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Old 01-13-22, 07:31 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Orcas Washington and currently Circumnavigating in a Farrier F36 Trimaran
Posts: 82

Bikes: 1968 Rene Herse Gentleman's Bike; 1974/5 Jim Merz Custom-built; 1984 Rodriquez tandem; 2012 Bilenky Tandem; 1983 Windsor semi-pro 67cm; 1984 Specialized Exp. 68cm; 1971 Holdsworth 63cm(my first bike ever and owned since new!); 1994 Bridgestone MB5

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1968 Rene Herse Gentleman's Bicycle

At the risk of being far to over wordy, here is my brief history with this R. Herse

Traveling thru France on a 2012 Tandem bicycle tour along the Loire River, we stumbled upon a Rene Herse being advertised in the local paper. Original owner bicycle in exceptional condition, just waiting unridden in the old owners storage. The French ad read as follows (and this reads as a good description of how she came):

Vélo René Herse taille 68 cm axe/axe René Herse bike size 68 cm axle / axle
Tube supérieur 60 cm axe/axe 60 cm top tube axis / axis
Potence René Herse René Herse Stem
Pédalier René Herse René Herse Crankset
Manivelles René Herse René Herse cranks
Garde boue Durex RBN Fender Durex RBN
Freins Weinmann 610 vinqueur 999 Weinmann 610 brakes vinqueur 999
Moyeux Normandy Normandy hubs
Pédales Lyotard Lyotard pedals
Pompe Lapize Pump Lapize
Selle Brooks B66 à ressorts Brooks B66 saddle with springs
Jantes SuperChampion Wheels SUPERCHAMPION
Tubes Reynolds renforcés fourreaux de fourches et arrières Reynolds tubing sleeves Reinforced forks and rear
Eclairage fonctionnant parfaitement Lighting works perfectly
Feu arrière ULO Taillight ULO
Dynamo SOUBITEZ 10 Dynamo SOUBITEZ 10
Numéro de Série 53 68 Serial Number 53 68
Remise en main propre sur Paris Hand delivery to Paris

Difficult to do anything on a two-up self-supported tour; We continued cycling on to Budapest, the Rene Herse always in the recesses of my mind… the thought of her growing… was it provenance that had caught me in its web with that incredible coincidence of my very tall frame size at 68cm axe/axe (c-c)?

We came within the tiniest of margins of cancelling our return flight to gain the time to cycle back and arrange purchase and shipment home. Looking back, I can’t believe I just flew home.

But I could not escape the attraction and arranged for a local mechanic (Enzo at Velorama) to meet up with the owner and ship the “Gentleman’s Bicycle” home.

Because the bicycle became a daily commuter on a steep and hilly ride…. I made a few reversable changes to the gearing and provisions for a front bag. The old parts (freewheel, original drilled bars, derailleur, and such) safely stored away for someone that comes eventually down the road from me, probably when I’m 80 years old like the former owner.

The conversion to the (up to) 16% grades that I commute on was mostly done with the addition of a clamp-on suicide shifter a slightly wider range of the French threaded freewheel and a bit of magic from Jan Hein with an adaption of the original cranks to a double. Shifting is not what one would call smooth but I don’t want to violate the originality with an actual Herse square tube shifter that’s brazed. My hope is that some day I (or the next owner) will be back on level-ish ground and can return the bicycle to the original unmolested state without any noticeable history of a former hilly life.

Original Condition on arrival

Original unmolested condition left side

On a sunny day before the changes started

Seat Lug and cable routing

Fender reinforcement

BB shell

Front light

Seat Bolt


Brakes pivot on seatstay posts (not the bridge)


Single original Crank

Rack works fine for loaded bags

Brooks original seat Has old school clamp shells

Front brake and roller


Original bars were somewhat narrow for city streets and I wanted to add a Nitto F11 carrier which would have destroyed the original bars. Switched out for some similar modern bars and drilled them for the reverse lever brakes

Rear fender

aft view

Rear roller
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