While Bernard Carre undoubtedly built C 37 framesets for Cycles Andre Bertin in 1973, the only four examples I am aware of are all from the United States. I do not know if this reflects an export market bias or that I simply do not have examples of Carre’s Bertins for Europe. As well, I have never seen a C 38 Carre Bertin track bike either. Nonetheless, the three road bike examples that I have photographs of bear striking similarities to each other and to Carre’s regular production frames. I will categorize the areas of comparison and show three of the bikes in photos so readers can confirm their similar production characteristics.
Carre’s production frames typically, but not invariably, used Prugnat 62/s style lugs on the head tube and seat tube of framesets. Note the atypical diamond windows in Don’s lugs.
Seat Lug and Binder Bolt
Bernard Carre used a distinctive willow leaf pattern for his seatstay caps. On custom framesets, they would include his B. Carre stamping (apparently he originated the custom) . Builds for professional cyclists might have the rider’s name or initials like the Rebour drawing in Part 2 illustrates for Jacques Anquetil. On production frames for manufacturers and bike shops, the stamping might be present or absent depending on the deal struck with the buyer. Later in his career, Carre switched to the narrow, concave format of the stay caps which doesn’t concern the Carre Bertins. Carre’s usual practice in his framesets was to braze on solid binder bolt ears rather than rely on stamped lug ears. Also, atypically, the anti-rotation notch for the binder bolt is on the drive side not the non-drive side. Note, as well, the difference in the seat lug on Don’s C 37. It is not a stylistic match to the head lugs.
On production level framesets, Carre usually used DP style forged crowns supplied by Vagner of Dijon, France.
Up until about 1975, Carre’s workshop built frames with Reynolds 531 tubing in Metric sizes. Some bike shop level frames were 531 main tubes, sometimes with 531 forks. However, the Carre Bertins were full Reynolds 531 with 26.4 mm seatpost openings.
Stay and Fork Ends
Carre used a distinctive diagonal cut which fish mouthed the ends of the rear stays and of the fork tips. Theoretically, this allowed a deeper penetration of brazing material and created a stronger joint. For brevity’s sake, I will show rear stay joints only. As well, Carre used Campagnolo dropouts when using 531 tubing. After 1975, he primarily used Vitus 971 with Vitus, Gipiemme or Campagnolo dropouts.
Brake Bridge Reinforcements
The brake bridges on Carre’s frames were usually made of rolled and brazed sheet metal. It is odd that tubing was not used but, if you look carefully under a Carre brake bridge, you will see a seam in the metal (except on mine which my framebuilder filed and sanded). At each end is a diamond-shaped “reinforcement” which seems rather more decorative than structural given the fabricated nature of the brake bridge itself. About the time (1975?) Carre switched to Vitus tubing and the concave, scalloped stay caps, the brake reinforcements became teardrop shaped with the long section below the bridge. These three examples are diamond-shaped in style.
No close up was available for Richard’s frameset.
Frame Size and Serial Numbers
Typical Bertin practice was to stamp the center-to-top frame size, measured in centimetres, into the off side rear dropout face. Often, but not always, the frame serial number would be there or on the drive side rear dropout. However, for a period of time in the late 60s and 70s, no serial numbers were used and these frames, largely, reflect that practice.
As mentioned above, serial numbers were not used in the period these Carre Bertins were constructed. However, there are anomalies in the bikes shown as examples. There are slight variations in lugs, the use of chrome and such like. Particularly unusual is the presence of a serial number on Richard’s bike. It is located on the bottom bracket. It appears to be 811 73.
The serial number appears to be a Carre convention with the 73 possibly indicating the production year. After the creation of the American Consumer Products Safety Commission in 1972, serial numbers eventually became mandated for bicycles. At that point, Cycles Bertin resumed serials on their production to allow for recall tracking should that prove necessary.
In the corporate history of Cycles Andre Bertin, the Carre Bertin C 37s are a one time only event. This was precipitated by a disastrous factory fire which, serendipitously, produced an outstanding and unique model which continues to be ridden and enjoyed more than 40 years after it was created as a hurried stop-gap to fill the Bertin line up.