19 June, 2007

"Rene Herse" Name Revived


While at Cirque, I learned that the rights to the Herse name had been purchased by Mike Kone of Colorado. Together with builder Mark Nobilette, they plan to build custom bikes under the "Rene Herse" name. This has generated some lively discussion on the Classic Rendezvous list and more than a few e-mails among those of us who build this style of bike. Mike and Mark plan to offer bikes at the very top of the price range and in the Herse style.

I'm throwing this out for discussion because it is an interesting marketing tactic. I don't think these new bike will be mistaken for real Herse bikes in the same way that the current Buggatti cars made by Volkswagen are not confused with classic Buggattis, But that is not to say they might not be excellent products.

If Mike and Mark plan to produce bikes that are comparable to the classics, and they do, then they have set a very high hurdle indeed. It is easy to say that you will build bikes that can carry on the legacy of, perhaps, the finest constructuer in history. But quite another thing to do it. It certainly takes a lot of confidence to believe that you can rise to such a standard and to essentially announce to the world that you will henceforth start building the very best bikes on the planet. Certainly Mark is a fine builder, but I have never seen any of the bikes from Mike's last venture, "Cone Head Bikes" so it's hard for me to speculate on the outcome. And Herse was famous for technical innovation. Can one suddenly decide they will be innovative? It's certainly possible in a larger company that can hire a research department, but for a small bike shop? I guess we'll see when the first bikes are delivered and are ridden. Let's not forget that Herse bikes are even more renowned for how they rode than what they looked like.

So, what do you think?

64 comments:

Michael S said...

Gutsy, if you ask me. I can't imagine they're going to get a very favorable reception from the knowledgeable people who would buy the sort of bike they're trying to create.

In any case, let's hope it's more appropriate than the new "Motobecanes."

Anonymous said...

Norris Lockley wrote the following on the CR list:

"Ok...call me stupid, if you want, but twenty-four hours and goodness knows how many emails on this subject later, I still don't get the plot. It must have something to do with the American psyche

Is this how the story is going to go when the production... hand-building of the new RH's ,starts? Mark starts to build a frame as he has always built them, to a very high standard I am told, with great attention to detail, and to the client's personal specification or at least his physical measurements; he selects the tubes, fettles the lugs, mitres the tubes and the stays etc etc..brazes the whole thing up.. adds the braze-on bits..finishes the whole assembly..polishes and burnishes etc etc .sprays it to a fine lustre and then.... he is going to either coach-paint on or add decals with the name "Rene Herse". ...when what he has built is an excellent Mark Nobillete.? What's the point.? If I did that in the UK my clients would have me in front of the Trading Standards Board answering some pretty pointed questions. ..Even if you can point to the certificate entitling you to use the name, it still doesn't make the frame a Herse...just a Herse look-alike.

if there is such a demand for Herse-type frames in the States, why not just simply build a model, styled on Herse's designs and call it the Nobillete "Modele Rene Herse". or "Retro-Renes"? That, to use a word in popular political usage these days in the U" would be more "transparent", not that I am in any way suggesting that Mike and Mark are into counterfeiting Herses as some builders in the Uk have counterfeited Hetchins.

Another very puzzling problem for me is the reverence for and the almost..yes..worship of...Rene Herse frames that many American cyclists, and particularly some of the List members display. And yet it seems that this same reverence is in itself a little fickle.. witness the slight difference in opinion in some recent CR contributions about whether a road racing Herse is really as good as a touring or camping one. All that Rene or one of his artisans did was to choose different gauges of tubes, possibly different lugs ( I notice that the RH currently on Ebay has pressed lugs not cast ones), different drop-outs, and possibly fork blades and stays and cut ,mitre, file, braze, fettle, finish etc..all with the same level of skill and dedication as they did on the touring frames.

Clearly Rene produced frames according to customer demand and from what I have read in French cycling Press the demand for serious touring and camping bikes declined seriously in the 50s, as cars became more affordable, and
demand for racing frames tended to increase.

I have spent large parts of my free time in and around France for the past fifty-five years..and for the last thirty of those I have traded with dozens of French manufacturers, distributors, frame-builders/constructeurs etc..and I have to admit that on odd occasions during conversations accompanied by a "vin rouge" or two..I have heard the names of Singer and Herse mentioned, but never with anything approaching the same sense of awe that I encounter on this List. In comparison with the UK, France is a large country, but nevertheless I think that frame-purchasing customers on both sides of the Channel have, over the years, displayed similar trends and buying habits.

Many French people only acknowledge Paris in the sense that it is the administrative capital of France, and as such the Parisians have to be tolerated. Even in this age of cheap flights between regional capitals, of TGVs, of fast autoroutes I still met up with an enormous number of French folk who have never been and even worse have no inclination to visit Paris. "Paris is for the Parisians...not for the French !" is a not uncommon saying. French cyclists tended to purchase their hand-built frames from local builders..and in the heyday of French cycling there were hundreds of very competent builders in the capital cities of the French regions and departments, such as Lyon, St Etienne, Nice, Dijon, Lille, Macon, Grenoble etc.
If you lived in the centre or south or north of France,why bother to travel all the way to Paris to get a Herse when you could cycle over to visit Reiss, Longoni, Routens, Follis, Ondet, Errard, Janicaud, Duret, whose products were probably perceived to be the equal of the Singers and Herses of Paris, assuming that is that the "paysans" of France at large had ever heard of the latter.

I have a question to pose to the List..and it isn't a rhetorical one. If Herse frames and bikes are so good.. so desirable so renowned and so much an integral part of the French "patrimoine".then why has no French builder ( and there are still some KOF ones still working in France producing some excellent frames ) sought to relaunch the marque? Perhaps the idea never occurred to M Chollet of Follis, or Jean-Paul Routens of Cycles Routens, or Daniel Cattin, or Alain Michel, or Jean-Sebastien Joffres, or M Besson, or M Genet, or Alain Tourral, or Pithioud, or Gilles Berthoud?

Why does it take a couple of Americans to keep the name alive? Would it be the same if, after their respective retirements at some future date, the name of Brian Bayliss were to be stuck on to frames built by a crafts man in the suburbs of Paris? Would English-made and transferred Richard Sachs frames be like the real thing that so many discerning American cyclists now wait years to own? I really think not.

To close with a cynical question, that of the price of the "nouveaux Herse" frames. Is it expected that they will, due to their Gallic influence and forebears, carry a premium...perhaps a "cachet - supplement"? More importantly...
would members of the List who lust to ride astride an "RH" regardless of its country of origin, be willing to pay that premium?

I'm due to spend quite a lot of time in July in and around Lyon. Does anyone chance to know who owns the rights to the "REYHAND" brand.? I'm just thinking that maybe the time is propitious to relaunch REYHAND, to be produced with finest UK craftsmanship.

Norris Lockley....perhaps just old age catching up with me... Settle UK."

Marc92 said...

I'm very suprised that Lily Herse sold her father's name to two framebuilders from Colorado. Some french randonneurs who bought their bike to Rene Herse will probably shocked. I recently talk to former Rene Herse pilots. These guys were able to run Paris Brest Paris in 46 hours on Herse bike or tandem. We talked about Lily Herse and they didn't speak about this.
I don't understand why they don't create their own brand like Vanilia Cycle or Velo Orange. On the other hand what a challenge for them to run for excellence.

david_nj said...

This happens in the motorcycling world fairly often. A guy out in the Pacific Northwest bought the rights to the Norton Trademark. He made some really nice modern versions of Norton bikes but with much of the spirit and charisma and it all seemed quite authentic. It was hard not to like what he was up to. I believe the venture failed though.

Around the same time, a really cheesy guy bought the rights to the Rene Herse of motorcycling: Vincent. He made some god-awful bikes, based around a plain vanilla Honda motor. That was an insult to the universe. No wonder he never was able to get the venture financed.

I just can't believe this in the case of RH. F'chrissakes, that's the man's personal name!!! It's not some corporate trademark which can be carelessly traded back and forth!

Mark said...

I, personally, would rather have a Mark Nobillete labeled as such, not a badged Rene Herse. And if I wanted a bike that displayed neat innovative ideas/techniques/components, I would commision it as such. Of course, things like cranks would be difficult, but Bruce Gordon makes his own brakes and racks, so it is possible. If anything, a decked out Gordon with Mr. Gordon's racks/brakes, is as good as one can get in a constructeur bike, wouldn't you say? His craftsmanship and innovation are unsurpassed. And they ride like a dream. I know. I have one.

It is one man's name on that downtube, unlike a Rivendell, which is a fictitious name. A top notch builder with credentials and experience that meet Grant Peterson's approval can build them. Same for Velo Orange.

Interesting, we will see how this pans out.
Mark

Chris Kulczycki said...

One of the things I'm learning with Velo Orange is that each frame is better than the last. Even though I would say Johnny's skill is on par with Mark's or most fine American builders, getting the details of a frame as complicated as a rando frame is darn complicated. There are so many little details... It will be very difficult to get a Herse style frame right the first time.

And with our no-expense-spared VO "Grand Cru" rando frames coming next year there might be another alternative to the new RH ;<)

Rick Guggemos said...

Masis from China sell, so why not a Herse from a bespoke builder?

As to innovation - it takes a mindset more than size of company. Most innovation is merely different and offers marketing points with little end-user benefit. I can't speak to Mark and Mike, but believe that if one's approach is to recognize problems and challenges, and one open's his/her mind to simple/creative/elegant solutions - innovation occurs. Otherwise it won't.

But, do riders mostly want innovation or status? I don't know.

AB said...

I'd like to know how two small frame builders have the cash to buy the rights to anything? Or, did the Herse estate give away the rights for too little?

Anonymous said...

This should settle the "what to call the VO sub-brand" issue. Cyclles l'Escargot? NO!

Quick, call Cerberus and ask how much they want for the name Cycles Chrysler.

I think using the Rene Herse brand would not be so unseemly if it weren't the contructeur's own name.

Brian said...

I guess I don't really see the point in it- This may sound sacreligious, but well, Herse is gone. He made some beautiful frames, but that was a long time ago, and technology has marched on without him. Seriously.

Personally, I'd love to see someone really step up and build a bike that herse would be proud of, but doesn't slavishly follow every herse detail. Herse made 18 pound bikes for the technical trials 60 years ago. Surely using modern materials and components someone could build a 12 pound touring bike today. That's the spirit of Herse- looking forward and using the latest and greatest advancements to make a technically superior bike, not fawning over the past and using antiquated methods of fabrication to create a modern antique.

e-RICHIE said...

the best chats about this issue are the ones that are going on in private cc fields atmo. the smart money says that the CR posts by norris lockley and joel metz best sum up how the bright minds feel about the resucitated marque.

quelle dommage*

*french for what cheese

Bob Rogen said...

I will stick, with confidence, to my Mariposa 700c tourer and planned TOEI 650B randonneur bikes. And I agree with another post: call it a "Mark Nobilette" and include Herse details (as TOEI does). But hey, it'd their money (not our bnusiness to know how they can do it fiscally) so let's just sit back and let them go for it. Their venture is bold but it cannot hurt the minor revolution we are all a part of these days in bringing back the randonneur design and riding ethic that originated with Singer, Herse, and Routens (to name a few) bikes and their original owners. Hey, Leica brought out its MP model in 2003 to emulate and improve the original MP of 1956, and nothing bad has come of it. (Chris-is there an espresso machine analogy?).

Michael S said...

In the espresso world, the best grouphead, the E61, has been around and essentially unchanged since 1961!

Doug said...

So I would say that most seem to be fully behind Mssrs. Cone and Nobilette if not planning to buy one themselves, based on Classic-Rendezvous traffic. I would also say the vocal minority is what has been transcribed/represented here. Also, did you see the Nobilette demontable at NAHBS? It was his own design I think and pretty darn slick. BTW, I don't think it is really fair comparing either of the V-O builders (who are certainly doing nice work) with Mark and his decades of experience, from scratch lug fabrication etc. Just my opinions...

Ernesto Garcia said...

"Hey, Leica brought out its MP model in 2003 to emulate and improve the original MP of 1956, and nothing bad has come of it. "

I don't know if Leica is the best example to use. Leica, as a company, is in deep financial trouble, and the reintroduction of the MP had more to do with marketing than with "improving" the original. Leica is stuck between choosing between its core business - high-end rangefinder manual cameras, with excellent glass - and following the market by going digital. It is trying to play both games...and it is losing.

As for the new Herse: bon chance...and I hope that they fail.

Matta...

p. squiddy said...

I saw the ad in BQ last week, and I just thought, why? Nobilette's bikes seem quite nice, so why brand them with such a famous name with which there's no connection beyond a cash transaction? A new Alex Singer may not be built by him, but it's built by Csuka, who has a long, long history with Singer and is in the same shop as Singer was. Mark's work can stand on its own.

Anonymous said...

It's madness.

You could be the world's best living writer of clipped prose, and you'd still never change your name to "Ernest Hemingway".

I also don't think that the typically insular CR consensus of "they are great guys and will do a great job" is representative of the broader reaction by the potential customer base.

One of the first responses on CR was "how will this affect the values of our collections?" Cheeses. :rolleyes:

Anonymous said...

I'm with several of youse guys. What's the point? Herse, like Brian hinted, was all about improving the cutting edge of bicycle building, not copying the very best bikes of 1897. My honest opinion: have the guts to put your own brand/name on your product.

Tim said...

This is certain to be controversial, in part because of Mike Kone's involvement. Mr. Kone has been rather controversial in the past for pushing up the price of vintage bike gear, with some people seeing him as an opportunist sucking money out of people's wallets and others seeing him as a resource for stuff they'd not be able to find otherwise.

I have to admit to discomfort with turning Rene Herse's name into a commodity. On the other hand, I also know that making a living as a custom bike frame builder is extremely difficult and getting more so with the proliferation of builders as the bars to entry have been dropped dramatically. Mark Nobilette build frames under his own name as well as for Rivendell.

I think that bob rogen and anonyme pegged it with the notion of producing the "Modele Rene Herse" and going the Toei route. There's a market for that. I'd buy a Mark Nobilette, but I won't buy a Rene Herse-alike.

Anonymous said...

Those pics from a few posts back of Richard Sachs' 'Rene Singer' lugs seems to be going in the right direction, rather than weighting a rando bike with what amounts to a branding equivalent of a boob job. RS (if I am guessing correctly) is making lugs for constructeur-style bikes, and borrowing two of the most famous names in rando-land--which is different from brazing up frames in the US (it will be in the US, right? not offshore?) from Taiwanese lugs and who knows what tubing, and preying on wealthy American's francophile tendencies in a search for Old World Authenticity.
But I have been wrong before.
M Burdge

winston said...

so is that tubing that bolts into the lugs? I recently saw a carminargent that had that concept except that the tubing was octogonal instead of round. Is this picture a certain bike, a rene herse, because I would like to have a go at building a frame like this.

Anonymous said...

There is no question that Mark & Mike can create a beautiful bike if they choose to. Herse's lug work is not spectacular by modern standards, but his completeness as a builder still stands alone. Lugs, Cranks, Chainrings, Bottom Brakets, Stems, Racks and then there is the crazy lighting system that has contacts on the steerer. I think the real question is 'can someone faithfully recreate all that Herse did and make a profit that allows them to continue'?

This business is notoriusly skimpy on profit margin with most 'successful' framebuilders living on beans and rice. How do you incur the costs of tooling and machine time to to replicate a complete Herse and find people that are willing to pay enough to make it worthwhile. The bikes will need to cost $15k, maybe more. Ask Bruce Gordan how many bikes he has sold at this price point and I think you will have your answer. After all, isn't that why most of you are here, because Chris offers high value components & frames?

BB

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's madness, it's just business . . . I don't know, in a postmodern age, the concepts of identity, the "name" of a brand, the notion of "authenticity" have all been wildly diluted, in an obviously cynical but not necessarily bad way . . . I guess we all have to make our own choices. I bought my Tennessee-built Merlin knowing it wasn't built by the same exact guys as the old Merlins. Still, it does have Tom Kellogg's hand all over it, and that means a lot to me. The thing to do nowadays is to try to redo the Mini or the Bug, get some of the nostalgia and coolness while making a good modern product, that seems to one of the great marketing formulas for aging boomers. Rivendell and Velo Orange are two brands which do bear some relation to this strategy. I am sure that's basically what this venture will do. Nobilette is a very good builder. Would I buy it? No, but that's simply because I'd rather patronize a person, not a sentimental notion. When I say a person, that can mean anything, even a nice shop-girl in Florence where I bought a Colnago once. I am glad I made that purchase. I enjoyed buying it and enjoy riding it. I've also bought lots of bikes made by lesser known American builders who, in my estimation, made a good product at the time and I felt they deserved to stay in business another year. I am glad I helped them. OTOH: anyone who wants to parade around on Sunday with a glorious name on their downtube, and that's what it takes for them to feel good about themselves . . . well, you probably get how I feel about that. Sorry for the cynicism, I'm sure they'll be excellent bikes.

michael white

neil berg said...

Tim,
I dealt with Michael before computers and ebay opened new doors for us all. The current prices driven by ebay would seem to indicate that he was both fair and honest.

neil berg said...

winston,
I believe the bike pictured is a "demontable", a take apart frame. There are sockets in the top tube and down tube.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm,
Deja vu anyone?
Perhaps I have missed something here (I most certainly have on the CR forum) but this very same discussion would, or should, have gone on when Faliero Masi 'sold his name' and left California in the 1970s and the, at the time, little known builder named Mario Confente cranked out "Masi"s. He was then followed by several other revered builders who allowed their work to be labeled "Masi"...
To some, those frames are better than the ones actually built by Mr. F.M. and are now sought after collectables.

It all begs the question, 'what is in a name?'. Artists throughout history have worked on creative marvels under another's name. The results are what we truly honor and respond to.

Anonymous said...

I thought about the California Masi's too . . . keep in mind that it's only now that we see them as superior to the original, and that is probably still a minority view. It's an old practice, though. . . many of the old brands did similar things. I had a Pogliaghi for a while that was, I believe, a Rossin . . .then Basso made some really nice ones for a year or two. Simply because Pogliaghi had a market which well outlived his own active career as builder. Maybe now we'll see a veritable grabfest of recycled French brands, but we're not far from that now. . . Me, I'm waiting for a Taiwanese "Saint-Exupery".
can I get faux ostrich-leather trim on my bags? thanks!

neil berg said...

Are Rene Herse bicycles made by his assistants under his supervision considered geniune Herses? Are the Rene Herses made by his family after he died real Herses? Is any Herse labeled bike made at the original location geniune?
Is a Alex Singer made by Ernset Csuka a real Singer. Would it still be if he moved across town? Or across an ocean?
I don't know.

e-RICHIE said...

neil berg said...
Are Rene Herse bicycles made by his assistants under his supervision considered geniune Herses? Are the Rene Herses made by his family after he died real Herses? Is any Herse labeled bike made at the original location geniune?
Is a Alex Singer made by Ernset Csuka a real Singer. Would it still be if he moved across town? Or across an ocean?
I don't know.


it's all real if it's your name. and all your examples are real atmo. and since kone paid for the name, he is real too. whether reality matters remains to be seen.

C said...

I really don't get the trend to bring back old French brands. First Specialized resurrected Roval, then came Mafac, and now Herse. Reviving dead brands is commonplace in consumer marketing. However, most companies chose to revive brands that were at least well known (think the recent reintroduction of Tab soda)

Bringing back Herse, Roval and Mafac is an all together different proposition. Mafac was in their day a well known brand but most of today's cycling public came into the sport long after Mafac left. Herse and Roval on the other hand never really achieved anything more than cult-like popularity among niche audiences. I really don't see the point in bringing them back. In the case of Herse it seems like an especially bad idea since such bikes: A) appeal to a microscopically small audience and B) that audience is very knowledgeable and demanding.

Anonymous said...

Mark said in part: "If anything, a decked out Gordon with Mr. Gordon's racks/brakes, is as good as one can get in a constructeur bike, wouldn't you say?"

Oh, yeah, that's way better than Alex Moultons, who only does their own frames, racks, bags, stems, bars, seat posts, rims, tires, fenders, shifters, derailleurs, saddles and suspension systems. LOL!

John

e-RICHIE said...

C said...
I really don't get the trend to bring back old French brands.

wait -
i bet some knucklehead will soon introduce Chanel No. 6 atmo.

ah, to be french and expired. (insert a smiley face here...)

ANDY said...

New homages to classics like the Levi's 501 jean by companies like Sugar Cane are simliar stories. The new product is made on the same vintage looms that the originals were made on. The cotton is better than the originals. The construction and quality is just as good if not better than the original. But, no one would agree that a new Sugar Cane 1966 jean is the same as a 40-year-old pair of original Levi's 501 jeans.

A new version, whether it's a Sugar Cane jean, Rene Herse bicycle or Eames chair, lacks a certain spirit or quality. As Christopher Alexander writes in The Timeless Way of Building (recommended, by the way, to all who appreciate Velo Orange): "There is a central quality which is the root criterion of life and spirit in a man, a town, a building, or a wilderness. This quality is objective and precise, but it cannot be named." Some words attempt to describe THE QUALITY, but fail to truly capture what it is. These are: alive, whole, comfortable, free, exact, egoless, eternal.

e-RICHIE said...

ANDY said...
Some words attempt to describe THE QUALITY, but fail to truly capture what it is. These are: alive, whole, comfortable, free, exact, egoless, eternal.

you forgot plane atmo.

Anonymous said...

"These are: alive, whole, comfortable, free, exact, egoless, eternal.

you forgot plane atmo."

richie, can you give me some of dat eternal planing???? I need me some . . .

michael white

e-RICHIE said...

michael white said...
richie, can you give me some of dat eternal planing???? I need me some . . .

sorry - i'm not a dataist atmo. i just read the full page article about it in bee cue and am more lost than ever.

peter weigle said...

Anonyme said...
richie, can you give me some of dat eternal planing???? I need me some . . .

michael white

Michael,
You have to be IN a Herse to attain eternal planing!!!:~)

e-RICHIE said...

peter weigle said...
You have to be IN a Herse to attain eternal planing!!!:~)

i just had that gets it moment atmo. this planing issue is tied to that mckenzie brother thing where they puncuate their thoughts with take off.

coo-roo-coo-coo-coo-coo-coo-coo atmo!!!!

Chris Kulczycki said...

The website is up, sort of:

http://renehersebicycles.com/

Planing is apparently not an option.

e-RICHIE said...

Chris Kulczycki said...
The website is up, sort of:

http://renehersebicycles.com/

Planing is apparently not an option.


chris - you have to belong to
the O'Hare Club for Men atmo.

Michael S said...

On the website they state that the shape and style of the Rene Herse lugs will be strictly followed. I don't know if that's the essence of Herse, is it? Niobilette may turn bipolar from the ornate Rivendell lugs and the simpler Herse luges.
Will they still have "retro" touches such as chroming and box-lining? Did they get the secret paint code to "bleu fonce"?

peter weigle said...

Until 2 weeks ago I had 3 1959 Rene Herse bikes in my shop, (now down to 2.)
Each one had a different set of lugs, and the shapes were not at all the same, this in the same model year...
From my perspective there is no definitive, or patented RH shape.
There is a general shape that could be called Herse style,,, but there were differences.

Blue Fonce is the Singer house color, not Herse...

Michael S said...

oops! Bleu fonce, noted. slinking away in shame...

peter weigle said...

Michael,,,

You spelled Bleu right,,,I did not,,,

So now its my turn,,, oops! :~)

Anonymous said...

The bikes will tell the story, buying the name is marketing. Whether you think such marketing is in good taste is, well, up to you. Perhaps the bikes will overcome my own sense that some things, like reviving the name "Rene Herse," would have been something better left alone.

e-RICHIE said...

Anonyme said...
The bikes will tell the story, buying the name is marketing. Whether you think such marketing is in good taste is, well, up to you. Perhaps the bikes will overcome my own sense that some things, like reviving the name "Rene Herse," would have been something better left alone.

the word on the street is that this very endevour is going to raise the tide for all steel/traditional framebuilders.

and i quote:
"Through the marketing and publicity of RH, I hope that all the fine builders benefit as the pie is made larger."

that's cool, huh!

JoelMatthews said...

I have seen several Nobilette's and think he is a talented builder.

Doing it this seems to me a disservice to both the Herse legacy and to Nobilette's. On the one hand, Rene Herse bikes are bikes made by Rene Herse or at least in his shop under his watch. On the other, Nobilette seems almost to be suggesting he needs more of a draw than his consistently excellent work to sell bikes.

If anything, I like the idea stated above: Mark Nobilette's Rene Herse model.

Joe Bernard said...

Who wants to explain that their bike is not a "real" Rene Herse?

ANDY said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Yo - time for you living framebuilders to start contemplating the licensing name game - why leave it up to your relatives? Time to put feelers out now...sell your rights while you're still alive to enjoy them. And turn them into a real monument...buy the naming rights to the East Haddam Bypass, turn it into Weigle Way....West Maple Street into Sachs Street. Merely a few modest suggestions.

e-RICHIE said...

Anonyme said...
Yo - time for you living framebuilders to start contemplating the licensing name game - why leave it up to your relatives? Time to put feelers out now...sell your rights while you're still alive to enjoy them. And turn them into a real monument...buy the naming rights to the East Haddam Bypass, turn it into Weigle Way....West Maple Street into Sachs Street. Merely a few modest suggestions.

i agree.
the White House move on that vanilla guy's part was a great move. sacha took no prisoners with that one atmo

Anonymous said...

what is 'atmo'?
M Burdge

e-RICHIE said...

Anonyme said...
what is 'atmo'?
M Burdge


it's french for my way.
very sinatra, n'est-ce pas?

david_nj said...

I hope it's a tightly worded license that doesn't include the right to sublicense. Otherwise we may see Chinese-built Rene Herse bikes showing up at Wal-Mart.

Also, I wonder what the royalty rate is. If Mr. Nobilette sells 50 bikes a year at $10K apiece, and the royalty rate is, what, 5%, that's a paltry $25K a year to the Herse estate that this legendary marque has been sold for. I reckon all three of those numbers are higher than will actually be the case. As they say, life is cheap.

John Price said...

While it's not a new Rene Herse, I have a 2004 Alex Singer.

While its a fine bike, if I had to do it all over again, I'd buy one of Peter Weigle's creations over just about anything out there - past or present Rene Herse's included.

Funny thing, it's Mike K's JP Weigle and his comments (as well as others) on how it rides that really showed me what the pinacle of such bikes could be.

So, while I know Mike and Mark and consider them both friends I'd be more interested in a bike with Mark's own name on it than one created by Mark but wearing RH labels.

(and Peter, if you'd be interested in trading one of your fine creations for my Alex Singer, I'm definitely open to the idea)

If nothing else, I hope this brings more work Mark's way. Between this, Rivendell's work, and his own named framesets I hope he's very successful (as I wish for RS, JPW,...)

I do wonder if Mike and Mark will bring back RH style stems and cranksets. Now that'd be COOL !

John Price
Aurora CO

JoelMatthews said...

The cranksets would definitely make the whole thing worthwhile.

Mark said...

Oh, they will be excellent bikes and I think tru to the randonneur spirit with some new treats.

I think the thing that made the RH special was the little touches like trick wiring inside the frame. I do hope they won't try to replicate those and instead work towards a top quality, well executed, beautiful product that pleases the owner on the road and when displayed in the living room.

Think dynamic sculpture.

I recently had the opportunity to ride Chris' "Velo-Orange" (altho it was painted silver!) and was very pleased with its ride and appearance. I would have preferred slightly narrower bars, but that's a matter of preference.

It is so cool to see a randonneur resurgence, and this can only be good for the sport and the people in it.

Bonne chance Mike and Mark

sspielman said...

one word.....WRONG....

Anonymous said...

Herse made few frames personally, and less and less as time progressed. He had talented hired help. He was more of a machinist and businessman, and conceptualizer. Remember that RH's popularity was unfairly exaggerated by his relationship with Rebour, who promoted Herse by his position at Le Cycle. As a person he was not well liked, even despised, including by his daughter. Because documentation itself gives "credibility" to almost anything, this explains the disproportionate
prestige of RH cycles. RH was also savvy enough to "sponsor" the best riders in the era to produce impressive showings in the various "epreuves", and of course, this was all highlighted by Rebour. These facts are not meant to (and do not)
detract from the innocent machines themselves. Studied as a quantity, RH bicycles vary as much as any handmade "quantity", price being a large influence. His membership in the FFCT "morally required" him to offer a "Federal" model, for example. "Innovation" is difficult to ascribe other than to perhaps the stems. He borrowed the internal wiring/sprung bushing theme from somebody else (local). Oversized downtubes, internal cables, nice racks, nice work, fancy cantilevers, roller brake hangers, SKF BB bearings, etc... were ALL common amongst the elite builders of the day, although you wouldn't guess that because Rebour didn't tell you. Lily's performance in World Championship events didn't hurt either, but that was HER, not the bike. In the end we have a 40 year production, dominated by above average to very nice, but sprinkled with mediocre and even bad. Completely normal and understandable. The "religion" is
beyond practical reasoning, and is primarily a derivative of the documentation, and the fact that until now (sort of) only the French of the 40's-70's (NOT currently) and the Japanese of the 40's till present, shared the same bicycle "culture".

As to the "credibility" of carrying on a name/tradition of bike making,
it's a relatively neutral thing, colored by perception/reputation of the brand. Hence the above fairly accurate assessment. It has practical/buy-able business strategy, and will "work" with a limited client base who go to that church. There's reasons why the name WAS sold, and why there was no French buyer.

Anonymous said...

Putting the Herse name on a bike made in Boulder doesn't bother me as long as the finished product lives up to its claims. Sometimes a super-custom product turns out great. Sometimes an intelligently-designed production model does the job just as well at half the price. Maybe the TIG-welded jobs from the new Herse's sister company, Boulder Bicycles, will turn out to be the better bargain.

Anonymous said...

Well, it's certainly an ambitious project, but at the price levels I've heard of, I wouldn't put a 3 dollar bill on that venture. Plus the real Herses are still coming out of the woodwork at an alarming rate, and are likely to for a long while to come.

PeAK said...

Michael Kone is offereing a line of more affordable bikes called Boulder Bicycle that based upon the Herse geometry and cost about $3,000.
These are fully equipped (fenders, rack, lights) and have been recently been reviewed very favourably by Bicycle Quarterly, Vol. 7, No. 3 (Spring 2009).

Mike said...

Does anyone know anything about a road bicycle named "Boulder" that is reportedly made in Taiwan? The bike is in no way made in Boulder, Colorado. Painted blue with lug construction. Mike of Boulder bikes confirmed no parts are made in Taiwan.

It may be a counterfeit, but could it be a legit Taiwan-made bike?

Anonymous said...

I have a blue "Boulder" bicycle. It has a mountain decal on it. It sounds exactly like what Mike was asking about. It has Shimano components and is stamped "Made in Taiwan".