Bertin C 37 Berthoud Handlebar Bag

Back in November of 2009, I needed a handlebar bag for longer rides. I went through a process of selection and evaluation and finally chose the Velo Orange Campagne bag due to its specification and its stylistic resemblance to the classic Solange/Berthoud bags and luggage. Details are here:

The bag was a reasonable fit, smaller than I would have preferred and it was never able to be fully seated on the TA rack supporting it as you can see in the profile shot below.

Over a year ago, I decided to replace the VO bag with a Berthoud of larger capacity and intended to buy the Berthoud GB 25 without side pockets offered through Rene Herse Cycles in the US. However, after a year on the waiting list I seized upon an offering on the 650B Google forum site and arranged to buy a slightly shop worn Berthoud GB 2586 that was the right size but had additional side pockets and buckle rather than shock cord closures on the pockets. The NOS bag on the forum was quite keenly priced but a comparable Berthoud version will set you back 290.20 Euros plus shipping.

Photo Credit: Gilles Berthoud

Although I had not wanted the side pockets, I discovered that they are mounted low enough on the bag to not interfere with your hands, even when wearing full finger gloves. The bag was well packed and assembled easily. There is a large, thick, pre-folded and rigid cardboard stiffener that goes into the bag and attaches with Velcro to two interior flaps. This prevents heavy items drooping the bag over the rack edges or interfering with the bike’s headlight.

The bag, after a quick going over with a lint roller, presented beautifully. The sewn seams are flawless and the quality of the leather is excellent. For those who are interested in the bags, vegan versions are available at this link. Fit and finish is superb and the the bag is very spacious.

The bag is 270 mm wide (10.5 in), 220 mm tall (8.75 in) and 145 mm (5.75 in) from front to back. Pockets add about 30 mm (1 in) to the basic dimensions of the bag. In terms of features, there are the obvious ones in the photos but I should point out that the clear map case is Velcro sealed and that the lid has a clear pocket inside the flap as and a zippered pocket as well. The rated capacity of the bag is 10 Litres.

Both the outer main flap and the inner flaps use white, elastic shock cords for rapid closure or access. Other closures are by chrome plated buckles. The bottom of the bag has a large, thick leather rub strip sewn into place to prevent wear on the bag and to act as a stiffener if the cardboard liner is omitted to allow overloading of the main compartment.

Berthoud include straps for various purposes. The bag has loops on either side that attach to the provided adjustable nylon carry strap. If you use a decaleur (I do not) this permits you to easily clip on the strap and carry away the bag if on a break from the bike. Others, such as I, will use the 2 provided leather straps to anchor the bag to the tombstone and then attach the straps securely to the handlebar. The photo below shows two sets of straps. The shorter are as provided and the longer are Berthoud accessories purchased for use with the VO Campagne bag. The larger 28 mm (11 in) straps are what I use to permit a flat mount to the TA front rack.

Once installed, the bag appears as seen in the photos below and securely sits on the rack provided. Finger space between the bar and bag near the stem is slightly tight but doable. On the hoods, tops and the drops there is no conflict and the bike handles normally with the load of the bag and contents.

Finished and Installed

The results have been excellent and, although expensive, the bag must be considered an investment to be amortized over multiple day trips, credit card tours and randonnees.

Bertin C 31 Dame Anglais

The focus of this blog from the very beginning was on Bertin bicycles of what I consider the steel bike’s classic period from the 1950s to the early 1980s. Often that meant that racing and sport bikes were emphasized since these were often more valued and preserved compared to casual or utilitarian bicycles.

It was with interest that I received a request to confirm an identification of a 1970s period Bertin bicycle. This one had, tentatively, been identified by the new owner as a Bertin C 31. Manuel, in Germany, had acquired the bike to refurbish and possibly re-sell which is a not unfamiliar motivation for Bertin owners. What was unusual here was that the bike was not the more familiar diamond frame or mixte but a “dame anglais” with a “top” tube that paralleled the down tube. This type of frame is most typically seen on utilitarian bikes for town use but the C 31 was a sport bike which more typically would have had a mixte frame configuration.

Once I received photographs, I confirmed Manuel’s id of the bike, the first C 31 I have ever seen with that particular frame configuration.

Bike As Found

The bike is largely original in configuration and equipment. From the Weinmann brake levers one could argue that the bike had previously had dropped bars but the flat bars, at the very least, seem period correct. Cleaned, polished and reassembled the bike looks like this:

As Renovated

Manuel has done a nice job bringing the C 31 back from neglect as can be seen in the following detail photographs:

The only problem this bike has is that it is too small for Manuel and so he has decided to sell it. I do not typically link to sales site but given the unusual nature of this Bertin, I am linking to his add in case any of my readers would like to take the opportunity to make a bid. If any of you do take up the opportunity, good luck!

PBK Saddle Bag

Bertin Publicity Card Most bikes need at least a few tools, a spare tube, patch kit and such like in case of a repair or adjustment being needed far from home. Often, we store them in either a handlebar bar if a tourist or randonneur or in an under the seat saddle bag of some sort if we are a sport rider travelling light. 

Saddle bags vary tremendously in both configuration and capacity. Some are large enough to store what’s needed on a weekend tour and others are minimalist configurations with just enough room for necessities. I tend toward the minimalist type and do not want anything that will shift around impairing the handling or large and bulky enough that it snags a leg when mounting the bike.

What prompted the search for a new saddle/tool bag was a pre-ride inspection last summer. I was looking over the bike for issues and noticed that the tools on my oldest bike had worn through the nylon fabric of the tool bag which would now need replacement. After search multiple sites on line, I discovered that almost all the bags were complex, overly large, expensive or all of the preceding. However, ProBikeKit had a PBK house branded bag that was simple, inexpensive and elegant and looked just the right size. 


I liked the look and capacity and ordered two, one for each of the Bertin C 37s. Shipping was prompt and the bags arrived well packaged. Once unpacked, they looked like this:

Opening the protective inner wrap revealed a bag exactly as advertised on the PBK website.

One of the issues raised by other buyers in the comments section of the PBK catalogue was the tendency for the velcro closure strip to be too short and not hold securely if the bag was fully loaded. I determined to test this and packed the bag with the materials from the now worn out Cannondale predecessor. Everything fit beautifully with the Mafac tool kit being perfectly sized to the dimensions of the bag and the 700C x 28 tube tucking in comfortably.

On the subsequent ride, I discovered the stability concerns were true as the bag fell off on a large bump. The velcro had not held the weight of the tools and tube so I determined to have the problem fixed. I went to a fabric store and found matching black velcro tape in the notions section. It was 19 mm / 3/4″ wide and a perfect match for the PBK strap width. A quick trip to a local dry cleaners had the seamstress sew on the velcro to both of the PBK bags with the result that the whole strap now supported the weight as the bags would hang on the saddle rails.

If you look carefully in the images below you can see the before, in the top photo, and the after, in the bottom photo. (Click to enlarge.)

Each of the bags fit comfortably and tidily between the saddle rails of a Brooks B 17 and a Selle Italia Turbo. (See the photo below.) In both applications they are completely stable and secure and do not rattle or shift over road bumps. Also, due to their compact size, they do not chafe the thighs and are completely out of the way when swinging a leg over the seat for mounting. I fact, I liked them so much, I bought three others and had them modified as well to put on my other bikes.

Bertin C 37bis Restoration

In July of 2020, I received an email from Guillaume D. who shared about a restoration he was doing on a newly acquired Bertin C 37bis. This model had the same design and graphics as the familiar C 37 made in Reynolds 531 but had a French Vitus 971 tube set in place of the Reynolds. Of course I was interested and the photo he included only confirmed that interest.

For safety, Guillaume had already changed the perished old tires to new Vittoria Corsa Controls in 700C x 25 and removed the tattered bar tape but the general condition of what was a 40 year old bike was remarkably good and a perfect basis for a sympathetic restoration. Decals, in some places, were scratched, missing or only partially there as seen below.

Generally, the C 37’s equipment was in good condition but the front Shimano 60 derailleur was not and required replacing by a matching derailleur as seen on the right of the next photo.

With the equipment upgrade settled, Guillaume cleaned and polished all the alloy and chrome on the bike and replaced the shifter and brake cables as well as the chain. This allowed him to move on to cosmetic details like the lever hoods and decals. The OEM Mafac branded hoods were in deteriorated condition as 40 years of ozone and sunlight had done their damage.

A set of NOS Mafac branded hoods were obtained through and were a major improvement over the originally fitted hoods which had disintegrated when removed from the brake lever bodies.

Once the levers had been fitted, attention to the damaged Bertin decal was next. Velocals in the United States make a UV resistant decal that does not require clear coating so Guillaume ordered up a set for the down tube decals. The residue of the damaged decals was removed and the frame was lightly polished before the application of the Velocals replacements.




Once the polishing and decals were completed, the addition of some white Speed Ribbon handlebar tape finished off the project with the C 37bis looking well cared for but showing some of the patina of the years just as Guillaume had intended.

The outcome is a sensitive renewal of a classic ride and I must thank Guillaume for sharing both his experience of the restoration and the outstanding result.