Cranks have landedJan Heine
It’s been a long wait, but we have good news: Rene Herse cranks have arrived. We’ve got 171 mm arms, and the 165 and 177 mm arms are at the polisher. They’ll be here soon.
In an age of integrated spindles and carbon cranks, you may wonder why many riders prefer Rene Herse cranks. It all comes down to performance. There are many good cranks out there, but none offer the same combination of useful features:
For most cyclists, a narrow Q-factor allows putting out more power. (This was shown in a controlled study at the University of Birmingham.) It’s definitely true for me – the almost effortless spin on my favorite bikes is due in large part to the narrow ‘stance’ of the pedals. For example, my PBP bike has a Q factor of just 139 mm. On my Oregon Outback bike (above), the Q factor is 144 mm, even though the cranks have to fit around 54 mm tires and beefy chainstays. The Oregon Outback bike is still narrower than most of today’s road cranks. And ‘gravel’ cranks rarely measure below 160 mm.
Chainring choice: Customizing your chainrings means you have exactly the right gears for your riding. You want the gears you use most in the middle of the rear cassette, so you can adjust to slight uphills, changing winds or a pickup in pace simply by shifting one or two gears in the rear, without a front shift. For most riders, that means smaller rings than what what most makers offer.
Rene Herse cranks are available with almost unlimited chainring choices: between 42 and 52 teeth for the big ring and 24 to 44 teeth for the small ring. We also offer 40-tooth One-By rings. (More One-By chainrings are in development.) That’s one of the biggest selections you’ll find anywhere.
For Paris-Brest-Paris with its fast pacelines and (sometimes) tailwinds, I run a 48×33. For our rides in the Cascades, I swap the rings for 46×30. For the Oregon Outback, I used 44×28 during my first attempt, but went for 42×26 for the FKT to get a slightly smaller range for the steep night-time climbs in the Ochoco Mountains. The rings are easy to swap – you don’t even need to take off the cranks!
When we designed our 12-speed chainrings, we tested all chainrings on the market. We found that some work better than others, and we benchmarked the very best – made by a certain company from Osaka in Japan. It took two years of R&D to develop the ramps and pins in our chainrings, but the result are faster shifts, less risk of chainsuck and a more pleasant riding experience.
Our cranks meet the highest EN ‘Racing Bike’ standards for fatigue resistance. Most cranks from the big makers do, but almost none of the smaller ’boutique’ cranks meet this standard.
Why are Rene Herse cranks stronger? The shape of our cranks is optimized with Finite Element Analysis, putting material where it’s needed, but no extra where it adds weight or, worse, can contribute to stress risers. In addition to the optimized design, we use the best manufacturing techniques. We forge our cranks, rather than CNC machine them out of large blocks of aluminum. Forging means that the cranks are smashed into their shape by a huge press. This aligns the grain of the aluminum, resulting in greater strength. However, that strength would be lost if the cranks were machined to different lengths, so we use different forging dies for each length. This ‘net shape forging’ ensures that the strength of the forging is not compromised by the machining afterward. Net shape forging is the most expensive way to make cranks – forging dies are a huge investment, and we need one for each crank length – but it’s the only way to make a superlight crank that is safe for hard riding on rough roads over many years.
We offer a 10-year warranty on our cranks – the longest of any maker. We want you to be confident that your cranks can handle any adventures you plan on your bike.
The minimalist design of our cranks makes them superlight: A three-bolt spider is all you need. (Two is not enough, four or five is more than necessary.) Slender arms don’t just look elegant – they save significant weight. When J. P. Weigle’s bike at the Concours de Machines weighed just 9.07 kg (20.0 lb) with a fenders, lights, a rack and even a pump (pedals and bottle cages, too), many observers were surprised. The Rene Herse cranks on the Concours bike were reprofiled slightly and holes were drilled into the chainrings to save a little more weight. Even left standard, Rene Herse cranks are among the lightest ever made. (And we now offer titanium crank bolts for them, too.)
There are many good cranks on the market, but none that offer the combination of features that make Rene Herse cranks special. Our cranks were designed for the type of riding we do – not road racing, but long rides over challenging terrain. We’re glad they are back in stock. Chainrings are going into production, too, so the full program will be back soon. Since we assemble each crank with chainrings to order, please allow some extra time until your new cranks ship. Thank you!
Photos: Rugile Kaladyte (Photos 1, 2, 4); Nicolas Joly (Photo 3); Mark Vande Kamp (Photo 5)