Bernard Carre and Andre Bertin 3

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.

Lugs

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.

 

Don G Carre C37 head lugs cropped

Prugnat 62/s modified     Don

 

Carre Bertin headlugs white

Prugnat 62/s    Jim

 

R c37 htube cropped

Prugnat 62/s    Richard

 

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.

 

Don G Carre C 37 seat cluster stay cap

Prugnat S not Prugnat 62/s lug     Don

 

C37 stay cap and bolt

Prugnat 62/s lug Note Binder bolt key     Jim

 

R c37 seat tube stay caps and bolt

Prugnat 62/s with Willow Leaf stay cap     Richard

 

Crown

On production level framesets, Carre usually used DP style forged crowns supplied by Vagner of Dijon, France.

 

Don G Carre C37 head lugs and crown

Vagner Crown     Don

 

Vagner Crown Jim

Vagner Crown     Jim

 

R c37 crown

Vagner Crown     Richard

 

Tubing

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.

 

Don G Carre C 37 531 sticker

Post Restoration 531 Sticker     Don

 

C 37 531 decal

Original Pre-restoration 531 Decal     Jim

 

531 ghost image

Reynolds 531 Decal ghost image     Richard

 

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.

Don G Carre C 37 stay finish

Stay end finish      Don

 

Stay end fish mouth

Stay end finish     Jim

 

R c37 stay finish

Stay end finish      Richard

 

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.

Don G Carre C 37 brake bridge cropped

Bridge reinforcement     Don

 

Brake reinforcement Jim

Brake reinforcement      Jim

 

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.

 

Frame size Don

Frame size     Don

 

Frame size Jim

Frame size     Jim

 

Frame size Richard

Frame size     Richard

 

Serial Numbers

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.

R c37 bb serial

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.

Conclusion

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 comments on “Bernard Carre and Andre Bertin 3

  1. Nice going, JIm. Thanks for all your research. Yep, that seam under the brake bridge has annoyed me from day one. They didn’t even turn the bridge seam down so that it wouldn’t be as noticeable. Oh well. Lastly, after all these years that bike rides as nice as any I’ve ridden. Many thanks.

  2. Don –
    You are welcome. It’s a fascinating but brief connection between Carre and Bertin which produced quite a nice machine.

  3. Perhaps I shouldn’t ask this question but aren’t these actually Carre frames decaled Bertin?

  4. Hi, Don-

    Certainly, you should ask the question! You are quite correct, these bikes are Carre production (and possibly design) which are decaled as Bertins. This is why, in the article, I refer to them as Carre Bertins. Bertin decaled other production as well, the Vitus glued framesets and Speedwell welded titanium framesets being good examples. The difference was that those Bertin bikes were low volume specialty lines where buying in made sense rather than whole new production technologies for each innovation. The C 37 was, for a long period, the flagship, top-of-the-line, point of pride for Bertin and seemingly, was purchased from outside only in 1973 as a stop gap until in-house production resumed. I asked Alain Merlier about this some time ago and he told me that all the high end and mid-line racing, sport and touring bikes were proudly in-house. Only the lowest price points and only when capacity limits required it, were bought in from volume manufacturers and then to their specs and requirements. We simply own a unique, remarkable anomaly from a dark period in Bertin’s industrial history.

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