Rixe Bikes – Type Andre Bertin

Some time ago, a reader from Germany contacted me and asked if I knew anything about the Rixe brand of bicycles and a model called the “Type Andre Bertin”. I had seen other examples of this online previously but did not have any background information nor was I aware of any connection between Cycles Bertin and Rixe.

Rixe was a German manufacturer of mass market, utility and sport bicycles as well as mopeds and small motorcycles. It had been founded in 1922, reconstituted after WW II  and eventually went out of business in 1984. Its assets were licensed by Derby Cycles in 1989 and the Rixie brand was purchased outright by Derby in 1998. However, the Type Andre Bertin long preceded those events.

The only Rixie catalogue I have been given access to shows no such model.

Rixe cover

However, inside are illustrations of various models and one of them is the Victor Type 59 as seen below.

Rixe pg 3

This model looks like the basis for the “Type Andre Bertin” as it has an upright configuration, built-in lighting with a fork mounted generator, a luggage rack and fenders. A major difference is the SA 3 speed IG rear hub instead of a derailleur.

Rixe Victor 59

 

The photo below shows the details of my German reader’s 1982 Rixe “Type Andre Bertin”.

1982-RIXE-Type-Andre-Bertin 2

The obvious differences are the more modern graphics and the dropped handlebar configuration along with derailleur gearing.

An earlier Rixe version of the “Type Andre Bertin” looked like the photo below:

Rixe AB profile

 

The flat bars on the Milremo stem have obviously been converted from dropped bars when the brake levers are considered. This bike looks to be from the early 1970s given the spoke reflectors and the Delrin Simplex derailleur levers and visible Prestige style, rod type front derailleur.

What both bikes share is an angular style of lug which is unlike anything I have seen on Bertins leading to the conclusion that this model is an in-house Rixe design and product. Obviously, there must be some connection to Andre Bertin but why his name would be licensed/used on a German product I currently do not know.

Bertin raced on both track and road in the early to mid-1930s so it is possible that he knew or rode with German teammates. There were German France Sport team members in 1933 but that was before Bertin formally joined the team and I do not know of a subsequent connection. As well, Bertin was active in the revival of post-WW II track and road racing in Northern France and Belgium and may have re-established contact with pre-War acquaintances. Regardless, Rixe marketed a “Type Andre Bertin” for many years which certainly implies a strong motivation on the part of the Rixe company to acknowledge Andre Bertin and his contribution.

Should any reader have further details, please use the Contact form to reach me and I will revise and update the post.

 

 

 

Mafac Brake Hood Restorations.

Mafac logoOn March 5th, 2015 I wrote a review of the full Mafac rubber lever hoods available from Jordi at Reciclone in Spain. At that time, Jordi did not make reproductions of the rubber-covered adjusters as he had no Shipping Boxadjuster in good enough condition to serve as a master from which to take a mold. Subsequently, after conversations with Jordi, I wrote, “Jordi is currently evaluating the practicality of making matching adjuster rubbers which would need to be added to the owners’ own adjuster body.”

To assist him, I mailed him a NOS rubber adjuster and a matching metal adjuster mechanism. After repeated attempts, he was finally able to come up with a satisfactory reproduction. He then emailed me and let me know that a complimentary set was on its way to me as a thank you for the use of  my original which he had mastered  for his mold. When the box arrived, it contained my original adjuster cover and mechanism plus a finished adjuster cover set and an example of the prototype moldings.

This whole project arose out of the difficulty involved in getting Mafac branded hood covers for restorations and, to a lesser extend, for everyday use. This was a particular problem for Jordi as Reciclone does bike restorations as well as sales of period spares and accessories for vintage bikes. Typically, the gum rubber hoods and adjusters dry in the sunlight, harden and begin to Adjuster # 4 modifiedcrack and then crumble. (See the red circled area in photo.) The left hand adjuster in the photo is Jordi’s reproduction. One solution is to simply delete the adjuster. Another is to switch to the period correct alternative of the knurled metal adjusters or the metal adjusters with rubber O rings (which also perish). However, if the bike had gum rubber adjusters on its Mafacs and a restoration is to be absolutely correct, then that is what must be replaced.

Should you find yourself in that position and go to the Reciclone page for hoods, you will not see an adjuster listed as an available product. The reason behind that is the difficulty involved in making the adjuster covers. The covers I received were cleanly molded in gum coloured  rubber. They were a perfect, tight fit on the metal adjusters and accepted the chrome steel ferrules to support the brake cable end with no problem.  Below is a large image to allow you to view the reproduction adjuster clearly.

 

Adjuster # 5 cropped

 

One of the problems with reproduction hoods and adjusters is matching the colours of the gum moldings. In the accompanying photo below, the hood on the left is a Reciclone reproduction and the hood on the right, with an adjuster, is a NOS Mafac part that was received exactly as shown when new. Typically, Mafac adjusters and hoods did not match due to batch variations in a large-scale production environment.

 

Comparison NOS and Repro

 

In a practical sense, this means that Jordi could not guarantee that your hoods and his adjusters would match harmoniously due to the colour variability of the batches of rubber for the moldings. As well, being small parts, the adjusters are very picky to make. So, as nice as they are, the adjusters will be special order items only, not regularly offered merchandise. You will need to contact Jordi (reciclone1@gmail.com) directly at Reciclone to discuss an order and I would recommend having the hoods molded at the same time to optimize your colour match. Regardless of which route you choose, good luck with your restoration.

 

Bertins Restored

Adrian is a fellow blogger who is located in New Zealand. He is deeply interested in classic bicycles, writes about them and also restores and sells them. In addition to New Zealand made bikes, he likes classic 60s and 70s  Brit bikes and Bertins, which have a close, post WW II association with New Zealand.

His blog is linked here and in the right hand sidebar in the Favourites list.

Blog page

Currently, Adrian is selling several restored 1960s Bertins on EBay. I do not typically endorse or promote but these restorations are so outstanding as to require sharing them with other Bertin enthusiasts.

The first listing is a C 37 road bike from the early to mid-1960s. (57 cm ctc)

Blue C 37

 

The next is a gorgeous chrome and fade blue C 38 track bike of about the same period. (57 cm ctc)

Blue fade C 38

 

The last frame is also a C 38 track bike, without brake drillings, finished in candy red paint. (56 cm ctc)

Red C 38

Outstanding restorations such as these need to be shared and I thank Adrian for permission to use the photos. I hope you all enjoy his meticulous hand craft, including the special custom decals used to complete the presentations.

Rene Herse Book Review

Mise en page 1Rene Herse: The Bikes, The Builder, The Riders by Jan Heine of Bicycle Quarterly Press (ISBN 976546023-6) is a big book in every sense. It is large, 12” x 9.5” and  2” thick (30 x 24 x 5 cm) and at 6 pounds, 3 ounces (2.8 kg) it weighs as much as a Rene Herse frame and fork!

Organizationally, the book has a forward by Lyli Herse, an Introduction followed by 17 chapters of content with black and white and colour photographs as well as catalogue reproductions.

The book is remarkable not merely as a biography but as an overview of the sociocultural context of Rene Herse’s work as a constructeur, examined in the context of the French experience of WW II as well as the post-War boom of cycling and especially of cyclotourism in France.

Herse got his start in the French aeronautical industry before WW II and he branched out into his own business making stems, cantilever brakes and cranksets just before the onset of the conflict. After the fall of France and the armistice which divided the country into Occupied and Vichy governed zones, cyclotourism was encouraged to maintain an illusion of normality. Since France was economically bled  to pay for the Nazi Occupation, food and goods were scarce and bicycle trips to the countryside to barter for food became necessary. In this context, Herse began building bikes as many constucteurs were dead, moved to the Vichy zone or conscripted for “volunteer” labour in German war plants. He avoided this with a clever medical ruse and remained in Paris building bicycles and sheltering people fleeing the Nazis.

In the immediate Post War period, cycling revived quickly both for transportation and pleasure. The technical trials which drove the improvement of cyclotouring bicycles returned and Herse’s bikes were prominent and consistent winners. Herse made use of photography and beautiful Daniel Rebour catalogue drawings as well to promote his brand.

Herse Catalogue page

The book fulsomely describes the progress of the firm in the 1950s and 1960s, through the technical trials, PBP and racing successes until the early 1970s. The book places in context the decline of cycling in France with the advent of the Citroen  2CV and similar cars and examines the effects upon the business.

The riders who contributed to Herse’s success are also discussed including Rene and Marcelle’s daughter Lyli, a multiple Champion of France and tandemist at the Technical Trials. All of this prose is accompanied by beautiful period photographs with outstanding reproduction qualities.

Heine outlines as well, the end of the business brought about by Herse’s death, a shrinking market and the retirement of Lyli Herse and husband Jean Dubois in 1986.

The 423 pages of this book contain a clear narrative of  business success, a comprehensive overview of the social and economic ebb and flow of cycling in the context of Post WW II France as well as an insightful discussion of the contributions made by the riders of the bikes Rene Herse so meticulously crafted. Interestingly, Herse’s influence lives on not just in the beautiful surviving bicycles but also in technical details. Crank bolt dimensions and water bottle braze on dimensions are both a current legacy of Rene Herse.

Heine’s efforts for this book have been exceptional. It is truly a “magnum opus” in content, presentation, accuracy and sheer physical presence. At $86 US, it has a price tag to match but its value exceeds its price and the book should be considered indispensable for anyone interested in cycling, randonneuring and beautiful bicycles. Highly recommended.