27 November, 2012

Bertin C37 Mixte, High Performance in Comfort


By Igor

Back in the day there were a few companies that produced Mixte style frames that used the same frame materials and components as high end racing bikes. On those select bikes, it wasn't uncommon to see Reynolds 531 or Columbus SL tubing with Nuovo Record Components on a get-around-town bike. This is what makes this bike I picked up for Adrian as a winter project that much cooler. 





Andre Bertin was an accomplished French racer in the 30’s and 40’s, before becoming a team manager and entrepreneur until the 90’s. You can read a detailed biography on Bertin Classic Cycles.

The Bertin C37 was produced in the 70s to compete with the Peugeot PX10 and other similar bikes of the bike boom era.  The frame is Reynolds 531 and features a Campagnolo Record group with the exception of the brakes, which are Mafac centerpulls. Wheels are Record hubs laced to Milremo tubular rims.


This bike is one of particular interest. It features a high-end racing group but is also in a Mixte configuration with chrome stays and fork blades. After doing much searching on the web, I emailed Jim, owner of the Bertin Cycles weblog, with pictures and any info I could grab off the frame. Jim said that he had never seen this model, not even in a catalogue, but confirmed it was a C37 and had period correct components and hardware.

One of the coolest features of the bike is the French Phillipe pantographed cast stem with rear cutout.




In addition to the uniqueness of the frame, the bike sports the Hans Ohrt of Beverly Hills, CA retail shop sticker. Ohrt was a 30's/40's racer turned bicycle retailer to the stars; one of which could have bought this bike new.


More pictures can be found here. At this time, the wheels will be rebuilt to ride to shows and a pair of VO wheels will be perfect replacement for daily riding.

So the question remains: Should we repaint to its former glory, or should the patina and history be preserved?

25 comments:

John Hanson said...

It looks like the outer chainring is stamped 43, is that right? What about the inner? Whatever it is, this seems super-sensible for city riding, and I wish to have it (Campag NR, of course) for one of my bikes. Would redefine my short cage NR derailleur.

gypsybytrade said...

Patina, definitely.

Justin said...

Don't paint it.

The chainrings are probably 48/44 or thereabouts. The outer ring could not be a 43 considering the cranks BCD.

Julie C. said...

Just this May I bought a late 70's/early 80's Bertin mixte off of Craigslist her in Seattle. I payed $125 for it and apparently got a great deal! Jim at the Bertin blog thinks it's a C31 touring model. I've been stopped so many times by people asking about the Bertin brand, having never heard of it. I'm slowly working on it, and I want to turn it into a French style city bike. I definitely have my eye on the new Grand Cru Plume Alaire chainguard!

reverend dick said...

Patina.

Anonymous said...

Don't paint!

Yann G.S. said...

Repainting would be criminal! especially on a bike that rare, sure there is a few spots like on the fork, but it just adds to the character which can not be faked!

Jofus Braylor said...

Lots of wax! it's beautiful! Glad to see a mixte with good parts on it, nearly all the ones I've seen are embarrassments.

Jofus Braylor said...

Lots of wax! glad to see a mixte with nice parts on it, so many are embarrassing BSOs. Beautiful!

Pim said...

Stay away from the paint! Clean it, and oil it. That's it, please.

My gay Jesus said...

Doesn't Adrian already have a mixte?

Rudy said...

Patina! It looks better than my 2009 commuter, I'm ashamed to say.

MT cyclist said...

Beautiful. Elegant. Stunning.
I vote for leaving the frame as is. I'm curious to see how those Campy hubs clean up, though.

Matthew said...

Leave that paint alone!

John I said...

I agree with all who say leave the paint alone. I have that exact stem, which came on a mongrel 70's Miyata project. And speaking of mixtes: when is VO going to offer a mixte frame again? Something in 60 cm please.

Gunnar Berg said...

Clean it, brass wool the chrome, Simichrome the aluminum, subtle paint touch-up, ride it. Very cool bicycle.

Bendo said...

Keep the patina! A really thorough clean and (careful) polish will have it looking stunning again. If it were mine I'd put the effort into things like unlacing the wheels to completely clean the hubs.

What a bike. Love the bars. b

Anonymous said...

From my 40+ years as an adult cycling I don't think that the handlebar stem was pantographed but the relief in the stem is the result of the manufacturing process (i.e. casting).

lawschoolissoover said...

Well, if it's an exhibition piece, patina is the way to go. On the other hand, if it's a BICYCLE, I'd repaint it.

I remember years ago on a woodworking forum, a woman asked about refinishing a nicely musical but otherwise undistinguished piano that had gotten ugly with the years. The forum jumped down her throat, arguing that refinishing a piano "destroyed its value."

OK. Assuming it has value as an antique, that's true. If its value is something other than appearance, well. that's another matter.

RoadieRyan said...

I would suggest a 3 step paint clean and wax process like the one Mequiars makes then you not only preserve the patina but protect it. You guys make a nice classic mixte for a while are you bringing it back?

VeloOrange said...

Sounds like I should leave the bike as is.

John Hanson - Chainrings are 49/45. I actually love a half-step for commuting. I ride a 52/46 daily with a medium range cassette.

Julie C. - Great find with the C31. Shoot us some pics once its done.

Anon 10:29 - You're right, the stem is cast.

Bendo - The hubs will be unlaced since the tension is low anyway. They will clean up really well. Curtis Odom mentions how this first interest with hubs was when he found an old Campy wheel. I think the hub picture is appropriate. http://goo.gl/hKBjK

Anonymous said...

Yes please, my vote is for VO to produce a mixte frame, great idea, small please, Yes, leave paint on this one, as is, would seem criminal to repaint. Love the Hans Ohr logotype, great typography and design. Perhaps you could post another pic of it, so we can see it better?

peddalhead said...

If you restore it you will have a mistress instead of a bike, you will not use it as it was intended, only stroke it. Clean it, make it functional, pedal it often, be happy.

Don said...

NO PAINTING! I have a Bertin C37 that I had repainted about five years ago and now regret doing that. The repaint was excellent but I realize too late that it was the wrong thing to do. My Bertin C37 is a full 531 with Campagnolo dropouts and fork ends and rather fancy lugs. It had the lousy French paint job and no braze- ons. I wish that I would have kept it that way.

Anonymous said...

As this has the Hans Ohrt sticker with Beverly Hills and no other locations it would be from prior to 1972. They purchased a shop on La Cienega near Pico in Los Angeles, and in 1973 had opened a shop in Westwood Village near UCLA. The only location still a bike shop is the Westwood Village store, now a Helen's Cyclery.
The Mixtie C-37's were almost all special order, sometimes an additional bike was ordered for stock.
My first road bike was a C-37. Pretty effectively appointed having just read the Complete Book of Cycling by Sloane. Lots of saving to buy that bike. $310. in 1972.