Ok...call me stupid, if you want, but twenty-four hours and goodness kno ws how many emails on this subject later, I still don't get the plot. It mu st have something to do with the American psyche !
Is this how the story is going to go when the production...hand-building of the new RH's ,starts? Mark starts to build a frame as he ha s always built them, to a very high standard I am told, with great attentio n to detail, and to the client's personal specification or at least his phy sical measurements; he selects the tubes, fettles the lugs, mitres the tubes and the stays etc etc..brazes the whole thing up..adds the braze-on bits..finishes the whole assembly..polishes and burnishes etc etc .sprays i t to a fine lustre and then.... he is going to either coach-paint on or add decals with the name "Rene Herse". ...when what he has built is an excelle nt Mark Nobillete.? What's the point.? If I did that in the UK m y clients would have me in front of the Trading Standards Board answering s ome pretty pointed questions. ..Even if you can point to the certificate en titling you to use the name, it still doesn't make the frame a Herse...just a Herse look-alike.
if there is such a demand for Herse-type frames in the States, why not j ust simply build a model, styled on Herse's designs and call it the Nobille te "Modele Rene Herse". or "Retro-Renes"? That, to use a word in popular po litical usage these days in the U" would be more "transparent", not t hat I am in any way suggesting that Mike and Mark are into counte rfeiting Herses as some builders in the Uk have counterfeited Hetchins.
Another very puzzling problem for me is the reverence for and the almost..yes..worship of...Rene Herse frames that many American cyclist s, and particularly some of the List members display. And yet it seems that this same reverence is in itself a little fickle..witness the slight difference in opinion in some recent CR contributions about whe ther a road racing Herse is really as good as a touring or camping one. All that Rene or one of his artisans did was to choose different gauges of tub es, possibly different lugs ( I notice that the RH currently on Ebay has pr essed lugs not cast ones), different drop-outs, and possibly fork blades an d stays and cut ,mitre, file, braze, fettle, finish etc..all with the same level of skill and dedication as they did on the touring frames. Clearly Rene produced frames according to customer demand and from what I have read in French cycling Press the demand for serious touring and campin g bikes declined seriously in the 50s, as cars became more affordable, and demand for racing frames tended to increase.
I have spent large parts of my free time in and around France for the pa st fifty-five years..and for the last thirty of those I have traded with do zens of French manufacturers, distributors, frame-builders/constructeurs et c..and I have to admit that on odd occasions during conversations acc ompanied by a "vin rouge" or two..I have heard the names of Singer and Hers e mentioned, but never with anything approaching the same sense of awe that I encounter on this List. In comparison with the UK, France is a lar ge country, but nevertheless I think that frame-purchasing customers on bot h sides of the Channel have, over the years, displayed similar trends and b uying habits.
Many French people only acknowledge Paris in the sense that it is the ad ministrative capital of France, and as such the Parisians have to be tolera ted. Even in this age of cheap flights between regional capitals, of TGVs , of fast autoroutes I still met up with an enormous number of French folk w ho have never been and even worse have no inclination to visit Paris. "Pari s is for the Parisians...not for the French !" is a not uncommon sayi ng. French cyclists tended to purchase their hand-built frames from l ocal builders..and in the heyday of French cycling there were hundreds of v ery competent builders in the capital cities of the French regions and depa rtments, such as Lyon, St Etienne, Nice, Dijon, Lille, Macon, Grenoble etc. If you lived in the centre or south or north of France,why bother to travel all the way to Paris to get a Herse when you could cycle over to visit Reiss, Longoni, Routens, Follis, Ondet, Errard, Janicaud, Duret, w hose products were probably perceived to be the equal of the Singers and He rses of Paris, assuming that is that the "paysans" of France at large had e ver heard of the latter.
I have a question to pose to the List..and it isn't a rhetorical on e. If Herse frames and bikes are so good.. so desirable so renowned a nd so much an integral part of the French "patrimoine".then why has no Fren ch builder ( and there are still some KOF ones still working in France prod ucing some excellent frames ) sought to relaunch the marque? Perhaps the id ea never occurred to M Chollet of Follis, or Jean-Paul Routens of Cycles Ro utens, or Daniel Cattin, or Alain Michel, or Jean-Sebastien Joffres, or M B esson, or M Genet, or Alain Tourral, or Pithioud, or Gilles Berthoud?
Why does it take a couple of Americans to keep the name alive? Would it be the same if, after their respective retirements at some future date, the name of Brian Bayliss were to be stuck on to frames built by a crafts man in the suburbs of Paris? Would English-made and transferred Richa rd Sachs frames be like the real thing that so many discerning America n cyclists now wait years to own? I really think not.
To close with a cynical question, that of the price of the "nouveaux Her se" frames. Is it expected that they will, due to their Gallic influence an d forebears, carry a premium...perhaps a "cachet - supplement"? More importantly...would members of the List who lust to ride astride an "RH" re gardless of its country of origin, be willing to pay that premium?
I'm due to spend quite a lot of time in July in and around Lyon. Does an yone chance to know who owns the rights to the "REYHAND" brand.? I'm j ust thinking that maybe the time is propitious to relaunch REYHAND, to be p roduced with finest UK craftsmanship.
Norris Lockley....perhaps just old age catching up with me...Settle UK
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