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.




Bertin Replica Jersey by Wieleroutfits

Several people over the last little while have asked about buying a Bertin team jersey. Typically, in thesleevless Bertin jersey recent past, you had to make do with what you could find on EBay that was vintage stock. These jerseys were typically acrylic or acrylic/wool and had embroidered or flocked graphics featuring sponsors. Their condition was variable Bertin Boulangerieand sizing, of course, was hit and miss but mostly miss. If you were or are looking for a Bertin trade style jersey for L’Eroica or one of the other vintage rides now going, then you really need some alternative.

Such an alternative is now available from Wieleroutfits in Arnhem, in the Netherlands. The styling is classic 50s-60s pre-Shimano Bertin. The fabric is not the knitted acrylic/wool of the past but some form of wicking, modern synthetic. You can see the jersey at their site here. That link takes you to the Dutch language page with the sizing dimensions. For an English version, go to the Union Jack in the upper left corner and click on it.

When I feature or test items here it is, usually, on the basis of personal purchase and review. That is not the case here. I have no personal knowledge of the product nor do I own one. The jersey is an attractive, full zipped model with ample rear pockets. However, the information shared here is provided as a convenience as a result of readers’ inquiries and should not be considered an endorsement. If you own one of these, please feel free to comment. For the rest of us, this may be just what we need in the way of Vintage looking kit.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Rebour – A Review

Photo Credit: R. Van der Plas Publications

Photo Credit: R. Van der Plas Publications


I recently purchased a copy of Rebour by Rob Van der Plas and Frank Berto. The book has been available for a while and this is a second edition with some updates and corrections. A more pertinent reason for the review is the long time association between Daniel Rebour and Andre Bertin which stretched from the immediate post WW II period through until the 1980s.

The book itself is magazine size, about 9 inches (23 cm) by 12 inches (31 cm), hard bound with board covers and has a glossy, colour printed dust jacket. It arrived carefully packaged against the outrages of the postal system and was in perfect condition when unboxed. It is 288 pages in length and is a handy size for reading or browsing through the line drawing reproductions.

Rebour begins with an overview of Daniel Rebour the man, his personal background and his working history as a technical journalist, author and commercial illustrator. Chapter 1 is an historical overview, in line drawings, of the bicycle’s development. Thereafter, the book’s chapters  from 2 to 26, are focused onPumps specific aspects of the bike such as Chapter 25’s attention to tools and related equipment. At the end of the book, there are three, 1 page long Appendices with Daniel’s older brother Rodolphe Rebour and two other similar artists being featured.

The book is filled with literally thousands of captioned and uncaptioned drawings with an expanded set of captions near the end of the book in Chapter 28. These elaborate on shorter captions embedded with drawings in earlier chapters.

Material for the book is drawn from Rebour’s extensive output of technical drawings for magazines, Stronglight HS explodedStronglight BB explodedbooks, catalogues – such as those of VAR, Spidel and Bertin – and illustrations from bike shows and competitive events. Typically, in addition to the featured item of a chapter, many pages have a large profile drawing at the bottom of the page showing a Tour bike, a randonneuse, a porteur or some other variety of period bicycle. Rebour drew full gruppos such as Campagnolo’s or Shimano’s as well as outstanding exploded drawings which clearly exposed the sub-assemblies as well as the function of the item being drawn.

Over all, the book is well organized and presented. Some of the early works’ reproductions are not as clear as later ones due to the limitations of early post WW II paper and inks from which originals were made. Nonetheless, if you are an enthusiastic follower of the post war style of French bicycle then an investment in this book should be an easy decision.

For me, one of the particularly interesting aspects of the book was the presence of unexpected Bertin related illustrations. In the section on Rodolphe, there is a black and white reproduction of  mid-50s Bertin catalogue pages one of which is shown in colour below. Typically, Daniel would do the technical drawings and Rodolphe would do the more “commercial” style material.


Bertin racing bikes

Female Rider

Rudolphe’s hand can be seen in the female cyclist and the Parisian background work. Nonetheless, examples of Bertin related technical drawings would pop up from time to time in the text. One of the best examples, which recurs in a slightly different way later in the book, is a line drawing of the Bertin Titane. This was a Speedwell framed and Bertin marketed titanium bike as shown in this illustration.

Bertin Titane

Picture Credit: R. Van der Plas Publications


This book is an on going source of surprise, wonder and enjoyment. Whether you are a Bertin enthusiast or a lover of fine drawing, each time you read it or look at it, something new is seen or seen in a new way. I highly recommend it.