Bertin VTT / MTB


The category of “classic” when applied to Bertin bicycles seems to be getting broader. To some, including the author, “classic” refers to those road bikes produced up until the early 1980s. Why? Well, that was the time frame in which France produced the full range of items necessary to produce a bicycle from steel tubes to lugs to derailleurs to handlebar tape. Thereafter, SIS came in, Asian production ramped up and the whole game changed as many French firms and French manufacturers ceased to do business. This radically changed the commercial  and sporting landscape in France and bicycles along with it.

However, the term “classic” is becoming more elastic as younger cyclists review their own experiences in the sport and conclude that there is enduring value to be found in the bicycles that they have used and experienced. Such is the case with Carl V. from France. He has been kind enough to share photos of his Bertin VTT with readers on this site.

Once Europeans got a look at what was going on in Marin County in California, they began to design and ride VTTs of their own adapted from the early mountain bikes developed in the American West. This lugged Bertin, with its Sturmey Archer drum brakes and Brooks B72 saddle, is a good example of the slightly divergent direction that Bertin took when interpreting the mountain bike.



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brakes & shifters

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Carl’s Bertin is a good example of the transition between the old, all French way of building and designing bicycles and the “mondiale” realities of contemporary design and manufacturing.

Bertin Mountain Bike / VTT

A classic Bertin is, to me, a bicycle of the 1950s to the 1980s, not a mountain bike. However, for many cyclists, mountain bikes are being perceived as “classics” as well.  When you see ads for “classic” Specialized Stumpjumpers and Fisher Montares you realize that the term “classic” has some elasticity.

Certainly, Andre Bertin was not one to let an opportunity go by and he sold BMX bicycles and framesets when that aspect of cycling was hot. I shouldn’t have been surprised to see a mountain bike with Bertin’s decals, but I was when I ran across a photo of one on leboncoin a French online sellers’ site.

This one appears to be a “badge engineered” Bertin as it has the look of a Japanese MTB/VTT but with Bertin’s decals. The Tange Mountain tubing sticker, the lugged frameset  and Japanese components argue for that conclusion. Even the Shimano Exage/Biopace gruppo, Tioga Beartrap pedals and SR mountain style stem seem to confirm this.

Re-stickering was not an unknown practice back then or now. Bertin offered the Vitus produced line of alloy framed bicycles labelled as Bertins and did the same with Speedwell produced C 75T titanium frames for a short period of time. As well, the Bertin factory would later go on to produce some European Specialized models as well as bikes for Nakamura and Nickel among others.

Regrettably, I am unable to give further details on the bike as no source has been found which lists its C ??? model designation or details of other bikes in the MTB/VTT range offered by Bertin. Should they become available, I will publish the information here, on the site.