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What do you think of C&V stores? (online or physical)

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What do you think of C&V stores? (online or physical)

Old 03-30-19, 12:48 PM
  #1  
BikeWonder
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What do you think of C&V stores? (online or physical)

I was wondering what you guys thought about retailers such as Velo Orange, Rivbikes, and ReneHerse Cycles (formally known as Compass Cycles).

I'm not going to go into the philosophy of each owners as they all have their ideology and fanbase, but I'd like to talk about their products.
Personally, I find VO the best of both worlds. Great quality and affordable pricing, thought I feel they do lack some amenities.
Riv bike, I'm not really sure what to think about them. I never bought from them personally,but it seems like they're just in a unique area for custom builds and parts.

Where I find things getting interesting is ReneHerse cycles. I've heard countless great things from their tire lineup, but when I went to look at their other products I couldn't believe how horribly overpriced some things were. It seems like they are really banking on the premium ReneHerse name and have a fancy magazine to display their products in action. I recently saw a video of Janheine discussing how they spend little to no money on marketing, but their prime source of marketing is their magazine itself and constantly praising their own products, followed by the fanbase willing to pay the high price because they read about how great something is.

But then again there is always a choice to buy products from them. I wish I could justify buying a certain part, but I can't with the price when places such as VO and Rivbikes offer them from a much lower price, despite not having the name "ReneHerse"

For example, VO offers a triple crank with 48/34/24 $195.
RH offers a similar crank, albeit with more range options, for $515, more than double the price.

Comparing other products, I don't see why I would buy anything from RH other than their tires.

In the end, all the respective owners are good at one thing: They have the ability to write in a way to convince you that their product is superior in some unique way.
But that's the price of a hobby from C&V. I guess what you build is only worth what you believe it is. They all come from similar factories in Taiwan. They are all great products.
What sets them apart, at least to me, is how they are portrayed and described by their owners.
I wish I could compare products across those three distributors instead of reading what they have to say about it on their blog/website.
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Old 03-30-19, 01:16 PM
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I’ll answer the title question; but without addressing your content.

If I walk into a bike shop that sells a fair number of older used bikes - and if it has that special aroma, and if the staff are pleasant and ‘vintage knowledgable’, then I will absolutely patronize that shop and pay a bit more for the C&V bits.

VO has supplied me parts, purchased at their year end sale.
Given the products I have wanted for C&V builds, online searches resulting in obscure sellers has been rather common, if I cannot find it here on BikeForums.
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Old 03-30-19, 01:19 PM
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The Herse stuff costs more because it is nicer. For example, compare the Rene Herse cranks to the VO ones. The forging is stronger, the finish is better, and the cranks are lighter. Heine also paid for extensive testing and certification that the VO cranks do not have, which costs quite a bit of money. Whether or not either is "overpriced", they definitely aren't the same product.

Personally, I would not drop $200 on the VO cranks when the "real thing", aka functional and beautiful vintage cranks such as those from TA, Stronglight, Suntour, etc... are still easy to purchase, clean up, and ride, for a lot less than $200. Why would one pay $200 for a VO copy of a classic crank when you can get a really nice condition TA Cyclotouriste for $125 or less on ebay? With a little more patience they can be had for much less even.

The value of VO for me is the small bits and the consumables. Being able to get nice looking bar tape, grips, cable housing, tires, etc... is really helpful. Same for their bottle cages and racks and hardware. Not as easy to find that stuff vintage and that kind of VO stuff doesn't cost much.

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Old 03-30-19, 01:22 PM
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I buy from VO most then Riv and compass is just too rich for my blood - and bank account although someday I may save up and try some of those tires folks rave about to see if they are worth double to triple the Panaracer/Soma/Swift offerings

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Old 03-30-19, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by TenGrainBread View Post
Heine also paid for extensive testing and certification that the VO cranks do not have, which costs quite a bit of money.
It costs like 300-500 Euro to do similar tests and certification in Europe and it's pretty important if selling in Europe for liability issues. I imagine it's even cheaper in Taiwan. It's also just supposed to be a minimum safety standard, like CSPC testing for helmets, not some sort of amazingly difficult test to pass. The cost is basically negligible compared to the cost of the forging dies.

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Old 03-30-19, 01:53 PM
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I like the VO stainless bottle cages, but I get 'em on ebay.

I used to buy more new VO stuff like pedals and accessories, but I try to find all vintage pieces now.
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Old 03-30-19, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Kuromori View Post
It costs like 300-500 Euro to do similar tests and certification in Europe and it's pretty important if selling in Europe for liability issues. I imagine it's even cheaper in Taiwan. It's also just supposed to be a minimum safety standard, like CSPC testing for helmets, not some sort of amazingly difficult test to pass. The cost is basically negligible compared to the cost of the forging dies.
So then the price difference is merely because of testing purposes for quality?
As silly as it sounds, I never thought about it that way. I know the EU has strict standards when it comes to importing products.
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Old 03-30-19, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by BikeWonder View Post
So then the price difference is merely because of testing purposes for quality?
As silly as it sounds, I never thought about it that way. I know the EU has strict standards when it comes to importing products.
No, it's a test you do once for the product, you don't test every crank because it's basically a destructive test that will fatigue the cranks. The cost of testing is negligible if he sells a few hundred cranks, it probably ends up costing a couple of dollars per crankset. The major cost is the forging dies being used over a short production run and Jan probably not wanting to be in debt for the next 20 years recouping the costs. Jan sometimes likes to make a big deal out of things that aren't really that a big deal. I don't recall which crank supplier VO uses, but some of the crank manufacturers do the tests on all their products because it means at trade shows they can show it meets whatever ISO/EN spec to make their customer comfortable about the quality. It's also possible they don't if their customer doesn't care and goes with the company who cuts corners to cut costs.

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Old 03-30-19, 02:08 PM
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Good question OP . I have purchased from these guys , nice people they have NOS and used parts .
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Old 03-30-19, 02:41 PM
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I’ve had good dealings with VO, Boulder, and Compass. (Nothing against Riv, just haven’t gotten around to buying anything from them yet.) Each store has different emphases, so it’s good to have that diversity.
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Old 03-30-19, 02:48 PM
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I buy and have bought from both VO and Compass (a.k.a. Rene Herse) and will continue to do so. Both great companies, I'm glad they're around. I haven't purchased anything from Riv, but not because I wouldn't or have any problem with them. I respect what they do.

I plan on building up a VO Polyvalent frameset over the course of this next fall and winter, and will use both VO (obviously!), Rene Herse, and ebay for that.
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Old 03-30-19, 03:18 PM
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Online stores? Love, hate, laugh along with ebay.

Stoopid money and the World is yours!

Example currently on eBay:



Pimp bike pump
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Old 03-30-19, 05:54 PM
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VO is the best value. They also have some of the only French compatible stuff - when that matters.
Rivbike has the best customer service, bar none. Their Jack Brown tires at 33.333 fit right between Compass (Rene Herse) 32's and 35's in size, weight, and are the same casing, as far as I can tell, and are a couple of bucks cheaper.
What I mostly buy from Rene Herse are braze on centerpull posts (only source that I know) and tires. I do have one set of Rene Herse cranks, can't think of spending money on another. Everything else they do I can get a much better value somewhere else. For example, their Gilles Berthoud bags are very nice (I have one of their handlebar bags), but for the same price I can get a similar, but custom bag made - my favorite is Waxwing bags out of Vermont, and Dave Cain there is a great guy to work with. Their racks and decaleurs are nice as well, but rarely fit as well as custom, which can be had for about the same price (or less). I wouldn't buy their cantilever brakes - even if they're essentially a "rebirth" of the Rene Herse model. Their just not that good, and are way pricier than most anything else. They copied the MAFAC RAID brake design, which is a good choice, but I can pick up RAID's for much less than half the price of a new Rene Herse model, change out the bushings, polish them up, put in new brake pads, and you've got the same brake for a lot less money. Lastly, you can get a lot of what they sell by ordering Gran Bois direct from Japan. It'll take a while longer to receive your order, but you'll save some coin.
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Old 03-30-19, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by crank_addict View Post
Online stores? Love, hate, laugh along with ebay.

Stoopid money and the World is yours!

Example currently on eBay:



Pimp bike pump
It does say the best offer
Ben
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Old 03-30-19, 06:55 PM
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I have a VO stem and bar...they are fine. Silver and the bend I wanted, so great. Never been wowed by their frames, just seem heavy and similar to others like soma, black mountain, or Surly(which is already heavy).

never bought anything from Riv because I haven't found something i want that they sell and I can't easily buy for less elsewhere. Their frames look nice, but the seemingly hardline push against anything more competitive than a casual ride in tweed keeps me from ever caring about shopping there(in addition to cost).

Compass is a neat site and I frequent it most often. Haven't bought anything though as the prices are too much for my interest.
I have been tempted to buy some Keisei tubing(what Ishiwata basically turned into) for a build, but the lack of flared chainstays and having only round tubes instead of oval is an issue. Really like the idea of trying out Keisei though.



I use ebay for c&v purchases. This site too. And sometimes pick up a random bit at the local bike collective.
that's where all my c&v money goes- ebay and here.
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Old 03-30-19, 11:56 PM
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Originally Posted by BikeWonder View Post
I was wondering what you guys thought about retailers such as Velo Orange, Rivbikes, and ReneHerse Cycles (formally known as Compass Cycles).

I'm not going to go into the philosophy of each owners as they all have their ideology and fanbase, but I'd like to talk about their products.
Personally, I find VO the best of both worlds. Great quality and affordable pricing, thought I feel they do lack some amenities.
Riv bike, I'm not really sure what to think about them. I never bought from them personally,but it seems like they're just in a unique area for custom builds and parts.

Where I find things getting interesting is ReneHerse cycles. I've heard countless great things from their tire lineup, but when I went to look at their other products I couldn't believe how horribly overpriced some things were. It seems like they are really banking on the premium ReneHerse name and have a fancy magazine to display their products in action. I recently saw a video of Janheine discussing how they spend little to no money on marketing, but their prime source of marketing is their magazine itself and constantly praising their own products, followed by the fanbase willing to pay the high price because they read about how great something is.

But then again there is always a choice to buy products from them. I wish I could justify buying a certain part, but I can't with the price when places such as VO and Rivbikes offer them from a much lower price, despite not having the name "ReneHerse"

For example, VO offers a triple crank with 48/34/24 $195.
RH offers a similar crank, albeit with more range options, for $515, more than double the price.

Comparing other products, I don't see why I would buy anything from RH other than their tires.

In the end, all the respective owners are good at one thing: They have the ability to write in a way to convince you that their product is superior in some unique way.
But that's the price of a hobby from C&V. I guess what you build is only worth what you believe it is. They all come from similar factories in Taiwan. They are all great products.
What sets them apart, at least to me, is how they are portrayed and described by their owners.
I wish I could compare products across those three distributors instead of reading what they have to say about it on their blog/website.
Part of the beauty of C&V is being able to eat from the big kids' table, but still pay kids menu prices.

You have to remember what's all going on. Just because you got a top of the line bike from 1985 for $20 doesn't mean that bike is only worth $20. Conversely, a bike that was the equivalent of a $3000 bike in 1985 is no longer worth the equivalence of $3000.

It's a good thing to question what things are- sometimes you find you're getting ripped off. Sometimes you find you develop an appreciation for something you didn't know was there. You have to decide if there's a difference in that quality- you have to decide if you want that quality- you have to decide if that quality is worth paying for.

In regards to VO, Rivendell and Compass/Rene Herse-

First- Rivendell only designs and sells frames. They have some input on getting parts developed for them (such as the Tektro R559, the Phil Rivy hub and several Nitto products like the B177 bar, and the Mark's Rack...), but they just recommend and sell things they find meet their own particular... ...idiom. As far as the "retro/vintage" aspect from them- it's just lugged, steel frames, Craftsman style graphics and aesthetic, and advocating friction shifting.

Velo Orange designs a whole line of products that are inspired by "classic" styling- things that wouldn't be all that out of place on an old bike, but on a mass market/cost effective scale. They also appropriate other designs and brand them as Velo Orange. I personally have an opinion (be it fair or not) that most VO stuff is a price point interpretation of C&V stuff. In other words- if you had a vintage piece and a VO interpretation of that piece- the vintage piece would generally be of better quality. HOWEVER VO products have influenced trends and products in a very good way.

Compass/Rene Herse.... The "Rene Herse" name thing is relatively new. The Compass tires were Compass tires, and I'll refer to them as Compass tires regardless of what the company wishes to change their name to. (Marquette's teams are still the Warriors, the baseball park here is still County Stadium to me). While Compass/Rene Herse do also sell other things besides their own products- they design their own products, and contract to produce their products on a small scale that they control. Your example of the Rene Herse cranks vs the "similar" VO cranks (which are the same as the IRD cranks which are the same as the "Holdworth" cranks...) is sort of like comparing Dura Ace or Super Record to Ultegra/105 parts (or parts made to sorta vaguely look like Dura Ace). You may notice those triples aren't real triples- the granny ring is mounted to the middle ring instead of to the spider. You'll find the same people who will bash on Compass/Rene Herse, but swear up and down that the quality of Dura Ace makes a difference to them over Ultegra. OK.

Just reading your post- it looks like you think the products that Compass/Rene Herse sells are the same products that other companies are selling without the "premium" Rene Herse name.

Compare the VO Gran Cru bars to the Nitto B177 bars. They look "similar." People that I know and trust have compared them- and my guess is there are plenty here who have- what are the results? I'd rather not play ****-**** games- I just got the B177 bars. If the Compass bars would have been available wider when I was looking- I would have gotten those. Of course, you can compare the VO bottle cages to the Nitto and King Cage versions- IMO- the VO cages feel "cheap" compared to either the King Cage or Nitto- or even vintage Blackburn cages.

Damning products as "horribly overpriced" overlooks what it takes to get high quality/low volume products made. Irrespective of the name- who else makes cranks of that quality to those specs? You're not talking about a rebadged IRD Defiant crankset churned out by the thousands. No one else makes those cantilevers.

Regarding advertising and marketing... when you're the only player in the game- you make the rules. Realistically - why would Compass/Rene Herse pay to advertise? Throwing money at a mainstream cycling publication would be useless- they're not selling flat black parts or carbon fiber... That's what the mainstream cycling population wants to buy.

So when you look at what the unique items are in the Compass/Rene Herse lineup- they're their own parts. Contracted to be forged on a small scale. Bars made by the premium handlebar makers in the world to their own specs... if it's worth it to you- it's worth it to you. You can complain that some clown has too much money to burn choosing Campagnolo over Shimano or DA over Ultegra or Ultegra over 105. Or that some poseur thinks he's hot **** because he threw down for Nitto over Gran Cru... Yeah there's stuff that you're getting bent over about. IMO/E you're going to pay more for anything thru Rivendell or Compass for items you can get elsewhere. For their own unique items- they charge a fair price for what they're selling in relation to what else is available- and it's unfair to equate pricing with rebadged high volume mass produced parts to higher quality, lower volume parts.
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Old 03-31-19, 05:58 AM
  #17  
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I come from a lifetime of antique collecting. Eventually, the original stuff I like got really expensive, where a re-pop here and there better fit my budget. In the bicycle world, original, used vintage parts are still a lot cheaper. So I have no need to buy from the suppliers above.

Antique collecting also taught me to appreciate "patina", that wear and tear that comes from decades of use. So shiny and new has less interest to me.
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Old 03-31-19, 06:15 AM
  #18  
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Can I answer simply: I love these businesses?

As to Compass/René Herse: the tires are fantastic, the magazine is certainly much much more than a marketing vehicle (have you seen the books Jan Heine has produced by the way?) and those cranks are something I’d love to have someday.

I honestly don’t think Heine is trying to bamboozle anyone with the name René Herse.

First of all they only adopted the name recently. For most of the company’s history, it’s been Compass.

Secondly , think about it: there is a tiny sliver of the bike market for whom the name Herse means anything. This sliver is mostly made up of randonneurs, people interested in front-loaded cargo bikes, and the odd c&v francophile. The type of person liable to be attracted to the name Herse is likely a pretty knowledgeable rider, builder, or collector. Jan Heine rides among these people all the time (he’s part of the PNW rando community). Why would he possibly think he could pull the wool over their eyes? And as to the rest of the biking world , for whom “René Herse” sounds about as catchy and evocative as would naming a bike “Michel Foucault,” he might as well have left it at “Compass.”
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Old 03-31-19, 06:41 AM
  #19  
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The "Rene Herse" name is not a "new thing", as has been claimed twice in the thread. Heine has used the name from the start of the company. Some of the components (and briefly, framebuilding) have always been labelled Rene Herse and the tires and other components were Compass. He's simply moving everything over to the Rene Herse label.

If you read Heine's story of how he came to know Lyli Herse (Rene's daughter, business manager, and wheelbuilder) and her husband Jean Desbois (Rene's framebuilding protege), it's clear that the purpose of the whole project is to continue Herse's legacy and keep his name alive. Lyli and Jean did not try to find a protege to pass the framebuilding business to. She sold the license of the Herse name to Jan because she wanted him to continue to make Herse designs available to the public and promote knowledge of his impact on the history of cycling in the industry. All this is to say it's not surprising to me that he wants to get rid of "Compass" and promote the Herse name. Besides making a living that's the whole spirit of the company.

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Old 03-31-19, 06:52 AM
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Originally Posted by BikeWonder View Post
Where I find things getting interesting is ReneHerse cycles. I've heard countless great things from their tire lineup, but when I went to look at their other products I couldn't believe how horribly overpriced some things were. It seems like they are really banking on the premium ReneHerse name and have a fancy magazine to display their products in action.
The Rene Herse products are marketed to a small audience and are relatively limited production. They're for people who can afford not to compromise on quality to get what they want.
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Old 03-31-19, 07:09 AM
  #21  
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I've never bought from Riv, but I've made many carefully researched purchases from both Velo and and RH (formerly Compass). So, what do I think of them? Both have been very fair to deal with and the customer service has been excellent. Not every product in their respective line ups fits my needs or my tastes, but those that do have earned my return business. I read Jan's magazine front to back. It's one of the only publications I can say that about. The RH tires are definitely pricey, but after having tried a set I was sold. I've been through two pair of 35's on my Boulder; there's a pair of 38's on my International, a pair of 35's on my Carre, and 650b x 42 on my L'Avecaise. Yeah, they make that big a difference to me. I get my fenders and other bits and bobs from VO. I especially like their rando bars, which fit me very nicely. I recall building up the L'Avecaise and getting to the final stage, installing the fenders. I'm pretty good at doing a solid install with good fender lines but on this occasion something slipped, my punch drifted, and I scratched the hell out of a black fender. Here I was with a shiny new bike and a bodgered up fender. My bike fund was nearly dry too, and purchasing another pair of fenders just to leave one hanging on the wall insulted my innate sense of cheapness - uhh, thriftiness. I called VO to see if anything could be done; they totally commiserated with me, sold me a single fender, and it was in my hands two days later. It was a small gesture, but very much appreciated... and definitely a great investment in a customer. By contrast, I purchased a pair of trail runners a few years ago. Two days after the purchase, the soles began to separate from the $150+ shoes. I called customer service, only to be told that I'd have to send the shoes in to the manufacturer, pay for shipping to and from in advance, and then they would evaluate the shoes to make sure it was an actual defect. They were "pretty sure" I'd qualify for a discount on a replacement pair of shoes. Needless to say, I never purchased another pair of their shoes again.

Back to bikes though: This thread mentions VO, Riv, and RH - but overlooks Boulder, another good company. Maybe not always as responsive as the others, but they've taken care of me and have a pretty amazing inventory of original parts.
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Old 03-31-19, 11:10 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by TenGrainBread View Post
The "Rene Herse" name is not a "new thing", as has been claimed twice in the thread. Heine has used the name from the start of the company. Some of the components (and briefly, framebuilding) have always been labelled Rene Herse and the tires and other components were Compass. He's simply moving everything over to the Rene Herse label.

If you read Heine's story of how he came to know Lyli Herse (Rene's daughter, business manager, and wheelbuilder) and her husband Jean Desbois (Rene's framebuilding protege), it's clear that the purpose of the whole project is to continue Herse's legacy and keep his name alive. Lyli and Jean did not try to find a protege to pass the framebuilding business to. She sold the license of the Herse name to Jan because she wanted him to continue to make Herse designs available to the public and promote knowledge of his impact on the history of cycling in the industry. All this is to say it's not surprising to me that he wants to get rid of "Compass" and promote the Herse name. Besides making a living that's the whole spirit of the company.
The change of the company's name from Compass to Rene Herse is indeed a "new thing."

The distinction of having a Herse designed (or directly inspired) component referred to as Rene Herse and components that have nothing to do with Rene Herse being referred to as Compass was the primary consideration.
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Old 03-31-19, 11:22 AM
  #23  
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I find most of my nos vintage parts on eBay, including their overseas sites. Have bought a lot of nos vintage parts from Boulder Bicycles also. No complaints with the few new parts I have purchased from Riv, Velo Orange and Retrogression. Never found a reason to use Compass.
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Old 03-31-19, 11:38 AM
  #24  
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One statement, two questions.....
Whenever I visit a bike shop that has a leaning towards "C and V" or even "old school", I always buy something. Of course I have now amassed such an incredible selection of water bottles, that they are relegated to the garage.....yet each one brings back a fond memory of the bike shop.

Question one:
The Jan Heine / Rene Herse "magazine" being mentioned, Is that "Bicycle Quarterly"? I had never heard of a publication of this genre.

Question two:
While looking for the aforementioned publication, I came across some glowing 2018 reviews for Compass / Rene Herse tires. It seems like a easier and simpler upgrade compared to a 650b conversion, is this true?

thanks

Last edited by Reynolds 531; 03-31-19 at 12:27 PM.
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Old 03-31-19, 12:24 PM
  #25  
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BQ is the brainchild of Jan. updated its name some time ago. I do not subscribe.

i bet the Venn diagram of the Compass/RH buyer and the VO buyer, or Gran Bois for that matter have some overlap but no one store could be the sole source for someone.
product range, pricing strategy, delivery cost.

i do think it is good that most appear to be going concerns- save Riv that seems to be on the bubble from time to time-

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