Carre Bertin C 35

I originally wrote about the Bernard Carre connection to Cycles Bertin back in February, March and April of 2016. This relationship developed because of a 1973 fire which destroyed the old Bertin factory in the middle of the 1970’s Bike Boom and forced Bertin to contract with volume builders for the lower tiered bikes in the line. It also necessitated Bertin arranging production of the top of the line C 37s with Bernard Carre in the Paris suburb of Montreuil.

When I first learned of the Carre connection, I thought the Carre/Bertin C 37s were only sold in North America. This conclusion was based on the fact that the only samples I had seen had been found in the United States or had been sold on to me here in Canada. However, in 2019, Kevin R., who lives in Northern France, found a beaten up  Carre/Bertin C 37 in a yard sale and was able to share photos and details here. Obviously, the model was

Drive Side Profile

distributed in all the usual places that Bertin production was sold but I still believed the C 37 was the sole instance of Carre cooperation with Cycles Bertin.

Wrong again. A contact on Bike Forums’ Classic & Vintage section, Lynn T., let me know that he had found and purchased what he believed to be a Carre/Bertin C 35. At the time, Carre frequently built with 531 so a C 35 with a 531 main frame was not unbelievable but seemed improbable. Once the frameset was in his hands, Lynn sent me a series of photos that proved his acquisition actually was a C 35.

The core of the issue was the 531 main frame and the clearly Vitus decaled left fork which were the signature specification of the C 35. The 531 and Vitus everywhere else clearly proved the bike’s identity. See the following photographs for details:








The differences between the C 37 and the C 35 are the simplifications that let Cycles Bertin hit a lower price point. The standard Prugnat 62/S lugs are there as is the brazed on seatpost bolt clamp. The frameset has fish mouth seatstay ends only but domed and slotted ends on the chainstays and the fork ends. The unbranded fork dropouts are forged but, unlike the C 37, the rear dropouts are stamped steel Campagnolo 1010/1s instead of forged 1010As. The rear brake bridge has no reinforcements but the fork has chrome socks just like a C 37. So, overall, the frameset has small compromises to reduce cost without a significant reduction in function. Given the way these varieties are turning up, I am half expecting to be writing about a Carre/Bertin C 34 in the next little while. If you would like to see detailed photos of the C 35 built up, Lynn has posted a large selection to Flickr here.



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.




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.



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.


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



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



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.


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.









Bernard Carre and Andre Bertin 2

Bernard Carre racing

Photo: Forum Velo Retro Course. Carre 1956

Bernard Carre had a history in competitive cycling but after his career in racing ended, he went to work as a frame builder for CNC/Fletcher-Ducret in Paris. There was a cadre of excellent framebuilders at CNC which included Rene Andre and Bernard Carre. They built high-end frames there, such as team bikes for East Block countries and at least those two men became notable, independent builders. After leaving CNC, Carre established a production shop of his own in Montreuil, an eastern suburb of Paris, about 6 kilometers from the city centre. I believe he worked with his brother, Lucien Carre, and a group of employees who batch produced frames and frame sets for large B. Carre business cardmanufacturers as well as for smaller specialty producers and bike shops wanting their own unique line of bicycles to set them apart from the mass market firms like Peugeot, Manufrance and Cycle France-Loire.



Photo: Forum Velo Retro Course

Once the business was up and running in the mid to late 1950s, Carre undertook commissions to build custom framesets for top level French racing cyclists. He is known to have built framesets for Julien Arne, Raphael B.Carre for Julian Arne 1950sGeminani, Jean Pierre Danguillaume, Henri Anglade and Jacques Anquetil. A Daniel Rebour technical drawing from 1964 shows the distinctive leaf-shaped seatstay cap with Anquetil’s initials on his 1964 Tour de France winning “Gitane”. (Gitane continued to use this style stay cap on its in-house built bikes even into the 1970s.)  In addition to the  bikes for pro level riders, Carre built custom framesets for club riders, track riders and occasionally, for randonneurs.

B Carre head lug

Photo: Bir Hakim

As mentioned in the Classic Factory Lightweight Bicycles article, Carre produced in three or four levels of quality and finish. The highest would be the custom level. These were usually built with Prugnat Carre RR dropoutS series lugs with diamond-shaped cutouts. Lug variations, chroming on lugs, forks and stays, tubing variations, all were possible on Carre’s custom level work along with a superior level of finish. Fork and stay ends were fish mouthed in design, the orange carre bbridge reinforcement croppedbrake bridge had diamond reinforcements, the seat lug typically had brazed-on ears for the fixing bolt and dropouts were Campagnolo (with or without eyelets) depending on the frame’s purpose. The frame tubing was usually Reynolds metric 531.

Often, from what I have seen in photos, the second level, the pro bikes, were very similar to the first category with slightly less in the way of finish as was typical of French competition frames before quality was debauched during the 1970’s bike boom. The French attitude was that the bike was a tool not a shrine and was finished accordingly.These bikes had none of the fancy chrome of the customs, used Prugnat 62S lugs and were built with the same features as the customs. A good example of this type of bike are the ones built for Lejeune’s racing team and high-end retail sales. An excellent overview is available here at Classic Factory Lightweight Bicycles’ on Lejeunes. These are also Reynolds 531 in metric dimensions.

The next category would be the production frames built for sale by smaller manufacturers and larger retail bike shops or chains.These would be of the same design as the competition frames above and this is where Carre Bertins enter the picture. After the destruction of the factory, the pro/am Bertin team needed framesets and the high-end market needed to be fed with C 37s as ordered by stores at the end of the previous season. It must be remembered that Andre Bertin had a home in Paris and a Paris office as well as the main operation in St. Laurent-Blagny. He must have been familiar with Carre’s operation through trade shows and sheer proximity. Consequently, I believe a deal was struck for Carre to provide framesets for the high end C 37s. I have seen no evidence that the C 35 and C 34s were produced by Carre in that year of disaster, just C 37s.

These frames were nicely finished, well designed and sometimes came with half chromed front forks. They had all the distinctive Carre production trademarks mentioned previously, including metric Reynolds 531 tubes, but did not have the B. Carre stamping on the stay caps, at least on the three examples I am aware of. Fork crowns were Vagner DPs and the Prugnat 62S lugs were normative. The only braze-on was the rear derailleur cable stop on the chainstay. I do not know how the frames were painted and assembled since the Bertin factory was in ruins but built, painted and shipped they were as I will show, in detail, in the next installment of this discussion.

The third category of Carre’s production were the sport bikes or demi-course group. These would have  similar features to the other types but with slightly less expensive lugs, crowns and finishing. Carre built frames in this category with Reynolds 531 main tubes but other tubing was probably substituted at the request of the institutional buyer. Carre even sub-contracted with his old employer, CNC, producing this type of frameset for the Thomann brand of CNC. Click on the picture below to see details of construction.

Carre 3 tubes Thomann profile

Another example of this category is to be found on Classic Factory Lightweight Bicycles with the Delcroix being not just 531 main tubes but having a 531 fork as well. Click to enlarge.

Carre Delcroix profile

Photo: Classic Factory Lightweight Bicycles

If you are interested in other aspects of Bernard Carre’s work, please click on the links below:

Bernard CARRE - Custom-build (1)