12-Speed Rene Herse Cranks

12-Speed Rene Herse Cranks

We’re excited to announce that our ramped-and-pinned chainrings are 12-speed compatible. We knew that 12-speed was coming when we developed our 11-speed rings, so we tried to anticipate the requirements, so that our chainrings would be compatible with 12-speed as well.

Now we’ve completed our testing, and we’re happy to report that all our ’11-speed’ chainrings also work well with 12-speed chains.

Developing ‘9- to 12-speed’ chainrings was no small task. To equal the best shifting in the bike business, we put almost two years of R&D into these rings. We tested all modern rings out there, and we found vast differences even among the big makers. To get the best shifting, we modeled the chain paths under dynamic loads (pedaling at 60-130 rpm). We were surprised that most chainrings are designed to wrap the chain nicely over the teeth when the cranks aren’t moving. When everything is spinning at speed, these chainrings don’t work as well. We’re proud to say that our rings shift as well as the very best.

From the beginning, our Rene Herse cranks were designed to offer chainring choices that you can’t get from the big makers. The others are catching up slowly, but we still have the most versatile range. Our 9- to 12-speed rings come in the following combinations:

  • 48 x 33
  • 46 x 30
  • 44 x 28
  • 42 x 26

These chainrings work best in dedicated pairs, because the chain links must align correctly with the pins. Above is a prototype chainring (still without polishing and anodizing). You can see how the pin hits the chain in the middle of an outer sideplate. Only then can the pin lift the chain to the big ring. If the pin lines up with an inner plate (narrow part of the chain), it will miss the chain completely. And if the pin hits a roller, it’ll just bounce off.

What about the ramps? They make room for the chain to move closer to the pins, and they help guide the chain. The whole system is quite sophisticated, and it really helps with shifting on modern drivetrains. On a subcompact 11- or 12-speed crank, the chain has to climb steeply: The rings are very close together (narrow chain) and the difference between the two rings is large.

We also continue to offer our standard chainrings. Designed for 5- to 10-speed drivetrains, they allow you to choose your chainrings freely. (There are no ramps or pins that need to line up.) Our standard rings work so well that I used them on my new bike for last summer’s Paris-Brest-Paris.

Key for a smooth shift without ramps and pins is to move the front derailleur quickly and all the way. That’s why these cranks work especially well with downtube and bar-end shifters, but also with electronic shifting.

The Rene Herse cranks are among our bestsellers – many riders enjoy customizing their gearing. We offer no fewer than 22 different rings, and keeping them all in stock can be a challenge. Another production run has just been completed, and all sizes are available again.

All Rene Herse cranks meet the highest standards:

  • Low Q factor (142 mm for a double)
  • Light weight (598 g)
  • High strength – pass the highest ‘EN Racing Bike’ test for fatigue resistance
  • Available as single, double and triple, even for tandems
  • Three lengths from 165 to 177 mm, each based on a dedicated forging
  • Chainring choices from 52 to 24 teeth
  • No worries about spare parts in the future (even our latest 9- to 12-speed rings are compatible with our very first cranks from 2011)

That they look nice is just an added bonus.


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Comments (21)

  • Rod Bruckdorer

    Is 12-speed marketing? I have a 1987 6-speed and a 9-speed. I don’t see the advantage of a 11-speed or 12-speed gearing.

    February 4, 2020 at 7:32 am
    • Jan Heine

      As we ride more on gravel roads, we need more gears, because these roads tend to be steeper, and on loose gravel, pedaling – especially uphill – is harder. Beyond that, the advantage of more cogs in the back is fewer front shifts, which helps in rolling terrain. Of course, if you carefully select your chainring sizes, you’ll have all the gears you need and don’t carry around extra cogs that you’ll rarely use…

      For riders who don’t need and want that many cogs, we’ll continue to offer our standard chainrings.

      February 4, 2020 at 9:07 am
  • Liam

    When are you coming out with chainrings for 1x?

    February 4, 2020 at 7:54 am
  • jon h

    great news! i wanted to mention that when running rh chainrings with the recommended shimano ultegra 11 chain and a campagnolo 11 cassette the chain doesn’t shift as well on the cogs as compared to factory, imho. i switched back to a campy record 11 chain and while the shifting is perfection on the cassette (the campy clunk is back) it isn’t as crisp on the chainrings. on the rings the campy chain totally works but the recommended shimano ultegra 11 chain definitely does shift better. i personally prefer to have the shifting be crisp on the cassette and sacrifice a bit on the rings rather than the other way around. hope this intel is of help 🙂 side note, fingers crossed you will offer these cranks in black anodized #chapmanstylecouncil – along with your maes parallel bars, which are my favorite – there is no going back after using these bars 😉 side side note, offering the maes in narrower widths for more petite cyclists would also be great. thanks.

    February 4, 2020 at 7:57 am
    • Jan Heine

      Thanks for sharing your experience. Mine was the opposite: On my Firedly, switching to an Ultegra chain improved the shifting on the rear (Campagnolo Chorus cassette and derailleur)! Now the bike is running a SRAM derailleur, Campagnolo cassette, Rene Herse cranks, Ultegra 11-speed chain and the shifting is great!

      It’s great that with 11- (and 12-) speed components, the cog spacing is the same, so you can mix-and-match parts with few problems.

      February 4, 2020 at 9:10 am
  • JDB

    Jan – for RH crank with regular 9/10 rings, I’ve had trouble aligning the “compact” front derailleur to shift well. I have the gap between cage and rings (per the sticker that comes with the derailleur), and it seems to be parallel with the plane of the chainrings. But a full pull of the shift lever throws the chain beyond the big ring and off towards the pedal. Yet with just a partial turn of the derailleur’s limit screw, I can’t even get the chain to move fully from small to big ring. Symptoms were the same with an old, worn 9-sp drivetrain, and the same since installing all new 10-sp rings, chain, and cassette. Ultegra rear end, bar end shifters, and IIRC an IRD compact front derailleur (circa 2007). Do you have a blog post or favorite link on front’D alignment? Do you recommend preferred front derailleurs? Thanks.

    February 4, 2020 at 11:43 am
    • Jan Heine

      Front derailleur performance can be finicky with the modern drivetrains. Often, it helps to rotate the derailleur a degree or two around the seat tube. It’s a process of trial-and-error…

      February 4, 2020 at 12:42 pm
      • JDB

        If you don’t mind, is shifting likely to benefit from the front derailleur tail being closer or farther from the bike’s centerline? Or depends. Thanks.

        February 4, 2020 at 3:42 pm
        • Jan Heine

          It depends… Usually, you move the tail a bit closer to the bike’s centerline. The other way, you don’t have much room until it’ll hit the crankarm.

          February 4, 2020 at 4:36 pm
  • Retro grump

    Half-step and a granny forever.

    February 4, 2020 at 11:46 am
    • Jan Heine

      Half-step, with its close and evenly-spaced gears, is great for long, constant grades where you want just the right gear, and don’t shift often (so you don’t mind the more complex shifting sequence). For half-step, we’ve got the 48×44 chainring combo. It works perfectly with a 14-28 5-speed freewheel to give you the ‘classic’ half-step combo.

      February 4, 2020 at 12:49 pm
    • scott g.

      Retro Gump, you’d figure electronic shifting would be great for half stepping.
      Shimano has programmable syncro front & rear shifting.

      Now if you could program the rear mech Di2 to Suntour Ultra 6 spacing,it would be great.

      February 6, 2020 at 7:03 am
  • Singlespeedscott

    What front derailleur do you recommend for best shifting with the 44/28 and 42/26 combo’s. Most struggle to clear the drive side chain stay?

    February 4, 2020 at 12:25 pm
    • Jan Heine

      That can be an issue. I’ve used different derailleurs, from an old Huret to a 10-speed Dura-Ace, with these chainring combos. They all worked fine, but this also depends on your BB drop (and hence chainstay angle). If necessary, you may have to set the derailleur a bit higher. When testing various ring sizes, I’ve found that shifting works fine even when I am running 42×26 rings with the derailleur set for 48×33.

      February 4, 2020 at 12:52 pm
    • Noel Hoffmann

      On my all-road bike with 42×24 rings I have found that my “antique” Campagnolo Super Record/Nuovo Record front derailleurs work better than any of my modern derailleurs.

      February 4, 2020 at 7:53 pm
      • Morten Reippuert

        Interesting Ive experiment with a few front deraillures with Campy double and tripple 10-speed Record cranset (52/42/30 & 53/39).

        A 1988 Chorus/Athena frontderaillure works better than anthing else when paired with Simplex Retrofriction shifters. For tripple it works way better than a Campy Racing Tripple and even the last Record tripple. I also tried the latest modern Campy Chourus 11-speed front deraillure.

        February 6, 2020 at 1:17 am
      • Conrad

        Thats my experience too. If the derailleur has a groove to work with the intended compact ring combo it wont shift well if you want to run different (better!) ring combos. Right now I am happy that I kept my old Suntour parts. The cyclone and XC pro shift better than anything else I have tried.

        February 6, 2020 at 9:17 am
  • Stephen Poole

    Could you please clarify exactly which 12 speed chains are compatible – and which are not?

    I gather that Campagnolo road chains and SRAM MTB chains are fairly normal, but that Shimano 12 speed chains require different chainring tooth shaping, as do SRAM AXS road chains which have larger than normal rollers.

    Since SRAM MTB stuff is all 1x that basically leaves Campagnolo drivetrains for 2x and 12 speed.

    February 4, 2020 at 1:41 pm
    • Jan Heine

      Campagnolo and SRAM 12-speed chains are compatible with Rene Herse chainrings. Shimano doesn’t make a double 12-speed road chain yet – they only offer 12-speed on One-By and mtb drivetrains.

      February 4, 2020 at 1:50 pm
      • Chris

        Shimano definitely makes a 2×12 drivetrain and I am curious about this compatibility as well, it seems that most chainring makers are seeing a need to produce a different ring for Shimano 12.

        February 5, 2020 at 4:10 pm
        • Jan Heine

          We focused the development on road groups from Shimano, which remain 11-speed for now. You are right, Shimano’s mtb 12-speed chains require special chainrings. We are working on that, but the current rings aren’t designed for those chains.

          February 5, 2020 at 10:41 pm

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