Re: [CR] Rene Herse Ligtweight Record Bike

Example: Bike Shops

Date: Mon, 9 Feb 2009 12:23:04 -0800
From: Jerome & Elizabeth Moos <>
To: Edward Albert <>
In-Reply-To: <>
Subject: Re: [CR] Rene Herse Ligtweight Record Bike

Well, I thought I was clear, "the racers" then and now are those who participate in bicycle races for money, so professional racers to be more precise. But if your point is that it wasn't so much the racers themselves who were opposed to innovations, but more the organizers and sanctioning bodies, headed by Degrange and his associates, then I agree with that point. There was in the first decade of the 20th century an ongoing debate between Velocio writing in Le Cyclist and Desgrange in L'Auto and/or L'Equipe in which Veloico advocated multiple gearing, and Desgrange derided it as for "those over forty-five". But prominent racers were also quoted saying that derailleurs would take too much energy to pedal, presumably because of the more complicated chain path. So while they may not have been opposed to technical assistance, many racers evidently did not believe technical innovations would actually be an advantage. Rather strange, as Velocio and the tourists had pretty clearly proven the advantages of derailleurs by, among other things, trouncing the professional times for climbing several prominant cols used regularly in the TdF. But maybe the racers of that era were not the most literate lot, and so perhaps they hadn't followed the reports on the Technical Trials in Le Cyclist.


Jerry Moos
Big Spring, Texas, USA

--- On Mon, 2/9/09, Edward Albert wrote:

> From: Edward Albert <>

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

\r?\n> To:

\r?\n> Cc:, "Mitch Harris" <>,

\r?\n> Date: Monday, February 9, 2009, 1:34 PM

\r?\n> Jerry,

\r?\n> I find your last sentence or your recent post most

\r?\n> informative. You say

\r?\n> "as the racers and those controlling the

\r?\n> events, including

\r?\n> Desgrange, were much less willing to accept innovation, as

\r?\n> they thought

\r?\n> technical innovations degraded the raw athletic ability

\r?\n> required."


\r?\n> I guess this is a bit obvious but.......this whole

\r?\n> discussion from what do

\r?\n> you ride to this trials discussion revolves around that

\r?\n> very thing, doesn't

\r?\n> it? I love steel bikes, have too many, and even ride a few

\r?\n> of them or I

\r?\n> would not be on this list. However, one can't help but

\r?\n> ask, given the recent

\r?\n> discussions, just what group today fits the description you

\r?\n> give of

\r?\n> Desgrange and "the racers."?


\r?\n> Edward Albert

\r?\n> Chappaqua, New York, U.S.A.


\r?\n> On Mon, Feb 9, 2009 at 2:24 PM, Jerome & Elizabeth Moos

\r?\n> <

\r?\n>> wrote:


\r?\n> > It's hard to prove a particular component was the

\r?\n> direct result of the

\r?\n> > Technical Trials. But the Technical Trials were part

\r?\n> of a broader

\r?\n> > cycletouring environment originating to a large extent

\r?\n> with Velicio. There

\r?\n> > was a dedicated group of cyclotourists, as keen on

\r?\n> their cycling as the

\r?\n> > racers were on theirs, except the cyclotourists

\r?\n> weren't being paid. These

\r?\n> > cyclotourists were organized in a network of clubs who

\r?\n> organized club rides

\r?\n> > and other events, including the Technical Trials and

\r?\n> similar competitions.

\r?\n> > And there were national publications aligned with the

\r?\n> touring clubs, just

\r?\n> > as L'Auto and similar publications cataloged the

\r?\n> racing side of the sport.

\r?\n> > There were reportedly raging debates in the press

\r?\n> between Degrange, writing

\r?\n> > in L'Auto or L'Equipe, and Velocio writing in

\r?\n> Le Cyclist about the best

\r?\n> > direction for the bicycle and the sport of cycling.

\r?\n> And after WWI the

\r?\n> > cyclotourists found an ally in the alumimum

\r?\n> manufacturers, whose trade

\r?\n> > association

\r?\n> > began to sponsor the Technical Trials as a way to

\r?\n> promote the expansion of

\r?\n> > their high tech material beyond its early use in

\r?\n> aircraft.

\r?\n> >

\r?\n> > So the whole atmosphere in France from the end of the

\r?\n> 19th century to

\r?\n> > shortly after WWII was one that fostered innovation in

\r?\n> the design and

\r?\n> > manufacture of bicycles. And most of this innovation

\r?\n> was in touring bikes,

\r?\n> > rather than racing bikes, as the racers and those

\r?\n> controlling the events,

\r?\n> > including Desgrange, were much less willing to accept

\r?\n> innovation, as they

\r?\n> > thought technical innovations degraded the raw

\r?\n> athletic ability required.

\r?\n> >

\r?\n> > Regards,

\r?\n> >

\r?\n> > Jerry Moos

\r?\n> > Big Spring, Texas, USA

\r?\n> >

\r?\n> > --- On Mon, 2/9/09, Mitch Harris

\r?\n> <> wrote:

\r?\n> >

\r?\n> > > From: Mitch Harris <>

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

\r?\n> 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

\r?\n> were held it

\r?\n> > > appears they were

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

\r?\n> within the

\r?\n> > > French industry...

\r?\n> > > >

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

\r?\n> derailleurs...

\r?\n> > > > Au revoir,

\r?\n> > > >

\r?\n> > >

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

\r?\n> these Trials

\r?\n> > > too?

\r?\n> > >

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

\r?\n> things that

\r?\n> > > were

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

\r?\n> Herse's

\r?\n> > > wonderbike in 1948 that

\r?\n> > > was 14 lbs with lights and fenders--why

\r?\n> didn't he

\r?\n> > > continue to build

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

\r?\n> understood

\r?\n> > > this

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

\r?\n> and 60s

\r?\n> > > were 20 to 22

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

\r?\n> if he did

\r?\n> > > manage

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

\r?\n> question,

\r?\n> > > where is the

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

\r?\n> > >

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

\r?\n> > > contemporary superlight

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

\r?\n> sold to

\r?\n> > > customers

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

\r?\n> lighter

\r?\n> > > ones hit the

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

\r?\n> That's

\r?\n> > > influence. For most

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

\r?\n> startling

\r?\n> > > advances go into

\r?\n> > > the market pretty reliably.

\r?\n> > >

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

\r?\n> steel

\r?\n> > > frame at his

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

\r?\n> something

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

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

\r?\n> world"?

\r?\n> > > Just curious about

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

\r?\n> amazing

\r?\n> > > machines and

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

\r?\n> sure there

\r?\n> > > are

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

\r?\n> machines?...

\r?\n> > > or they

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

\r?\n> Trials ride

\r?\n> > > and most

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

\r?\n> or the

\r?\n> > > Trials would have

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

\r?\n> about?

\r?\n> > > In the usual

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

\r?\n> 14 lb

\r?\n> > > machine in 1948,

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

\r?\n> time. But

\r?\n> > > instead his

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

\r?\n> > >

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

\r?\n> as why

\r?\n> > > did no one

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

\r?\n> other

\r?\n> > > component designs.

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

\r?\n> Mafac,

\r?\n> > > blinders on, just

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

\r?\n> rather

\r?\n> > > than

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

\r?\n> > >

\r?\n> > > Thanks,

\r?\n> > > Mitch Harris

\r?\n> > > Little Rock Canyon