Re: [CR]Mike Kone's Rene Herse Announcement

(Example: Events:Cirque du Cyclisme:2002)

Date: Sun, 17 Jun 2007 19:04:53 -0600
From: "Mitch Harris" <>
To: "Don Wilson" <>
Subject: Re: [CR]Mike Kone's Rene Herse Announcement
In-Reply-To: <>
References: <>

Don, you say "romantic" like it's a bad thing. And then you charge Mike and Mark to create a Paris spa treatment with every frame ;-)

Seriously, I agree with you in wishing luck to the new R.H. venture. And I think I can figure out from context how you are using the term romantic--always an intersting word in the context of this list's purpose.

Mitch Harris Little Rock Canyon, Utah

On 6/17/07, Don Wilson <> wrote:
> If Rene Herse built all his bikes by himself, without
> assistants, or with exactly the same assistants his
> entire life, then the argument that the Kone and
> Robilette built Herse's will be inauthentic might hold
> up. Is that the case? If not, and I doubt that it is,
> then it is silly romanticism say that these
> Kone/Robilette Herse's will be fakes.
> Were Jack Taylors phonies all along, because they came
> with Jack's name and not Norman's on the tubes that
> Norman welded?
> And haven't I heard there was such a thing as a good
> Bob Jackson and a bad one, depending on who exactly
> made it?
> Is a Porsche not a Porsche now that old Dr. Porsche is
> long dead?
> Of course not.
> Many reknowned bicycle builders have used many
> different assistants to help build the bikes with
> their names on them...and those assistants rarely
> stayed the same over a long career...and the quality
> of even the best marques fluctuated over time and
> reputedly from bike to bike, as assistants came and
> went and as the dedication of the owner waxed and
> waned.
> Here's the bottom line: Mike and Mark ARE going to be
> building Rene Herse bicycles, whether persons like it
> or not. The family has given them the legal right to
> do it. And any bikes they build will be true Rene
> Herse bicycles. The only question is whether they are
> going to be giving riders a bicycling experience equal
> or better than what Rene Herse managed to give his
> customers. The Herse experience was largely an upper
> class experience. It was to a considerable degree an
> experience of going to Paris on vacation, having a
> bike built for you, and then touring France. Mike and
> Mark are going to have one hell of a difficult time
> duplicating that experience, unless they move to Paris
> and reopen a Rene Herse shop there; that to me is the
> real business problem they face. Building bikes as
> good as Rene Herse built them is not that hard. There
> are many master builders today capable of doing that.
> The best custom bikes in the world are probably built
> in America today. But that is not the same experience
> as sailing across the pond on a Cunnard liner,
> training to Paris, staying at the Ritz, being sized
> for a tandem with the wife, and then touring the
> quaint burgs of France on a more sophisticated and
> beautiful bike than any you had seen back in the
> states. It was this experience that built the mystique
> of Rene Herse bicycles probably almost as much as his
> bicycles, which were themselves exceptional. Will Mike
> and Mark be as saavy at selling bikes as Rene was?
> Rene understood there was a hell of a lot more to
> selling to the rich than just building a good bike. It
> had to have style. It had to be unique in many ways.
> It had to have substance. And most of all it had to be
> beautiful in a way that sometimes the French are
> simply best at. It did not have to be the lightest,
> fastest bike around, nor have the most perfect welds,
> or have the latest, trickest, highest tech components.
> It had to have exquisite balance in all respects. Can
> two Americans possibly carry the legacy on? Who knows?
> But that is the job that faces them. The beauty of
> balance and the balance of beauty in a durable bike of
> superior quality.
> Part of me wishes the family hadn't let the name
> loose, but another part of me is delighted that at
> last someone is going to get serious about resuming
> Rene Herse bicycles. And I think Kone and Robilette
> are going to be about as fanatical about resuming the
> spirit of Rene Herse bicycles as anyone could be...if
> they understand that old Rene was not just selling
> bicycles, or even accessories, but an experience in
> Paris as well. Maybe they should build them in Aspen
> rather than Denver. Or maybe they should move to
> Paris. I will volunteer to come over and help run the
> store.
> Whether people like it or not, the Herse family has
> made Mike and Mark be Rene Herse's latest assistants.
> They have put the old man's legacy in Mike's and
> Mark's hands.
> Putting a dead man's legacy in new hands to see if it
> can be extended is not unusual. Often it is done
> opportunistically, but sometimes it is done out of
> genuine caring on the part of the heirs.
> What is unusual is when the latest assistant's make
> the product as well and with the same cachet as the
> dead man managed to do.
> It doesn't happen often, but it happens.
> Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Porsches are still
> Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Porsches despite the sire
> of the brand being long dead andthe family in some
> cases having lost all determining influence. I would
> argue Astin Martin, which has bankrupted many times
> and been sold more times than a Bankok whore, is more
> Astin Martin now than ever and with Ulrich Bez as CEO,
> and Ford pedalling it to David Richards, no less.
> Have great bike brands been resuscitated to previous
> greatness? Not yet I suppose, but that does not mean
> it cannot happen.
> Often, of course, the experience is like that of
> Jaguar, or Rover, or you fill in the blank.
> Regardless, the name on the tube is nothing but a
> legal right with some brand value, whether Rene Herse
> is building Rene Herse bicycles, or whether Mike Kone
> and Mark Nobilette are. The bike the tube is on and
> the way in which it is sold and experienced by
> customers is the litmus test.
> Rene Herse bicycles are a strong legacy. Attempting to
> resume that legacy is just as honorable and feasible
> as starting from scratch to build another legacy.
> Ferdinand Piech has nothing to be ashamed of about
> nabbing the resuscitated Bugatti name from some
> wannabees and imposing his own particular brand of
> idiosyncratic genius to create one of the most amazing
> cars ever made and one with styling that Ettore
> Bugatti, himself, would probably be reasonably
> approving of.
> If Kone and Nobilette want to stand on the shoulders
> of a master to begin their business and take the risk
> of failing to fulfill inflated expectations in order
> to extend that legacy, and if the Herse family wants
> to give them a shot at it, then I bid them good luck.
> Rome has been rebuilt on top of itself so many times
> no one can count, and no one doubts that today's Rome
> is as much Rome as it ever was. Why? Because today's
> Rome is probably actually better than some of its
> earlier versions.
> Only romantics believe persons do not start out
> standing on the shoulders of those who came before
> them. No one will be fooled into thinking that the
> Rene Herse's of Mike's and Mark's were built by Rene
> Herse and his assistants. The bikes will stand or fall
> on their quality and the consumer experience. They
> will either be good Herses, or bad Herses, sold
> seductively, or not, but they will most definitely be
> Herses.
> Don Wilson
> Los Olivos, CA
> D.C. Wilson
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