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 www.velo-classic.de 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.
I have previously published examples of Bertin catalogue covers and posters including the most recent previous post with an evaluation of a commercially available Bertin poster available through PosterPoster on Etsy. However, some of the most interesting graphics from Bertin are the catalogue illustrations and covers that come from Rudolphe Rebour. He had done both bicycle and accessory catalogues for Bertin dating back into the 1950s but the example from today’s post is a sample that comes from the early 1970s just as illustrations were being replaced by photography. A similar illustration can be found for sale as a repro on EBay France in A4 size in case you are interested : https://www.ebay.fr/itm/144034224251?hash=item21891bd87b:g:KTQAAOSw12Jgl9V2
Back in May of 2020, I wrote about a series of Bertin posters available from PostersPosters on the Etsy website. They were available in sizes ranging from 11 x 17 inches to as large as 43 x 60 inches. I finally decided to order a poster in the 18 x 24 inch size which I did through the Etsy site.
I placed the order on line on December 18, 2020 and received the poster on January 27, 2021 which seems prompt given the Christmas season shipping crunch. The order was shipped tracked and arrived packaged in a rigid cardboard tube with plastic end caps. Cost was C $52 with tracked Priority shipping from the USA costing a further C $22.
Once a cap was removed, I found the poster inside to be carefully rolled, wrapped and cushioned. The poster itself had a removable fabric-like liner that covered the printed face of the poster and which protected the printed image from scuffing or colour transfer. As mentioned, the poster had been rolled up but once unrolled, revealed itself to have been printed on heavy gauge, high quality water colour paper. The image had ultra sharp definition and colours were thick, uniform and beautifully printed.
However, that thick, high quality watercolour paper was a problem. Having been rolled up in a shipping tube for more than three weeks, the paper simply refused to unroll. Eventually, I rolled it out on the dining table and placed it under about 20 pounds (10 kilos) of books where it stayed for two weeks. Even then, it still tried to re-roll itself so I began to gently re-roll the poster in the opposite direction to reduce the curl. Another week of that and the poster was flat enough to install in a frame and to hang in my workshop. It’s an excellent product and highly recommended.
I originally wrote about the Bernard Carre connection to Cycles Bertin back in February, March and April of 2016. This relationship developed because of a 1973 fire which destroyed the old Bertin factory in the middle of the 1970’s Bike Boom and forced Bertin to contract with volume builders for the lower tiered bikes in the line. It also necessitated Bertin arranging production of the top of the line C 37s with Bernard Carre in the Paris suburb of Montreuil.
When I first learned of the Carre connection, I thought the Carre/Bertin C 37s were only sold in North America. This conclusion was based on the fact that the only samples I had seen had been found in the United States or had been sold on to me here in Canada. However, in 2019, Kevin R., who lives in Northern France, found a beaten up Carre/Bertin C 37 in a yard sale and was able to share photos and details here. Obviously, the model was
Drive Side Profile
distributed in all the usual places that Bertin production was sold but I still believed the C 37 was the sole instance of Carre cooperation with Cycles Bertin.
Wrong again. A contact on Bike Forums’ Classic & Vintage section, Lynn T., let me know that he had found and purchased what he believed to be a Carre/Bertin C 35. At the time, Carre frequently built with 531 so a C 35 with a 531 main frame was not unbelievable but seemed improbable. Once the frameset was in his hands, Lynn sent me a series of photos that proved his acquisition actually was a C 35.
The core of the issue was the 531 main frame and the clearly Vitus decaled left fork which were the signature specification of the C 35. The 531 and Vitus everywhere else clearly proved the bike’s identity. See the following photographs for details:
The differences between the C 37 and the C 35 are the simplifications that let Cycles Bertin hit a lower price point. The standard Prugnat 62/S lugs are there as is the brazed on seatpost bolt clamp. The frameset has fish mouth seatstay ends only but domed and slotted ends on the chainstays and the fork ends. The unbranded fork dropouts are forged but, unlike the C 37, the rear dropouts are stamped steel Campagnolo 1010/1s instead of forged 1010As. The rear brake bridge has no reinforcements but the fork has chrome socks just like a C 37. So, overall, the frameset has small compromises to reduce cost without a significant reduction in function. Given the way these varieties are turning up, I am half expecting to be writing about a Carre/Bertin C 34 in the next little while. If you would like to see detailed photos of the C 35 built up, Lynn has posted a large selection to Flickr here.