Concours de Machines 2017 | Gilles Berthoud

Last but not least in our Concours de Machines 2017 series, here’s a few words from the makers of the Gilles Berthoud.

Victor Decouard was the driver for the Gilles Berthoud team in the 2016 competition, and he explained to them last fall that he wanted to join the the Transcontinental Race¬†riding one of their steel bikes. At the time, the company couldn’t manage the special request due to insufficient time and energy. Not to mention the fact that¬†while the Berthoud framing workshop was suitable for the manufacture of conventional steel hoists, it was not yet appropriate for the bending of stainless steel bases.

Originally, they planned to tackle such a project in 5 years. But Victor’s proposal was so appealing and his specifications so precise and interesting, that they let themselves be tempted into building this way ahead of schedule. So it was able to also be used for this year’s Concours de Machines race.

The team was looking for a more modern aesthetic without being too flashy, with a discreet, classic allure and elegance that offers up more details the longer you look at it. The deep burgundy colour was inspired by a Netflix documentary called “Somm” that talked about the best sommeliers in the world. Depending on what angle you view it, the frame actually changes from fire red to orange to pink.

This bike was the first one to display the new visual identity that they worked on with There are also a variety of Latin inscriptions that speak to its tenacity, the rider’s (Victor) name on the upper tube, and the Berthoud logo on the downtube. Cyfac, another contender in the race, provided the stencils and a special custom carbon fender.


The manufacturing process was laborious thanks to the cruel lack of time and material adapted to such a project. One month previously, two builders (who consisted of a third of the whole team) had to stop working for medical reasons. Because running the Gilles Berthoud shop was a full-time job, they were only able to work on the machine at night and on the weekends. It was truly a fight to the finish with this one.

Due to the rush, there wasn’t enough time to read up on the events at Concours, as the main focus was on the TCR. Afterwards, it will go into the private collection for Victor and then the Gilles Berthoud team is busy with other commissions until the end of spring 2018. The plan is to continue expanding the repertoire of stainless steel frames – hopefully with more breathing room this time!

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Words by @jlyn7
Photos by @daam