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: Mixte, English and Cradle Women’s Frameset Designs

At first glance, Cycles Bertin seems to have been a smaller but pre-eminently French manufacturer and distributor of quality French bicycles and parts. The early Bertins are built with Vitus Durifort tubing, Huret, Simplex, Mavic, Ideale and other French brand name quality components. But look more carefully and you will find a company willing to respond agilely to market demands as Columbus, Reynolds, Milremo and, yes, Shimano begin to appear on its products. Remember, while doing this, Bertin was simultaneously building mopeds and motorcycles, running a wholesale parts distribution company and managing a semi-pro cycling team and supporting independent racers using his products! Keep these facts and their complexity in mind when the details of Bertin’s women’s bicycle designs are discussed.

From early in the Post World War II period, Cycles Bertin had focused on supplying export markets as well as domestic demand at home in France.  In addition to former French colonies like Morocco and Vietnam, Cycles Bertin sold its products in Britain through a close association with Ron Kitching. (See this post for further details.) Although British buyers were becoming more open to the “Continental” fashion of road bike design, especially in regard to racing bikes, the market in Britain for sport and utility machines was somewhat less fashion driven and more conventional or conservative. Female cyclists in France, for example, rode mixte frames around town or on randonnees and diagonales but diamond frames if they raced. In Britain the double, parallel down tube design remained the dominant style of women’s bike other than for racing or sport. The French catalogues called them the “Dame Anglais” or English Woman’s style. As well , there were “Mixte” frames and a third style often found on utility bicycles but also on women’s sporting bikes called the “Dame Berceau” or Woman’s Cradle frame.

The English style frame has self evident advantages for a woman mounting or dismounting while wearing a dress, skirt or long coat as would be expected of a utilitarian, female cyclist in the 40s, 50s and even much of the 60s. Although the step over is low, the convenience of the design is high even if it badly compromises frame strength by effectively removing the top tube. The lack of an effective top tube or extra stays makes the design prone to twisting under vigorous riding. Ultimately, not a big problem for utility cyclists but limiting if sport riding is to be done. The bicycles themselves were sold in France as well as the British market and the advantages proved to be long lived. The example to the right is from the 1990s and speaks volumes to the durabilitity of the basic design concept and the advantages it conveys to the casual or utilitarian rider. There was a modified version of this style as well with a flattened section in the upper down tube to provide more bracing to the frameset. The photo of this green coloured variant shown to the left of the page comes from the 1980s and demonstrates that tinkering with and modification of the design continued consistently as long as production lasted. The other photo, of a late 1990s Bertin production bike, shows that the adoption of oversized aluminum frame tubing, gussets and TIG welding allowed designers to restore lost torsional strength to the frameset and still keep the advantage of the step through “Dame Anglais” design.

The Mixte style of frameset was offered in parallel with the English Woman’s style and the Cradle frame design. A major advantage  of the mixte is that the design restores much of the lost torsional rigidity of the frame by attaching the narrow diameter twin lateral tubes to the seat tube as they pass and by adding a third set of stays to the back of the bike. Because the twin laterals are small in diameter, they are heavier than an equivalent larger diameter top tube would be. As well, more weight is added by the extra set of stays in the rear triangle of the frameset. Despite the extra cost of the mixte design caused by the special head and seat tube lugs (see photo to the right), extra tubing and special cable routings (see photo below), the mixte remained a viable sporting bike as can be seen in the white randonneuse shown above with its dropped bars and guidonnet brake levers. Step over was compromised as was minimum weight but the frameset had the potential to be a useful multi-purpose bike.

The Cradle, the third frame design focused largely on women (men did ride the mixte as a town bike due to the extra clearance for rapid dismounts in traffic), was frequently seen on bicycles with a clear utilitarian focus. It was largely a compromise between the two other designs being a basically “bent” mixte that restored some of the lost step over height so evident in the English woman’s frame design. Sometimes the twin lateral went directly to the rear dropouts after they bent above the bottom bracket as shown on the green Bertin in the accompanying photo. On a different occassion, the lateral tubes swoop down low in a curve only to gracefully curve again in order to meet the junction points with the dropouts as seen in the photo  of the Bertin C 10 to the left of this text. Noticeable as well, is the fact that the utility bikes are equiped with Stumey Archer 3 speed hub gears. French enthusiast cyclists decried these as “friction boxes”and refused to ride them unlike their English equivalents. However, on a utility bicycle, an enclosed gear system was something that appealed in both markets.

Another noticeable characteristic of these bikes is that they usually come fully equipped with rack, fenders, lighting, chain guards, sometimes even with dress guards to prevent soiling madam’s clothing while coming back from an errand. As well, these classic, utilitarian cycles manage to offer all this functionality with a panache and pleasing style that quite embarasses modern utility bikes such as the welded aluminum Bertin shown earlier in the post.

These three frame styles offered by Cycles Bertin were in no way definitive. Mixtes could be ordered from the factory with hub gears. English style bikes could and did come with derailleurs as might Cradle design framesets. Andre Bertin was a pragmatist who was willing to provide what a market might need whether it was 650B or 700C wheels, utilitarian accessorizing or pumps and tool kits. Remarkably, while juggling the huge responsibilities mentioned above, he was able to do it with a sense of style which leaves these classic old bikes desirable even today.

Bertin bicycle decals for restorations

The obtaining of accurate and complete decal (transfers) sets for any bicycle can be difficult. For bicycles like Bertins produced at the rate of a maximum of 10,000 machines a year, at most, it can be a vexing problem indeed. Periodically, I receive requests to direct other Bertin owners to someone who can provide or make decal sets to complete the final detail of a restoration.

Usually, I direct them to firms I have linked to in the Restoration sidebar like H.Lloyd Cycles, Velocals, Velocolour, Velographic and such like. Sometimes, the request is more specific and difficult. For Bertins from the 50s and 60s there simply has not been any option for decals. The original, script and arrow downtube decals were unavailable and there were no clear, reliable photos to form the basis of reproduction. When I restored my 1960s Bertin C 37, the only useful decals were the 1970s version I eventually had reproduced and used.

Recently, an email request came in from Stuart W. in Britain. He had found a Bertin like his original bike from the late 1950s and he was hoping to get a photo image of the downtube decal which he needed to have reproduced.

Thankfully, I was able to supply him with an appropriate, high resolution photo which had been unavailable to me when I did my restoration several years ago.

Shortly thereafter, I got an email with an inclusion. The decal maker, Cyclomundo, had come through in a big way and had created the appropriate decals for these early Bertin sport and racing bicycles. So, for those of you who had despaired of period correct for your Bertin, rejoice because Stuart’s request has opened up your choices. You now can contact Cyclomundo and ask about these decals:

As you can see, the set is not fully complete. You will also need the A.B. decal for the downtube and the Made in France banner for the top tube but those are currently available. Combine them and you have a perfect, period correct graphic package for your beloved old Bertin be it a road or a track frame. So, no more excuses, get that restoration done and get back on the road!

Update: Classic Bertin Bicycle Models


June 9, 2009: Readers of this blog have been generous with their time and insights. In their comments and in e-mails they have provided facts and information which I have passed along to the general readership. As well, some people have been able to share photos of personal Bertins, such as Charles’ red C 37 bis, or images they have come across on line.

Therefore, today I have done another update to the Gallery header page, as well as posted the updated images below. I would like to thank Anja  and JPA especially for their input.

May 30, 2009: added the Bertin C 10 Utility Bicycle photo which was located on E-Bay France.

May 16, 2009: added a C 34 Cross photo that I found in the “used bicycle” section of Sellwood Cycle Repair in Porland, Oregon in the U.S.  

                                                  * * * * * *

When I first published this post (on February 27th, 2009), I explained that Cycles Bertin produced a variety of models in different forms over the course of the period 1945 until 1980. I have now created a provisional list of these models, which I will list here, as well as on the header page which readers will find here.

The specifications which follow each model are for the 1970’s bicycles produced by Bertin. Other specifications will be noted specifically.


C 10/C 11 (Mixte)

Bertin mixte ebay fr

  • Lugged, hi-tensile, carbon steel frameset
  • 4 spd rear derailleur
  • SS fenders
  • Soubitez generator, lights & bell, chainguard
  • rear rack
  • Mafac cantilever brakes (brazed on)
  • 650A wheels and tires


C 28/C 28 (Mixte)


  • Full Durifort frameset
  • 700C wheels, LF hubs, QR
  • Solida steel 52/40 crank set
  • Ideale 39 leather saddle
  • Delrin Simplex Criterium FD and RD
  • Mafac Racer CP brakes

C 31/C 31 (Mixte)


  • Full Durifort frameset, 1/2 chrome fork
  • Specification as above, plus Stronglight TS 52/40 alloy crankset
  • alloy Simplex 410 RD and LJA FD

C 34


C34 Shimano 600

C34 Shimano 600

  • Full Vitus Durifort (Full Vitus 172 – 1980’s)
  • 700C wheels LF, QR hubs with tubular rims and tires
  • TA Cyclotouriste 52/40 alloy crankset
  • Delrin Simplex LJ 4000 RD and LJ FD
  • Simplex LJ 4012 Retrofriction levers
  • Mafac Racer CP brakes, hooded levers

C 34 Cross

 Copy of Bertin Cyclocross Vitus 888 Sellwood

  • Vitus 888 (Durifort) (1980’s)
  • special braze-ons for Cyclocross cable routings

C 35

C35 early 80's

C35 early 80's

  • Reynolds 531 main tubes, Durifort stays and fork (DB Vitus971 main tubes and Vitus 172 stays and fork , 1980’s)
  • 700C wheels, Maillard 700LF, QR hubs with Mavic Module E rims
  • TA Cyclotouriste 52/42 alloy crankset
  • Ideale 90 leather saddle
  • Simplex LJ 5000 RD and SLJ FD
  • Simplex Retrofriction alloy shiters
  • Mafac 2000 CP brakes, drilled, fully hooded levers

C 36

  • full Vitus 172 frameset
  • otherwise, as above

C 37/C 237bis


Early 1960's C37 from Mike in New Zealand

Early 1960's C37 from Mike in New Zealand

JBC's Restored Personal Bertin C37

JBC's Restored Personal Bertin C37

  • Full Reynolds 531 DB, taper gauge forks and stays ( Full DB Vitus 971, 1980’s)
  • 700c wheels, Maillard 700 LF QR with tubular rims and tires
  • Stronglight 105 bis 50/40 crankset
  • Ideale 90 leather saddle
  • gold Simplex LJ 5000RD and SLJ FD
  • gold Simplex Retrofriction alloy levers
  • gold Mafac 2000 CP brakes, drilled, fully hooded gold levers

C 37bis/C 237bis



  • full DB Vitus 971 frameset
  • otherwise, as above

C 72

  • no information currently available

C 79 SSC

  • Special Service Course
  • full DB Reynolds 531 SL/Professional frameset

C 80 SSC


  • Special Service Course
  • full DB Columbus SL frameset

C 117

  • full Durifort frameset
  • specification as for C-28 except for
  • Ideale 80 leather saddle
  • 700c wheels, LF QR with tubular rims and tires

C 132

  • full DB Vitus 172 frameset
  • specification as for C-28 except for
  • TA Cyclotouriste 52/40 alloy crankset

C 210/C 220

From Sargent & Co. Cycles

From Sargent & Co. Cycles

  • full Columbus Aelle frameset


Blue Bertin Frameset decal



T 2

  • full Vitus tandem gauge tubing(1980’s)
  • 700C wheels, Maxicar hubs with rear drum brake
  • TA Cyclotouriste triple 56/48/38 alloy crankset
  • Avocet Touring saddles
  • Huret Duopar RD and FD with downtube levers
  • brazed on Mafac cantilever brakes with fully hooded levers


C 38

  • full DB Reynolds 531 frameset with round track style fork blades

C 56


  • full Durifort frameset with round track style blades and double plate fork crown (forged crown 1980’s)
  • 700C HF tubular rims and track weight tubular tires
  • track nut attachment and fixed gear
  • TA Professionel alloy crankset
  • Ideale 39 leather saddle
  • alloy pedals, clips and toestraps

Note: Further details and photos will follow on the Bicycle Model header “Page” as time permits — instead of updating this post a second time. Moreover, visitors can further share information or photos by e-mailing me at