Wow we failed to keep up the blog lately - been
so busy! We've been testing out 3 Boulder Bicycles and putting
them through the paces as we finalize tube selection and geometry.
Two of these machines were displayed this past weekend at Veloswap
to a very warm reception. We also had on display the latest
Rene Herse off the line (still unpainted); a 650b frame with our
twin plate crown that is really exceptional. We'll post photos
of all these machines after we attend the Rocky Mountain Bicycle
Show this weekend. We'll be sharing a couple of booths with
Mark Nobilette. We also now are selling frames under Mark's
own name at our shop here in Boulder.
We have more offerings added to our on-line store
(click on product offerings to the right) and we now have Rene Herse
T-shirts in med, lg, XL, and XXL. The T's are very smart
looking and have ben selling very well. We actually had to do
an "emergency" second printing to have enough for veloswap.
Next week we should have photos up on this site
of the previously mentioned just-completed Herse frame and also the
one we completed before it. We're starting to get in the
We're also thinking it would be fun to do a small
batch of Herse track frames that we'd have painted in the team Herse
colors from the 1970's. This would be road friendly, but
nonetheless would be true track frames rather than path racer type
machines. We expect a price for frame/fork in the mid 4K
range. With handmade lugs and bb, these frames will combine
traditional Herse esthetics with the tour de force of Mark
Nobilette's frame talents.
Wednesday September 24
Well we are still test riding the Boulder Bicycle
Prototypes and reviewing our impressions. This past sunday I
took the 650b Boulder Bicycle on some dirt and boy was it fun!
Right now the 650b Rene Herse in build is on
target to be displayed at Veloswap.
More news - we have the Challenge Paris Robaix
tires in stock! Unlike our samples, the ones we've tried so
far have fit really nicely on the various rims we've tried.
We've tried running them at various pressures - at high pressure
they seem to "sing" like the wider tubulars of yesteryear, and at
low pressures they get mighty comfy. They are truly a gorgeous
tire. This past sunday (before my dirt ride), I took them on a
2 hour road ride on the early 70's Cinelli and loved every moment.
Finally, we've jumped to the marketing "dark
side" and now have official Rene Herse T-Shirts in stock. We
went for the understated look. On the front, there is the
classic Rene Herse logo and on the rear there is essentially a
Rebour catalog page of a classic Rene Herse Paris Brest model.
The T-shirts are in a Heather color, and they are wringer shirts -
meaning there is a contrasting panel at the collar and sleeve ends.
We have many sizes, and as always, your purchase of such items helps
us pay the rent and is always appreciated! The T-Shirts are
Thursday September 4
So much is happening
Don't get me going too much on politics -
after last night I'm horrified.
If you want to help support our activities but
aren't in the market for a new bicycle, please click on
Product Offerings to peruse
or selection of randonneur and vintage offerings.
In just a week or so, we expect to have the
long-awaited Challenge Paris Robaix 27mm 700c clincher. This
tire looks like a classic Clement tubular, but is a wide clincher.
On a wider rim like the Velocity Synergy it actually stretches out
closer to 29mm. The quality looks exceptional on these.
The tire feels very fast subjectively. On my test of the early
sample we received, I pumped it up quite a bit and it gave that very
fast but very comfortable feel typical of many tubulars (went to
about 95psi by my gauge). Compared to the Grand Bois 28mm, the
tire may have felt a bit less "comfy" but I felt less isolation from
the road in a good way if that makes any sense. It felt alive
like a great tubular, but was comfortable because of its width.
These tires fit very tightly on rims (easy on Velocity though) so
may need to stretch it but this is better than too loose.
Another sample I'm aware of seemed to have an optimal fit, so our
guess is the fit is on the great to tight side. As the tire
can really come in at 29mm with a wide rim, be certain you have
clearance. With narrower rims it probably will come in closer
Our next "public" outing will be at velowswap
on October 25 in Denver. See
Veloswap is perhaps not the ultimate venue,
but lots of local folks (around 10,000) attend and it gives us the
opportunity to have local exposure. We will have new
randonneur products on display and for sale, as well as Rene Herse
and Boulder Bicycle demo bikes. We won't go as crazy as we did
at handmade show with the display, but we're sure to do something
fun. We may also have some vintage goodies too, but not
certain. We also plan to go to the San Diego framebuilders
show in April 2009. That show is being organized by leading
Southern California builders including Brian Baylis.
We are also considering setting up a display
at the Rocky Mountain Bicycle Show the following weekend. Once
we see the PR for that show ramped up we will sign-up. So far
the PR for that event has been stinky. The website for that
We do not plan to go to the
North American Handmade Bicyle Show in Indianapolis. We
keep getting emails and special offers to attend the event, but the
location just doesn't make sense to us. But of course, the
Auburn, Cord, Duesenburg museum is located 2 hours north of Indy in
Auburn - that alone makes the trip worthwhile, but not for us to be
in a booth for 3 days. We might fly in and attend and then go
to Auburn for another pilgrimage, but not sure. If you do go
to Indy, go north to the museum - it is holly ground for those
who appreciate the finest autos ever made in America (if you are
into that sort of thing - the workmanship and stories are amazing).
The museum website is:
Back to bikes - we think we
settled on the graphics package for the Boulder Bicycle and demo
bikes will be available at our shop in just a matter of days.
We are also toying with offering a hand lettered option for the
Boulder Bicycles. It kinda runs counter to the economical
orientation of the product but so what? There is a local
lettering guy we just found who does fantastic work and we pass his
shop twice a day on our commute - so why not at least offer it?
In Rene Herse world, we have
found some superior carbon brush material and have the local machine
shop working on making a run of parts for the internal wiring.
The plan is to have a 650b
machine on display at veloswap. We are cutting the build kinda
close. Worst cast it will be a "naked" frame, but with the
cool fillets and handmade lugs that will be fun!
Friday August 21
Things continue to move along, but as always more
slowly than we'd like. We picked up racks for Boulder Bicycles
from powdercoat yesterday.
Oh - here is some news.
We are now having retail hours at our shop in Boulder Colorado.
The hours are listed on the homepage. We also are available by
appointment at other times. We do everything we can to work
around the schedule of out-of-town visitors. Hopefully we will
see you soon!
The sample 700c x 27mm
clincher tires from Challenge came in. They look absolutely
gorgeous. The are quite tight to mount, although another
sample pair I know of was easier to work with. The tight pair,
though, worked like a champ on the Velocity Synergy rim. My
guess is that in addition to the Grand Bois 30mm, the Challenge 27mm
tire is going to be the tire of choice for serious randonneur riders
in the coming year.
On a different note, I took
out the Cinelli track bike (set-up for road) today, and it was quite
fun. I mounted a pair of the tubular Challenge seta tires, the
ones made on the old Clement molds. While narrow tires aren't
may choice for most riding, they are kinda fun in their own way.
The silk tires make for a very comfortable ride, but you also get
lots of road feedback if that makes sense. It is sorta like
the time I first drove an old BMW 2002 with independent rear
suspension nearly 30 years ago - it soaked up the bumps better than
the large American barges, yet gave much more road feel. I
certainly wouldn't design a new bike for narrow tires these days,
but as a fun treat for the retro race bike or fix gear the Challenge
tires are fun. We do sell them, so this is a commercial plug.
They are $150 each, but in a world of 4-7K exotica frame material
race frames, running top quality tires is really a bargain.
Monday August 11, 2008
Last week we made good progress on the Boulder
Bicycle racks. We also picked up our lathe! There is
another Boulder Bicycle on route to us, and it should arrive on
Tuesday the 12th. This one will be a skinny tube 650b model
earmarked for one of Colorado's better randonneur riders. It
will be about another 8 or 9 days until we can get the rack powder
coated and the bike on its way towards meeting the road.
We are also hoping to get
another Rene Herse into build in the next week or two. This
bike will be going to a rider in Denver who signed on very early to
get an Herse.
There have also been some
developments in the lighting world. We are not ready to go
public with it, but it will involve use of some existing
hardware of a proprietary version for Rene Herse Bicycles. We
will have a headlight optimized for rack mounting (i.e on top of the
light) with great illumination and a standlight.
At this time, we think that
most new Rene Herse Bicycles will use this headlight solution,
internal wiring, and our special stem cap on/off switch. The
cost for all this will be the cost of the headlight plus perhaps two
or three hundred dollars in addition to the cost of the
frame/fork/rack and stem.
I had an interesting event
after hiking in the mountains with the family a week ago.
Pulling into a convenience store at the top of the mountain ridge
outside Boulder, was a forlorn rider contemplating how to get down
in a nasty rainstorm. Well, we helped him out of course.
But it once again showed why riding a pure race bike with no room
for easily carried rain gear can be a problem. The rider was
pretty well seasoned; he is a writer for VeloNews. But I bet
he never stopped to think of a bike with fenders and a bag.
There is no reason to if you always come in before the rain of
course. But that knowledge takes very special talents.
The day before the family
hike, I went out on the chrome Herse Rando bike in the mountains.
With my riding partner, we were discussing the choice between 700c
and 650b. He was on a bike with the very nice Vittoria 25mm
open clinchers, but the 30mm Grand Bois tires really seemed about as
fast. And of course, the comfort was much better. The
wide 700c tires are so good, and they are reasonable on dirt, that
their all around use is very tempting. The best 650b tires
seem a tad slower. Riding with faster groups, I've never found
the 650b to slow be down through. And the advantage of the
650b for comfort over many hours is very appealing. But it is
a bit of a tough choice. Of course, if an "ultimate" 650b tire
was to emerge (i.e. about 38 to 40mm with ultra high quality casing)
then the 650b would probably win hands down. At this point, I
think the optimum choice is very much open for debate. But if
one wants a bike that is ready to to do the long road miles AND be
extremely suited for dirt, the 650b wins hands down.
What do I plan to take to PBP
in 2011? At this point, I'm still leaning to 650b. The
thought of feeling less cumulative road shock over the long miles
really wins out. Stay tuned for more thoughts on this!
On a very positive note, I saw
a motorist grant a bunch of cyclists the right of way a couple of
days ago when the motorist had complete right of way and the
cyclists were behaving a tad reckless. Then, the motorist
signaled for me to go across the nasty intersection despite the stop
sign that I had (and which he didn't). I yelled a loud thank
you! With all the press recently about nasty car/bike
interactions, it was quite refreshing.
Friday August 1, 2008
Well another week is drawing to a close. At
the bottom of today's entry, you will see a few photos if the new
Rene Herse currently in build. It is designed for a Nivex rear
deraillieur, therefore note the interesting handmade dropouts.
The Boulder Bicycle project is moving along -
currently working on racks for the 650b bikes. We hope to run
all the racks to powder coat next week. Then we can get the
650b on the road (and the 700c also) and put them through their
In the meantime, it is very hot here in
Boulder, but many folks in town seem to be commuting on their bikes.
Unfortunately everyone in a car seems to be talking on a cell phone
and isn't paying attention to the road - so everyone be safe out
there and assume the driver does not see you!
On an interesting note, we purchased a couple
of bikes from a 96 year old gentleman yesterday. It was
amazing talking with him; he remembers as a kid seeing "old
men" riding their highwheelers! And we thought 1970's Campy
Nuovo Record bikes were vintage.
As an aside, this gentleman also has a
never-used lathe from the late 1960's with some tooling. It
isn't a super high-end lathe, but we plan on purchasing it.
That way if it is late at night and we need something turned in the
middle of the night, we can do it.
Check out the workmanship on
the latest Rene Herse frame in build!
thumbnails to enlarge)
Monday, July 28, 2008 -
next update this week - promise!
We believe riding bikes is more
important than building them. The only way to see if they work
is to take them out and trash them (I mean ride them ahem.. gently).
Above is a scenic shot of our chrome Randonneur Rene Herse demo bike
going through the paces in the scenic mountains outside of Boulder.
A group of three of us went out for a healthy dose of mileage,
climbing, and dirt!
Well we were wrong - we did not update
the blog until today, sorry about that. But finally it really
will get more regular. During June and early July we were
extremely busy with travel and fresh bike construction. Now we
have no travel planned for many many months we will update the
website and blog regularly (check back later this week) because
there is so much to report!
A very special New Rene Herse for a very
special rider is in the final stages of construction with Mark
Nobilette. This one has some very special features so while
the frame is already constructed, the detail work will be completed
in the next few weeks. Photos of this frame should appear on
this web site later this week (really!!!)
We showed a twin plate forkcrown at the
Cirque (necessary for wide 650b clearance as no other crowns we want
to use are currently available). But we wanted a twin plate
that will take oval blades instead of round blades (i.e a "funny
hole" as our CNC shop calls it was needed). The plates
themselves are shown below. They will get spigots added so
that the fork looks like a classic Herse twin plate but which uses
(You can click on the above photo to
The Boulder Bicycle project is moving along
at a steady albeit slower pace than we would like. The
details must be right - and working with a maker requires lots of
back and forth. The process requires us to be specific and for
them to understand what we need. We now have 2 Boulder Bicycle
prototypes in the shop, and a finalized version for a customer is
being shipped to us by the end of the week we hope. We are
happy with our rack design (classic Herse, what not to like), so we
need to build a batch of racks in the next week or so - then get
A problem with using many production lights
is that they attach from their bottom - not the top which prevents
"canting." To handle this issue, we are going to include with
our racks a bracket (along with a slight modification to the light)
that allows top mounting of the Lumotec FLY IQ headlight.
The photos below show the Boulder Bicycle
(note the spiffy 700c x 30mm tire clearance) and the nifty rack
(pre-powder coat) with light bracket arrangement.
If you would like a Boulder Bicycle in the
"middle" size range (55.5 or 57mm top tube) we figure that your
bike could be delivered to you in 8 weeks at this time.
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Thursday June 18, 2008
Wow its been a long time since we've updated the
Blog. Figure next update in very early July, then the updates
will become much more regular!
So much to report!
Our blue Rene Herse Road
Sport bicycle won best craftsmanship in its category at the
recent Cirque du Cyclisme show in Virginia. Mark Nobilette,
our lead builder, is getting the praise and attention his amazing
work deserves. Brian Baylis, an American framebuilding legend,
did the wonderful paint work on this machine. Brian raved about this
frame when he saw in unpainted, and he has a new Herse on order.
We now have Herse stem
bolts and alloy nuts in stock. They are the classic
design, but made of stainless so you can polish them up for that
chrome-like gleam (we polish the heads before you get them).
They are made a bit long, so they work in all the likely
applications (easy to cut to length). The original bolts were
kinda soft, and many stems when they clamp down force the bolt to
bend as the holes no longer are perfectly on axis. This
frequently happened on the originals, and we used a soft stainless,
so the new ones do this as well. A set of the bolts
with alloy nuts (two of each) is $40. This is a great way
to dress up that Herse stem with ugly bolts or to replace bolts that
are missing entirely.
The first prototype of our
Boulder Bicycle Randonneur has
arrived and we have photos - it is not yet decaled and is not
assembled, but a bunch of photos should give you a great idea of the
general details of this exciting project. We especially like
the arm off the canti bridge for the rear light. Also, we at
this time are making the front racks in-house to insure that they
are optimized for purpose and fit. Plus, if we find that we
need a "special" tweak, it is much better to be able to do it here
than to communicate to Asia. Of course, for special requests
it will take a bit extra time to send out for paint/powder coat, but
we think it is worth it.
The chrome Herse Randonneur we
displayed at the NABS show has received a few tweaks. We have
new front light housings, proper Herse stem bolts/nuts, and a new
stem mounted light switch installed. You can see some new
photos by clicking here.
We have some projects in the
works as well. We are about to get some new twin plate
forkcrowns made for Continental Oval blades. These will look
like traditional Herse twin plate crowns. The plates are to be
CNC'd locally, and additional spigot pieces are brazed on by Mark.
A round tube version of this plate was displayed at the recent
We're deciding what to do for
front lights. The new Super Nova light is extremely nice, and
we may incorporate it into our machines or alternatively me continue
to proceed with our twin light project. We may even pursue