This period reflects the gradual move towards closure that began after Mr. Bertin sold his company to Cibo in 1993. Competition in the French bicycle market was fierce as preferential tariffs disadvantaged French domestic producers leading to withdrawal by some firms like Peugeot and bankrupty for others like Motobecane.
Cost savings in everything from materials, assembly techniques, automation and graphics were applied to allow bicycle producers and component producers a chance to survive. As part of this relentless process, decals were simplified and made interchangeable on the top tube, seat tube and down tube in the earlier part of the decade. The headtube badge was replaced permanently with a vertically stacked and italicized version of the down and seat tube name. Paint schemes were initially simplified and used a base colour with contrasting fades applied over them as in this example.
After Mr. Bertin’s death in 1994, the new owners moved further away from the materials, techniques and appearances of the classic era Bertins. Traditional steels remained as a frame material with some new types but in addition to lugged and brazed framesets many others were TIG welded. Aluminum in both Vitus lugged/bonded and Columbus welded versions remained in the line up and the welded bikes became a larger and larger part within the Bertin catalogue of offerings.
Details on the sequence of the decal styles hereafter is conjectural due to lack of reference materials. Nonetheless, the simplification and shift to semi-compact design and TIG welded framesets was consistent through this period to the end of production around 2000. The old eagle/tricolour head badge was replaced by lettering as shown above and then by a highly stylized lower case letter b. It may have been that the trademark was no longer available after Mr. Bertin’s sale of the company because Shimano retains control of the trademark to this day. Paint treatments were either single colour or two colours seperated by transitional decals. Graphics were on clear, peal and stick film and did not appear to have clear coat over them. Vitus bonded aluminum frames continued branded as Bertins with Bertin style decals scaled to the size of the smaller tubeset.
This welded, aluminum framed Bertin C 4000 has what I believe to be an earlier style of graphics. Later models of both TIG’d steel and welded aluminum used the dual colour format discussed earlier.
This paint scheme had small lower case b’s on the seat stays and the front of the fork blades with a larger coordinating one on the head tube. The Vitus Futural frames were liveried similarly to the other single colour bicycle shown above as can be seen in this photograph.
Forks on the different models varied. Some were raked steel, some straight bladed, others were welded or bonded alloy. At the very last of the 90s/2000 some frames were seen with carbon forks although these may have been aftermarket replacements. See the examples below.
According to former production manager Alain Merlier, production at the Bertin factory ceased in 2000. Bikes were still sold after that date, probably as NOS, floor models and such like. The latest bike known to me is the owner identified 2003 model in the following photograph. It appears to be one of the last of the last and its graphics would seem to be representative of the final production style.