Bernard Carré Has Arrived.

My Bernard Carré impulse purchase arrived last week while I was relaxing in Mexico for Spring Break. I sure wasn’t expecting a large parcel to travel by post from France and wind up in the Midwest over a week earlier than promised. Viva La Poste!

I dropped by our local post office over lunch today to liberate the bike box from their back room. I didn’t have a lot of time, but – of course! – I did take a moment to quickly unpack the frame to see what I had, and to make sure it was intact. (It is.) The wheels and crusty tires pictured above can be ignored – I grabbed a set of whichever 650b, 27 inch, and 700c wheel sets from ceiling hooks to determine which the bike was designed for. Trying 650b was a long shot – it was pretty clear just looking at it that the frame hadn’t been built around that size. 27 inch fits very well, and a little surprisingly so does 700c. “Surprisingly,” because cantilever brakes tend to be pretty unforgiving about sizing. The MAFAC cantis have a lot more adjustability than others I’ve used.

I’d like to go with 700c, quite frankly, to lower the bottom bracket. With a bottom bracket height of 275 mm, and a drop of 70mm, it’s more of a road bike design than touring. It gets appreciably higher with 27 x 1 1/4 tires, falling into something closer to the traditional bottom bracket height of  a cyclocross bike.

I have always liked the pink color of many Mercier frames and I kind of had my fingers crossed this would be a similar color. It’s not. Actually, it’s more of a plum color than pink. All in all, it’s still an unusual color that appeals to my tastes.

So where do I go from here? I acquired this frame impulsively and with no plan in mind. I could try to build it up as I imagine it might have originally been. Perhaps it might make an interesting upright bar bike. To be honest, I’m really not certain what direction I’d like to go. Time will tell.


4 thoughts on “Bernard Carré Has Arrived.

  1. It looks very similar to Mercier pink in the photo. I’d keep it as original as possible. I love the fact my Mercier has all original French (though low end) components. Would be a shame to put a flat handlebar on it I think. But that’s just my opinion… Nice bike either way!

    • Alex, that “Mercier Pink” is what initially attracted my attention. If it hadn’t been for that, the horse tradin’ probably wouldn’t have commenced in the first place. (I’m shallow like that.)

      Upright bars aren’t going to happen, so no worries on that front…I’ve simply never found myself comfortable riding in that position.

      As for keeping things “original,” I’ve got (at least) two options I can pursue. On the one hand, among the extant components on the bike the bottom bracket cable guide and the top tube cable housing retainers are Campagnolo. This suggests that the bike may have been built up that way – not unusual if it was raced. I’ve got all the kit in my bins to easily build up a relatively period correct Campy bike. On the other hand, keeping things entirely French – which is equally likely an original configuration – has an appeal. I’ve sold or traded most of my nicer French components so I’ll have to dig around to see what I actually have left on hand. A little more horse tradin’ might have to take place, but doing so empties a few more storage coffers my wife won’t complain. I know I’ve got a good Stronglight crankset. I may still have Simplex gear changers, but I’ve a feeling the best pieces were all sold/traded. Somewhere, there’s a very nice Simplex seat pin but I’m dogged if I could find it after digging through boxes yesterday afternoon! I’ve also a set of wheels that came off an early 70’s PX-10 – Nisi rims and those oh-so-French-looking high flange hubs. The rear needs a spoke replaced and the wheel trued. (Oh, and the five-speed corn cob is a little terrifying!)

      In either event, I’ll make this a deliberate project… a good way to fill time on some future day when it is too wet to ride.

  2. Because it is a Carre frame, and was likely built and labeled under a shop or other builder badge, it most likely delivered from the factory as frame and fork only and then built up by the shop as requested by the buyer.

    So frustrating story: I installed a Stronglight crank last night only to discover that the BB spindle is too short. No problem, I’ll simply pull the crank and try something else. …uh oh… was that crank puller one of the tools I loaned out a while back …that was never returned to me? Crap. Now I need to go find someone to pull the crank for me…

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