René Herse distributing the French brand of handmade tubes, FMB – .

René Herse distributing the French brand of handmade tubes, FMB – .

A version of this article appeared in the July issue of BRAIN.
SEATTLE (BRAIN) – After the Vittoria Group announced in May that they had bought A.Dugast, a Dutch maker of handmade tubes, sewing aficionados turned to FMB. The French company is perhaps the last remaining independent tube maker.

FMB’s cyclocross and road tubes are again available in the United States wholesale and retail through Renè Herse Cycles, the Seattle-based company that sells its own brand of tires and other gravel and touring products.

“Demand has been stable,” for FMB, said Jan Heine, owner of Renè Herse. “There was no real cyclocross last year (due to COVID) so we now have a good supply of perfectly 12 month old cyclocross tubulars. “

In the early 1980s, François Marie founded FMB (the acronym stands for François Marie Boyaux, Boyaux being French for tubular) in the Breton town of Plurien.

FMB supplied tubulars to the Paris-Roubaix winners, Olympic track medalists and world cyclocross and mountain biking champions. It is common for pros to re-label FMB tires with their sponsor logos. In some cases, the connection to the sponsor tire is deeper: FMB sometimes cuts tire treads and glues them to its hand-made casings to take advantage of tubular driving with modern tread designs tailored to sponsors.

Heine said that the distribution of FMB is “something we do out of passion, not because there is a big market there. … They have such a great race that it would be a shame if they weren’t available. “

In Europe, FMB mainly sells direct to consumers, and most of those consumers are professional runners, Heine said.

“(In Europe) they don’t keep any stock – everything is really made to order. If you want a super mud tread on a 32mm wide silk case, they can do that. “

In the United States, Heine stocks road and cyclocross tires in a variety of widths and carcass options. Retail prices range from $ 125 to $ 175.

“In the end, I think the casing market is not going to grow; he sells to people who know what they want and we provide it. I’m not trying to convert novice bikers into guts; they have enough trouble with the tubeless tires. ”


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