A BIG Bertin!

Bertin had a habit of filling market niches which other builders thought too inconsequential to address. One good example of this was the amateur/entry-level C 56 track bike which it offered with quality tubing and high quality equipment. They also offered the C 33 road bike with 650A wheels sized  proportionally to the frameset. Then, they added the C 32 with a 700C wheelset. Obviously, Andre Bertin didn’t flinch from providing properly sized and equipped bicycles to those at either end of the frame size Bell Curve. Far too frequently, if you were really short or really tall, you were really out of luck with finding an affordable production frameset or bike.

The typical production range for Bertin bikes was from 52 to 64 cm in frame size. However, they also offered the C 32 in 48 cm and the C 32 in 49 cm and they also offered a unique C 34.

A little background is in order. Todd, a reader on this blog, was on his way from his home in Nevada to Phoenix, Arizona and he stopped in Wickenburg, Arizona while on his way. He checked out a yard sale during his visit and $80 later, he was the surprised and proud owner of this:

Obviously, Todd is a tall guy, but I was amazed to see a standard production offering from Bertin in such a large size. The early 70s Bertin C 34 he took with him that day was remarkably “production” looking. The saddle had been changed as had the Shimano Crane GS rear derailleur to work on a larger rear freewheel but, in the main, it was as built.

It had the look and many of the features of a C 34 such as the Durifort fork decal and Mafac brake one would expect:

As well, the period correct Simplex Prestige front derailleur looked right at home as did the 700C wheels:

Classic Mafac half hooded brake levers? Check:

What is not seen, however, is the usual Vitus Durifort frame sticker on the seat tube. This is probably due to the fact tubing manufacturers did not draw tubing beyond the typical 64 cm frame size offered in production models. So Todd has a unique, production model derivative with a loooong, unidentified seat tube but a truly unique ride.

 

 

Carre Bertin C 37

Original Bertin Factory Building

Back in February, March and April of 2016 I wrote about the intersection of Bernard Carre’s and Andre Bertin’s businesses. In 1973, a disastrous factory fire destroyed the original post WW II factory. This was ill timed indeed because 1973 was the peak of the 1970s bike boom around the world but especially in North America and manufacturers were on track to sell 15 million bicycles that year. It was a terrible time to be without a production facility.  It would take

New Factory 1973

a year to construct a new factory and resume in-house bicycle production. Details are found in the previous articles linked at the start of this post but the short-term required Bertin to use contract builders for the mass market bikes. For the elite C 37, Bernard Carre’s production shop was contracted to build the elite model for amateur racers and the semi-professional Bertin  team. At the time, I was restoring my own Carre Bertin C 37 and was surprised by the fact that I was only ever able to find owners and examples from North America for this unique, stop-gap model that existed only for the one year of 1973. It appeared that the Carre Bertin C 37 was a North America model only.

However, I was contacted in September, 2018 by Kevin R. who lives and writes in Northern France. He had purchased a couple of Bertins in a “vide grenier” or boot sale. He had asked for help in doing an ID for the models which I was glad to do. Significantly, he believed that one of the bikes was a Carre Bertin C 37. He was right. His 58 cm frameset had all the classic Carre identifiers:

 

Drive Side Profile

 

Prugnat 62/S Lugs, Wagner DP Crown

 

Leaf Stay Caps, Brazed-on Bolt Ears

 

Campagnolo Forged Dropouts with Adjusters and Fish Mouth Tube Ends

 

Frame Size Designation

 

Diamond Brake Bridge Reinforcements

 

Obviously, this Carre Bertin C 37 discovery in Northern France demonstrates that Bernard Carre built this model for wherever Cycles Andre Bertin  needed to sell a top end production bike in what would otherwise would have been a disastrous year.

 

 

 

Tom Simpson

It is unusual for this site to feature a post on a topic or person not directly related to Andre Bertin or the bikes and companies related to Cycles Andre Bertin. Nonetheless, this newly released biography of the 1960s British cyclist Tom Simpson is too important to be overlooked. The book is written by Chris Sidewells, a nephew of Tom Simpson, who has had unparalleled access to family resources in the preparation of this biography. The book was published and copyrighted in late 2018 and is the first of a projected biographical series under the title of Cycling Legends.

Formally, the book is called Cycling Legends 01 Tom Simpson and its ISBN is 978-1-9164170-0-7. It is a high quality, perfect bound paperback 21 cm (8.25″) wide, 26 cm (10.25″) long and measures 1 cm (7/8″) thick. The book is available directly from the site Cycling Legends . There are 147 pages of text with 2 more of photos at the end of the book. The cost is UKP 25, C$ 42, US$ 32 with the AUS $ and the NZ $ amounts being close to Canada’s pricing. Shipping will vary depending on the location it is dispatched to from the UK. My copy cost  UKP 12.50 , C$ 21 or US$ 16 to ship to my location near Niagara Falls, Canada. My review copy was purchased directly through the Cycling Legends UK website. The book was sent promptly after ordering and arrived in a bubble padded shipping envelope in excellent condition. The covers were undamaged and the spine and corners showed no evidence of crushing or bending. An author signature is an option, should the purchaser wish to pay for one. The photographic reproduction and paper quality is excellent as can be seen from the cover image inserted below.

Photo Credit: Cycling Legends

The book has a basic chronological sequence as is to be expected in a biography, but makes effective use of asides throughout the book. Most readers are familiar with the use of sidebars in mixed text and illustrated books being used to elaborate upon or to explain a point in the narration. The author here uses asides to similar ends but they are much longer than a sidebar, sometimes being several pages in length. They are easily identified as being outside of the main narrative because they are printed on pale grey paper in contrast to the main story pages. Two very interesting ones are the interviews with Helen Simpson Hoban and Barry Hoban (Helen’s second husband) with the second being with Tom and Helen’s daughters, Jane and Joanne. Both the main text and the asides are heavily illustrated with well captioned photographs.

Photo Credit: Cycling Legends

Organization of the book is into 10 chapters with 9 of the grey paged asides being distributed in the first 6 of them. The asides act to expand upon the social, personal and professional contexts of what is being discussed in the associated chapter. The final 4 chapters do not include asides and move forward with the narrative quickly gaining momentum as it proceeds towards the final chapter and the details of Tom Simpson’s death during the Tour de France stage on Mont Ventoux on July 13th, 1967. The chapters themselves are arranged chronologically as descriptions of the significant races done, lost and won by Simpson in his career. Each chapter and aside is supported with associated black and white and coloured photographs such as the one above of Tom Simpson in the 1963 Bordeaux-Paris race.

In the final chapter, the author examines the details of Tom Simpson’s death from heat exhaustion and stimulant use and the effects it had on the 1967 Tour and on the riders who had been Tom’s friends as well as rivals.

Cycling Legends 01 Tom Simpson is an outstandingly well written, superbly illustrated and informative book about one of the most significant English speaking riders of the 20th Century. Yes, there were people like Major Taylor, Sir Hubert Opperman, and Torchy Peden before him but in the mid-century, there was Tommy Simpson who paved the way in professional cycling for a further influx of English speakers like Greg Lemond, Phil Anderson, Stephen Roche, Steve Bauer and Sean Kelly. I highly recommend this book for its sensitive writing, useful insights about the pro scene of the time and its remarkable selection of period photographs. Some of the most poignant are to be found on the book’s last two pages and are taken of the memorial cards and floral tributes given just after Tom Simpson’s death. This book is well worthy of your attention.

 

 

Carre Bertin C 37 Restoration Update

As you already know, a bicycle , typically, does not remain static unless it is a wall hanger used only for display. As cyclists, we tinker with our bikes, adjusting, substituting, modifying to adjust to changed circumstances, uses and needs. When I completed my Carre/Bertin C 37 restoration in 2014, I didn’t know it was a Carre built frameset but I was reasonably sure it would remain fairly static in its presentation. The just completed bike is seen in the photo below:

Carre/Bertin C 37 Oct. 2014

Since then, small changes have been made. I added toe strap buttons to facilitate tightening the toe straps, replaced the now, worn, dirty and faded red bar tape with more of the same colour from Tressostar, fiddled with saddle placement height and added the usual tool kit necessary for road riding. The result is this photo from a few days ago:

Carre/Bertin C 37 Dec. 2018

As well, there has been some curiousity regarding the drivetrain gearing. As mentioned in the original restoration series, the rear hub is a Maillard Helicomatic, a conventional style freewheel with an unconventional helical attachment screw thread. It is not a cassette as the hub bearings are

Rear Helicomatic Hub and Freewheel

discreet from the freewheel’s bearings which are in a separate body and not integrated with the hub. Details of this uniquely French system can be found at the Helicomatic Museum. This hub has a 120 mm over locknut width dimension which is the size of the now obsolete 5 speed conventional freewheel dimension for rear wheel dropout spacing. One other unusual aspect of this freewheel is that it is not a 5 speed as one would expect in a 120 mm spaced hub but is actually an Ultra/Compact narrow spaced freewheel instead with 6 cogs where 5 normally reside. Tooth configuration is standard period Maillard

 

and it uses a Sedisport black chain. And it shifts very well over its medium range cogs. The freewheel itself is 14-15-17-19-21-24T in sequence and since my area is relatively flat, it works just fine. The Helico is paired with a Stronglight 93 double crankset with 52/40T rings which is a big improvement over the original 45T inner ring the crankset came with. The 12 tooth difference is easily handled by the Simplex SLJ A522 front derailleur.

Likely the next change will be to replace the Mafac LS2 brake pads but as further changes occur, I will update the blog with an appropriate post.