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 EBay.de 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!

https://www.ebay.de/itm/234389400583

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 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.

Before

During

After

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.

Bertin Graphics

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