Author Archive | Jan Heine

People who inspire us: Sofiane Sehili

There are few photos of Sofiane Sehili in full flight, because he’s usually ahead of the photographers… Working as a bike messenger in Paris, Sofiane first dipped his toes into ultra-cycling in 2016, when he rode in the epic Tour Divide, the race that runs along the crest of the Rocky Mountains from Canada to the Mexican border. He came 3rd in this first attempt.

Last year, he started to race more seriously, and he won the Italy Divide, tied with another ultra legend, James Hayden. Then Sofiane led the Tour Divide for a whole week before snow wreaked havoc on the race. Sofiane climbed a 10,000 ft (3000 m) pass in the middle of the night, before turning around after realizing that conditions were too dangerous. He finished the season by winning the Inca Divide, a 1700 km epic through the Andes of Peru.

His success story continues this year: In February, he won the Atlas Mountain Race in Morocco against a very strong international field. And just 10 days ago, he came second in the Hope 1000 that criss-crosses the Swiss Alps. The photo above was taken just before the start of that race…

Sofiane has brought a randonneur’s approach to mountain biking. He’s surprised everybody by riding through the nights and stopping only rarely to sleep, thus opening up gaps on his competitors that become almost unsurmountable. I asked him about the appeal of riding that far and fast, and he simply said: “What attracts me to long distance is both the will to see how far I can push and the fact that I really feel at home on the bike. When cycling, I don’t want to stop because I never seem to have enough. There’s is nothing I’d rather do. Just being there, outside, completely free, it makes me feel complete.”

Continue Reading 0

How to Choose Your Rene Herse Tires

Choosing Rene Herse tires for your bike is easy, because our program is logical and simple. It’s all based on performance. We started making tires because we wanted to ride high-performance tires on the gravel roads of the Cascade Mountains. We came from a decade of racing on hand-made tubulars on the road and in cyclocross, and we wanted the same feel and performance in wide clinchers for our adventures.

Back then, wide tires existed, but they were heavy touring tires. When you come from 240 g tubulars, it’s hard to fall in love with 600+ g tires! It wasn’t just the weight, the thick casings and heavy rubber coatings made these tires sluggish and slow. So we decided to make our own tires. We started out with the most supple high-performance tires and developed them into wide tires that are strong enough for everyday use. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading 39

Raymond Henry, 1944-2020

With great sadness, we say Goodbye to Raymond Henry, cycling historian extraordinaire, grand randonneur, and wonderful friend. He passed away today from the complications of a surgery that was to allow him resume his active life of cycling, woodworking and gardening.

Raymond experienced the glory days of French cyclotouring first-hand. As a teenager, he saved all his money and rode his bike to Grenoble to order a custom randonneuse from the great Jo Routens. He rode that bike (and a similar one that he bought used, shown above) all his life.

And ride he did: He completed Paris-Brest-Paris, the Tour de France Randonneur, and all nine Diagonales of France – the famous randonnées that connect the corners of hexagon-shaped France. He rode the Raid Pyrénéen – twice – and completed the Brevet des Provinces Françaises, which had him visit 6 important sites in every one of the 90 départements of France. This last project took Raymond 20 summers. He rode 27,000 km (16,800 miles) in the process – and he enjoyed almost every single one of them! Living at the foot of Mont Ventoux, he climbed the ‘Giant of Provence’ several times a year. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

New Saddles and Bags and Bottles

In the middle of a global pandemic, delays in shipments from suppliers are not a big concern with everything else that is going on. And yet we’re happy that the situation has improved to the point where deliveries are arriving again – because this means that things are getting better for our suppliers, who are also our friends.

Over the winter, we’ve worked with Berthoud Cycles in France to design a new, bigger handlebar bag, the GB 31. It’s useful for tall riders and those who like their handlebars high – the bag spans the distance from the bars to the front rack, so it’s sized to fit your bike. We’ve not just increased the height of the bag; we’ve also adjusted the size of the pockets: a bit larger so they are proportionate with the bag, but not so large that it becomes difficult to retrieve their contents.

You can see the new GB31 in the photo above, together with the three existing models. All Berthoud bags are available in the classic blue-gray (shown) and in black with leather trim, or in all-black versions. We offer them with and without side pockets. They all include a shoulder strap for easy carrying when you’re off the bike. They’re waterproof, because the cotton fabric swells when it gets wet, and they last almost forever. I’ve used my current Berthoud bag for 9 years, 2 Paris-Brest-Paris, many wet winter rides, countless tours… and it’s still as good as new. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Tubeless Tire FAQ

Car and motorcycle tires have been tubeless for decades, but bicycle tires have continued to use tubes. That changed during the 2010s, when first mountain bikers and then the riders of all-road and gravel bikes started to experiment with tubeless technology. They reason was simple: If you could run your tires tubeless, you’d be able to ride lower pressures and not worry about pinch flats even in very rough terrain. An added advantage of tubeless is indirect: The sealant required to make the tires airtight on the rim also seals small punctures, so flats can be much less frequent with tubeless tires.

At first, tubeless bicycle tires were very much hit-or-miss: classic rims were converted to tubeless installations, but on seemingly every other ride, the tires burped or mysteriously went flat. Those problems are behind us, and tubeless technology is maturing. These days, many riders run their tires tubeless without problems.

Most Rene Herse tires are tubeless-compatible, giving you a choice of running them with tubes or tubeless. Running supple bicycle tires tubeless is a relatively new technology, and our understanding keeps evolving. When we built the tire FAQ on our web site, we talked to customers, bike shops and racers to identify the most common questions about tubeless tires: Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Summer 2020 Bicycle Quarterly

The Summer 2020 Bicycle Quarterly is at the printer. It’ll be mailed at the end of the month, but we just learned that due to staffing shortages at our printer, we need to complete the mailing list tomorrow morning (Thursday). To get your copy with the first mailing, please make sure your subscription is up to date. If it has expired, you will get a renewal notice. If you want to subscribe, please do so today.

And you will want to get this exciting edition without delay! On the cover is the incredible workshop of Fern Bicycles in Berlin, one of the most innovative builders today. We take you into the shop and tell you the story behind their amazing bikes. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

DIY Gravel: Ted King’s Epic Cross-Vermont Ride

Ted King’s DIY Gravel may have been born out of necessity – there are no gravel races right now, so why not ride our own rides and challenges in the mean time? Ted’s idea has been a lot of fun, and more than a thousand riders have risen to the challenge.

A few weeks ago would have been Dirty Kanza, the biggest and most prestigious of the gravel racing calendar. Ted King used the opportunity ride across the entire State of Vermont on backroads: 312 miles (500 km) and more than 32,000 ft (9700 m) of climbing. His team made a great video about his ride. I was struck by how the emotions of Ted adventure remind me of the great randonneuring challenges, like the Raid Pyrénéen or Paris-Brest-Paris. It’s neat to see how racing, cyclotouring and randonneuring all come together in this epic adventure. Enjoy the video!

Continue Reading

Pure Speed: Time trialling on Rene Herse tires

With all the emphasis on gravel and less-than-smooth backroads, it’s easy to forget the joys of pure speed as you glide over smooth pavement. And perhaps nothing is more about speed than triathlons. Few people know that both BQ team rider Mark and I did triathlons way back in the early 1990s…

So when we learned that Quentin Kurc-Boucau placed 14th in the Cozumel Ironman in Mexico on Rene Herse Chinook Pass tires, we were curious to find out more about his tire choice and his experiences. Earlier this week, I caught up with Quentin (QKB) and chatted about his sport. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Committed to Diversity

There is much that needs to change in our world until all humans are treated equal, have equal opportunities, and feel equally welcome. We each must do our part to make it happen!

At Rene Herse Cycles and Bicycle Quarterly, we are committed to diversity. We believe that great stories exist everywhere, and we are confident that our readers want to read about interesting people, rides and stories, without regard to skin color, ethnicity or nationality. In the future, we will seek out more stories from voices that tend to be underrepresented in the cycling world. We will all be inspired and enriched by the results!

Continue Reading

People who inspire us: Nelson Vails

One of the highlights of last year’s North American Handmade Bicycle Show was meeting Nelson Vails. I saw him walking by, and I thought: “That is Nelson Vails! I’ve got to shake his hand!” We ran after him… He turned out to be a most charming gentleman. Natsuko was surprised that Vails speaks Japanese: Few people know that he spent many years in Japan as a Keirin racer after winning the silver medal in the track sprint at the 1984 Olympic Games. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

People who inspire us: Rachel Henry

Rachel Henry (right) loves her Jo Routens bike. When Natsuko and I visited them for a story about her husband Raymond, the historian of French cyclotouring and long-time Bicycle Quarterly contributor, the two accompanied us out of town on the spur of a moment.

Rachel prefers contemplative cyclotouring, but she’s a competitive gardener: She and Raymond each have their own vegetable gardens, and Rachel’s tends to grow better! She also serves on the city council of their home town in Provence. And yes, that’s Mont Ventoux in the background. Can’t wait to see them again!

The photo above appeared in our story about French bicycle collectors in Bicycle Quarterly 65.

Continue Reading

People who inspire us: JaBig

Now is a good time to think about the people who’ve inspired us. It’s a good time to show that cycling can be welcoming of non-whites. It’s a good time to listen to other voices. They have good stories to tell!

JaBig is a DJ from Montréal in Canada. He first came to our attention when he rode his fixed-gear across Canada. His recent project was even more ambitious: Last year, he embarked on a round-the-world trip to benefit World Bicycle Relief. We enjoyed his updates as he started in London and made his way across Europe. Covid-19 forced him to return to Canada. He is one of the funniest, most positive humans we’ve met, and his observations about cycling, life and music are always inspiring and thought-provoking. Follow him on Instagram @jabig!

Continue Reading

People who inspire us: Eritrean Road Racers

Now is a good time to think about the people who’ve inspired us. It’s a good time to show that cycling can be welcoming of non-whites. It’s a good time to listen to other voices. They have good stories to tell!

Eritrea has a vibrant cycling scene, ever since Ghebremariam Ghebru won the country’s first road race against the Italian colonials in 1937. In the following years, cycling became almost a substitute for religion. To the present day, races are organized in Asmara almost every weekend. Perhaps the most famous Ertriean racer is Daniel Teklehaimanot (right) who wore the polka-dot jersey of the best climber in the Tour de France in 2015.

The photo shows BQ adventurers Toni, Luigi and Thilo with Eritrean pro racers Metkel Eyob and Daniel Teklehaimanot. Gregor Mahringer told the story of their bikepacking adventure in Bicycle Quarterly 68.

Continue Reading

People who inspire us: the Bruce family

Now is a good time to think about the people who’ve inspired us. It’s a good time to show that cycling can be welcoming of non-whites. It’s a good time to listen to other voices. They have good stories to tell!

The Bruce family from Chicago were good friends (and customers) of the Herse family. The entire family and some friends came to France in the 1960s and rode to Lourdes. Above they are shown at the finish of their long tour. All had Rene Herse bikes. Lyli Herse recalled: “They were doctors, and their four children all had bikes from us, too.” The Bruces invited Lyli to Chicago, where they took her photo on the shores of Lake Michigan.

René Herse had many American customers during the 1960s, but it was the Bruce family that was featured in an advertising photo with the caption: “A beautiful American family on the road to Lourdes.” I’ll dig up that advertisement (as well as the photo of Lyli in Chicago) and share them at a later date.

Continue Reading

A Small Thing: BQ Fund Drive to benefit Black Lives Matter

We want to do more than just say nice words. We want to help make change that is real and lasting. With that intent, we’re renewing the tradition of Bicycle Quarterly fund drives to address urgent needs. For 24 hours, from 0:00 on June 2 until 24:00 (Pacific Time) on June 3, 2020, we’re donating $ 36 for each Bicycle Quarterly subscription to Black Lives Matter. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

George Floyd, Christian Cooper, Ahmaud Arbery and the Couple on the Train

Last year, on the train to Sacramento, we met a wonderful black couple in the dining car. They had gone to Seattle to celebrate their wedding anniversary. They had met when they were part of the civil rights movement in the South. They moved to the West Coast, because, as her husband explained about his wife: “She has a strong sense of justice. She’d have got killed if we had stayed.”

We have to remember that the suffering, the injustice, the racism continue. We have to stand against racism in all its forms, not just today, but tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. If we change our thinking and our behavior, it will change the world.
—Natsuko & Jan

Continue Reading

Rene Herse x Velocio Ultralight Jersey

We’re excited about our new jerseys. For almost two years, we’ve been looking for the perfect jersey. We didn’t just want to get some print-on-demand jerseys, but we wanted a jersey that offers the best performance and quality, as well as responsible manufacture.

The Rene Herse x Velocio Ultralight jersey is a collaboration between our two companies. The jersey really lives up to its name: At 111 g (Men’s Medium), it’s probably the lightest jersey out there. And light weight isn’t its only remarkable feature. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Paris during the Lockdown: Elisabeth’s Story

In this series, we’re sharing the Covid-19 experiences of friends and contributors from around the world. It seems that everybody in France (and beyond) knows Elisabeth as an incredible long-distance cyclist. I’ve ridden with her in the Concours de Machines, met her at Paris-Brest-Paris, and marveled at her adventures on Instagram (@elyasmina75). She lived through the lockdown in the center of Paris. Translated from French.
—Jan Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

1952 Rene Herse – Ancestor of Our All-Road Bikes

It’s hard to believe that it was 20 years ago when I first got to experience a 650B all-road bike. The bike in question was a 1952 René Herse Randonneuse. I had been curious about the bikes from the great French constructeurs, but there weren’t many around. And those who collected them treated them as art objects rather than performance bikes to enjoy on the road.

Then I rode my first Paris-Brest-Paris in 1999. At the finish, I met the late Bernard Déon, the historian of PBP, and bought his book about the incredible ride I had just completed. And there I read that riders like Roger Baumann had ridden René Herses through wind and rain in the 1950s, completing the 1200 hilly kilometers (750 miles) in 50 hours or less. As a first-time PBP rider, speeds like those seemed impossible – and they weren’t far behind the fastest riders in modern PBPs.

So when the opportunity came a few months later to sample one of these mid-century bikes, I leaped at it immediately. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Shipping and Tracking during a Pandemic

Quite a few customers are asking why their orders aren’t showing up in the tracking information on our web site, why they haven’t received the Spring Bicycle Quarterly yet, and other shipping-related questions. We’re very sorry about these things, because we can’t do anything about them right now. They are out of our control.

One of the consequences of Covid-19 is that there are very few airplanes flying right now. This means that there is much less capacity for airmail, and shipping takes longer. We just learned that many shipments to Europe are going by boat these days – which seems to include the Spring edition of Bicycle Quarterly for readers in France, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium and a few other European countries. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Live Talk on Bikepacking.com with Lael, Neil and Jan

If you missed yesterday’s live talk on Bikepacking.com, it’s now uploaded to their channel – click above to view it. It was a fun conversation with two Tour Divide racers, Lael Wilcox and moderator Neil Beltchenko, about what they want in a tire, how we’re developing tires, and how we’ve incorporated Lael’s ideas into our new Fleecer Ridge 700C x 55 mm bikepacking/gravel/adventure tire. Enjoy!

Continue Reading

Fleecer Ridge and Noise Cancellation

We’ve got the new Fleecer Ridge 700C x 55 bikepacking/gravel/all-round tires in stock now. They come in the Standard, Extralight, Endurance and Endurance Plus casings. This means you can get the volume and groundbreaking tread pattern – more of that in a moment – with a full range of casings. At one end of the spectrum is our Extralight, the most supple casing you’ll find anywhere (except on FMB tubulars). At the other extreme is the Endurance Plus, key ingredient to one of the toughest gravel/all-road tires in the world. And in between you have the wonderfully supple Standard casing and the strong-but-ultrafast Endurance.

There’s more to the Fleecer Ridge than meets the eye: They are the world’s first bicycle tires to use noise cancellation. The knobs are arranged so that the noise from one knob hitting the ground has a frequency that overlaps the frequency created by the next knob. The frequencies cancel each other partially to make the Fleecer Ridge much quieter than you’d ever expect a knobby to be. Arranging the knobs so they cancel their own noise is such a new idea that we’ve filed a patent on this feature. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Back in Stock and New Fenders

Let’s start with the most exciting part first: We’ve got new 75 mm-wide fenders, both in 650B and 26″ versions to fit comfortably over our widest tires. They’re made from a thicker aluminum for extra strength, so it’s well-suited for bikes with knobby tires which can pick up sticks and rocks that risk collapsing less-strong fenders. (Of course, no fenders are totally fool-proof – always use good judgment and caution when riding off-pavement.)

At 75 mm wide, our H98 fender works well with mountain bike and One-By drivetrains with a wider chainline. If you use a road drivetrain, you’ll either need to indent your fender to clear the chain in the smallest gears – you’ll need about 6 mm clearance – or can run our narrower H80 fenders that have the same radius, but less coverage on the sides of the tire. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

All tires are back in stock

Most of our customers considers their Rene Herse tires ‘essentials’ – components they need to keep riding. Knowing this, we work hard to keep all models in stock at all times. Sometimes there are unforeseen fluctuations in demand, delays in production and/or shipping, and a model or two may be out of stock.

We just received another shipment, and all tires are back in stock. Thank you for your patience!

Continue Reading

Face Masks Are Back

When we offered our face masks at our cost – and the option to donate them to front-line workers at bike shops – the entire production run was spoken for within just a few hours. Clearly, our customers need masks for their errands and also for their rides when the country reopens. It will be nice stop along the way again during our rides… Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Our Suppliers

We’re glad to report that all our suppliers are doing well, considering the current circumstances. Production has slowed at some factories, there may be some shortages of products in the future, but the most important thing is that all the people we work with remain healthy. Our relationships with our suppliers are essential to what we do: You can’t make the world’s best parts without a network of the world’s best suppliers. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Round 2 of DIY Gravel

Today would have been the Belgian Waffle Ride in California – which means that Round 2 of Ted King’s DIY Gravel is starting. We’ve got until next Sunday to do our own version of this iconic ride, which offers three versions:

  • Waffle is 138-miles, 53 off-road and nearly 12,000 feet of climbing
  • Wafer is 77.6-miles, 31 off-road miles and 5,600 feet of climbing
  • Wanna is 40-miles, 6 off-road miles, 3,500 ft of climbing

Which will you choose, and where will you go? I’ve had a lot of fun with Round 1, now I’m looking forward to Round 2.

Click here for more on DIY Gravel.

Continue Reading

DIY Gravel #1: Rasputitsa in Washington

When Ted King floated the idea of DIY Gravel, I was intrigued: For each gravel race that’s cancelled, he challenges everybody to ride a similar distance – and elevation gain, if possible – near home and solo, within one week of the original event date. There’s a Strava group and even some prizes to win.

I like the idea of envisioning these courses here in Washington. First on the list was Rasputitsa. Named with the Russian word for ‘Mud Season,’ when roads become difficult to impassable, Rasputitsa coincides with the snow melt in Vermont. Ted King rode the actual course a week ago as he launched DIY Gravel. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Join Ted King for DIY Gravel

All of us are figuring out how we can resume our lives safely and responsibly. How can we ride our bikes? Does it make sense to train when races and events are postponed or cancelled? How can we enjoy the community that cycling brings us? I caught up with gravel racer Ted King and asked him about life and cycling in these times.

JH: As the ‘King of Gravel,’ how have you been dealing with the current global scenario? How does riding fit into your schedule these days?

TK: Cycling is an enormous part of my life, but my cycling life doesn’t revolve exclusively around racing. 2020 is already a year that’s completely different from any in the past, because Laura and I are now a family of three, with little baby Hazel as part of the mix. We had decided to limit some of the smaller races that I typically jump into and focus on our family and the bigger events of the year. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Thank you!

This post is to say ‘Thank you!’

It’s no secret that times are difficult. The news are not encouraging. Businesses everywhere are struggling, and we’re not exempt.

We appreciate your orders at all times, but now they are doubly important. As we take turns working in our empty office and warehouse, we’re encouraged by the nice notes that you leave in the ‘Comments’ field of your orders.

We’ve noticed that more than usual, you renew your Bicycle Quarterly subscriptions for two or three years. We appreciate the vote of confidence – yes, we plan to keep publishing for much longer than that! – and support. Many have given gift subscriptions to friends. Hopefully, the magazine will brighten their day during these shelter-at-home times.

Our customers – you – are our community. We appreciate your encouragement. We’ll continue to work hard to earn your trust and support. We’ll get through this difficult time together. Thank you!

—Jan & Natsuko

Continue Reading

What We Ride (Part 4): The Mule

In this mini-series, we look at the bikes of the BQ Team. These are the bikes we bought with our own money and/or built with our own hands. These are the bikes we ride most often, because we feel they work best for the rides we do. And – most importantly – they are the most fun to ride.

When I first went to Japan six years ago, I realized I needed a Rinko bike, so I could travel by train to the great routes that traverse the Japanese mountains. As it happens so often, the project was delayed until the last moment. In the end, the entire bike was built in ten days. I built the frame under Hahn’s supervision. He insisted that I miter all the tubes by hand, rather than using a milling machine. It was a great learning experience, and it led to many framebuilding parts in the Rene Herse program that make it easier to build a bike like this – like the pre-mitered centerpull braze-ons that fit perfectly on the Kaisei ‘Toei Special’ fork blades. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

What We Ride (Part 3): Steve’s Frek

This mini-series shows the bikes of the Bicycle Quarterly Team. These are the bikes we’ve bought with our own money and/or built with our own hands. They aren’t show queens, because we ride them hard. They’ve proven themselves over many thousands of miles on the – often quite rough – mixed-surface roads of the Cascade Mountains.

The Frek may be the most famous bike here. After Steve wrote up his story of converting a 1982 Trek 614 into a 650B randonneur bike for Bicycle Quarterly, many riders followed his lead and converted similar bikes. Fortunately, there are plenty of 1980s Treks to supply this new demand! Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Covid-19 Petition: Thank you!

Today, we delivered 1674 signatures to the National Governors’ Association, as well as to each state’s governor, urging them to develop strategies for the time after the current lockdowns. We all want to return to our normal lives – as much as possible – but this requires keeping the virus from flaring up again as soon as the current restrictions are eased. We don’t want to see a second wave that is as bad (or worse) than the first one we are experiencing right now. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Weekend BQ Team Ride (socially distant)

Last weekend, the BQ Team went on one of our typical rides: A 100-mile (160 km) romp through the Cascade foothills on familiar roads. Of course, we didn’t ride as a group – we’ve given that up for more than a month now, even before the official social distancing guidelines went into effect here in Washington State. We realized that even though riding side-by-side might be safe, we couldn’t be sure. And most of all, it would send the wrong message to others – that somehow, riding in groups was still OK. So we’re doing our team rides solo. Here’s how we rode last weekend:

Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Three more days: BQ 8-packs and R Herse book Special

There are three more days left to order reading materials at our special discount. Pick your own 8-pack of Bicycle Quarterly past editions or select the ‘Surprise Me!’ option with the BQ Team’s favorites, plus one extra (for a total of 9 magazines).

Read up on the ground-breaking technical research that ushered in the ‘wide-tire revolution.’ Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Covid-19 after the lockdowns end: How to make our world safe again?

This is a post that we’d rather not write. We want this blog to focus on cycling, but we feel that urgent action is needed. This is not a feel-good measure, and it may negatively impact our business, but that is not the question we must ask ourselves. When people are dying, when health care workers are risking their lives to save them, we have a responsibility to speak out. We want to thank Donalrey Nieva (@donalrey) for his haunting photos from New York City that illustrate what we’ve lost, but also what we still have.
—Natsuko & Jan

Social Distancing is working!

Today, the ‘Stay-at-Home’ orders in Washington State are going into their third week. Infections seem to be plateauing, and our governor has even been able to return some ventilators to the National Stockpile. Those are the good news, and we are grateful for them. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

What We Ride (Part 2): 333fab Titanium Randonneur

In this mini-series, we’re looking at the bikes that the BQ Team rides. These are the bikes we’ve bought with our own money (or built with our own hands). These are the bikes we ride most of the time, whether we’re heading for a quick 2-hour spin or a multi-day adventure in the Cascade Mountains. These are the bikes we think work best for us and our style of riding.

Ryan’s custom titanium bike was built by 333fab as a modern interpretation of a randonneur bike. Like the rest of the team, Ryan’s bike rolls on the 650B x 42 mm tires, it’s got aluminum fenders, generator lighting and compact cranks. That is where the similarities end: Ryan’s bike is a reminder that there are many different ways to build a fast long-distance bike. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

BQ 8-packs and Rene Herse Book for $50

Everybody needs a good read right now! We all know what to do to keep ourselves and others safe. We all know what is going on in the world. There is a time when it’s important to turn off our screens, make a cup of tea, and enjoy a good read.

To supply you with reading material, we’re offering a big discount on our most popular literature. For a limited time, you can order 8- and 9-packs of Bicycle Quarterly and/or our 424-page book ‘Rene Herse • The Bikes • The Builder • The Riders,’ for $ 50 each. Either will give you many hours of reading enjoyment.

Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

What We Ride (Part 1): Mark’s 6-Hands

Editor’s Note: We’ve been thinking about our role in the response to Covid-19. Here is what we can do: If there is a way we can positively influence the situation – like advocating social distancing and wearing face masks before these practices had widespread support – it’s our responsibility do so. If we can do something to help directly, we will also act: We are working with our suppliers to make masks. And we also realize that the relentless (and mostly bad) news is taking a toll. One thing we can do is inspire our readers. We’ll try to remind you (and ourselves) that there is a beautiful world out there, waiting to be explored. We’re all in this together – let’s stay strong and positive!

And with that, we’ll start a mini-series of posts about the bikes of the BQ Team. We all love testing the latest wonder machines, the featherweight carbon bikes and the gleaming customs straight from NAHBS, but these are the bikes we’ve bought with our own money (or built with our own hands). These are the bikes we ride when we head out, whether it’s a fast spin around the North End of Lake Washington or a multi-day adventure to explore the forgotten passes of the Cascade Mountains. We ride these bikes because they work best for us. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Calling for some real innovation!

April 1, 2020: This is the time of year when we take a break from the daily news and look at areas where real progress is possible in bicycle design. Forget marginal gains – today we’re looking for revolutionary ideas!

The industry likes to crow about disc brakes and carbon frames, but when you really think about it, bikes have not evolved much at all since the 1890s. The very first Paris-Brest-Paris was won on a bike similar to the Humber above, and yet most of the Humber’s features have been carried over almost unchanged to the latest ‘high-tech wonders’! Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Everybody needs a good read now!

Sometimes, it’s good to take a break from the news, turn off our screens, and immerse ourselves in a good read. Now this need is more urgent than ever, and so we’re preparing a second mailing of the new Bicycle Quarterly this week – sooner than originally planned.

Before you even open the Spring 2020 BQ, you’ll be amazed by an amazing bicycle tour of the Peruvian Andes on the cover. Karen Yung’s words and Donalrey Nieva’s stunning photos take you to remote roads in that far-away place – a perfect way to keep our dreams alive.

Equally inspiring is Paulette Porthault’s incredible life story. An active cyclist for 70 years, she rode for the great constructeurs Barra, Narcisse, Herse and Routens. She won the Poly de Chanteloup hillclimb race during the war. And she never stopped smiling!

Those are just two of the great stories in this exciting edition. Click here to subscribe today, and we’ll dispatch your copy of this exciting edition without delay. Thank you!

Continue Reading

Covid-19 Response: Making Face Masks

In contradicting what we’ve been taught until now – that face masks are not useful – I fully expect this post to be controversial. But too much is at stake, so please read on with an open mind.

The good news from Seattle is that our current lockdown seems to be working. New infections appear to be leveling off. It’s too early to tell whether this will last, but it’s encouraging: We aren’t powerless. We can change the trajectory of this pandemic. Unfortunately, the situation is more difficult in many places, and our thoughts go out to all who are affected. It’s a scary time! Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Keeping our employees safe

HerseCh1147_0

Yesterday, Washington State finally issued an order for everybody to stay at home to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. It’s something most of us wanted to see much sooner, and we’ve been acting for several weeks as if it had been in place already.

Bicycle repair facilities and companies who supply them – which includes Rene Herse Cycles – are exempt from the shut-down, so we’ll continue to operate. However, that does not mean we’ll act irresponsibly. There is too much at stake here, both for our employees and the community at large.

To keep everybody safe, we have adjusted our work schedules so that no two employees work at the same time in our office or warehouse. None of our equipment and tools are shared any longer. We’ve even split up our bathrooms. Basically, this means that our employees are as safe at work as they would be at home.

All these changes mean that our operations have become more complicated and time-consuming. Some things are barely affected. We are still shipping orders and producing Bicycle Quarterly as before. We’re still offering warranty support and processing returns as long as we can receive mail. Even in these difficult times, we continue to stand 100% behind everything we sell.

Other things are becoming more difficult. Product development has slowed. Shipments from suppliers are held up, so some things may be out of stock soon. And we cannot offer individual tech support any longer, because this requires in-person communication at the office to find accurate and useful answers.

This means that we’re no longer able to respond to customer service emails – except those submitted via our Returns and Warranty forms. And please don’t try to send us your questions via Instagram, Facebook or the Letters-to-the-Editor page on the Bicycle Quarterly web site. It’s simply not possible to respond and maintain a safe working environment.

That doesn’t mean you are left out in the cold when it comes to tech support for our products. We’ve expanded the support pages on our web site, so that they cover most common – and many uncommon – questions. You’ll find illustrated step-by-step instructions, frequently asked questions, tips and links to blog posts. Use the ‘Support’ tab in our main menu (above) to get started.

We hope you’ll find these resources useful. And we appreciate your understanding while we continue to adjust to this extraordinary situation. Thank you, and please be careful and safe!

Top photo: Technical inspection at the 1947 Concours de Machines technical trials (Rene Herse Archives).

Continue Reading

Rene Herse Sample Sale

Let’s face it: Life isn’t the same as it was just two weeks ago. We’re all in this together, and we’ve been encouraged how everybody has been pulling together to face this challenge.

At Rene Herse Cycles, we’ve thought about what we could do to help. Most of us still ride our bikes – solo – for transportation, exercise, and to keep our bodies and spirits healthy. Most of us still need bike parts…

We have a sizable stash of parts that haven’t been used, but that we don’t want to sell as brand-new, either. These are parts that we’ve used for photo shoots or for testing tire fit on rims. Some are prototypes that don’t have the right stickers – we commission the molds first and make a small run of tires for testing, long before the new stickers are finalized. We always make more prototypes than we need for the actual testing, just in case.

Usually, we keep these components for our own bikes, but we’re now offering them to everybody in our Sample Sale.

Update 3/25: The Sample Sale has ended. Thank you. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

We’re open and staying safe

Many customers and readers have asked and worried about us. This post is to reassure everybody that we’re doing fine at Rene Herse Cycles. For the time being, Seattle is relying on everybody’s best efforts of social distancing and staying home, and there is no mandatory lockdown. Fortunately, people are taking it seriously. I went for a walk today and saw a couple talk to the owner of a classic car – while keeping a distance of 8 feet.

At Rene Herse Cycles, we’ve instated policies to ensure the safety of our employees and others in our community. Where possible, our team is telecommuting. The other employees have staggered their shifts, so there is minimal contact. It’s a bit lonely to be working alone in the office and warehouse, but it’s the best way right now.

We appreciate your support in these difficult times. Thank you! Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

FMB Tubulars

Even in these troubled times, most of us continue to ride our bikes, at least here in North America. We’ve been encouraged that even during the ‘shelter-in-place’ in the San Francisco Bay Area, solo bike rides continue to be permitted.

Over the last year, we’ve worked on re-introducing FMB tubulars to the North American market. FMB tubulars perfectly complement to our Rene Herse clinchers. They feature similar no-nonsense tread patterns for road, dirt and mud. FMB’s three casings all offer supple performance, but they vary in their degrees of sidewall protection. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Spring 2020 Bicycle Quarterly

It’s always exciting when a new Bicycle Quarterly goes to print. After months of work, we finally see the magazine take shape on paper, and soon our readers will enjoy their copies. We’re doubly excited about the Spring 2020 edition with its mix of engaging stories. Karen Yung reports from a bikepacking trip to the Andes of Peru – the cover shows one of her fellow adventuresses. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Memories of Summer: Lake Bessemer

As last summer’s 1200 km Paris-Brest-Paris was approaching, my training went into high gear. That meant hill intervals and speedwork, but also occasional longer rides to maintain my endurance – and have fun!

When Mark and Steve suggested a weekend ride up the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River, we came up with an idea: They would take the bus to Mount Si, a popular hiking destination. I’d ride out there and meet them. I decided to add the climb to Lake Bessemer for some extra training. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Enve and Zipp hookless rims and Rene Herse tires

Rene Herse tires are safe to use on hookless rims from Enve and Zipp – even when mounted tubeless (for tubeless-compatible tires). Over the last year, we’ve worked with the engineers from both companies to ensure the full compatibility of our tires with their rims.

Tubeless tires are an emerging technology. They’ve been around for decades on cars and motorcycles, and they’ve taken over mountain biking in a storm, too. These are all relatively stiff tires that run at relatively low pressures.

Adapting the technology to road, all-road and gravel bikes has posed special challenges. The supple high-performance tires we love have less casing stiffness, and they run at somewhat higher pressures. (Few cars, motorcycles and mountain bikes exceed 2.5 bar/35 psi.) Both factors combine to create much greater forces at the tire/rim interface than on other vehicles. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

My PBP Bike: The Frame

When I asked readers which part of my bike for last summer’s Paris-Brest-Paris they wanted to hear more about, the answer was: “Everything.” So we’ll make a series of short posts about the parts of the bike. I’ve already talked about the centerpull brakes here. Today, let’s look at the frame.

It’s no secret that I love my titanium Firefly. I’ve also enjoyed some great rides on carbon bikes. I wanted a very lightweight bike, and I seriously thought about getting a titanium frame or adapting a carbon U.P.P.E.R. to create a randonneur bike. In the end, I opted for steel because it’s easier to fabricate a frame that accepts all the things I need for adventures like Paris-Brest-Paris: fenders, lights, a rack, a pump… Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

A Winter Ride

When the forecast predicted a rare break in Seattle’s relentless rain, Ryan Hamilton and I quickly decided: “Let’s head to Index!” It’s a favorite winter ride that spears deep into the Cascade Mountains, but stays in the valleys (mostly), so it remains rideable while the high passes are covered with snow.

This time, we added a challenge: “Let’s try to get back before dark!” We knew this was ambitious for a 150-mile (240 km) ride with more than 6,000 ft (1,830 m) of elevation gain. Winter days in the Pacific Northwest aren’t exactly long, and we didn’t want to leave too early in case there was ice on the roads. We met at 7, just before dawn, and rode out of Seattle at a good clip. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

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. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

David’s Bike for Paris-Brest-Paris

When David Wilcox signed up to ride in last summer’s Paris-Brest-Paris 1200 km (750-mile) brevet, he wondered about which of his bikes – he has quite a stable! – would be best for this long ride. Comfort is paramount if you’re going to spend 45+ hours in the saddle, but so is speed: The faster you go, the more you can rest without having to worry about time limit of 80 hours.* Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

James Bay Descent – The Movie

When Ted King, Ryan Atkins, Eric Batty and Buck Miller rode more than 600 km in northern Ontario last winter, it was a real adventure – and they raised money for a local charity. We were happy to be involved in a small way – we supplied the entire team with Berthoud saddles, so they’d be comfortable during their long days on the road.

Now Eric has made a short movie about their incredible ride. Enjoy!

Continue Reading

UD Racks for (almost) every bike

Handlebar bags are one of the best places to carry luggage on your bike. Right in front of you, the contents are easy to reach. A handlebar bag doesn’t increase your frontal area, so it’s aero, and it doesn’t get caught on obstacles when you ride through tight spaces. Handlebar bags have more capacity than most other bikepacking bags, and there’s none of the ‘tail wagging the dog’ effect you get with rear bags, especially when climbing out of the saddle.

Handlebar bags work best when they are supported by a rack. That way, the bag sits as low as possible and doesn’t swing from side to side – both important for good handling. Ideally, your bike’s front-end geometry is designed to accommodate the extra load, but many riders enjoy their handlebar bags on a wide variety of bikes. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Myth 19: 700C Wheels Are Faster

When we started this series to celebrate Bicycle Quarterly’s 15th anniversary, we thought we’d eventually run out of myths. But it seems that new ones are created as fast as we can debunk old ones. The latest is “700C wheels roll faster than 650B.”

This is stated with the same certitude as the old “narrow tires are faster” – and it’s just as wrong. Simply put, there is no evidence that 700C wheels roll faster than 650B (or 26″), and much data to show that they all roll at essentially the same speed. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Predictions for the 2020s

Happy New Year and welcome to a new decade, the 2020s!

Ten years ago (above), Bicycle Quarterly predicted that wide tires would become commonplace, that all-road bikes would replace racing bikes as the most popular genre, and that riders would soon venture off the beaten path and onto gravel. All that seemed unlikely in 2010, and we had to wait more than half-way through the decade for these predictions to become reality.

Now we’re heading into the 2020s, and I’m thinking about what the next 10 years will bring. As in 2010, I don’t claim to be able to see into the future; it’s just what makes sense… Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Bicycle Quarterly Past Editions

The most common comment we get from Bicycle Quarterly readers is “I wish the magazine came out more often.” Publishing more often would be nice, but it’s not possible: It takes three months to create each edition. With more than 100 pages of stories – all original contents and hardly any ads – each Bicycle Quarterly is a small book. Four books a year is all our small team can publish. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Rethinking Packaging

Since we’ve started Rene Herse Cycles in 2011, we’ve been working on reducing our environmental impact. We were among the first to use custom-designed cardboard boxes with inserts that hold our cranks securely. That has been part of our commitment to reduce our impact – while making sure that our parts reach our customers all over the world in perfect condition. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Frank Berto: We will miss you!

Word has just reached us that Frank Berto passed away last Sunday, aged 90. Berto was one of the most inquisitive technical minds in the cycling world and a long-time contributor first to Bicycling magazine and then to Bicycle Quarterly.

An avid cyclist since his childhood in the 1940s, Frank obtained a Master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1958. He worked in the oil industry as an instrumentation and oil measurement consultant. On the side, he authored more than 100 technical articles. His book The Dancing Chain traces the history of derailleurs in all its twists and turns.

Frank was one of the first to (re)discover that derailleurs shifted well if the chain gap (distance between cassette cog and upper derailleur pulley) was constant in all gears. He also measured the tire drop of dozens of tires and summarized the results in his famous tire pressure chart that remains the best guidance for inflating your tires to this day. Frank had little time for hero worship, but he appreciated companies like SunTour and the mid-century French derailleur makers who made innovative derailleurs that shifted well.

When I started Bicycle Quarterly 17 years ago, Frank sent his check for a subscription with a note. With typical frankness, he wrote: “I give you two years max. I’ve seen them all come and go, On the Wheel, the Bicycle Trader… In the mean time, I’ll help you as much as I can.” That help included xeroxing articles from his extensive library and reviewing the technical articles we wrote. He was excited when we built on his research and took it to the next step. When BQ published Aldo Ross’ article on the fiendishly complicated Campagnolo Paris-Roubaix derailleur, Frank, the expert on derailleurs, called me and exclaimed: “Finally, I understand how that thing works!”

During our frequent phone conversations, Frank was gruff, yet warm and charming. He was not just a fount of knowledge, but also fun. We owe him a lot! Our condolences go out to Frank’s wife Connie and his family.

Continue Reading

Back in Stock: Maware Bar Tape, Monkey Bananas, Chainstays and more

At Rene Herse Cycles, we know that our customers rely on their bikes – for transportation, for sport and for fun. So we try to keep all our products in stock at all times. Nothing is more frustrating than needing a new tire or part for a big ride and having to hunt around for left-over stocks, because the maker or distributor is out of stock. And yet, it can happen: Demand suddenly increases, or there are delays in manufacturing. And then an item is out of stock. We just received a big shipment from Japan, and our local production right here in Seattle also has caught up, so we’ve got a lot of parts back in stock.

I got many questions about my new bike for this year’s Paris-Brest-Paris. One of the most asked was about the handlebar tape. Maware leather tape is by far my favorite. Made from pigskin, it’s thin, and it wraps smoothly. It’s soft to the touch and has just the right amount of grippiness. Whenever I moved my hands during the long 56-hour ride and felt the luxurious tape, I smiled. It’s one of the little things that make the miles pass quickly. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Riding the Un-Ride with Ted King

Today’s Un-Ride, as Ted named it, was a blast. It was wet, it was tough, and it was great. We just rode hard and enjoyed the company of the group. There was no posing for the cameras – and it was too dark for good photos anyhow – but the few pics I managed to snap while keeping my heart rate close to the max probably tell the story just fine.

Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Job Opening at Rene Herse Cycles

We’ve got a job opening at Rene Herse Cycles. Are you dreaming of working on beautiful bikes, assembling dazzling cranks and brakes, and chatting about amazing rides all day long? The reality is not quite as glamorous, but we’ve got a good team, good compensation and benefits, plus the potential for long-term, stable employment.

As Operations Assistant, you’d run our warehouse, keep track of inventory, assemble the afore-mentioned cranks and brakes and ship them to our customers, plus update our web site and Bicycle Quarterly subscriber database. It’s a great job for somebody who enjoys doing many tasks and wearing many hats, yet wants stable employment (40 hours/week) with full benefits. Click here for a detailed job description.

Continue Reading

How durable are leather saddles?

How durable are leather saddles? It’s a question we often get with respect to the Berthoud saddles we distribute in North America. Especially now that it’s winter here, and often raining. Will a leather saddle be ruined if it’s ridden in the rain?

The answer is a reassuring ‘No.’ There is only one thing to consider: The underside of the saddle should be protected. If the leather gets completely soaked, the saddle top will lose its shape. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

This Sunday: Ride Tahuya with Ted King

Just a quick reminder that our Un-Meeting-style ride with the ‘King of Gravel’ is this Sunday. The weather forecast is unseasonably good for Seattle – just a slight chance of rain in the morning. Here are the details:

  • When: Sunday, December 8, 2019
  • Where: Seattle Ferry Terminal, 7:35 a.m. ferry to Bremerton
  • What: 80 miles (130 km), paved and gravel (all-paved option)
  • How: Un-Meeting style (everybody is welcome, but it’s not a group ride)

Route sheet, GPS track and more info are in last week’s post. I look forward to riding with many of you on Sunday!

Continue Reading

Winter 2019 Bicycle Quarterly

Adventures in all their forms are the theme of the Winter 2019 Bicycle Quarterly. Lael Wilcox and Rugile Kaladyte tour Kyrgystan in preparation of the Silk Road Mountain Race. Three friends attempting a new route on the border between France and Italy. Two riders enter The Japanese Odyssey, a ride so challenging that few participants actually finish it. Even our bike test of the new Crust Canti Lightning Bolt turns into an adventure when a storm moves in as we traverse the Cascade Mountains.

The new Bicycle Quarterly is at the printer – below are the first proofs. Tomorrow we’ll finalize the mailing list. Please subscribe or renew today to be among the first to get your BQ. Thank you!

Continue Reading

Blog Transition is Complete

Thank you for your patience last week while we’ve transitioned the blog to the Rene Herse web site. We’ve moved all the old contents – blog posts and comments – to the new site, so everything continues to be available.

If you’ve bookmarked a blog post, the link no longer works. Replace the old web address and date with ‘www.renehersecycles.com,’ and you’ll be able to find your bookmarked posts. Below are the new links to six of our most popular posts:

Make sure you subscribe to our newsletter to get updated when new posts are published. Use the box on the right side. We won’t use your information for anything else, and it’s easy to unsuscribe if you’re no longer interested.

I hope you’ll continue to enjoy this blog!

Continue Reading

Steel Road Bike Book (Japan)

During a recent trip to Japan, we saw a beautiful book about steel road bikes, published by our friends at Bicycle Club magazine. The cover bike may look familiar to Bicycle Quarterly readers – it’s part of a famous Japanese collection that we featured a few years back. Many consider this bike, built by Toshio Kajiwara, the zenith of Japanese framebuilding – simple and understated, but beautifully crafted.

Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Golden Age and Competition Bikes out of print

After a remarkable run over 15 years, our first book, The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles, is now out of print. Published in 2005, The Golden Age was at the start of our fascination with the French constructeurs. It made Rene Herse and Alex Singer household names. If cyclists today admire beautiful fender lines and fully integrated bicycles, it’s in part because of this book.

The Golden Age became a best-seller almost overnight, and our first edition sold out quickly. We published a second edition with Rizzoli, which ensured even wider distribution.

Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Ride Tahuya with Ted King

Join us on a ride with Ted King, the ‘King of Gravel’! We’ll head to the Tahuya Hills on some beautiful (and hilly) roads. There’ll be plenty of gravel, as well as an all-paved option.

  • When: Sunday, December 8, 2019
  • Where: Seattle Ferry Terminal, 7:35 a.m. ferry to Bremerton
  • What: 80 miles (130 km), paved and gravel (all-paved option)
  • How: Un-Meeting style (everybody is welcome, but it’s not a group ride)

Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Our Blog Has Moved

We are excited to move our blog and integrate it seamlessly with our Rene Herse Cycles web site. This will allow us to create even more exciting content. And now we can link directly between blog posts and support pages. This and other changes will improve your experience as you use this resource. If you subscribed to the old blog, your subscription will automatically move here. (You will get a message from WordPress about this.)

Please bookmark the new site. Better yet, click on the ‘Follow Our Blog’ button to receive a short e-mail when a new post goes up. (It’s easy to unsubscribe by clicking the button again.) Thank you!

Continue Reading

Honing Skills in Cyclocross

When winter snow makes the high roads in the Cascade Mountains impassable, we turn to cyclocross. It’s our preferred winter sport – challenging, fun and a great way to hone our skills for the big summer gravel adventures. The skills of ‘cross are less about jumping across barriers – although that is fun, too – and more about learning the feedback from your tires. Being able to feel how much grip you can lean on is a useful skill for gravel riding. When you push your bike to the limit and beyond, you learn what it feels like when the tire is just before the point where it’ll slip. You’ll also learn how to recover when your bike slides. And if you don’t recover, speeds are slow and the mud is soft…

Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Endurance Casings for 700C x 38 and 700C x 55

You asked for it… Many customers requested our Barlow Pass with the Endurance casing. It makes sense – 700C x 38 is a versatile size. If your rides are littered with glass, steel wires or goatheads, the Endurance casing is going to be your friend. You get a tire with much of the speed and comfort of our other Rene Herse tires, yet it’s considerably tougher than the Standard or Extralight casings.

The Antelope Hill is another prime candidate for the Endurance casing. Call it 700C x 55 or 29″ x 2.3″ as you wish – it’s a tire for monstercross and mountain bikes that are ridden on gravel roads (and paved ones, too).

Most of the time, the sheer volume of this tire (and associated low pressure) will ward off sidewall cuts and punctures. Yet by their nature, the Antelopes invite you to take them places you wouldn’t go otherwise. And then the extra protection of the Endurance casing can be great reassurance…

These Rene Herse tires are available with Endurance casings:

  • 650B x 48 Juniper Ridge (knobby)
  • 700C x 38 Barlow Pass
  • 700C x 38 Steilacoom (knobby)
  • 700C x 42 Hurricane Ridge (knobby)
  • 700C x 44 Snoqualmie Pass
  • 700C x 55 Antelope Hill

Quantities of the new models are limited for now, until production catches up with demand. Click here for more information.

Continue Reading

Cost Increases = Price Increases

Unlike most posts, this isn’t one that I enjoy writing… Over the past decade, we’ve seen a period of remarkably stable prices. In fact, it’s been more than five years since our prices have changed across the board – and back then, they went down, because the exchange rate to the Japanese Yen had become more favorable.

Things have changed over the last few years. The trade wars have caught the headlines, but they haven’t affected us directly. Our high-quality products are made in Japan, Germany, France, Taiwan and, of course, the United States – not the countries that have had big tariffs levied on them. However, the trade wars have rippled throughout the world, and they affect us as well: The dollar has lost in value, which increases the cost of the parts we make overseas.

Why not make them in the U.S.? We make many parts locally or in the U.S., but for others, there simply is no domestic manufacturer who can make bicycle tires, forged bike parts, and other high-end components.

The cost of raw materials has also increased due to tariffs and other disruptions. This affects everything from aluminum (used on most of our components) and copper (generator hubs) to rubber (tires), and it’s been substantial.

Our components are made in batches, and our suppliers buy their materials in large quantities, so these cost increases haven’t hit us all at once, but as a steady trickle. For a while, we’ve been able to absorb them. At some point, we have to pass them on to our customers. This means that over the next few months, our prices will increase. It won’t be a huge increase, and it won’t affect all our parts. And for the time being, we’re of course still taking orders at the old prices. We want to give our loyal customers a heads up, so it doesn’t come as a surprise. We hope you’ll understand.

Thank you!

Continue Reading

Rene Herse Cycling Caps

We are really excited about our new cycling caps. They are great to wear under a helmet, or just by themselves.

The quality is superb – as you’d expect, since they are made by Walz, a company known for their high quality. They are made in the USA.

Best of all, the caps are available in two sizes: S/M and L/XL. Because, as you can see above, ‘One Size Fits All’ just isn’t true for many of us.

Click here for more information about our new caps.

Continue Reading

Road.cc Reviews the Juniper Ridge 650B x 48

We like Road.cc, the British web site, because they really ride the products they test. They’ve got a number of testers, and their opinions are refreshingly unbiased and honest. At the end of each test, they ask their reviewers “Would you buy this product?” and “Would you recommend this product to a friend?”

Recently, they reviewed our Juniper Ridge dual-purpose knobbies, and tester Stu Kerton replied “Yes” to both questions. His summary explains why:“The Juniper Ridge has been designed to work just as well on the road as it does off the beaten track. I was sceptical, but to be honest they are pretty good, giving a boost to your average speed on those tarmac sections between the tracks and trails.”

Grip on gravel and in mud impressed him, too: “Cornering on hard-packed gravel, the Junipers had just the right level of grip for the knobbles to dig into the gravel so you could blast round at speed. […] They grip well on soft mud and the tread doesn’t seem to hang onto any dirt either, shedding it before it can become compacted between the knobbles. The only place they did suffer a bit was on wet, sticky chalk, which could clog up the tread.” But then, I suspect that any tire will clog up in that type of sticky mud…

It’s exciting when testers enjoy our tires as much as we do. Rather than tell you more about the test, why not read the full review for yourself at road.cc?

Continue Reading

Why I Choose Centerpull Brakes

When I spec’d my new bike for this year’s Paris-Brest-Paris (and for our adventures in the Cascade Mountains), I opted for centerpull brakes. I didn’t choose centerpulls out of nostalgia. For the riding I do, they are the best choice.

Why not disc brakes?

It’s undeniable that the best hydraulic disc brakes offer amazing braking power. Isn’t more braking power always better? There is a limit to how much braking power you can use. Once your rear wheel lifts, even with your weight all the way back, you can’t use any extra braking power. A good centerpull brake has just enough power to lift the rear wheel.

If the ultimate braking power is similar, then the choice of brakes comes down to other factors. For me, it’s about the fork rather than the brake itself: Disc brakes feed the braking forces into the left fork blade and flex it backward. If the fork isn’t stiff enough, the bike will self-steer when you brake hard. I once rode a test bike with a Wound Up disc fork that required a quick flick of the handlebars every time I braked hard, to compensate for the fork twist. It became second nature, but many riders might not like this.

Modern disc forks are much stiffer and no longer self-steer. The down side is that this stiffness transmits road shocks that are too big for the tires to absorb. Well-designed steel forks with thin blades flex up to 15 mm (0.6″), just enough to take the edge off these bumps. That’s not just more comfortable, but also faster.

There other reasons why I don’t like disc brakes, but they are relatively minor. One is weight – rotors, calipers and long brake lines all add up (although that can be mitigated somewhat if you use carbon rims.) Discs tend to bite quicker in the rain, but most discs I’ve ridden howled terribly when wet. Discs require more maintenance and care – the hydraulic houses are prone to kinking, and the pads often rub noisily on the rotors, requiring frequent adjustments of the calipers to recenter them. (Thru-axles have helped with that.)

Disc brakes have their place: They are an excellent choice for bikes with very wide tires. They don’t have to reach around the tire, so the brake’s weight and power are independent of tire width. That is why mountain bikes use them. With front suspension, the stiffness of the fork blades is a non-issue. On modern production bikes with wide tires, disc brakes make sense: They are what is available, and they work well. Simply choose the widest tires you can run, and you’ll get plenty of shock absorption.

For custom bikes with moderately wide tires, I think the main reason riders are tempted by discs is simply this: Most rim brakes for wide tires weren’t very good. But those problems can be overcome.

Why not cantilevers?

Our Rene Herse cantilevers are among the lightest brakes in the world. At 75 g per wheel, they weigh far less than most racing brakes. We used them on the J. P. Weigle for the Concours de Machines Technical Trials in France. They brake very well, too – as I could confirm when descending from the mountains in pouring rain during the Concours.

We’re very proud of our Rene Herse cantis, but I still prefer our centerpulls. The inherent drawback of all cantis is the location of the pivots on unsupported section of the (relatively thin) seatstays and fork blades. When you brake, the brake cable pulls upward, which tends to splay the brake posts outward. In addition, the pads are dragged along by the rim, which also tends to twist the brake. On the front, these two factors reinforce each other.

The fork blades twist, and this changes the angle at which the brake pads hit the rim. That is why you toe in the pads, which reduces the effect. But there is still a non-linearity as the pad surface increases as you brake harder.

For most rides, it’s not a huge deal, but when you brake deep into turns during twisty mountain descents, a brake that responds linearly to your input gives more confidence. And in the Cascade Mountains, we have plenty of twisty descents. When curve follows upon curve, when your instincts take over and your bike feels hardwired into your brain, then you want a brake that responds with linear force to your inputs. A brake where each increment of lever pull results in the same incremental increase of braking force.

That is where centerpulls come in. They eliminate the twisting problem by locating the pivots above the rim, where the stays (rear) and fork blades are well-braced. The result: There is no twist, the pad angle doesn’t change, and the brake action is linear and easy to modulate.

Modern racing brakes use the same pivot location – only the upper arms are more complex to eliminate the need for a straddle cable. Many of the best bikes now have direct-mount brakes, where the pivots are part of the frame, which further reduces flex (and weight). When we reintroduced direct-mount centerpull brakes, they were seen as oddballs. Today, they have become the norm.

Straddle cables have fallen from favor because they can cause lost motion. A thick straddle cable, as in the photo above, tends to curve over the straddle cable yoke. When you pull on the brake lever, the first part of the lever travel only pulls the straddle cable straight, without actually slowing you down.

Lever travel limits the power of all brakes: In theory, you could make the brake more powerful by increasing its mechanical advantage, but then the pads travel less for each increment of lever travel. And you can only pull the lever so far until it hits the handlebars. If you are wasting some of the lever travel to pull the straddle cable straight, you have less left over for the actual braking. You have to design your brake with less mechanical advantage – less braking power. And/or you need to set the pads closer to the rim, which increases the chance that they’ll rub if your wheel goes slightly out of true or if your brake goes slightly out of adjustment. (That is why discs tend to rub: They have a lot of mechanical advantage, so the gap between disc and rotor has to be tiny.)

There is a solution:  Use a thinner straddle cable that doesn’t bow. The straddle cable transmits less force than the brake cable, so a thinner cable works fine. (We use a derailleur cable, so replacements are easy to find.) The thinner cable bends smoothly around the straddle cable yoke (above). There is no lost motion when you apply the brake. Without the risk of bottoming out the brake lever, we had the freedom to design the Rene Herse brakes with more mechanical advantage. That way, we get as much brake power as a very good mechanical disc brake.

All the mechanical advantage in the world doesn’t do much if the brake flexes instead of squeezing the pads. Brake flex means less power for slowing the wheel. Most of the flex occurs between the pivots and the pads. This part of the brake twists when the pads are dragged along by the rim. The upper arms can be thin: They are stressed mostly in one plane (up/down). That is why centerpull brakes can be superlight: Their pads are much closer to the pivots than those of old-fashioned sidepull and dual-pivot brakes.

Not all centerpull brakes are created equal. The arms of our Rene Herse centerpulls have been optimized using Finite Element Analysis. We forge the brake arms for optimum strength, so we can make them thinner and lighter than CNC-machined arms. In fact, Rene Herse centerpulls are among the lightest brakes out there.

All our brakes are now available with titanium eyebolts for the pads. The centerpulls weigh just 137 g (per wheel, with pad holders, but without pads*). That is the same as a direct-mount Dura-Ace brake, even though the Rene Herse has room for 42 mm tires and fenders, while the Dura-Ace clears just 28 mm tires (without fenders).

For the titanium version of our brakes, we’re also using a titanium lower bolt for our Straddle Cable Yoke to save further weight. (The upper bolt is always made from super-strong CrMo steel, since it secures the brake cable.) The steel-bolt version of the brake remains available as a more affordable option.

The new custom-made titanium bolts are available separately, too. They are great for attaching bottle cages and fenders. (Please don’t use them on racks, where the full strength of steel bolts is needed!)

Light weight, excellent power, great modulation, low maintenance, and the ability to use flexible fork blades for comfort and speed – those are the reasons why I chose Rene Herse centerpull brakes for my new bike.

Further reading:

* Rather than get into a competition for the lightest (meaning: thinnest) brake pads, we weigh our brakes without pads. That way, we can use thick brake pads that last three times as long as the thin pads of most modern brakes. If you want ultralight pads, you can cut them down (or run well-used pads).

Continue Reading

Why Only Black Tread?

Autumn means colder temperatures and rainy weather, here in the Cascade Mountains and in many parts of the world. More than ever, the grip of our tires is on our minds. Why do all Rene Herse tires have black tread? Colorful treads can look nice, but black rubber offers the best grip.

That is one reason why all car tires today are black. In the early days of motoring, tires were made from natural rubber, which is white or gray. (That is why the famous Michelin man is white…) By the 1910s, it was becoming apparent that white rubber didn’t last well, and tire makers discovered that adding carbon black to the rubber made it last much longer. As a positive side effect, it increased the tire’s grip, too – and it made the tires black. Even today, you can get car tires in many colors, but they are considered a novelty and not intended for daily use, much less for performance driving.

It may come as a surprise that the color of rubber and plastic affects many other properties, too. For example, gray resins are stronger than black or colored varieties. That is why the frames of Berthoud saddles are gray. With rubber, blue appears to be the least durable – which is why the blue hoods for old Mafac brake levers are almost unfindable today. And red backpacks fade far more quickly than other colors…

The reason is simple: Colors are additives, and often, surprisingly large amounts of the colorants are needed to create the color. This often changes the physical properties of the raw material. The black color of tires works the opposite way: Carbon black is an additive chosen for its performance-enhancing properties, and it just happened to change the color to black.

Before we made our Rene Herse tires, we rode tires from many makers. When I was racing in the 1990s, Vittoria introduced their ‘Professional All Weather’ model with softer green rubber on the shoulders. This was supposed to be grippier when leaning the bike into wet corners. It seemed like the perfect tire for Seattle’s infamous rainy season.

We tried the ‘All Weathers,’ and immediately scared ourselves: They seemed to grip fine at first, while we were still riding on the black center tread. Leaning further, grip was lost very suddenly as we transitioned to the green rubber. Then TOUR magazine did one of their famous tire tests. They measured tire grip on wet roads and confirmed that the ‘All Weather’ was less grippy than Vittoria’s standard, all-black tires! We never found out what the Italians were thinking when they developed these tires. I recall a big marketing push with all kinds of colors around that time, but it didn’t last long. Today, all Vittoria tires have black tread again.

Later, we imported the first supple, wide 650B tires from Japan. Made to resemble classic French rubber, the first model was available only in red and white. We loved the supple casings, but we found that in the wet, the white version was noticeably lacking in traction. Riding the red model, we also felt the grip bleed away earlier than we expected. We requested a special run of tires with black tread, and those gripped much better.

Of course, black tread alone isn’t a guarantee for excellent traction. I recall one tire from a small company that would spin when accelerating from a stop on cold, wet (but clean) pavement. Clearly, not all rubber is made equal.

When we first talked to the engineers at the tire factory in Japan about the tires we wanted to make, they showed us many beautiful colors. There was a very attractive tea green… When we asked about the performance, the engineers left no doubt: “Black has the best grip.” What about the colored treads? “It’s all about fashion. It allows small companies to offer tires that are different from the mainstream.”

There is nothing wrong with fashion, but for us, performance is more important. On the steep, twisty descents of the Cascade Mountains, we need tires that grip. And fortunately, Panaracer’s top-level tread rubber is among the grippiest you’ll find anywhere.

Of course, there is much more to making a tire grip than just the tread compound. Our herringbone tread pattern has many ribs that interlock with the road surface. When we tested the herringbone tread back-to-back with slick tires, the difference was very noticeable. A supple casing also grips better because it keeps its tread in contact with the road surface. A stiffer tire will bounce more and have less traction. For our Rene Herse tires, we’ve optimized all these parameters to offer you tires with more grip than just about any other tire – on dry and wet roads.

Even with the best tires, riding in Autumn and Winter requires extra caution. There are many factors that decrease traction when it’s wet and/or cold:

  • Cold rubber is less grippy – your traction is reduced when the temperature drops. This is quite significant, especially once the temperature drops below 10°C (50°F).
  • On wet roads, tread patterns that interlock with the road surface offer the greatest benefits. With the right tires, you can lean quite far into corners (top photo) – if the asphalt is clean.
  • After the first rain, the water mixes with dust, oil and other airborne pollution to form a very slippery surface layer. Use extreme caution when it hasn’t rained in a long time.
  • Your tires stay wet for a while after you ride through water. Remember this when you cross a wet patch on the road: Your tires may still be wet in the next corner, even if the road surface there is dry.
  • Painted traffic markings on the asphalt can be very slippery in the wet. Metal surfaces – grates, manhole covers, railroad tracks, plates covering trenches at construction sites – are even worse. Avoid them if you can. If you must ride over them, straighten your bike before you reach them, so you aren’t leaning while you are on the slippery surface.
  • Scan the road for shiny oil that has dripped from cars with leaky crankcases.
  • Tire sealants that use latex – which means most brands – won’t seal when it’s cold. (Latex doesn’t cure well when it’s colder than 10°C/50°F.)
  • Snow and ice require special considerations.

We enjoy riding our bikes year-round, so we’ve developed components that perform well in wet and cold conditions, not just when it’s dry and warm. With the right equipment and skills, riding in all weather can be safe and enjoyable.

Further reading:

P.S.: I apologize for re-using the same opening photo. There aren’t many that show us cornering hard in the rain – when it’s wet and cold, we prefer keep going to stay warm, rather than stop for photos!

Continue Reading

The Biggest Bicycle Quarterly Ever

When we started putting together the Autumn Bicycle Quarterly, we realized that, for each article, we had more material than planned – longer stories, more photos, and new angles.

Usually, we test two bikes, but for this edition, we had the chance to ride five: two OPEN all-road bikes, plus the Trek Checkpoint in three different versions. We figured our readers would be interesting in Natsuko’s comparison between the men’s and women’s Checkpoints – especially since she preferred the men’s bike!

The two OPENs push the idea of the gravel bike to its outer limits: The U.P.P.E.R. is as light as most carbon racing bikes, while the WI.DE. rolls on tires as big as most mountain bikes. They made for a fascinating comparison, inviting us to look at it from different angles – and have three riders give their opinion on the bikes. The result is a whopping 26-page article. When I presented the story to Natsuko, BQ’s editor, I pointed out that this was just 13 pages per bike…

We had planned a story on this year’s Paris-Brest-Paris that focused on the ride itself. When the first photos of the Rene Herse team’s bikes leaked out on social media, people asked so many questions that we decided to do a bike feature, too. We quickly scheduled a studio photoshoot with Nicolas Joly that shows all three bikes in great detail.

Then Natsuko, who had followed PBP from Paris, shared her observations with us. “Did you know that all riders slow down after 30 hours?” she asked. We realized that by following more than 30 friends on the PBP tracking app, she got a unique insight into the ride. What she found surprised even those of us who had ridden PBP several times, so we persuaded her to write an article, too.

I’d been looking forward to interviewing Ted King. Casually talking to him, I appreciated his insights on what it’s like to race as a professional in Europe – and his ultra-positive, yet honest, attitude about the experience. Just as fascinating was how he got involved in gravel racing. Ansel Dickey contributed his stunning photos of gravel races in Kansas and Iceland. Squeezing all this wonderful content into the four pages allocated for this article would have been a shame.

The same thing happened when we visited Cherubim, the iconic Japanese framebuilder.  We got to see so many cool fixtures and tools… even a pantographing machine for engraving logos on components, lugs and other parts. We talked with Shin-ichi Konno, the owner of Cherubim, on what makes a great bike. He told us about matching the frame stiffness to the rider. He explained that this is especially important for Keirin racers, whose livelihoods depend on the performance of their bikes, and he finished the interview by stating: “A lifetime is not enough to learn everything there is about making bicycle frames.”

As a bonus, we got to photograph a frame Cherubim made for the most-winning racer in Keirin history. It pushes the art of framebuilding (and painting and chrome-plating) to rarely seen heights. Of course, we had to include all that content!

Where could we find space for all this content? We didn’t want to shorten Christopher Shand’s wonderful story of riding from France to Istanbul…

…nor take out our Project, Skill and Icon features, nor our technical article about how hookless rim and tubeless tire installation affect the safe pressure of your tires. At this point, it became clear: This would be our biggest edition ever – with no fewer than 128 pages.

Usually, when a magazine publishes a ‘biggest-ever,’ it’s to drive up newsstand sales. Additional advertisers are recruited to pay for the extra content (and benefit from the increased sales), an extra-splashy cover is designed, and an ad campaign runs just ahead of the release date.

Here at Bicycle Quarterly, newsstand sales and ads are not a big source of revenue. BQ is financed by our subscribers. When we decided to increase the page count, the most important question was: “Will the bigger magazine fit in the envelopes we use for our mailings?” A quick check confirmed that it would (barely), so we decided to go ahead. The extra cost of printing and mailing will be offset if more readers are tempted by all this great content. If you are a reader who has enjoyed this edition, please tell your friends! And if you’ve been thinking about subscribing to BQ, now is a great time to give it a try!

Click here to start your Bicycle Quarterly subscription with our biggest-ever edition.

Continue Reading

Tool Kit for Paris-Brest-Paris

Before I started the 750-mile (1200 km) Paris-Brest-Paris on a brand-new bike, I thought about the tools I needed to bring. After months of training and the expense of traveling to France, it would be a shame not to finish the ride because of a mechanical.

I love the feel of a lightweight bike. My new Rene Herse weighs just 10.3 kg (22.7 lb.) fully equipped with fenders, lights, racks and even the pump. I didn’t want to carry unnecessary weight. But I also know that a few grams wouldn’t make a significant difference in my PBP time, and not being able to fix a problem could end my ride.

How to decide which tools to bring? I realized that bike-related mishaps fall into three categories:

1. Avoidable Problems

Most problems can be avoided through careful design and good workmanship. Rather than fix problems, I prefer to make sure that they won’t happen in the first place. This is especially important for issues that will stop my ride because they are impossible to fix on the road – things like broken frames and failures of major components.

The components of my new bike use quality materials, good design and careful workmanship. Most have been tested thoroughly, both in the lab and during 100,000s of miles on the road. Even the prototype rear derailleur has covered thousands of miles during 1.5 years of testing. I was confident that all the parts of my bike were unlikely to fail.

Bolts coming loose also fall into this category. The attachments for fenders, rack and other parts on my new bike are based on decades of experience. Bolts are dimensioned correctly and made out of appropriate materials: Steel where strength is paramount; titanium where bolts are large because they need to hold big parts (like brake pad posts and water bottle cages); aluminum in one rare instance where the bolts just hold the rear bake arms in place. All these bolts are unlikely to cause trouble.

Careful assembly is equally important. I used beeswax on most screws, which first lubricates the threads – important to get the tightening torque right – and then hardens to act as a thread-locking compound. (Crank bolts are lubricated with grease due to their high torque and large size.) There is no Loctite anywhere on the bike, because it’s not needed with good design.

2. Wear and Tear

Most parts will fail eventually. For a ride as important as Paris-Brest-Paris, it makes sense to replace those that are easy to replace: tires, tubes and cables. With a new bike, these were not going to be an issue. Otherwise, I’d have replaced them before heading to France. On a bike that has seen a lot of use, I’d also check rims (or brake rotors) for wear, as well as brake pads.

Spokes on well-built wheels last 10,000s of miles – longer with wide tires, since they cushion the loads that reach the wheels – but eventually, they will fatigue and break. It was nice to have a fresh set of wheels for the ride. Otherwise, I would have carried a spare spoke and nipple, plus a spoke wrench.

3. Inevitables

Some problems are difficult to eliminate, but easy to fix. These are the only problems that I was prepared to fix on the road.

Flat tires fall into this category. They are not likely on the clean backroads of France: In six PBP, I’ve had just two flat tires. Both occurred during the same rainy 2007 ride, when I used part-worn tires in an attempt to gain speed, before we developed the Extralight casings. Still, no matter how few flats we get – whether it’s a flat every 3,600 km on my Rene Herse Extralights or every 10,000 km on ultra-tough, puncture-resistant tires, we need to be prepared for a flat tire.

I carried two spare tubes, not because that is the most flats I ever got in a single PBP, but because there is always a possibility of double pinch flats: Most roads in PBP are smooth, but there can always be construction sites, small curbs… I also carried a piece of tire casing as a tire boot. At night, I might run over something big and sharp that could cut my tire. I haven’t cut a tire in more than a decade, but I know it can happen. (An energy bar wrapper works as a tire boot in a pinch, but a dollar bill doesn’t.) My bike carries a pump on the seatstay, so I didn’t need to include one in my toolkit.

There was one other concern: On my new bike, the saddle height might need fine-tuning. For that, I would need a 5 mm wrench. And since I have a 4/5 mm combined wrench, I brought it. That way, I could adjust a fender stay if it got bent in a fall.

On bikes with narrow chains and integrated shift levers, chains can break. If my bike had that type of drivetrain, I might bring a lightweight chain tool. On my ‘manual’ bikes, I feel the gears engage, and I’ve never broken a chain.

During the 56+ hours on the road, I didn’t need any of my tools. My trouble-free bike brought me peace of mind. I was free to concentrate on pedaling well. My control stops were focused on getting food and rest, rather than messing with my bike. It made for an uneventful PBP, and that was a good thing.

What tools do you bring on long rides?

Continue Reading

Video: Open WI.DE. vs U.P.P.E.R.

For the Autumn Bicycle Quarterly, we tested two amazing OPEN all-road bikes. The brand-new WI.DE. can run 60 mm-wide tires – wider than many mountain bikes. The ultralight U.P.P.E.R. is a true racing machine – and yet it handles even rough trails with confidence.

Which would you prefer? Enjoy the video of these bikes in action, then read the full story in the Autumn Bicycle Quarterly.

Subscribe today to get your copy of the 128-page Autumn BQ!

Continue Reading

Gravel Before It Was a ‘Category’

I’ve been wanting to thank Bicycle Retailer and Industry News for the nice article about Rene Herse on the front cover of a recent edition. It’s not often that the media talks about the contributions of small companies, especially those without a big ad budget. BRAIN’s Steve Frothingham wrote that Rene Herse “has nurtured the [gravel] category’s growth since before it was a category.”

Steve and I met when he reported about an industry meeting, where tire and rim makers discussed new standards to address new, wider tires and rims, as well as tubeless technologies. The article about that meeting also made the front page. It shows how far we’ve come in the 13 years since Bicycle Quarterly coined the term ‘all-road bike.’ Back then, high-performance drop-bar bikes with wide tires simply didn’t exist, and we knew that without a good name, our ideas would never gain traction. Now the industry (finally) is creating new standards for these bikes!

We’re excited that what used to be a ‘niche’ is now enjoyed by so many cyclists: Rides that combine paved backroads and gravel trails, far from traffic and fully immersed in the experience. It’s a great time to be a cyclist!

Click here to read the full article on BRAIN’s web site.

Continue Reading

Rene Herse Fenders in Black

In the northern hemisphere, we are moving into the season where we need good fenders: They can make the difference between enjoying the ride and enduring it. The Pacific Northwest, where we live and ride, is known for its long rainy season. We cycle year-round, so it’s natural that we obsess about fenders.

We’re excited to offer our all our Rene Herse fenders in black: smooth, fluted and hammered, in 700C, 650B and 26″ sizes. In the past, black fenders were prone to scratching. The silver aluminum showed through the paint, making the fenders unsightly. Now Honjo, who makes our Rene Herse fenders, has improved the manufacturing process: The black coating is much more durable. We had been waiting for this, and now we offer all our fenders models in black as well as the classic polished aluminum.

The photos show prototypes on the bikes of our Paris-Brest-Paris team. They still were equipped with silver stays, but now we have black stays in stock to match the fenders.

With the right fenders, riding in the rain can be fun. Once you eliminate the spray from the road, you realize: There isn’t that much water falling from the sky. It’s the deluge spraying up from the road onto your feet, legs and backside that can make cycling in the rain so miserable. Your backside is easy to protect – even the most basic clip-on fenders do that. However, most fenders do little to protect your feet and legs.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYiHMPNtJyU&feature=youtu.be?rel=0&w=640&h=360]

Aluminum fenders work much better than plastic ones: They wrap further around the tire, and the rolled edges keep the water inside, rather than having it drip onto your feet. Both fender blades and stays are stiffer, so the fenders are quiet even when you ride over rough roads. Mounted correctly, they last for decades of hard use. (We provide detailed, illustrated installation instructions with our Rene Herse fenders.)

Honjo in Japan make the best fenders in the world. We’ve worked with them to spec our Rene Herse fenders for the ultimate performance. Our front and rear fenders are longer than usual to provide better coverage. This greatly reduces the spray that goes onto your feet, your legs, and your drivetrain.

We use our own hardware to attach the fender stays. Our 7 mm bolts are only as long as necessary, so they don’t stick into the fender, where they can catch debris. The nuts with their built-in serrated washer make sure your stays remain tight. Small details like this add up to create fenders that you can install and forget – until you are hit by a rainstorm, and you realize that being cold and miserable isn’t a necessity.

At Rene Herse Cycles, we’re all about performance. Our fenders are already among the lightest in the world – much lighter than most plastic fenders (which use heavy steel stays). If you really care about weight, we offer tubular aluminum stays that save another 35 g without any loss in strength. The tubular stays are now available in black, too.

To mount your front fender noise-free and safely, we strongly recommend a third attachment point in front of the fork crown. Rene Herse racks have an integrated fender mount. For rack-less bikes, we offer individual stays and hardware so you can install your fenders properly without having to buy multiple fender sets to get all the hardware you need.

Honjo recently introduced a fender reinforcement. It goes under the seatstay bridge, where it distributes the stress. It’s patterned after the reinforcement that Rene Herse used on many of his bikes.

Even without the reinforcement, well-made and properly mounted aluminum fenders last as long as the bikes they are mounted to. Most Rene Herses made in the 1940s and 1950s still wear their original fenders – and many of them have been ridden hard.

Further reading:

Continue Reading