In the late 1930’s, René Herse left the
aircraft industry and began producing cutting-edge components for the
most demanding French cyclists. Bicycle production soon followed as his
company’s fame spread following numerous successes in the technical
trials. Herse designs became known worldwide and his innovations were
copied throughout the cycling industry. Herse bikes have defined the
paradigm of “ultimate touring/brevet bike” since those early days. Even
today, numerous makers stake their livelihoods on making “copies” of
René Herse bicycles.
The success of Herse bicycles was not
limited to touring or brevets; countless races and world championships
have been won on René Herse bicycles.
In 1976 René Herse passed away and his
daughter Lyli (many-time French National road and track champion) and
son-in-law Jean Desbois (who had been Herse’s star builder in the
1940’s) took over the company. While the occasional Herse part was
still produced, the company ceased regular production in the 1980’s.
In 2007, Michael Kone in Boulder
Colorado wished start production of ultimate handcrafted bicycles with
an emphasis on Brevet style (bicycles with fenders, lighting, and front
racks) machines. But there was a problem; from both a performance
perspective, Herse designs remain unsurpassed. To build the finest
bicycles one would need to essentially build a new René Herse.
Fortunately, Lyli Herse wanted to see the designs and name of her
family live on, and she sold rights and remaining equipment and
materials to René
Herse Bicycles Inc. of Boulder Colorado. Lyli and her husband
remain available as “consultants” to the company, and receive a
photograph of each new René
Herse Bicycle built.
To make the dream a reality, a builder
of the highest caliber was needed to construct new René
Herse Bicycles. Not just any builder can make these machines as René
Herse Bicycle construction requires complex machining capabilities.
Mike was fortunate to be able to partner with one of the few
framebuilders who is also an accomplished machinist, Mark Nobilette in
nearby Longmont Colorado.
So now the tradition of René
Herse performance and craftsmanship can continue. For those who
crave both the performance and the elegance of René Herse Bicycles, the dream to obtain one in your size made to your
measurements can be fulfilled.