Senior Member akatsuki's Avatar
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    @bobbycorno- "And a Nobilette frame is inferior how?" - It didn't have the loving hand of Rene Herse slowly fondle its curves? Nobilette, I am sure, is a fine builder, but he is not Rene Herse, one of the most famed builders of all time.

    As for calling BD bikes Chinese produced crap, well, don't think for one second that isn't why America has fallen behind so bad - underestimating the competition time and time again. Their work is better than ours in so many industries right now that it is embarrassing, and to discount them in bike making (or car manufacture or anything else) is just another mistake. Taiwanese and Korean CF manufacturers are some of the best in the world, and the Chinese aren't too far behind and have taken the lead in some areas. I recommend listening to Schwinn's recent podcast on the Terry bicycles blog regarding steel and alu to see how the Chinese have directed their energies regardless of your politics and interests. He makes a strong case for Waterford bikes and steel, but he definitely talks about how technical CF has been ceded to Asia for bicycles.

    @Goonster- I don't think he is really charging a premium for the details that he offers. I object to him getting a pass on appropriating a storied name because they are high end products, but BD getting a lot of crap on these boards because they just happen to be affordable products.

    I think the hyperbole on this thread is a bit out of control- "no one in North America has ever built bikes to this standard"- I am sure that Vanilla, the now-defunct Mariposa, and Sachs (to name a few) are all capable of building bikes at that level of quality and may have on commission for people at different times. Replicas of original parts? Velo-Orange does that too and not claiming to be Alex Singer.

    I am sure people will buy them and I am sure they are great bikes. But the whole name thing just leaves a slight distaste with me (Hell, I would consider buying one even despite my arguments against it, it is just that I would rather have Mark's name on them and would insist on it). If he had called them Nobilette cycles Rene Herse Edition or something like that, I would have no problem, the provenance would be clear.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Goonster View Post
    Can you please elaborate on this? What tooling has been brought over from France, and what parts are they making? I haven't heard anything about this.

    With respect to the stems . . . OK, they are worth reviving, although arguably lots of outfits with a CNC machine could make them. I didn't realize RH made headlights, just thought they used JOS, or similar.

    Anyway, I'm a good mood because I'm picking up my new 650b tandem, built specifically for the next PBP, painted something approaching Herse blue, from its constructeur this afternoon. Oh happy day!
    The Herse website says "In 2007, Michael Kone in Boulder Colorado wished start production of ultimate handcrafted bicycles with an emphasis on Brevet style (bicycles with fenders, lighting, and front racks) machines. But there was a problem; from both a performance perspective, Herse designs remain unsurpassed. To build the finest bicycles one would need to essentially build a new René Herse. Fortunately, Lyli Herse wanted to see the designs and name of her family live on, and she sold rights and remaining equipment and materials to René Herse Bicycles Inc. of Boulder Colorado. Lyli and her husband remain available as 'consultants' to the company, and receive a photograph of each new René Herse Bicycle built."
    I think there was a blurb about it in the latest BQ as well, but my copy is at work today and I'm not, so I can't verify it.

    And yeah, lots of people could make copies of Herse stuff, but only one person is -- and being under license from Lylie just lends a touch of authenticity.

    Pics of that tandem are forthcoming, yes?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by MKahrl View Post
    Anyone who has read the book The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles cannot help becoming enamored with these bikes. Even if hub generators are more practical and efficient I still think it would be cool to have a little lever under the seat that moved the shiny chrome bottle generator on and off the tire. And the current makers of lighting systems need to go to the library and study the work of industrial designer Raymond Loewy and design for us a properly polished and streamlined headlight because we cyclists are all about slicing through the air.
    Amen, brother. Golden Age, along with BQ, is largely responsible for my interest in classic randonneuring frames.

    Talking about the old lever-actuated bottle generators, though, makes me think of my pet silliness: the rod-operated front derailleurs than Pereira was building. I read that we was selling clamp-on retrofit versions so wrote to him about the possibility of getting parts for a braze-on model for my homemade rando bike. He wrote back to say he was getting out of the gear-changing business entirely.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by akatsuki View Post
    @bobbycorno- "And a Nobilette frame is inferior how?" - It didn't have the loving hand of Rene Herse slowly fondle its curves? Nobilette, I am sure, is a fine builder, but he is not Rene Herse, one of the most famed builders of all time.
    I think it's worth noting that a large percentage of Rene Herse frames were built by Jean Desbois, almost from the start. Is a Cinelli not a Cinelli because Cino didn't build it himself?

    Quote Originally Posted by akatsuki View Post
    I think the hyperbole on this thread is a bit out of control- "no one in North America has ever built bikes to this standard"- I am sure that Vanilla, the now-defunct Mariposa, and Sachs (to name a few) are all capable of building bikes at that level of quality and may have on commission for people at different times. Replicas of original parts? Velo-Orange does that too and not claiming to be Alex Singer.
    Well, I won't disagree with that. Any number of small custom builders can replicate an Herse -- and probably improve upon it -- on demand. And it only takes a quick look at, say, a Peter Weigle rando bike to see that it has and is being done. But that still doesn't address the fact that a top builder is replicating Herses, down to some fairly fine details, to the highest level possible, with the name and blessing of the Herse family. I still don't see how that's a bad or unprincipled thing.

    And FWIW, even as a big fan and frequent customer of Velo-Orange, there's no comparison between the VO branded stuff and the products of any top custom maker.

    Arg. I really didn't mean for this thread to become an argument. *shrug*

  25. #25
    Senior Member akatsuki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Six jours View Post
    I think it's worth noting that a large percentage of Rene Herse frames were built by Jean Desbois, almost from the start. Is a Cinelli not a Cinelli because Cino didn't build it himself?


    Well, I won't disagree with that. Any number of small custom builders can replicate an Herse -- and probably improve upon it -- on demand. And it only takes a quick look at, say, a Peter Weigle rando bike to see that it has and is being done. But that still doesn't address the fact that a top builder is replicating Herses, down to some fairly fine details, to the highest level possible, with the name and blessing of the Herse family. I still don't see how that's a bad or unprincipled thing.

    And FWIW, even as a big fan and frequent customer of Velo-Orange, there's no comparison between the VO branded stuff and the products of any top custom maker.

    Arg. I really didn't mean for this thread to become an argument. *shrug*
    Sorry, I guess I was just reading too many threads alternating between attacking Bikesdirect and then bemoaning the lack of affordable bikes....

    Anyway, I look forward to seeing how the bikes turn out in the end. I've always been a sucker for true craftsmanship of all sorts.
    Current: Lynskey R210 | Miyata 610
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