René Herse Cranks: Prices and Availability

The new René Herse cranks have entered production. The arms are being forged, the chainrings are being machined, and the crank bolts are being made, each by specialist manufacturers who are among the best in their trade. The photo above shows the final production version of the arms and chainrings. (The crank bolt still is a prototype.)
We plan to have the cranks in stock for the Holidays. We also have finalized the prices: $385 for single- and double-chainring cranksets, and $440 for a triple. We will offer tandem cranksets as well.
The double-chainring cranks are designed for a 113 mm JIS bottom bracket, resulting in a tread (Q factor) of 142 mm with a standard chainline. (If you ride mostly on the big ring, you can use a shorter BB spindle to move the cranks inward a bit, if your frame permits. This will reduce the tread/Q factor by up to 6 mm.)
The new René Herse cranks are compatible with many bottom brackets, including the excellent SKF bottom bracket available from Compass Bicycles.
I am looking forward to putting these cranks on my new randonneur bike!

22 Responses to René Herse Cranks: Prices and Availability

  1. JE October 12, 2011 at 8:36 am #

    Will there be a significant difference between the single/double and triple? From what I understand the arm would be identical and the width of the chainring bolts would vary. This would make conversion trivial.

    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly October 12, 2011 at 8:43 am #

      Doubles and triples use the same arms. A conversion just requires an extra chainring and longer chainring bolts, plus a spacer between inner and middle ring.
      The single arms are different, because they don’t have a shelf on the insider of the spider to locate the small chainring.

  2. Joshua Bryant October 12, 2011 at 8:36 am #

    Awesome! What chainring sizes will be available?

  3. Andre October 12, 2011 at 8:43 am #

    Are there any currently manufactured front derailleurs you recommend for use with these cranks sets?

    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly October 12, 2011 at 8:54 am #

      The gap between chainring and crankarm is large enough that you can use most current front derailleurs. (It is larger than the originals, mostly because the arms needs to clear the chain even when it runs on the smallest cog of a 10-speed rear cassette.)
      Most modern “road” front derailleurs are designed for a 53-tooth big chainring, so the cage has a larger radius than you need for a 48 or smaller ring. It still works fine, but doesn’t look great. A few companies offer “compact” front derailleurs with a smaller radius.

  4. Kathryn Hall October 12, 2011 at 8:54 am #

    Those crank bolts look very nice. What are your considerations about them?

    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly October 12, 2011 at 9:00 am #

      They are copies of the original Herse crank bolts, except they use a 15 mm wrench. We also specified a standard 22 mm extractor, rather than the 23 mm that Herse (and later TA) used. This means that standard tools work on these cranks.
      Of course, you can use any crank bolt on the new René Herse cranks, for example, if you prefer an Allen head. The extractor threads are deeper than the original Herse, TA, etc. They are the same depth as Sugino, Campagnolo, etc., so the bolt head will not protrude much, if at all.
      We designed these cranks so that they can be used on modern bikes without too many special considerations.

  5. barbour Warren October 12, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    The cranks look very nice. Do you plan on having them anodized?

    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly October 12, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

      Anodizing is used to protect aluminum that is either too soft or not corrosion-resistant enough to be exposed to the elements. For example, 7000-series aluminum must be anodized if used outdoors. Our cranks are made from 6066 aluminum, which naturally resists corrosion, yet offers excellent strength and durability. Thus, the cranks do not need to be anodized (and won’t be).
      Anodizing on cranks rubs off where ankles, booties or toe straps touch them, making them unsightly. Scratches also show up on anodized cranks, and there is little you can do about them. René Herse cranks will not tarnish, but if your cranks get scratched up with use, you can easily sand and polish them to make them as good as new.
      The chainrings are made from extra-hard 7075 aluminum for better wear resistance. They are anodized to protect them from corrosion.

  6. seth vidal October 12, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    Is there any reason this design would not support a quad or a quint ring in the front? You would need longer bolts of course but the design I was thinking of would mean you could have a tandem with the timing chain all on the same side and still have a triple or more.

    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly October 12, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

      Anything is possible. It’s hard for me to see the need for more than three chainrings. The tandem idea is interesting, many 1930s tandems had this setup.

  7. Ryan October 12, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

    Nice! Looking forward to getting one.
    What length arms will you be offering?

  8. Bubba October 12, 2011 at 5:10 pm #

    Those are just splendid. You must be very excited to seeing this project move forward. Will you have a pre-order program?

  9. Ben October 13, 2011 at 2:46 am #

    The $2650.00 someone paid for this ( RH crankset certainly makes your price point look pretty good Jan! b 🙂

    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly October 13, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

      We did not orient ourselves on collector pieces, but just calculated what our cost is, plus a little less than the standard markup. (We hope to recover the investment in the forging dies and other development costs over larger quantities, rather than price this as a “premium” item.)
      Almost all other high-end cranks are more expensive, because other companies have more overhead:
      Sugino OX801D: $ 530 (includes BB).
      TA Pro 5 vis: $ 590
      – Shimano Dura-Ace: $ 500+ (includes BB)
      – Rene Herse: $ 385
      You can get budget cranks for less, but you’ll have to sacrifice quality, function and/or performance.

  10. Seth Vidal October 13, 2011 at 11:49 am #

    How much will the chainrings cost on their own? For example if I wanted to buy some replacement or other-sized rings.

  11. azorch October 13, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    This crankset is simply drop dead gorgeous.
    I must also tell you that every since the latest BQ arrived in the mail this past week, I’ve been thumbing back to the pages on your new bike. It is stunningly beautiful and I’m endlessly fascinated with the background details.

  12. Kathryn Hall October 14, 2011 at 8:25 am #

    I’ll have to display my ignorance openly here. You mention using a 113mm bb for a tread of 142mm, but what size tire/fender will that work for? It’s hard to imagine a bb that short if you have 58mm fenders, unless the chainstays are crimped to a hair’s width.

    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly October 14, 2011 at 9:29 am #

      With wide tires, it can be difficult to make tire and fender fit between bottom bracket shell, chainstays, fenders and cranks, without moving the crankarms outward like on a mountain bike.
      Builders usually curve the chainstays, indent them a bit for the tire (or use oval stays), and it all will fit well. On my new bike, I use a shorter BB spindle to move the chainline to the big ring, since I use that most of the time (and I never use the small-small combination). So I used a 107 mm spindle, which brings the tread (Q factor) to 136 mm. My fenders are indented a bit where they pass between the chainstays, but there still is plenty of room between tire and fender/stay. The stays are not indented excessively, either. It all fits very nicely, and there are sufficient clearances everywhere, yet no space is wasted. (The latter part is crucial, and I chose my builder in part because they know how to resolve this issue.)
      Our crankarms actually do sit a little further outward than original Herse arms, because they need to work with 10-speed cassettes rather than 6-speed. (As a result, the tread/Q factor is about 3-4 mm wider than the originals.) The BB spindle length does not affect this – it is relatively short simply because we curved the crankarms slightly to offer more ankle clearance and use commonly available BBs. Especially for a triple, the spindle would get awfully long otherwise (126+ mm).