Wednesday, February 27, 2013

BIKE RESTORATIONS: Making a René Herse bell

Here's a quick update on my René Herse project, bicycle friends. If you missed it, here's the first story about this holy grail of vintage bike collectibles, how I got it and how I plan to get it road-worthy again. A fun detour is this great gallery of René Herses.

One of the first things I wanted to replace was the missing bell on my Herse. These French randonneuring bicycles were street-legal so they had to have full equipment like lights and bells. Like a lot of others I've seen, my Herse had a bell mounted to the stem, but it had gone missing by the time I received the bike.

The handmade Herse stem, machined from a block of aluminum, has a threaded hole in the left side to receive the bell. You can see an example in the photo below. It's nice how the bell floats next to the stem like it was meant to be there, and with no ugly clamps or bolts and nuts. It's also easy to hit the striker with your thumb from a couple of  hand positions.
Most René Herse bicycles include a built-in stem bell. The handlebar bag shown is by Guu Watanabe Bags
The bell is conspicuously absent on my stem but the threaded hole is there

An aluminum Crane bell from Japan resembles the original

Simply unscrew the bell and it comes apart

My Herse stem has a 6mm hole so the bell's 5mm threaded post has to go

Ready to drill and thread the bell's aluminum post

Slow and easy; it's soft aluminum

The 6mm threaded post to receive the bell with a drop of thread adhesive

The finished bell!

Rider's view (the striker can be placed wherever you want it)
There you have it, a pretty easy method of making a reasonable replacement bell for a René Herse. And, if I ever find a correct, original bell for the bike (please let me know if you have one), I will be able to simply remove this new one and install it.

In the meantime, this nice little Crane bell will do. And don't worry, the modern handlebar tape will be replaced with cloth, and I have nice new-old-stock brake hoods ready to slip on, courtesy of Cycles de ORO.

Good luck with your bicycle projects,


djconnel said...

Fantastic! I'd love to see that bike some time. I'm very curious how it rides. Those stems are a very interesting design. It seems the recent interest in "adventure bikes" and "gravel racers" comes very close to classic randonneuring bicycles. The randonneuring bike culture is somewhat held back by associations with retro-grouchism, slow-with-attitude. I think it's clear this need not be the case, that things like integrated fenders and front racks have a lot of utility, even if LED technology has rendered the old generator technology unnecessary. But given the amount of shared use paths around here, integrated bells make a lot of sense.

Jim Langley said...

Thanks, Dan. If you aren't already, you should tune into Jan Heine's blog that often shows classic bikes like mine and covers randonneuring bikes and topics. Here's a link: I think you'll like it. See you on the road sometime soon I'm sure,