This is a fascinating story of a time when cycling was a way of life. The bikes, as beautiful as they are, provide only the backdrop for the adventures and friendships that they made possible. René Herse needs little introduction these days: He created some of the most sought-after bicycles ever made. This 424-page book takes you right into the action, with thousands of historic photos and stories told by riders, racers, randonneurs, employees and René Herse’s daughter Lyli. Follow René Herse and his friends through half a century of adventures, starting with Herse’s early work on prototype aircraft. Join then 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.
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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!
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