Cyclotourists in France always were a small crowd. Racing with its publicity got most cyclists' and noncyclists' attention. The big makers with all their advertising got the sales and reverence.
So if you talk to an average cyclist, they won't have heard of Herse or Singer. If you talk to an ardent cyclotourist, it's a different matter.
Talk to the average American cyclist today, and ask about Peter Weigle, Richard Sachs, Brian Baylis, etc. You'll get a blank. Most believe Trek are the best bikes, some may venture as far as Serotta and Seven. But the good stuff is hidden under the surface, as it always has been.
To infer from this that the good stuff isn't good is mistaking popularity with quality. The two usually are inversely related, as those who spend all their time making a quality product have little time and money left for advertising.
Herse did promote his bikes, but he promoted them through results in competition. Most of these competitions had a strong technical aspect - bike changes were not allowed, penalties given for malfunctions, etc. These competitions allowed Herse to show the technical excellence of his bikes. Anybody who has taken apart and reassembled an Herse bike knows they are a cut above the rest. That is why they are revered.
Of all the other constructeurs, Singer and Routens came very close (Routens only on the best bikes). Most others fall short in one area or another. Some are beautifully built, but don't ride great. Others ride great, but the build quality is so-so. Yet others just lack the aesthetics. Or some very great builders just made so few bikes that they almost have been lost to the mist of time. Daudon is an example of that. -- Jan Heine Editor Bicycle Quarterly 140 Lakeside Ave #C Seattle WA 98122 http://www.bikequarterly.com