I promised you bikes with zero kilometers, but I got distracted by this machine that’s seen quite a few. Some new old stock bicycles for sale should be up soon. Meanwhile let’s have a first look at this René Herse from my collection. Probably dating back to the 1940s, it looks like the bicycle was overhauled and repainted at Herse in the early 1960s.
The bike was found in Paris in rough shape, with makeshift wheels in the wrong size (650B instead of 700C) and a chainguard slapped on, but otherwise it still has most of the early 1960s components supplied by Herse. Judging by the beautiful rack it was probably for a gentleman who needed to carry a small, heavy load around town. A specialist mechanic with his tool box? A doctor with his leather bag?
I only just disassembled and washed it. Cleaning the frame with mild soap and water, it was a pleasure to see the wonderful lug lines appear from underneath the crud. Although it’s for simple single speed use – the frame has no provisions for any gearing – it has been an elaborate thing to make.
René Herse was meticulous. For good cable routing, there is a stop integrated into the seat cluster, and the cable guide at the front of the top tube sits at just the right angle. Threads for the fenders have been brazed on both the frame and rack. There are little tabs for the lights, and their wires run inside the tubes. Everything is nicely considered and finished. No straight twin lateral tubes here, they were bent into an exquisite S-shape.
It’s a nice bike, but the old finish is in bad shape. The frame will have a bath with an organic rust eater, and then I will reexamine the paint.
René Herse #109 29, a set on Flickr.