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Reviews:

"René Herse is an educational, attitude-changing, enlightening, fascinating, detailed testament to the man who contributed more useful beauty to bicycles than anybody else."

—Grant Petersen
    Rivendell Bicycle Works

Click here to read the full review.

"I can hardly put it down. This book is so much more than I expected."

—Constance Winters
    Lovely Bicycle


"An action-packed journey through some of the golden years of cycling."

—Peter Weigle, constructeur

"If you are a fan of René Herse Bicycles you will have to have this book. If you are not yet a fan, this book will make you one."

—Bob Freeman
    Davidson Bicycles


"The world is roughly divided into those who are obsessed with René Herse and those who don't yet know who he is. Make the leap from one group to the other with this fabulous, definite history of the famous constructeur and his bicycles."

—Treadlie Magazine, Australia

"Really fantastic. The photos are terrific and the words are interesting. We’ve got it on the meeting table in our creative studio and people keep hovering around it. Great stuff!"

—Mike Deme, Adventure Cyclist

Click here to read more reviews.

From the book:

"Many avid cyclists bought beautiful bikes. They rather deprived themselves of other things, so they could afford one of these bikes. And those who knew the most about bikes often went to René Herse."

—Paulette Callet
    René Herse rider, 1940s.


"Of all the bikes I have owned, my René Herse was the best. It was the pinnacle of quality."

—Roger Baumann
    René Herse rider, 1950s.


"I raced for nine years as a top-level amateur. I was sponsored by Gémininiani-Gitane, but I continued to race my Herse. From time to time, I took the Gitane to please the sponsors, but there was simply no comparison. I really liked that Herse."

—Jean-Marie Comte
    René Herse rider, 1960s.


"Lily at full speed, that is simply marvellous. It’s like Coppi, Fausto before all his misfortunes. Once Lyli has crossed the line, the prize obtained, she becomes a little girl with a sad look, who does not make any noise, so quiet that one has to look for her and does not always find her."

—Poet Henri de la Tombelle
    about Lyli Herse.


"We did great tours in the Alsace. We had a lot of fun, both on and off the bike"

—Lucien Détée, customer at
    Cycles René Herse since 1945.


René Herse
The Bikes • The Builder • The Riders

By Jan Heine
Foreword by Lyli Herse

René Herse created some of the most sought-after bicycles ever made. Explore the fascinating and incredibly rich history behind this famous constructeur in this definitive, 424-page book. Follow Rene Herse starting with his early work on prototype aircraft. Join him at the 1938 Technical Trials, where his bike created a sensation: Fully equipped with wide tires, fenders, lights and a rack, it weighed just 7.94 kg (17.5 lb), lighter than any similar bike today. Witness the difficult years during World War II and learn how cyclists used their bikes both to forage the country for food, but also to spend time with friends and to help each other. Watch amazing performances in the Poly de Chanteloup hillclimb race and Paris-Brest-Paris, as well as famous professional racers who ride on René Herse’s frames to victories in national and world championships. Visit the workshop and learn how American customers helped to keep the lights on during the difficult period of the 1960s.



Recollections from Herse’s daughter, his employees and especially riders who rode on his team paint a vivid portrait of a gentle, hard-working man who loved cycling and bicycles. More than 400 photos, most taken by professional photographers, bring the story to life. Complementing this history are studio photographs of 20 René Herse bicycles, from one of the first machines made in 1941 to one of the last bikes built in the 1980s: randonneur bikes, tandems, racing and track bikes, as well as touring, camping and city bikes. Each bike is shown in profile and with detail photographs that illustrate why these bikes are so special.

The owners and riders of René Herse’s bikes were a relatively classless group that included the well-off as well as young workers who saved all their money to afford their dream bikes. Many of these riders had one thing in common: Their lives revolved around cycling. They rode hard in competitions, but also explored new landscapes and cultures on their tours. Most of all, they forged lasting friendships along the way and lived their lives fully doing what they liked best: cycling in the company of good friends. This book is as much about these riders as it is about the bikes they rode. May they serve as an inspiration to future generations of cyclists!

Also available in French.


The Author:
Jan Heine is editor of Bicycle Quarterly , a magazine about the history, culture and technology of cycling. He is the author of The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles.


Publisher: Bicycle Quarterly Press
Year: 2012
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 424 pages
Dimensions: 9.5" x 12"

Price: $86



Limited Edition
The Limited Edition includes a collection of four ready-to-frame prints of unpublished photographs from the René Herse Archives. An attractive slipcase protects the book. Each copy is numbered and signed by the author.

Limited to 150 copies.

Price: $185