At 12:26 AM -0400 5/3/09, Dale Brown wrote:
><<...but for example, the bike doesn't have the SKF bottom bracket,
>which requires a custom shell, and cannot be retrofitted. (Of
>course, not all "true" Herse bikes have that, either.) >>
>To be sure. My full chrome demontible does not.. Herse cranks but
It appears that many bikes sold overseas didn't have the Herse BB. Perhaps Herse was concerned that the average blacksmith in a bike shop wouldn't know how to replace the bearings, should the need arise. (How many bike shops have a bearing press?)
The serial number could give some indications, but probably won't resolve the issue. If it starts with "109," then it's a repair/refurbish (or perhaps a bike that was sold under the table, and "booked" as a repair). If the number does not match the Herse pattern, it's some other maker. If it's a RH number, it may well be a "true" Herse.
Records from a few years of Herse production have survived, so if we are lucky, we'll find the bike's number in there. However, beyond the bike's first owner and completion date, they don't tell us anything, either.
There are a few mystery bikes out there. This one
is another enigma. When it resurfaced a decade ago, it had a Singer stem and Stronglight cranks. My suspicion is that somebody had the frame made, then took it to Singer to complete it - including the front rack and Nivex derailleur. Did the original owner fall out with Herse in the process of making the bike? The bike certainly is a very high-end bike, complete with SKF BB, remote control for the generator, oversize down tube and exquisite workmanship. All those things, and the front derailleur, are typical Herse. The Nivex derailleur, Singer stem and front rack are typical Singer.
The only sticking point in my hypothesis is the "Rene Herse" lettering. If Singer truly completed the bike, it is unlikely that it went back to Herse for the paint and lettering. Perhaps somebody just copied it, or the guy who did the lettering for Herse as a free-lancer did this one on the side?
Jan Heine Editor Bicycle Quarterly 140 Lakeside Ave #C Seattle WA 98122 http://www.vintagebicyclepress.com