Bertin C 38 in New York

Often, people write to the blog to share about what they have done to refurbish or restore a Bertin built bicycle. Recently, I received an email from Abed in New York City asking if I would like to share the C 38 track bike photos he had attached. The answer was “Yes!” as you can see from the photos below. Abed has done a great job with this early 60s C 38 from the 531 frame restoration to the Campagnolo track gruppo. As Abed said in his email, “The bike is wild and flies like a butterfly. ” That pretty much says it all. Thanks for sharing with all the other Bertin enthusiasts, Abed. I hope you enjoy his urban ambiance Bertin photos. (Double click on photos to enlarge for greater detail.)


Abed c 38 profile


Abed c 38 front low


Abed c 38 front non-drive


Abed c 38 front


Bertin C 37 in The Bicycle Book

The Bicycle Book is a recently published history of the bicycle and its technical and social contexts. It is offered by The Bicycle Book coverDorling Kindersley and edited by Chauncey Dunford. The ISBN is 978-0-2412-2611-7 and Dorling Kindersley lists it at 20 pounds.  The exterior of the book is striking. There is a full colour cover photo which wraps around the front cover to the back and is embossed with highlights using metallic inks. The book has board covers but no dust jacket.

Organization is by chronological sequence that begins in 1817 and extends to the present. Within each era are sub-sections about unique developments originating in the period as well as specific bicycle marques and technology. For example, the 1970s feature touring bikes and the manufacturer Colnago.

There are profiles of notable bikes like the Raleigh Chopper, Moultons, the Bianchi Paris Roubaix and the Specialized Stumpjumper. Great manufacturers are featured with 2 page spreads with history and relevant photos. Campagnolo, Raleigh, Peugeot, Colnago, Cannondale, Shimano and Giant all are featured manufacturers. As well, inserted into the appropriate historical sections are overviews of the great races like Paris-Roubaix, the Giro, the Tour and the 2012 Women’s Olympic road race.

The book also evaluates bicycle technology with photos , illustrations, and exploded diagrams tracing and explaining technological advances.

The book features exceptional quality photography although there are occasional captioning errors such as misidentifying a brake caliper’s brand or describing my C 37 as a touring bike. Nonetheless, niggles aside, the book has fabulous photography, interesting narrative and an effectively organized presentation. Highly recommended.

Aside:  A year ago, I was contacted by Dorling Kindersley with a request to provide a photo of a Bertin C 37 for this book project. I supplied and gave permission to use a profile photo of my recently restored C 37 which eventually showed up on C37 Scanpage 112 of the finished book in the section on touring bikes. (See the poor copy of my page scan from the book.) I subsequently received a free copy of the book as compensation for providing the photo. Nonetheless, despite my obvious bias, I believe the book to be an outstanding overview of the bicycle itself and of cycling history.

Bertin Tandem

In mid-May, I was contacted by a French reader of the blog looking for help in identifying a tandem that he had just purchased. It was a Bertin tandem, which is unsurprising on this blog, but what a unique bertin

Map credit: Wikipedia

Map credit: Wikipedia

Bertin it turned out to be. Loic wondered if it was a tandem built in St. Laurent-Blangy as the Bertin head badge listed a different location. The Cycles Bertin badge showed the small town of Rheges as the location of the business which constructed the tandem, not in the Nord Pas de Calais but in the Aube departemant to the south and east. Surprising really, as Rheges has a population of about 240 people and does not seem to be a Bertin 50s Headbadgehotbed of industrial production. The Andre Bertin badge is radically different with its tricolour and eagle motif. The tandem is in the profile photo which follows and you should look very closely at it.




I would direct your attention to the horizontal boom tube which joins the captain’s and the stoker’s bottom bracket shells and to the non-existent front chain wheel. Instead of an eccentric front bottom bracket and a chain wheel to connect to the stoker’s crankset there is a vertically ovalized and fillet brazed tube to enclose what I believe is a shaft drive to the stoker’s crankset axle.

The design is well thought out for the pre-WW II to 1950s when its equipment was produced. There are brazed on Jeay roller cam brakes, hub brakes in steel hubs on 650 B rims and a Cyclo derailleur on the rear with a later single sprocket instead of the expected 3 or 4 cog freewheel. The cranksets are steel with a rear double. The brazing looks very clean and the bike was painted a lovely shade of green with the beautiful pinstripes so characteristic of the era. Below, are close up photos by Loic. I think you will find them fascinating. (Double click on photos to enlarge)

Front Drum Brake

Front Drum Brake


Jeay Roller Cam Brakes

Jeay Roller Cam Brakes


Stoker Crankset

Stoker Crankset

Cyclo Shift Lever

Cyclo Shift Lever

Seat Cluster with Custom Rack Mounts

Seat Cluster with Custom Rack Mounts

Cyclo Rear Derailleur

Cyclo Rear Derailleur



Rear Axle/Drum Brake

Rear Axle/Drum Brake

Drum Brake and Reaction Arm

Drum Brake and Reaction Arm


Head Tube Junction

Head Tube Junction




























Although this is a Bertin tandem, it seems unlikely to be a tandem produce by Cycles Andre Bertin. Note that M. Bertin’s business is not called Cycles Bertin like the tandem but always either Cycles Andre Bertin or Cycles A. Bertin as seen on the ad below.

Advert Bertin Milremo

Nonetheless, this is a fascinating and unique machine produced, it seems, by the other Cycles Bertin.





Bernard Carre and Andre Bertin 3

While Bernard Carre undoubtedly built C 37 framesets for Cycles Andre Bertin in 1973, the only four examples I am aware of are all from the United States. I do not know if this reflects an export market bias or that I simply do not have examples of Carre’s Bertins for Europe. As well, I have never seen a C 38 Carre Bertin track bike either. Nonetheless, the three road bike examples that I have photographs of bear striking similarities to each other and to Carre’s regular production frames. I will categorize the areas of comparison and show three of the bikes in photos so readers can confirm their similar production characteristics.


Carre’s production frames typically, but not invariably, used Prugnat 62/s style lugs on the head tube and seat tube of framesets. Note the atypical diamond windows in Don’s lugs.


Don G Carre C37 head lugs cropped

Prugnat 62/s modified     Don


Carre Bertin headlugs white

Prugnat 62/s    Jim


R c37 htube cropped

Prugnat 62/s    Richard


Seat Lug and Binder Bolt

Bernard Carre used a distinctive willow leaf pattern for his seatstay caps. On custom framesets, they would include his B. Carre stamping (apparently he originated the custom) . Builds for professional cyclists might have the rider’s name or initials like the Rebour drawing in Part 2 illustrates for Jacques Anquetil. On production frames for manufacturers and bike shops, the stamping might be present or absent depending on the deal struck with the buyer. Later in his career, Carre switched to the narrow, concave format of the stay caps which doesn’t concern the Carre Bertins. Carre’s usual practice in his framesets was to braze on solid binder bolt ears rather than rely on stamped lug ears. Also, atypically, the anti-rotation notch for the binder bolt is on the drive side not the non-drive side. Note, as well, the difference in the seat lug on Don’s C 37. It is not a stylistic match to the head lugs.


Don G Carre C 37 seat cluster stay cap

Prugnat S not Prugnat 62/s lug     Don


C37 stay cap and bolt

Prugnat 62/s lug Note Binder bolt key     Jim


R c37 seat tube stay caps and bolt

Prugnat 62/s with Willow Leaf stay cap     Richard



On production level framesets, Carre usually used DP style forged crowns supplied by Vagner of Dijon, France.


Don G Carre C37 head lugs and crown

Vagner Crown     Don


Vagner Crown Jim

Vagner Crown     Jim


R c37 crown

Vagner Crown     Richard



Up until about 1975, Carre’s workshop built frames with Reynolds 531 tubing in Metric sizes. Some bike shop level frames were 531 main tubes, sometimes with 531 forks. However, the Carre Bertins were full Reynolds 531 with 26.4 mm seatpost openings.


Don G Carre C 37 531 sticker

Post Restoration 531 Sticker     Don


C 37 531 decal

Original Pre-restoration 531 Decal     Jim


531 ghost image

Reynolds 531 Decal ghost image     Richard


Stay and Fork Ends

Carre used a distinctive diagonal cut which fish mouthed the ends of the rear stays and of the fork tips. Theoretically, this allowed a deeper penetration of brazing material and created a stronger joint. For brevity’s sake, I will show rear stay joints only. As well, Carre used Campagnolo dropouts when using 531 tubing. After 1975, he primarily used Vitus 971 with Vitus, Gipiemme or Campagnolo dropouts.

Don G Carre C 37 stay finish

Stay end finish      Don


Stay end fish mouth

Stay end finish     Jim


R c37 stay finish

Stay end finish      Richard


Brake Bridge Reinforcements

The brake bridges on Carre’s frames were usually made of rolled and brazed sheet metal. It is odd that tubing was not used but, if you look carefully under a Carre brake bridge, you will see a seam in the metal (except on mine which my framebuilder filed and sanded). At each end is a diamond-shaped “reinforcement” which seems rather more decorative than structural given the fabricated nature of the brake bridge itself. About the time (1975?) Carre switched to Vitus tubing and the concave, scalloped stay caps, the brake reinforcements became teardrop shaped with the long section below the bridge. These three examples are diamond-shaped in style.

Don G Carre C 37 brake bridge cropped

Bridge reinforcement     Don


Brake reinforcement Jim

Brake reinforcement      Jim


No close up was available for Richard’s frameset.


Frame Size and Serial Numbers

Typical Bertin practice was to stamp the center-to-top frame size, measured in centimetres, into the off side rear dropout face. Often, but not always, the frame serial number would be there or on the drive side rear dropout. However, for a period of time in the late 60s and 70s, no serial numbers were used and these frames, largely, reflect that practice.


Frame size Don

Frame size     Don


Frame size Jim

Frame size     Jim


Frame size Richard

Frame size     Richard


Serial Numbers

As mentioned above, serial numbers were not used in the period these Carre Bertins were constructed. However, there are anomalies in the bikes shown as examples. There are slight variations in lugs, the use of chrome and such like. Particularly unusual is the presence of a serial number on Richard’s bike. It is located on the bottom bracket. It appears to be 811 73.

R c37 bb serial

The serial number appears to be a Carre convention with the 73 possibly indicating the production year. After the creation of the American Consumer Products Safety Commission in 1972, serial numbers eventually became mandated for bicycles. At that point, Cycles Bertin resumed serials on their production  to allow for recall tracking should that prove necessary.


In the corporate history of Cycles Andre Bertin, the Carre Bertin C 37s are a one time only event. This was precipitated by a disastrous factory  fire which, serendipitously, produced an outstanding and unique model which continues to be ridden and enjoyed more than 40 years after it was created as a hurried stop-gap to fill the Bertin line up.









Bernard Carre and Andre Bertin 2

Bernard Carre racing

Photo: Forum Velo Retro Course. Carre 1956

Bernard Carre had a history in competitive cycling but after his career in racing ended, he went to work as a frame builder for CNC/Fletcher-Ducret in Paris. There was a cadre of excellent framebuilders at CNC which included Rene Andre and Bernard Carre. They built high-end frames there, such as team bikes for East Block countries and at least those two men became notable, independent builders. After leaving CNC, Carre established a production shop of his own in Montreuil, an eastern suburb of Paris, about 6 kilometers from the city centre. I believe he worked with his brother, Lucien Carre, and a group of employees who batch produced frames and frame sets for large B. Carre business cardmanufacturers as well as for smaller specialty producers and bike shops wanting their own unique line of bicycles to set them apart from the mass market firms like Peugeot, Manufrance and Cycle France-Loire.



Photo: Forum Velo Retro Course

Once the business was up and running in the mid to late 1950s, Carre undertook commissions to build custom framesets for top level French racing cyclists. He is known to have built framesets for Julien Arne, Raphael B.Carre for Julian Arne 1950sGeminani, Jean Pierre Danguillaume, Henri Anglade and Jacques Anquetil. A Daniel Rebour technical drawing from 1964 shows the distinctive leaf-shaped seatstay cap with Anquetil’s initials on his 1964 Tour de France winning “Gitane”. (Gitane continued to use this style stay cap on its in-house built bikes even into the 1970s.)  In addition to the  bikes for pro level riders, Carre built custom framesets for club riders, track riders and occasionally, for randonneurs.

B Carre head lug

Photo: Bir Hakim

As mentioned in the Classic Factory Lightweight Bicycles article, Carre produced in three or four levels of quality and finish. The highest would be the custom level. These were usually built with Prugnat Carre RR dropoutS series lugs with diamond-shaped cutouts. Lug variations, chroming on lugs, forks and stays, tubing variations, all were possible on Carre’s custom level work along with a superior level of finish. Fork and stay ends were fish mouthed in design, the orange carre bbridge reinforcement croppedbrake bridge had diamond reinforcements, the seat lug typically had brazed-on ears for the fixing bolt and dropouts were Campagnolo (with or without eyelets) depending on the frame’s purpose. The frame tubing was usually Reynolds metric 531.

Often, from what I have seen in photos, the second level, the pro bikes, were very similar to the first category with slightly less in the way of finish as was typical of French competition frames before quality was debauched during the 1970’s bike boom. The French attitude was that the bike was a tool not a shrine and was finished accordingly.These bikes had none of the fancy chrome of the customs, used Prugnat 62S lugs and were built with the same features as the customs. A good example of this type of bike are the ones built for Lejeune’s racing team and high-end retail sales. An excellent overview is available here at Classic Factory Lightweight Bicycles’ on Lejeunes. These are also Reynolds 531 in metric dimensions.

The next category would be the production frames built for sale by smaller manufacturers and larger retail bike shops or chains.These would be of the same design as the competition frames above and this is where Carre Bertins enter the picture. After the destruction of the factory, the pro/am Bertin team needed framesets and the high-end market needed to be fed with C 37s as ordered by stores at the end of the previous season. It must be remembered that Andre Bertin had a home in Paris and a Paris office as well as the main operation in St. Laurent-Blagny. He must have been familiar with Carre’s operation through trade shows and sheer proximity. Consequently, I believe a deal was struck for Carre to provide framesets for the high end C 37s. I have seen no evidence that the C 35 and C 34s were produced by Carre in that year of disaster, just C 37s.

These frames were nicely finished, well designed and sometimes came with half chromed front forks. They had all the distinctive Carre production trademarks mentioned previously, including metric Reynolds 531 tubes, but did not have the B. Carre stamping on the stay caps, at least on the three examples I am aware of. Fork crowns were Vagner DPs and the Prugnat 62S lugs were normative. The only braze-on was the rear derailleur cable stop on the chainstay. I do not know how the frames were painted and assembled since the Bertin factory was in ruins but built, painted and shipped they were as I will show, in detail, in the next installment of this discussion.

The third category of Carre’s production were the sport bikes or demi-course group. These would have  similar features to the other types but with slightly less expensive lugs, crowns and finishing. Carre built frames in this category with Reynolds 531 main tubes but other tubing was probably substituted at the request of the institutional buyer. Carre even sub-contracted with his old employer, CNC, producing this type of frameset for the Thomann brand of CNC. Click on the picture below to see details of construction.

Carre 3 tubes Thomann profile

Another example of this category is to be found on Classic Factory Lightweight Bicycles with the Delcroix being not just 531 main tubes but having a 531 fork as well. Click to enlarge.

Carre Delcroix profile

Photo: Classic Factory Lightweight Bicycles

If you are interested in other aspects of Bernard Carre’s work, please click on the links below:

Bernard CARRE - Custom-build (1)