Re: [CR] Rene Herse Ligtweight Record Bike

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Date: Mon, 9 Feb 2009 11:24:05 -0800
From: Jerome & Elizabeth Moos <>
To: <>, Mitch Harris <>
Subject: Re: [CR] Rene Herse Ligtweight Record Bike

It's hard to prove a particular component was the direct result of the Technical Trials. But the Technical Trials were part of a broader cycletouring environment originating to a large extent with Velicio. There was a dedicated group of cyclotourists, as keen on their cycling as the racers were on theirs, except the cyclotourists weren't being paid. These cyclotourists were organized in a network of clubs who organized club rides and other events, including the Technical Trials and similar competitions. And there were national publications aligned with the touring clubs, just as L'Auto and similar publications cataloged the racing side of the sport. There were reportedly raging debates in the press between Degrange, writing in L'Auto or L'Equipe, and Velocio writing in Le Cyclist about the best direction for the bicycle and the sport of cycling. And after WWI the cyclotourists found an ally in the alumimum manufacturers, whose trade association began to sponsor the Technical Trials as a way to promote the expansion of their high tech material beyond its early use in aircraft.

So the whole atmosphere in France from the end of the 19th century to shortly after WWII was one that fostered innovation in the design and manufacture of bicycles. And most of this innovation was in touring bikes, rather than racing bikes, as the racers and those controlling the events, including Desgrange, were much less willing to accept innovation, as they thought technical innovations degraded the raw athletic ability required.


Jerry Moos
Big Spring, Texas, USA

--- On Mon, 2/9/09, Mitch Harris wrote:

> From: Mitch Harris <>

\r?\n> Subject: Re: [CR] Rene Herse Ligtweight Record Bike

\r?\n> To:

\r?\n> Cc:

\r?\n> Date: Monday, February 9, 2009, 9:47 AM

\r?\n> On Mon, Feb 9, 2009 at 7:37 AM, Fred Rednor

\r?\n> <> wrote:

\r?\n> >

\r?\n> > > Yep. At the time the trials were held it

\r?\n> appears they were

\r?\n> > > extremely influential, at least within the

\r?\n> French industry...

\r?\n> >

\r?\n> > Please don't forget those darned derailleurs...

\r?\n> > Au revoir,

\r?\n> >


\r?\n> So derailleurs were developed as a result of these Trials

\r?\n> too?


\r?\n> My question has to do with where all those cool things that

\r?\n> were

\r?\n> developed for the Trials went. Like R. Herse's

\r?\n> wonderbike in 1948 that

\r?\n> was 14 lbs with lights and fenders--why didn't he

\r?\n> continue to build

\r?\n> it, or something similar in weight? If I've understood

\r?\n> this

\r?\n> correctly, his bikes after the Trials in the 50s and 60s

\r?\n> were 20 to 22

\r?\n> lbs which was fairly typical for a race bike even if he did

\r?\n> manage

\r?\n> fenders, etc. at that weight. That leaves the question,

\r?\n> where is the

\r?\n> influence of that 14 lb bike?


\r?\n> For example, the comparison we're making to

\r?\n> contemporary superlight

\r?\n> race bikes results in similarly superlight bikes sold to

\r?\n> customers

\r?\n> shortly after those bikes are introduced. Even lighter

\r?\n> ones hit the

\r?\n> market, lighter than is allowed by UCI. That's

\r?\n> influence. For most

\r?\n> periods of cycle development you see that startling

\r?\n> advances go into

\r?\n> the market pretty reliably.


\r?\n> Did R. Herse find the absolute lower limit for a steel

\r?\n> frame at his

\r?\n> time? Did he retreat from that design to something

\r?\n> more...more what?

\r?\n> more durable? more affordable? more "real world"?

\r?\n> Just curious about

\r?\n> why it is that the Trials could produce these amazing

\r?\n> machines and

\r?\n> then the builders retreated from them. I'm sure there

\r?\n> are

\r?\n> reasons--like there was not a market for those machines?...

\r?\n> or they

\r?\n> were only meant to last for the duration of the Trials ride

\r?\n> and most

\r?\n> people didn't want a time limited machine?... or the

\r?\n> Trials would have

\r?\n> had huge influence but were just not widely known about?

\r?\n> In the usual

\r?\n> terms of influence, if R. Herse could make that 14 lb

\r?\n> machine in 1948,

\r?\n> we might expect he could improve on that over time. But

\r?\n> instead his

\r?\n> bike weight went sharply up.


\r?\n> There are other simpler influence questions, such as why

\r?\n> did no one

\r?\n> copy his svelt cantilever design or other his other

\r?\n> component designs.

\r?\n> Maybe that's just French industrial inertia, Mafac,

\r?\n> blinders on, just

\r?\n> continued to make something that was good enough rather

\r?\n> than

\r?\n> copy/borrow/buy a superior idea (?).


\r?\n> Thanks,

\r?\n> Mitch Harris

\r?\n> Little Rock Canyon