Herse was born in Caen. He started working on prototype aircraft at the aircraft maker Breguet. In 1938, he introduced lightweight aluminum bicycle components: pedals, cranks, cantilever brakes and stems. In 1940, he began making complete bicycles. Herse was a "constructeur", meaning he built not just the frame but the entire bike.
Herse bikes won technical trials in wartime and post-war France. His riders and especially his daughter Lily Herse (see below) won numerous times in the Polymultipliée de Chanteloup hillclimb races. Herse's riders won the Challenge des Constructeurs for the builder with the three best-placed riders in the Paris-Brest-Paris randonneur event every time from 1948 until 1971, and again in 1975. Six out of ten victories has never been equalled.
His daughter, Lily Herse, won eight national female cycling championships in France.
- Heine, Jan (2012). Rene Herse - The Bikes - The Builder - The Riders. Seattle: Bicycle Quarterly Press. p. 424. ISBN 976546023-6.
- Heine, Jan (2002). "Interview with Roger Baumann, Pilote de René Herse and Winner of PBP 1956". Vintage Bicycle Quarterly 1 (2).
- Heine, Jan (Autumn 2003). "History of the Technical Trials 1946-1949". Vintage Bicycle Quarterly 2 (1): 5.
- Heine, Jan (2012). The Competition Bicycle. Rizzoli. p. 176. ISBN 978-0-8478-3841-7.
- Classic Rendezvous
- article by Sheldon Brown
- René Herse Project Inventory and photo gallery of René Herse bicycles
- René Herse Bicycles Inc. Boulder, Colorado company that carries on the René Herse bicycles
-  Compass Bicycles Ltd., Seattle, WA, company that carries on the René Herse components
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