Recently, I received a request from a reader in Europe who had just acquired an older, small wheeled Bertin bicycle. It was a small wheel bike that looked like a folder but wasn’t. Normally, Bertin, like many French manufacturers, built folding (pliant) bikes which hinged in the middle or lower end of the down tube to permit compact storage in campers, boats, lockers or automobiles. The bike Nikola shared with me was a model with a frame which disassembled at the down tube joint to permit storage.
The bike had a quick release arrangement for doing this and looked so familiar I did a search through the blog and found a post with a similar bike from almost 10 years ago. In that case the person inquiring was from Berlin not Croatia but Norbert was equally curious about what it was that he had. The full post is here.
That bike was much less original than the current example but is the only other I have seen and I have never seen them catalogued. The 1974 catalogue lists the C 53, the C 55 and the C 59. Only the C 59 is non-folding and it has a rigid central tube and can not be disassembled. Nikola was kind enough to provide detailed photos of his bike which had a very narrow escape. When it was rescued, the bike was in the hands of a scrap metal seller who sold it to Nikola for 20 Euros, its scrap metal value. Amazingly, the bike is little used, the seat was covered and appears original, there does not seem to be any excessive rust and even the tires are original to the bike. Check out the details in the photos below:
Judging from the World Championship seat tube bands and the other decals, I would estimate that the bike is from the mid-1970s. During that period, Bertin’s folding/demountable bikes were often identified by number based on the bike’s wheel size. So a Bertin C 53 would have 530 diameter wheels and a C 55 would have 550 size wheels in turn. There are exceptions like the C 59 with 550 wheels and the children’s folding C 9 with 400 series wheels. Nonetheless, completely arbitrarily, without any direct proof, I’m going to call this demountable Bertin a C 50 based on its 500 A wheel diameter. Perhaps someone in the next nine or ten years can write to me with a correction. In the mean time, I hope you enjoy looking over the details of Nikola’s Bertin C 50 Demontable.