Customer Suggestions, Ideas and Wishes

Posted by: Jan Heine Category: Uncategorized

Customer Suggestions, Ideas and Wishes

It’s been a year since we’ve introduced our Suggestion Form as part of our revamped customer service. Twelve months and more than 600 (!) suggestions later, we can say: Our customers have a lot of great ideas—and quite a few far-out ones, too!

Earlier this week, we discussed the most popular suggestion: “Bring back the all-black 650B x 48 mm Switchback Hill Extralight tires.” That was a no-brainer, and the tires, plus a few other popular blackwalls (700C x 42 Hurricane Ridge; 26″ x 1.8″ Naches Pass) are in stock now.

Here is a look at some of the most interesting suggestions, and a little commentary of how likely these are to become reality.

Tire suggestions headed the list. There were many requests for smaller wheel sizes. One customer would love to see supple 16″ tires, and there are quite a few riders who are looking to upgrade their 20″ wheels. They seem evenly split between the versatile 406 mm size and the ‘Performance’ 451 mm size. (Yes, there are two different 20″ wheel sizes!)

Will Rene Herse make smaller tires? I’ve been fascinated by Japanese mini-velos since riding my friend Meisei’s C. S. Hirose (above) up Jikkoku Pass on a beautiful autumn day. That bike (and the report in Bicycle Quarterly) helped spark a little trend for mini-velos in North America. It would make sense to create tires for these bikes, plus many others. And let’s not forget: BMX is an Olympic sport, and there’s definitely a need for better tires.

At the other end of the spectrum were calls for bigger wheel sizes. One (potential) customer asked for 32” and 36” gravel tires. He was realistic about his request: “It may be a small market, but it’s in desperate need of good tire options. I’d consider making my next touring bike a 32”er (or maybe a 36”er), if there were good tire options.”

From a technical perspective, many ‘experts’ believe that 700C wheels roll faster than smaller wheels. If that’s true, why stop there? Even bigger wheels should be even faster!

Unfortunately, there’s no evidence that large wheels actually roll faster, at least on road and gravel bikes. All tests show that wheel size doesn’t matter, because tires deform and absorb obstacles, rather than lifting the bike over them. There is a downside to larger wheels: They make bikes less nimble, and many 700C gravel bikes are already a bit more stable than is ideal. All this means that we’ll leave the introduction of larger wheel sizes to manufacturers who care more about marketing than real-world performance.

A number of customers have asked for narrower versions of our dual-purpose knobbies. Many riders have older bikes with limited tire clearances. Our narrowest knobbies, the 38 mm Steilacooms, are still too wide for many of these bikes.

There are other knobby tires in narrower widths, but they have smaller knobs that squirm and flex and don’t perform like the computer-optimized knobs of our tires. Rene Herse dual-purpose knobbies have taken the guesswork out of tire choice: When you don’t know what lies ahead in a race or adventure, just run Rene Herse dual-purpose knobbies. Even on pavement, you don’t give up any speed or cornering traction compared to slicks. And when things get rough, the large knobs dig deep and find traction where other tires just spin. It would be nice to make that performance accessible to more bikes. We’re all for keeping beloved bikes on the road, rather than always chasing the latest and newest…

One of the most popular requests is for tubeless-compatible road tires. Our customers love their Rene Herse tires on their bikepacking, gravel and all-road bikes, and they want to experience the same speed and comfort on their road bikes, too. We’re already offering road tires—Francesca Selva (above) has been racing them in European pro races—but the narrower ones (≤32 mm) aren’t tubeless-compatible.

Supple, tubeless and high pressure are almost mutually exclusive. Wide tires don’t need high pressures, so supple tires can be run tubeless without problems. It’s different for road tires: Many riders need more than 60 psi (4 bar)—the max. tubeless pressure of current Rene Herse tires.

Other makers solve this technical challenge with a rubber liner and stiff sidewalls, but the resulting tires are slower and ride harsher than their tubed counterparts. That doesn’t make much sense to us. At Rene Herse, we won’t release a tubeless-compatible tire unless it offers the same speed and comfort as our current road tires. In other words: ‘Good enough’ is not enough when it comes to Rene Herse tires. That means R&D takes longer, but the end result will be worth the wait.

One customer had an interesting idea: Couldn’t SON generator hubs incorporate a speed sensor? Attaching a sensor to your bike’s hub and fork blade is not very elegant. Generator hubs already generate a frequency with each wheel revolution, similar to the output of separate speed sensors. Why not combine the two? We’ve passed along this suggestion to Schmidt in Germany, and we’ll see where they take this.

A frequent request is for our book The All-Road Bike Revolution in other languages. We have customers all over the world, and it’s much easier to read a technical book—even one that’s written to be easy and fun to read—in your native tongue.

That’s why the German edition Ein Rad für Alles (‘One Bike for Everthing’) was a high priority from the beginning of this project. More recently, we’ve collaborated with a team of cycling enthusiast from Tokyo on a Japanese edition. Translating this text-heavy 246-page book is a huge undertaking—the German translation required two months of full-time work. We’re actively looking for publishers who would like to publish this best-selling book in other languages. (If you know a publisher, suggest it to them, please. They can get in touch via our Suggestions Form.)

We’re excited to make The All-Road Bike Revolution available to readers world-wide. The German edition is published by our friends at Covadonga; the Japanese edition by Yama to Keikoku Sha (translates to: ‘Mountain and Valley Publishing’). The English edition is available from Rene Herse Cycles.

Keep those suggestions coming! We enjoy reading all of them, and some will definitely make it into our program in the future.

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