Well I'm going to go on the record as strongly agreeing with Jerry's argume nt.
Sure the trials bikes had lightweight frames, using 3/10 tubing that was fl exy.Â But go up a notch or two to 4/10 and 5/10 on the downtube and we ight doesn't change much and the ride can be awesome!Â This will proba bly add well under a pound I suspect.Â Much of the weight savings on t he trials bikes came on the component side.
But even adding a pound to the frame, and a bit to some other components to add comfort or durability really gets to a pretty lightweight machine.Â Pick up an old set of Herse Cantilever brakes, or consider the simple g ear changing mechanisms, and then grab a TA Cyclotourist crank and compare its weight to a modern Carbon crank.Â The new stuff doesn't come out l ooking so impressive anymore.
Consider for a moment a non-trials bike from 1938.Â Reyhand bikes from this time were about 25 pounds including steel railed saddle, lights, fend ers, and rack.Â Tubing was nothing too light, and the bearings were an nular in the hubs and bb.Â All in all, a very robust and wickedly fast bike.Â Granted, this was probably the bestÂ very durable high per formance bike in the world at this time.Â But after 70 years in this c ase, if someone was to buy an absolute top tier machine today with a reason ably comfortable wide tire, one would at best get a bike that is similar in performance.Â How frustrating it must have been for the owner of such a machine in the 1930's to subsequently go through life on an impossible q uest to find a finer bike!
And then there is the pre-war French race bike (absolutely not a trials mac hine) that weighs in at just over 17lbs.
So the core argument Jerry made is quite true - in general, it really is re markable how little progress is made.Â Much of todays innovations are really re-discoveries of the past.Â Sure, Carbon has some neat tricks, but durability and notch resistance is certainly an issue.
Mike Kone in Boulder CO USA
Jerrry, I have to strongly disagree with this argument. No doubt the trials
have led to important developments to the evolution of the bicycle. However , this evolution has not stopped and cannot be stopped. These very light bike s from this postwar period cannot be considered the norm. I have not been lucky enough to ride something like this but have to assume the frame would
be very flexible. Steel frames have a limit on how thin the tubing wall can
be. I went into this in one of my other rants a few weeks ago. The ratio of
tube diameter to wall thickness should not go over 50/1. Steel is a dense
material which means the outside diameter cannot get much larger than what
we see in current high end steel frames without making a heavier overall weight. So the stiffness of the structure will not be so good.
Carbon fiber can and is used as a cosmetic element by some bike companies.
But if done correctly can offer tremendous reduction of weight along with
stiffness required by the strongest pro cyclist. I have always respected th e innovations in the bicycle done by countless small builders in the past. Bu t here is where I disagree with you. Nowadays the evolution is carried out by
organizations with resources, engineers, testing labs. Not one man garage
shops. I know for a fact the top pro bikes (with a weight limit of 14.4lbs)
have enough room for extras that a power meter can be used and still be at
the lower limit. This is a bike that can be put though just about anything
without failure. I just do not buy the argument that there has been no improvement in the bicycle.
Jim Merz Big Sur CA
-----Original Message----- From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Jerome & Elizabeth Moos Sent: Saturday, February 07, 2009 8:18 AM To: classicrendezvous Subject: [CR] Rene Herse Ligtweight Record Bike
I read again this week Vol. 1 No. 4 and Vol. 2 No. 1 of Vintage Bicycle Quarterly (Jan had not yet then dropped the "Vintage"), which chronicle the
history of the Technical Trials. Or perhaps I read them thoroughly fo r the first time. These trials were an amazing chapter in the history of th e bicycle.
In the account of the 1946 Grand Prix Duralumin, it is stated that Rene Herse won the prototype category with a bike that weighed 6.875 kg (15.16
lbs), a record never to be broken in the two years of Technical Trials that
remained. In the Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles, there is on a page
devoted to a different customer bike, a photo of Rene with this record holding bike, but it is small, taken from probably 20 feet or more, and the
details of the bike are obscured both by Rene and by the bags that have already been mounted. There seem no other photos of this bike in the book, although there are several excellent color photos of the 7 kg bike with which Herse won the 1947 event.
Does the 1946 winning bike still exist? Are there better photos of it , or perhaps Rebour drawings in existance?
For those who tout the modern wonderbikes, these accounts should be sobering. These feats were achieved over 60 years ago, almost a lifet ime, and the record breaking bikes had steel frames, although aluminum bikes wer e often entered in the Technical Trials. Furthermore, the bikes were re quired to have lights, racks and mudguards, and perhaps a bell, which were include d in the weight, although tires and tubes were excluded in the post-WWII events due to the continuing scarcity of good tires. Today's carbon f ibre, thin-walled aluminum and Ti bikes would still be hard pressed to meet 7 kg,
even with no lights, racks, mudguards or bell. And although these rec od bike weren't practical for dialy use, they were not completely fragile either as they typically had to endure several days in excess of 100 km per
day of often terrible mountain roads, and points were deducted for even the
slightest mechanical problem including a loose BB or a wheel out of true.
One has to wonder if in fact bicycles as practical vehicles have advanced
much at all in the last half century. Those Trails bikes demonstrate that it was possible to make a steel frame as light as today's highend carbon, T i and aluminum, from a material that can be repaired, repainted and refitted
to last several generations, while many of today's bikes are essentially throwaway items. And there were already bikes in the Technical Trials with 18 gears, arguable more than enough, while today's 11 speed cassettes mostl y just duplicate ratios at the expense of adding ever more wheel dish and requiring ever heavier rims. Had the trials continued, it would be interesting to see what the bikes would look like today. Quite possib ly we would see modern Ti, Carbon and oversize thin wall Al frames, since the Trials rules did not require the frames to last many years or be repairable . But at least we would see frames from these materials which would more easily accomodate lights, racks, mudguards and wider tires. I also suspect indexed shifting might be incorporated, and almost certainly the modern derailleur design which merges the Simplex spring loaded upper pivot
with the Suntour slant parallelogram. Whether today's gratuitous carb on fibre would be seen is debatable. Many carbon components give very li ttle weight advantage for a much higher cost, so if cost were no object, they might be included. But some of the last Technical Trails already intr oduced rules requiring bikes in some divisions to be commercially available, and
even imposed price limits. So if this trend had continued, one might see very little carbon in Trials today.
I believe at the end of the account of the last Technical Trials Jan proposes that sometime similar should be reestablised. I think that w ould be desirable as the original trials clearly improved bicycles, and new ones
would do the same. Not sure the big manufacturers, focused on making bikes cheaply with cheap labor and selling them at high prices driven by marketing, would be very supportive, but then the large manufactuers weren' t very supportive back then either. I think such trials today would pro bably be supported by and won by the builders who we here call KOF and who now exhibit their products at such events as the NAHMBS.
Thanks again to Jan for telling stories many of us would otherwise not have
heard, which illuminate a side of the sport in many ways more interesting
and more relevant than the doings of the pro peleton.
Jerry Moos Big Spring, Texas, USA
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