Bertin Wheel Restoration

One of the best things about owning an old bicycle is the need to tinker with it. This can mean anything from cleaning it up to make it rideable to searching relentlessly for the correct parts, decals and paint scheme to return your bicycle to its original glory. There are several approaches to this process and Velouria and Richard Sachs usefully elaborate on the choices and possibilities.

For myself, and my late 1960s Bertin C 37 a “period correct” approach was used. The bicycle is built with equipment that might have been hung on the frame as the late -60s equipment wore out. As well, a previous owner had updated the frame with braze ons, which I much prefer to the period correct bolt on cable stops and guides which are actually appropriate for the time period. The only thing lacking has been the wheels.  The same owner who did the braze ons also changed the wheels. Originally, the bike would have been equipped with Maillard high flange Normandy Luxe hubs with tubular rims and tires. When purchased, the Bertin was wearing low flange, 6 speed Maillard Helicomatics with butted chromed spokes and Mavic Module E silver rims. This made the bike more versatile as the randonneuse it had become but the years and corrosion had compromised the appearance and strength of the wheels.

Replacement was in order but with what? I finally decided to use Maillard 700 high flange hubs. They are period correct and gorgeous. The only available sets were French threaded so I purchased 2 sets on Ebay.fr. This was because my first 36 hole set actually had a 40 hole rear hub! As well, I bought a French threaded 6 speed  freewheel to match. The hubs were polished out and rebuilt with new ball bearings. As you can see in the accompanying photo, they turned out rather well. Thereafter, began a search for replacement Mavic Module Es. This was a two year exercise in frustration. There were simply no 36 hole rims to be found. Rarely, a 32 would show up but never the elusive 36s. Finally, a new 36 hole, 450 gram, highly polished rim with stainless steel eyelets became available. Velo Orange began specing and having manufactured its PBP. It seemed like  a 36 hole clone of the Rigida 13-20s I had used decades ago. Since the rims perfectly suited my anticipated use as well as the look I was seeking, I ordered a pair. (I will review them as soon as the wheels are built up.) Currently, the wheels are being built with new butted stainless spokes and once they are complete I will update this post with photographs.

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