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.



Bertin C 37 Restoration Part 10 – The Final Reckoning


Well, the project will be complete with this final assessment. The original, 1970s, black C 37 has gone from this –


Tims Bertin C 37 blk

to this-

Drive Side Profile

to this –


After - Drive Side Profile

and, finally, to this-


Drive Side Profile


It has been a long process, longer than originally considered, and more expensive due to changes and glitches that were unforeseeable at the start. Remember, this bike was intended to be a rider and not a wall hanger so it did not receive NOS everything in a bid to make it perfect. Instead, used and donated parts were scavenged and used where appropriate. A few observations for those following a similar path:

– have a clear idea of what you want to have when you are finished (wall art? daily rider? show bike? historic conservation?);

– estimate your time line and then double it;

– do your financial estimations and add a 25% cushion for dealing with the unexpected ;

– line up the suppliers that you intend to use (some framebuilders/painters have very long waiting lists);

– do a trial assembly of the major components to assess brake reach, seat post fit, hub spacing and bottom bracket and headset threading;

– be sure you have any specialized service tools like the dedicated crank extractor for early Stronglights or Helicomatic freewheel wrenches;

– start with the best condition and equipped example of your favoured bike that you can find to minimize project length, complexity and cost;

– use various sized zip closed plastic bags to contain all the parts of each component or sub-assembly, label a post-it and place within each bag;

then stand back and admire the result!

Below you will find an itemized list of the costs for parts and labour during the project. They are given in U.S.$ as many of the parts came from American sources and Euro and Pound Sterling purchases have been converted to match. As well, items which were in my personal stock of cast offs and unused are priced as if they had been purchased on EBay to give a person starting from scratch a more complete and truthful appraisal of the project’s costs. The total was surprising as my pre-restoration estimate had been about $1,200.


Bertin C 37 Restoration Costs

(all costs include applicable shipping and taxes)


Cost   (in U.S. $)

Stronglight headset – used * 40
Helico/Module E 2 wheels – used * 100
frameset – used 185
Simplex seatpost – new 78
Velo Orange cables – new 22
bolts – new 2
Tressostar bar tape – new 18
tubes – new 16
Mafac lever hoods – NOS 75
Stronglight bottom bracket (French) – used 25
Helico Freewheel – used 50
Stronglight crank remover – new 50
Velocals decals – new 64
Spidel cups – NOS (English Threaded) 25
Spidel drilled brake levers – used 68
California Springs water bottle – new 4
Silca frame fit chrome pump – NOS 30
Brooks Professional saddle – used * 90
Velox rubber bar plugs – NOS 20
Seat post frame fixing bolt (cro-mo) – NOS 6
Spidel LS 2 brake calipers – used 20
TA steel bottle cage – used * 40
Michelin 700C x 23 tires – NOS * 120
Stronglight 93 crankset – used 90
Park grease – new 15
hub bearings (5/32” for helico hub) – new 12
frame services, paint and decaling 400



 * These items were previously owned or gifted to the restorer. Costs are for equivalent items if actually purchased from EBay.

Bertin C 37 Restoration Part 8

The frame work on the Bertin was done by Jody Lee of Jester Bicycles based here in the Niagara Region of Ontario, Canada. (Contact information is available in the special box in the right sidebar of the site.) In Part 5, you saw the raw metal work prior to final finishing and priming as shown in the previous link. Once the paint was stripped and final finishing and priming took place, Jody painted the frame and fork in his spray booth. The paint was a two stage, base coat / clear coat and the two photos below reveal the frame and fork freshly painted, decaled  and hanging up curing.

Frame After

Frame after Decals and Before Final Polish


Front View - Head Badge

Front View – Head Badge


The decal work on the frameset was from Velocals. The period French Reynolds 531 seat tube decal as well as the specific Bertin  decals were all perfectly rendered as was the clear chainstay protector. The total cost for the decals was $63.85 USD. Previously, Jody had colour coated the frame, clear coated it, applied decals and then catalyzed clear coated followed by fine compound. I waxed the frame after it had cured with standard, Simoniz automotive paste wax. The cost of the frame and fork single colour paint job was $250 CDN which compares very favourably to the $625 CDN for a single colour frame and fork paint job at a Toronto firm.

Below are some roughly comparable before and after photographs of the frameset. To see detail, click on the photo to enlarge it and click on the enlargement to enlarge again and maximize details.


Bertin R Profile 1

Before – Drive Side Profile


After - Drive Side Profile

After – Drive Side Profile


Before - Lower Fork Legs

Before – Lower Fork Legs


After - Ends of Fork Legs

After – Ends of Fork Legs


Before - Seat Lug and Stay Cap

Before – Seat Lug and Stay Cap


After - Seat Lug and Stay Cap

After – Seat Lug and Stay Cap


Before - Rear Stays and Dropouts

Before – Rear Stays and Dropouts


After - Rear Stays and Dropouts

After – Rear Stays and Dropouts


In Part 7, I had advised restorers to check the fit and functionality of all parts as soon as they are obtained to avoid slow downs later.  Although Jody had checked alignment, facing, chased threads and handed the frameset back with the headset installed, I had not properly checked seat post fit. A Simplex post I thought had been machined to the correct diameter did not fit and the seat tube was slightly undersize as well. I ended up ordering a NOS (new old stock) Simplex seat post from Bicycle Classics and having Jody Lee ream the seat tube out and hone it to 26.6 mm from the stock 26.4 mm of the French dimensioned Reynolds 531.

As it is now, the last of the cutting oil from the reaming has pooled in the bottom bracket shell and been removed so it is possible to install the cups and axle of the Stronglight 93 bottom bracket. The next phase of the project is final assembly and then a project evaluation. Part 9 will be the installment on assembly and shake down and that is next.








Bertin C 37 Restoration Part 7

While the C 37 was going through the last of the frame braze-ons, alignment checks and painting, I had finished accumulating and refurbishing the parts I intended to install once the frameset was completed. It is not my intention to exhaustively reproduce the techniques used to remove rust, polish chrome or restore aluminum to a glowing, shimmering finish. There are sites on the Web that a simple search can turn up but Bike Forums has very useful general restoration techniques here and an absolutely indispensable description here for polishing aluminum.

If you are new to restoring bikes I highly recommend these two threads and suggest printing them out and adding them to your restoration file folder along with any photos, printouts, ads and receipts that are part of your process of restoration. If you have a fully equipped bike which you have torn down to restore or have purchased a donor bike to obtain the needed parts, then you are well ahead of the game and can proceed to do all the things described in the two links I provided for you in the paragraph above. If you don’t, then you must stalk the elusive parts you need on-line and at shows which is what I ended up doing. Eventually, you will accumulate what you need but I would recommend you that you refurbish each part as soon as it is obtained.

The reasoning behind this is two-fold. First, is the part you received the part you actually need? Second, is that part in restorable, functional condition? The examples of this are multiple in my own restoration experience. In a previous restoration on my black 1960s C 37, I sought out Bertin - Jim C 37 wheel labela pair of Maillard 700 high flange hubs in French threading. Before they ended up looking like the photo, they not only needed cleaning and polishing, they needed to be replaced. The first set from France was advertised as 36 hole. Not so. The front hub was 36 hole but the rear was 40 and would not be useable with my new rims. As well, when torn down, the cones were pitted and the hubs’ races were questionable. Back to EBay for hub set number 2. Also from France, also French threaded and also advertised as being 36 hole and smooth running.  Four out of five is not too bad, I suppose, as these hubs had pitted cones but useable races. A scramble ensued to locate replacement cones which ended up coming out of a pair of Shimano high flange hubs in my parts box. So remember –  is it right, is it useable?


A recent example of this issue would be the MAFAC/Spidel sidepull LS2 brakes for the current 1970s C 37 restoration. The calipers came from California via EBay. I had learned something from previous experience so I was careful to get lots of photos and the measurement for the brake reach from the seller. Once the calipers arrived here in Canada, I found that they were as represented but one caliper’s quick release would not rotate within its mounting. (The left hand example in the photo below.)

MAFAC/Spidel Calipers - Before

MAFAC/Spidel Calipers – Before


So out came the penetrating oil. The disassembled caliper was soaked in it for several days and gradually began to yield to movement and finally came free. Buffing of the caliper mounting hole and polishing of the quick release barrel with emery cloth and OOOO steel wool restored the full function of the mechanism. Cleaning and polishing of the two calipers followed along with some delicate file work on the Spidel lettering and black paint to highlight the letters  improved the result. (See the photo bellow for details.)


MAFAC/Spidel Calipers - After

MAFAC/Spidel Calipers – After


By the time the calipers were completed, the Spidel brake levers had arrived from my EBay France purchase. The lever hoods were in as poor a condition as expected from the photos on the sale site. What was a surprise was the condition of the lever blades. The satiny glowing, undamaged alloy of the auction photos turned out to be the result of someone taking a belt sander to the blades. Deep, comprehensive scratches were the result of this pre-sale “improvement” to the levers.


MAFAC/Spdel Levers - Before

MAFAC/Spdel Levers – Before


So out came the alloy polishing reference sheets from Bike Forums and the work began. By the time I had worked through multiple grit levels of sandpapers  and compounds and the polishing was complete, the levers had a high shine and looked much better dressed up in their NOS MAFAC  rubber lever hoods.

MAFAC/Spidel Levers - After

MAFAC/Spidel Levers – After


Subsequently, all the drive train was cleaned and prepared using the techniques found in the links above.  The wheels were salvaged from my earlier Bertin restoration. They were repacked and upgraded bearings were added and then trued and checked by my brother the bicycle mechanic.  The photo below shows the hub before cleaning and polishing.


Helico Rr Wh

Rear Maillard Helicomatic Hub – Before


The cleaned, trued and adjusted rear hub looks a lot better after its completed renovation. (See photo below.) There remains a slightly visible, grey discolouration in the alloy hub shell that no amount of sanding or polishing seems to be able to remove. This is equally true for the completed front wheel as seen in the accompanying photograph.


Rr Helico after 3

Rear Maillard Helicomatic Hub- After



Frt Wheel after 2

Front Maillard Sport Hub – After


So too were the stem and handlebars, the seat post and other parts prepared for eventual installation on the restored frameset. A 40 tooth inner chainring eased the gearing on the reconditioned Stronglight 93 crankset, a used but quite serviceable Helicomatic freewheel was obtained through Via Bicycles in Philadelphia (thanks, Tim!) and all the little bits and pieces like seatpost binder bolt, bottle cage bolts, toe clip and straps and so on were sourced either from my own parts boxes or online. The wheels had Velox rim tape added, tubes and tires were ready for installation, everything was either new or renewed and waiting for the arrival of the frameset which will be the subject of the next post in the Bertin Restoration series.