Re: [CR] Rene Herse Ligtweight Record Bike

(Example: Production Builders:Cinelli)

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Date: Mon, 9 Feb 2009 08:47:47 -0700
From: "Mitch Harris" <>
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Subject: Re: [CR] Rene Herse Ligtweight Record Bike

On Mon, Feb 9, 2009 at 7:37 AM, Fred Rednor <> wrote:
> > Yep. At the time the trials were held it appears they were
> > extremely influential, at least within the French industry...
> Please don't forget those darned derailleurs...
> Au revoir,

So derailleurs were developed as a result of these Trials too?

My question has to do with where all those cool things that were developed for the Trials went. Like R. Herse's wonderbike in 1948 that was 14 lbs with lights and fenders--why didn't he continue to build it, or something similar in weight? If I've understood this correctly, his bikes after the Trials in the 50s and 60s were 20 to 22 lbs which was fairly typical for a race bike even if he did manage fenders, etc. at that weight. That leaves the question, where is the influence of that 14 lb bike?

For example, the comparison we're making to contemporary superlight race bikes results in similarly superlight bikes sold to customers shortly after those bikes are introduced. Even lighter ones hit the market, lighter than is allowed by UCI. That's influence. For most periods of cycle development you see that startling advances go into the market pretty reliably.

Did R. Herse find the absolute lower limit for a steel frame at his time? Did he retreat from that design to something more...more what? more durable? more affordable? more "real world"? Just curious about why it is that the Trials could produce these amazing machines and then the builders retreated from them. I'm sure there are reasons--like there was not a market for those machines?... or they were only meant to last for the duration of the Trials ride and most people didn't want a time limited machine?... or the Trials would have had huge influence but were just not widely known about? In the usual terms of influence, if R. Herse could make that 14 lb machine in 1948, we might expect he could improve on that over time. But instead his bike weight went sharply up.

There are other simpler influence questions, such as why did no one copy his svelt cantilever design or other his other component designs. Maybe that's just French industrial inertia, Mafac, blinders on, just continued to make something that was good enough rather than copy/borrow/buy a superior idea (?).

Mitch Harris
Little Rock Canyon