Bertin Tandem

In mid-May, I was contacted by a French reader of the blog looking for help in identifying a tandem that he had just purchased. It was a Bertin tandem, which is unsurprising on this blog, but what a unique bertin

Map credit: Wikipedia

Map credit: Wikipedia

Bertin it turned out to be. Loic wondered if it was a tandem built in St. Laurent-Blangy as the Bertin head badge listed a different location. The Cycles Bertin badge showed the small town of Rheges as the location of the business which constructed the tandem, not in the Nord Pas de Calais but in the Aube departemant to the south and east. Surprising really, as Rheges has a population of about 240 people and does not seem to be a Bertin 50s Headbadgehotbed of industrial production. The Andre Bertin badge is radically different with its tricolour and eagle motif. The tandem is in the profile photo which follows and you should look very closely at it.




I would direct your attention to the horizontal boom tube which joins the captain’s and the stoker’s bottom bracket shells and to the non-existent front chain wheel. Instead of an eccentric front bottom bracket and a chain wheel to connect to the stoker’s crankset there is a vertically ovalized and fillet brazed tube to enclose what I believe is a shaft drive to the stoker’s crankset axle.

The design is well thought out for the pre-WW II to 1950s when its equipment was produced. There are brazed on Jeay roller cam brakes, hub brakes in steel hubs on 650 B rims and a Cyclo derailleur on the rear with a later single sprocket instead of the expected 3 or 4 cog freewheel. The cranksets are steel with a rear double. The brazing looks very clean and the bike was painted a lovely shade of green with the beautiful pinstripes so characteristic of the era. Below, are close up photos by Loic. I think you will find them fascinating. (Double click on photos to enlarge)

Front Drum Brake

Front Drum Brake


Jeay Roller Cam Brakes

Jeay Roller Cam Brakes


Stoker Crankset

Stoker Crankset

Cyclo Shift Lever

Cyclo Shift Lever

Seat Cluster with Custom Rack Mounts

Seat Cluster with Custom Rack Mounts

Cyclo Rear Derailleur

Cyclo Rear Derailleur



Rear Axle/Drum Brake

Rear Axle/Drum Brake

Drum Brake and Reaction Arm

Drum Brake and Reaction Arm


Head Tube Junction

Head Tube Junction




























Although this is a Bertin tandem, it seems unlikely to be a tandem produce by Cycles Andre Bertin. Note that M. Bertin’s business is not called Cycles Bertin like the tandem but always either Cycles Andre Bertin or Cycles A. Bertin as seen on the ad below.

Advert Bertin Milremo

Nonetheless, this is a fascinating and unique machine produced, it seems, by the other Cycles Bertin.





Bertin, Belgium and Milremo – Surprise!

While browsing on the Internet the other day, I was checking EBay UK for Milremo products. Since Andre Bertin and Ron Kitching were partners in the creation of this brand of cycling accessories, I was curious about the range as I was considering doing an update to an earlier post  I had written on the topic. After my Search results came up, there were the usual water bottles, bar end plugs, pumps and such like. To my surprise, there was also one of these:

Milremo 1

This is a Milremo branded bicycle. More particularly, it is a town bike made by Cycles Bertin Belgium. My first thought was that the seller had misclassified the bike as the graphics and construction were so obviously Bertin. Not so, as a careful look at the following photos reveals.

The first shot of the head tube logo is slightly obscured by the body of the head lamp.

Milremo 2

However, this certainly cannot be said of the photo of the matching seat tube decal as it clearly reads Milremo.

Milremo 7

Oddly, as mentioned above, the bike has many hallmarks of Belgian production. It features the brazed on rear carrier attached to the rear dropouts and painted to match the frame.

Milremo 6

Milremo 4

It uses Weinmann levers and brakes which were seldom seen in French production, Mafac being the brake of choice for utility bike fittings there. Also, the headlight is fitted to the front fork while production in Arras used brazed on tabs on the left rear seat stay to  mount the generator. Noteworthy as well was the A/D decal immediately below the seatlug which is characteristic of Belgian Bertin production.

Milremo 8

The bike is so well thought out and presented, even down to the front hub with its stylish wing nuts and the brazed on fender stay/bag support, that you wonder why it was marketed with the Milremo brand rather than as the Bertin it so clearly is .

Milremo 9

As it is, it seems that this Milremo will remain a stylish and eye-catching anomaly until EBay casts up another example.

While mentioning EBay, I would like to thank Mark, the current owner, for his kind permission to use his photos for this post. The bike can be found here in his shop, should any reader wish to see it.

Bertin at L’Eroica

Tuscany Map

Map credit Wikipedia

L’Eroica is a ride for vintage bikes which happens annually, in early October, in the Tuscan hills of north central Italy. It is centred on the Chianti area just south of Siena.  This event has a limited enrollment and a variety of options for courses and distances but all ride the “strada bianchi”, the white gravel roads of the region for part or most of their routes. Begun as a promotional event to raise awareness of the contributions of the gravel road network to the economy and the beauty of the Chianti region, L’Eroica has morphed into something a great deal more than just being an attempt at road conservation.

The newly revised L’Eroica website explains more and provides a spot for pre-registration as well. You can follow the link here for further information. The event has become an irresistible challenge and magnet for those of us who are both very fit and love old steel bicycles and that is how all of the above connects to Bertins.

Back in 2012, Kevin Y. from the UK contacted me about a Bertin he had purchased. He was interested in identifying the model, which we did, and sharing the bike with other readers interested in vintage Bertins. It was his longer range intention to ride L’Eroica with the bike as it fit the entry criteria for period bicycles.

Kevin shared detailed photographs of the bike with me and I posted a little of the history and the photos in a Feature Bike  post here in August of 2012. The distance between acquiring the Bertin and L’Eroica 2013 makes for interesting reading and Kevin shares his engaging account as follows:

L’Eroica –  The ‘Heroic’ 


“It is 7.00pm, October 6th 2013, the dusk has turned into night as we approach Gaiole in Chianti, cars are lighting up the tarmac as they stream down the road towards us, their bike carriers loaded with vintage steel bikes, heading home. We are in the final few kilometres of the ride, 190+ already gone.”

“Bill and I turn the corner onto the main street and see the barriers directing us to the finish where four options are presented: 35, 75, 135, 200km – we proudly take the 200 lane and are met with applause from the crowds jamming the finish area. I’m overcome and well up with tears, this has been the hardest and most rewarding ride of my life – 200km, 4300m of climbing, dirt roads, – the heroic ride, L’Eroica.”

This cycling adventure began when I first discovered a reference to L’Eroica on a forum. Intrigued, I searched and was immediately hooked on the idea that I would ride that route. In essence this ride commemorates the days when bikes were steel, races were held on the ‘Strada Bianchi’ – the white roads, or dirt roads of Italy, men were men and tyres were tubular.  

 Our ride would be 200km, on mostly white roads, on road bikes older than 1987. Four routes are possible 35, 75, 135 and 205 kilometres. All these routes pass through Chianti, a county within the region of Tuscany, Italy and quite possibly the most beautiful place on this Earth.

 More about this extraordinary story can be found on this link:

 The rules of the ride are quite particular. Road bikes only with road tyres. Your bike should be older than 1987 and fitted with period controls – brake cables exiting the top of the levers, down-tube mounted gear shifters, toe-clips, no knobbly tyres and finally; no aluminium unless it is from Italian maker Alan and of the period. 

Most of you readers would have a bike like this in your garage but at that time I did not.  I had an English steel bike, 1982 but I had re-built it with some modern kit, Campagnolo Carbon levers, 10 speed drive chain, dual pivot brakes and so on. What I needed was a new, old bike that I could restore and ride for this event, and so I began my search. 

 Several decent bikes came and went on eBay but I was too mean to bid the rightful amounts when a Bertin came up on my search for ‘Columbus’ tubing. A further internet search brought me to the site you are looking at right now and I realised that any maker that has a following of this kind is worthy and I was struck by the high regard that Bertin bikes are held in.

  I acquired the bike, a C 210 in Columbus Aelle with Shimano Golden Arrow kit and Mavic tubular rims. I trained on the tubulars for nearly a year, clocking up 2-3000 kilometres but after two blow outs in a single week I retreated from the idea of running them and put on a set of period clinchers 

 It was the fall of 2011 when I started to plan. I first though that 2012 would be the year but I reached the summer that year under-prepared for a long ride of this difficulty. I persuaded my good friend Bill Thomson to join me, he is retired and quickly gets into the spirit of adventure and we trained for 2013. We trained all through the winter and spring riding several Audax 100s,  a couple of 160s and two 200s – all kilometres. We targeted the 100 mile Ride London Olympic route in August 2013 and made it round in good time and in good shape. We were ready.

Bill and Kevs Leroica 2013

                                 Click here to link to YouTube

 The first stretch of strada bianchi (white roads) came at 20km. In the dark, on road tyres, this is a daunting prospect for nervous riders as the previous day a storm had lashed the Tuscan countryside as 2.5cm of rain fell in one day. The first few kilometres seemed to be fine, Bill remarked that the bikes handled better than expected on the rough terrain and we started to make good time.  The threat of rain still hung over us but as the dawn broke we saw blue sky between the clouds and by 07.30 the sun  breached the hillside to the east and cast long shadows across the landscape. There was a palpable joy among the riders as the sun warmed away our expectations of a long, wet day on the mud.

 At 48km the first ‘Ristorio” was reached, we took on water, ate delicious Italian pastries and set off.  There were stops every 40 – 50km or so for the first 120km and every 20km thereafter. I deduced this change in the frequency of stops was an effort to keep us alive as fatigue set in and we risked bad decisions about eating and drinking.

 Montalcino was the high point on the map and arrived at 80km. It was reached by a category 2 climb through the forest on dirt roads.  On the way, we passed the incongruous golf course owned by Salvatore Ferragamo, the over manicured greens and fairways jarred with the rustic landscape as we began our climb. The road was rough and coursed by rain gullies and drifts of sand and gravel. Hairpin after hairpin, we climbed steepening ascents to a soundtrack of tyres on gravel, heavy heartbeats in my ears and the regular and the laboured breathing of cyclists. 

 I passed a fellow traveller dressed as a forest ranger of the 1900’s in woollen clothing, on a 1900s period bicycle with wooden rims.  He was pushing a single speed drivetrain one stroke at a time, we shouted ‘Bravo’, he faintly acknowledged and put his head down. As we turned the bend, the sound of shouts and cat-calls came up from the stream of cyclists on the lower slopes.

Within minutes, a truck passed with two other forest rangers and their bikes catching a ride to the top. I did not see our guy until the rest at 90km. He made it to the top and took his reward on the 6 km sweeping descent from Montalcino. He was my hero.   

 Mostly it was strada bianchi to the finish.  Long stretches of up and down where the rain had played havoc with the surfaces made some parts unrideable. We walked long stretches of ascents and gingerly picked our way through the ruts on the descents.  

 I travelled behind a particularly cautious rider and, in frustration, took risks and passed only to find myself running out of grip on a corner and rattling off the road.  Mr. Cautious arrived a few seconds later and gently swung around the bend with the look that only smugness can produce. Served me right. 

 We were into the final 40km and fatigue slowed us down and eroded our morale.  I nearly crashed into the back of Bill, misjudged the approach to a bend and cursed the road surface. The road surface did not respond so I gave up.

 At Pianella, we did not make the cut off time of 18.00 hours for the full course on the last stretch of strada bianchi and diverted the final 15km onto the alternative tarred surface and headed towards Gaiole. Darkness fell as we followed the contours northwards and the final climb towards the T junction on the edge of town. Thirteen hours earlier, we had passed this way in the dark heading south. 

My Bertin was invisible throughout the ride, faultless, predictable in the dirt and gravel, mechanically reliable and decently comfortable. There were 5,000 vintage bikes on the roads that day and I would have happily ridden any of them but I rode my Bertin, and it delivered me safely home.  

It now perches proudly on my bike stand as I write this, cleaned, serviced, the bar tape removed and new Tektro brake levers fitted. This is now my daughter’s bike. She is coming over later to choose the new bar tape colour, tyres and decide the placement of the new levers.  

Kevs Leroica Bertin

A Bertin Tandem


The work on a site like this has behind the scenes maintenance that the reader is seldom aware of. Last December, I was checking links and updating photos in the Models section of the site. I try to have as clear and representative an illustration of a model as I am able to find and had located a Bertin tandem T 2 photo.

Previously, I had a black and white catalogue photo so the colour image was a real improvement in quality and clarity for readers attempting to find information. The change was made and shortly thereafter I was contacted by Adrien D. from France who had just purchased that same tandem. He was hoping to find information on the bike as he was planning to tour on it with a friend and really wanted to know more about the bike to which he was entrusting his vacation. It was a mutually beneficial moment as he was enthusiastic about his new purchase and more than happy to provide me with numerous photographs of the bike while I was able to provide him with specifications and a copy of a contemporary road test.

As well, Adrien explained the changes made to the tandem in preparation for the tour and was also kind enough to provide photographs from the actual trip itself. I extracted his permission to do a Feature Bicycle post on the topic for some time later. Adrien, it has turned out that “later” is much later than I had originally intended but here it is.



Original configuration as purchased


As configured for tour.




Frame Details of Laterals




Braze-on Mafac Cantilever Brakes


Atom Drum Brake and Reaction Arm Attachment


Dual Cable Mafac Brake Lever






Details of TA Triple Crankset


Huret Allvit Rear Derailleur




Philippe Alloy Stem and Handlebars


Once Adrien had the upgrades and modifications to the tandem ready, he and a friend took the machine on an enjoyable tour through Southern England and Wales. Hopefully, there have been other equally enjoyable occasions since that first successful trip.


The Bertin T 2 on Tour in Southern England


Bertin C 220: New Old Bike


Sometimes we search for a long time, sometimes the circumstances just happen and a bike we want/wanted shows up in our lives. Sometimes we take the opportunity as presented and Kevin Y. has done just that with a Bertin C 220 he found on eBay. It is a 1983 and he knows this for a certainty because the British man he purchased it from had originally bought it on a cross Channel jaunt to Calais in that year. (You can see the dealer sticker in the photos.) He then travelled by ferry back to Britain, cycled home on his new acquisition and rode it for a further five years. Work responsibilities resulted in it being stored for 24 years until Kevin recently acquired it.

A thorough cleaning, bearing lubrication, a new chain, brake pads, new tubulars and cables restored functionality. Kevin reinstalled the original pedals along with Milremo straps. The cleanup of the Columbus Aelle frameset and Golden Arrow Shimano gruppo produced the lovely bike you see in the photographs below. In comparing it to another bike he owns from the early 1980s, Kevin says”…this Andre Bertin appears a more modern design, lighter, quicker on the road and more responsive. The build quality is exemplary…”. Obviously the words of a man who is happy that he grasped the opportunity when it arose.





detail #1

detail #2


detail #3

detail #4


  detail #5

 detail #6


 detail #7