B. Carre

Yes, I know I swore off French bikes forever. I know the objective is to thin the herd. I know I’m susceptible to the guiles of a  French beauty, especially one that’s “been around the block” more than a few times.

I also know I’m guilty of impulse purchases.

I know all of these things all too well. What I don’t know is much about this frame, and until this object of my horse trading arrives in the USA, it’s not likely I’ll know a whole lot more for a while.

Here are the facts, as I know them. This is a Bernard Carre frame. Every Carre frame I’ve seen – at least those I know for certain were built by Carre – are embossed with “B CARRE” on the seat stay caps. The frame is nominally my size at 58cm square.

I’ve no idea what tubing was used. Many French bikes of the 1970’s use a 26.4 seat pin; this one purportedly uses a 26.2.  The dropouts are spaced at 122. The frame is showing up with a TA bottom bracket. I’ll measure the spindle after it arrives to see if it matches any of my French cranks.

I’m a fan of Stronglight headsets, one of which accompanies this frame.

The dropouts are Campagnolo, as are the cable retainers along the top tube. The bottle holder appears to be a TA, or similar. The cantilever brakes are Mafac Criterium models. I’ve never used them before, but others assure me they are much easier to adjust and fine tune than earlier model cantis.

Cantilever brakes mean a couple things. For one, I’m locked in on the wheel size the frame was designed for. So if that size turns out to be a 27 inch wheel, there’s not a whole lot I can do about that. (Whereas, with center pulls or side pulls, one can often fit 700c or even 650b with a little luck.) The other thing is that cantilevers raise the question of whether or not this really is a randonneur. Cantilevers are a favored brake for cyclo-cross bikes, so the possibility is that this bike was designed for that purpose. I am leaning toward cycle-touring at the moment, but not a full bore touring model.

I’m left with a slight dilemma here: I’m in the queue for a Jeff Lyon frame. I’d planned to have that frame painted in a pale lavender or lilac color. Yet here I find myself with a frame in that color range already. Is that a problem, I wonder? (As I type these thoughts, it occurs to me that I have a pair of NOS toe straps that are the same color as this frame, just waiting for a new home. Hmmmm.)

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10 thoughts on “B. Carre

  1. Oh, my, what a lovely bit of French cycling kit. I know the headaches that “French dimensions” can create. But the bike I ride the most, my all weather commuter, is a mid-eighties Gitane touring model. And I have a great respect for the feel and ride of a similar era Andre Bertin cyclocrosser.

    Your new frame is from that age when few unessential braze-ons were included. The cable housing stop atop the derailleur side chain stay appears to be about it. But those chain stay and seat stay ends at the rear drop out are very nicely done. Oh, and of course the cantilever post braze-ons. They were a deluxe feature back in the day and speak well for the frame. I have Mafac cantis on both the Gitane and the Bertin and haven’t had call to complain in over thirty years of rough service.

    Good luck with your new find. I will be curious to learn more about its geometry, chain stay length, for example. I notice some paint worn off the inside of the chain stays just behind the bottom bracket. That sometimes happens because of mud build up in cyclocross use. After you determine the correct wheel size, it will be interesting to measure bottom bracket height. My Bertin cross model has a tall, 11″ plus measurement; ground clearance for inverted toe clips while getting mounted.

  2. I had wondered who won that Carre! I think you will be very pleased once you get the bike and have it rolling. I have a Carre Bertin C 37 from 1973 and it is a lovely bike. It is agile, smooth and accelerates with alacrity. (It also has a slight toe clip overlap.)

    Carre built for many brands (Lejeune, Anquetil, Delacroix, Bertin and Gitane, for example) as well as doing self-labelled high end custom framesets. He also built in multiple genres from track, to road, to randonneuse and it will be interesting to see if this is a cyclo-cross build or a converted road bike. As Robert suggests, the BB height should tell that tale.

    There is information here https://bertinclassiccycles.wordpress.com/2016/02/29/bernard-carre-and-andre-bertin/ about Carre as well as links to related topics. I am going to watch this build with considerable interest!

    • Thanks for the information, Jim. As you are aware, many Carre frames were built for others so it’s a little uncommon to find one with his head badge. This one, as is illustrated, only bears his mark on the stays (which was common, at least in his case.) Coincidentally, I had recently begun to create a B.CARRE head badge from a partial that I’d come across. I’ve already moved forward having that put into production in the event I decide to add it to this bike. However, I’ll be honest and say that I may do nothing more than clean this up, and build it. I’m looking forward to popping wheels onto the bike and checking that BB height. The previous owner did respond to my question about wheels, and indicated it had fit 700 x 28 and looked to have room for more width, even with fenders.

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