Reviews of the René Herse Book

Reviews of the René Herse Book

The René Herse book has been in circulation for a few months, both in the English and the French editions. The best part of writing the book has been the great feedback from our readers. It’s nice to see that the book appeals to so many different cyclists.
The surviving riders who rode on the Herse team (above) are ecstatic – this is, after all, their story – but even so, it was gratifying to see their smiles as they paged through the book and remembered rides and adventures that happened long ago.
Even more enjoyable is the reaction of readers who did not know much about René Herse before picking up the book. Mike Deme is the editor of Adventure Cyclist:
“I just wanted to drop a note to say how impressed we are with this book. Really fantastic. The photos are terrific and the words are interesting. We’ve got it on the meeting table in our creative studio and people keep hovering around it. Great stuff!”

Constance Winters publishes the popular Lovely Bicycle blog. She had this to say:
“I am stunned by the Rene Herse book. I cannot put it down. This book is much more than I expected. The amount of work you must have done to do this research and put together this narrative, with all the photos and illustrations… Just amazing.”
I was anticipating Dale Brown’s reaction with suspense. As the editor of the Classic Rendezvous web site, his love is for all things Campagnolo, yet the René Herse book shows a totally different world of classic bikes. I guess I needn’t have worried:
“This book is HUGE. Amazing”
Grant Petersen, the founder of Rivendell Bicycle Works, wrote a whole blog entry about the book:
“Wow, what a book! René Herse is an educational, attitude-changing, enlightening, fascinating, detailed testament to the man who contributed more useful beauty to bicycles than anybody else.”
Click here to read Grant’s full review in his own engaging voice.
And then there is a friend’s wife – not a cyclist herself – who told me that she loved looking at the photos, especially of the neat clothes the cyclotourists wore.
When I started this project, I wanted to write a book that appeals to all cyclists, not just fans of René Herse or collectors of classic bikes. In the end, I cannot take much credit – the story and the photos are so amazing that it wasn’t hard to make a compelling book out of it. Even so, I am glad to have achieved my goal. The story of René Herse and his riders is full of joy, friendship, wonderful rides and great bikes. I hope it will inspire future generations of cyclists.
Click here to find out more about the book or order your copy.
René Herse also is available in a French edition.

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Comments (19)

  • Carl Otto Wollin

    I ordered this book in limited edition. I’m excited to say at least. Its allways inspiring to open the book. The story, the pictures and print quality is well worth the price. I hope that this is not The last one, seeing forward to more publications from you.
    Carl Otto Wollin

    November 3, 2013 at 1:37 am
  • David Pearce

    Merci, Monsieur, and Danke! You have made a superlative book in what is already an outstanding field. And dedicated people are drawn to things of excellent quality (dare I say, “like what they used to be”?), like quality paper, thrilling photographs and expert writing.
    I make the comparison that bicycles and bicycling are like the TED idea, that beautiful mixture of technology, entertainment, and design.
    I think you should explore giving a TED Talk, to take your message further.

    November 3, 2013 at 5:30 am
    • Dana PointCyclist

      Great idea, ted talk by Jan would be enlightening to many people, tourism without cars in France, efficient modem rando bikes and how they are not much different from long ago etc. etc..

      November 3, 2013 at 1:29 pm
  • Johan Larsson

    A little side step regarding the neat clothing of the cyclotourists – how the heck did they fasten the pants up under the knees? Straps, strings, clamps, or just tucked under the long socks? Were the pants maybe “special” ones with a sewn canal for strings at the end? Always wondered about this thing regarding old cyclists… Sorry for not being quite on topic, hope it’s ok…!

    November 3, 2013 at 7:55 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      “Golf pants” or knickerbockers were the pants for sporting men and women during the 1930s. I don’t know how they worked – I suspect they had elastics. I do want a set, though.

      November 3, 2013 at 4:24 pm
      • Ulrik Haugen

        The skiing knickers i bought about five years ago are tightened with velcro under the knee. I’ve also seen variants that tighten with straps and with snap fasteners. The dress knickers i made myself from a pair of dress pants are tightened with buttons.

        November 3, 2013 at 11:36 pm
        • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

          What we call knickers today are much tighter-fitting than the “golf pants” that were popular in the 1930s and 1940s. I have a few pairs of the Bicycle Fixation knickers, too (we tested a pair a few years ago), and they are great, but I still want a pair of looser-fitting “golf pants.”

          November 4, 2013 at 5:22 am
      • Christoph

        Being a former member of the German Wandervogel youth movement, I had three sets of knickerbockers (“plus fours”, as they are called in England because they extend roughly four inches below the knee; the ones pictured in your book as well as mine are even longer, maybe six ito eight inches) tailor made about 15-20 years ago. While they are the perfect legwear for winter hikes or backcountry skiing, I have always found them inappropriate for sportive cycling because of the wide legs that act like sails. Also, make sure they don’t get soaked during a ride, as they will take ages to dry, and are very uncomfortable to ride in when wet. They look great, though, and are a must if you are planning to attend events that require historic costumes from the 1930’s to 1950’s.
        On my plus-fours/sixes the leg is fastened using a strap and buckle system, but I’ve seen buttons on a friend’s pair. Elastic rubber seems to be popular as well, but definitely doesn’t hold up the leg tightly enough for cycling, and needs to be replaced every now and then as it tends to wear out pretty quickly.

        November 5, 2013 at 3:05 am
      • Christoph

        I don’t know of any shops or companies selling stock plus fours/sixes, but would recommend to get yours tailor made anyway because style and specifications can vary quite a bit, in particular if you want them for cycling. Two of mine were made by Kuhn Maßkonfektion (tailored garments). The “Kniebundhose” (knickerbocker) models were never displayed on the website, though; I suppose they still make them if you ask them nicely next time you’re in Germany.
        While not cheap (roughly $200 per pair), both are very well made from woolen fabric. When selecting a fabric, note that the sturdier and more water repellent fabrics are likely to cause itching even if you are not sensitive to wool or other natural fabrics.
        The third one I have was made by a close friend who is a self-taught but very experienced tailor. Asking one of your friends who are into sewing and making DIY clothing might be an alternative. A pattern is available here.

        November 5, 2013 at 6:26 am
    • David Pearce

      I’ve got a nice pair of Knickerbockers from They aren’t baggy like the couple’s in the the tandem photo above; Mine have three buttons on the cuff to adjust to different needs, I’ll bet a lot of the originals had buttons too, or perhaps fabric straps? Mine were very comfortable when I went mountain biking today, using Nike soccer socks and shin guards under. My sister still beat me on her $30 Goodwill full-suspension, but with my pants and Papillon (Arlington, Va.) Cycles merino wool jersey, I had the best looking kit out there…..

      November 3, 2013 at 5:34 pm
  • Christophe

    Really a great book, I could not put it down. I got the French version, I would have bought the original version anyway (this would probably have helped me practice my English), but I really wanted the French version to be printed, I think the former Herse team members deserved to have it in a language they can read. Merci pour eux d’avoir fait la traduction ! (Excellent translation work, by the way, the French text is really well written)

    November 4, 2013 at 1:10 pm
  • Paul Ahart

    This book was “all I wanted for Christmas” last year, and when it arrived a bit later, I could not have been more pleased. I have read every word, and admired every photograph. Such a world of cycling and of superb French bicycles I had never imagined. For years I had equated French bikes with the $130 junk coming to America in the 1960s and ’70s. Never did I dream that incredible machines rivaling and in many way surpassing, the best coming from Italy, were being produced.
    Jan, thank you so much for the love and work you put into that volume. I will certainly treasure my copy for many years to come.

    November 4, 2013 at 8:51 pm
  • Bubba

    I want Rene Andre’s short sleeve jersey on Page 65. He’s wearing it in other shots as well. Those matching ‘team’ jerseys on the tandem events are also splendid. That Rene Andre jersey is the best, though, in my opinion.

    November 5, 2013 at 7:50 am
  • trevor

    Jan, regarding the knickerbockers, Hiroshi of Jitensha Studio in Berkeley CA had these ones made up to his specs:

    November 7, 2013 at 1:53 pm
    • marmotte27

      As it says in the description, these are modelled on the mountaineering ‘Bundhosen’, which in turn stem from the longer version of the alpine ‘lederhosen’, relatively tightfitting an short. They don’t have the same style than the ‘golfpants’ modelled by the cyclists in the book, which are however certainly less suited to cycling. I don’t think anyone actually rode with these (the pictures in the book seem always to be promotional pictures (or it’s bystanders who wear them, not the cyclists).
      For practical reasons I don’t really see these pants coming back, just as I don’ t think randonneurs or cyclotourists will restrict the ‘regular shorts over bibshorts’ custom.

      November 7, 2013 at 9:19 pm
      • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

        People did ride in the “golf pants” – I have seen many photos. Also, consider that they didn’t have cars, so even for the promotional photos, they must have got to the location somehow. Unless they walked, they rode.

        November 8, 2013 at 5:48 am
  • Don Genovese

    I received my book and I’m complete delighted with it. You did a marvelous job. I will treasure this book and read it for the rest of my life. Thank you for your effort.
    Don Genovese
    Montara, CA 94037

    November 8, 2013 at 6:41 am
  • Jimmy Livengood

    Jan, I did a search for “goodwood revival clothing” which didn’t bring up too much, but gave some hints.
    I’d guess “vintage golf clothing” would also generate some leads on finding plus fours that would work for you.

    November 9, 2013 at 10:54 pm

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