Lyotard Berthet No. 23 pedals

When I was looking for a pair of pedals for my son's road bike, I thought about Shimano PD-T100 triathlon pedals and Lyotard Berthet No. 23 platform pedals. Because the kid is only 8 years old and his feet grow by 1 or 2 sizes per year, I don't want to buy him real cycling shoes yet. Because regular rat trap pedals and quill pedals are not nice to your feet when you wear regular shoes or sneakers, I had to find a nice pair of platform pedals that could hold toe clips. Shimano's T100 are excellent and I found a pair. But when I got the Benotto kid bike, a real vintage bike, I though that I really needed a pair of Berthet pedals.
When I started cycling in 1979, several youth (also adult) racers used these Lyotard pedals. I remember people called these "bootjes", little boats, probably because of their shape. They looked simple, were quite cheap and not of superior quality. But almost every pair of pedals except Campagnolo Record would have to be replaced within 6 or 12 months of use. The Berthet pedals were especially well-known because of the ease to get in. Thanks to the large tongue design, the pedals could be flipped easily and a quick entry (thus: start of the race) was more or less guaranteed). For the rest I really don't know, because I've never owned or raced these pedals. It's up to my kids to find out. It's up to them to experience the easy entry option and the feel of the large platform. Also not unimportant: these pedals are real classics.

Some quotes from other web sites:

( Given the long history of Lyotard (over 70 years) and their importance in the development of pedals it is surprising that virtually nothing has been written about them. The purpose of this article to right this and provide information on a company who produced a solid range used by many racers and tourists. They may not have been top of the range but they were extremely widely used.
Throughout much of the post-war period this French firm held a dominant position in the lightweight pedal market. Being fitted both as original equipment by most of the major British manufacturers and sold as accessories via the two major importers Ron Kitching and Holdsworthy.
Pierre Lyotard founded the company in the early 1920’s. During that decade they produced the first versions of the pedal, which I would argue, was their most innovative contribution to cycle development, the “Marcel Berthet“ platform pedal (left). The foot rested on a wide platform, by its nature it was extremely comfortable especially for riders with broad feet. It needed to be used with toe clips as it was single sided.
It was named after Marcet Berthet, a French racing cyclist who held the hour record three times twice in 1907 and once in 1913, he was the principal rival of Oscar Egg the Swiss rider who later invented the Osgear.
The Marcel Berthet became known as the MB23 and remained in production until the mid 1980’s. Just before the war the shoe pickup plate ceased to be one piece (later examples are illustrated in both fig 2 and fig 3). The earliest reference I can find to this pedal in Britain is in an advert in the CTC Gazette in 1939 when it is referred to as the ‘Continental’. For a component with such a long history there were remarkably few variants. However in common with other Lyotard pedals there were different thread lengths for steel or alloy cranks and the MB23 TF which had threaded holes for toe clips. It was very popular with cycletourists due to the high degree of comfort. During the bike boom years of the 70’s Shimano, MKS and SR produced copies. One MKS copy, the 505, was counter weighed so the platform side always faced upwards-facing toe clip entry easy. Earlier in the 50’s Constrictor copied the design with their Asp model. A very high quality copy was produced by the British firm Barelli based near Cambridge in the late 70’s . This featured a range of detachable plates and is now extremely collectable.

( Love these - I actually rode them for years, even touring for a month. They are very easy to get into, and extremely comfortable, as well as having excellent ground clearance. The most amusing part is that if you step on them upside down too much or too hard, the top plate works off the swedged tabs on the upright plates. I remember having to pull over on the other side of an intersection several times to reinstall a top plate, and swedge it in place as well as possible with a pair of Vise Grips. It is also worth noting that the dust cap is structural, holding the outer vertical plate in place. At one point I had lost one dust cap, and managed to push the top plate off, thus nearly disassemblling the whole pedal in the road. Good times...these days I prefer the SR aluminum copy - one piece cast body; what's not to love?
I'm not at all surprised to hear that tale. I think that Lyotard pedals in general were always plagued with... shall we say "inconsistent" quality control issues. I never personally had problems with any of the Lyotard pedals I have used over the years (decades, really), but other serious cyclists who's opinions I truly respect have also related their own horror stories.
No Lyotard pedals ever approached "Campagnolo quality". And even today when I buy any new-old-stock Lyotard pedals I always immediately disassemble, re-lubricate and make a count of the ball bearings. More often than not they have absolutely the WRONG number of balls in at least one bearing race out of a pedal set. With some amusement, I imagine an assembler at the factory simply grabbing a random handful of bearings and hastily tossing them into a pedal... Perhaps it was even considered proper for veteran worker to KNOW that in his seasoned fingers a little "pinch" of ball bearings would be just the right quantity... just as some old time frame builders might eschew ever using a proper jig for aligning a frame.

( The best known platform pedal was the French Lyotard "Marcel Berthet" model 23, one of the most elegantly designed bicycle parts ever.