A Bertin C 37 in London

The last posted article was one about an urban owned C 38 track bike in New York City in the US. This post will be about a C 37 road bike owned and restored by Stuart Windsor of London, England. Stuart is a professional photographer as you can see from his pictures below as well as from his work at the Stuart Windsor Photographer site here.

He had contacted me some time ago regarding sharing his completed restoration but the perfect opportunity to share it came with the more recent opportunity to post about the C 38. So here it is below, in a slightly less formal featured bike presentation, to contrast with the C 38 from last time around. Both are 1960s – early 1970s and make an interesting juxtaposition. (Click photo to enlarge.)


Drive side profile showing off the Stronglight 105bis

Drive side profile showing off the Stronglight 105bis crankset.


Alloy Simplex Prestige, 105bis and Marcel Berthet pedals - classic French componentry

Alloy Simplex Prestige, 105bis and Marcel Berthet pedals – classic French components.


Frame Details also showing Maillard Competition front hub and Simplex QR

Frame Details also showing Maillard Competition front hub and Simplex QR.


Frame details and rear Competition HF hub

Frame details and rear Competition HF hub.


Frame details with interesting pump peg.

Frame details with interesting pump peg.


Atax/Philippe bar and stem.

Atax/Philippe bar and stem.


Rear early model MAFAC Racer brake caliper.

Rear early model MAFAC Racer brake caliper.


MAFAC Course 121 levers with half-hoods.

MAFAC Course 121 levers with half-hoods.

The whole restoration effort has produced a visually stunning period effect and a sincere thank you to Stuart for sharing that result with us.





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 5

Progress on the C 37 restoration continues. The framebuilder has done the braze-ons requested and on a bright, sunny day I took some less than ideal photographs showing some of his work. The bottle cage mount reinforcements were added by him as he felt they echoed and complimented the style of these on the brake bridge.

Bertin C37 BB # 2

The rolled and brazed brake bridge tube was filled, cleaned up and then filed. The final fine filing and finish sanding was done after all three of these photos were taken.

Bertin C37 BB # 3

The photo lets you see the stylistic similarities between the reinforcements on the brake bridge and those which were added on the down tube around the bottle bosses.

Bertin C37 BB

The new bottom bracket braze-ons will accommodate the Simplex SLJ 5500 rear and the SLJ 502 front derailleurs which are to be fitted to the completed bicycle. The completion of the detailed filing and sanding on the braze-on brake cable guides and lever bosses will be finished along with the paint stripping and sanding of the fork chrome just before Christmas. I am told that the paint application and decals, followed by clear coat, will come immediately afterwards with headset installation preceding my collection of the finished frameset. It is definitely looking like a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Bertin C 37 Restoration Part 4

The previous installment of the C 37 restoration post did an overview, with links, of the four different approaches to renewing or “restoring” an older bicycle. In the case of the 1970s Bertin C 37 sold to me by Tim M. of the United States, I chose to undertake a restification (a restoration/modification). The image of the bike in its original state, as when owned byTims Bertin C 37 blk Tim, shows a good “ten foot bike”. This is a phrase stolen from the car hobby and refers to a vehicle seen from ten feet away (about 3 metres). It simply recognizes that the flaws and deficiencies cannot be easily seen and that the vehicle looks quite presentable from that distance. If you click on the image it will enlarge and look quite presentable. Click again and issues begin to manifest themselves.

There are visible scrapes on the downtube, the left fork leg chrome looks iffy, the seat stay cap decal is peeling, the red Bertin foil decal on the seat tube has gouges, none of which is surprising on a 40 year old bicycle. Tim’s presentation of the bike is attractive and appropriate for a 1970s production racing bike but, realistically, the finish is tired and in need of renewal. Since the C 37 was a stop gap while the restoration of Tim’s favoured C 34 was completed, eventually the bike was sold to me “as is” when he no longer needed it.

Once the bike you intend to rebuild is in your procession, you will need to do a pre-assessment to decide what needs to be done and how to go about doing it. That’s what I did once I had the bike out of the box Tim had shipped it in. In that case, Tim had been very clear regarding condition and there were absolutely no surprises when I assessed the Bertin.  My intention from the beginning was that this C 37 would undergo a restoration and be documented on this site. It was on this understanding that Tim sold me the bike.

So, in this case, the first step of deciding to either preserve/refurbish or to restore had already been determined in favour of restoration. The question then came down to whether it would be a full period correct restoration to factory original or if it would be a restification which would preserve the general period feel of the bike but improve functionality with improvements like upgraded chain, cluster and other visually unobtrusive changes. Ultimately, I selected restification. The bike itself was an ordinary example of a C 37, much less common than a Peugeot PX 10 or Gitane Tour de France but by no means a unique you-must-preserve-this-example of the breed. If this was Patrick Sercu’s World  Championship Bertin that would have been a whole different thing!

If this were a restoration, the black paint colour and red decals would be unchanged as would the OEM equipment (which in Tim’s build was already upgraded). From the factory this could have been the base level all French components, like Tim’s, a Shimano gruppo like 600 or Dura Ace or Campy Nuovo Record/Super Record. Frame clips would be the norm and the forks would need to be re-chromed. Since I was doing a restification, none of that was going to be true.

When I conceived of the idea to do the restoration, I already owned a C 37 from the mid-1960s which had been modified and Bertin C 37 Feb. 2013upgraded into a randonneuse by the previous owner. I had subsequently done further upgrades and had the bike re-painted in red and black, not  knowing, at that time, that they were Bertin’s racing colours.

Since I already had a light touring bike with fenders, lights and a rack, I determined that the newer, 1970s C 37 would need to be a sportier bike for faster rides. At my age faster is a very relative term! As well, it would not have fenders to make the bicycle more easily transportable and would not be re-painted in its original black and red colour scheme as shown in the top picture. That was the colour scheme on my earlier C 37 as shown on the photo to the left.

Instead, I intended to adapt the bike to my preferences within the conventions of the mid-1970s. By then, frame clips were going out and braze-ons were coming in. Good thing because I have been gouged and sliced ‘n’ diced too often to tolerate clips when I have a choice. So, no clip ons, braze-ons only for cable guides, shifter bosses, a single set of water bottle bosses and cable stops. As well, the colour would have to change to avoid duplicating my current C 37. Instead, since I am Canadian, the bike will be finished in white with red decals and accents like tape and cables.

Another driving fact behind the re-finishing decision was that the paint was not really salvageable. The frameset was rough when Tim acquired it and it had not healed! Consequently, the deterioration shown in the images below informed my decision to do a full repaint on the frameset.

Drive Side Profile

Drive Side Profile

Front Forks - Chrome Pitting and Peeling

Front Forks – Chrome Pitting and Peeling

Rear Chainstays and Dropouts - Paint Damage

Rear Chainstays and Dropouts – Paint Damage

Seatstay Cap and Decal Condition

Seatstay Cap and Decal Condition

Head Tube and Top Tube Paint

Head Tube and Top Tube Paint

As can be seen from the photographs above, there was really little choice in selecting a re-spray for this C 37. Clicking on the photos will enlarge them and they will enlarge again after clicking for a second time.

So the choices have been made, in this case, for restification and a full re-spray. The framebuilder called today to confirm braze-on locations so the next post will feature the modifications and metal work which will precede the paint and application of the period correct decals.