South Salem Cycleworks: Salem, Oregon
(503) 480-2001
email: sscycleworks@comcast.net
We have a huge stock of vintage and modern parts. Contact us!

Maillard Helicomatic hubs & sprocket sets

On this page: 36-hole Helicomatic hub with 5-speed 14-28 cogset | 36-hole Helicomatic hub | Helicomatic 5-speed 14-28 cassette/cogset

We do not have an on-line shopping cart at this time. Please call us: (503) 480-2001 or email: sscycleworks@comcast.net

Maurice Maillard

The Normandy/Maillard hub story stretches back to 1909. That year Maurice Maillard (pictured at left) opened a car body shop in city of Incheville, in Normandy, France. Noticing that most of the French component makers were located in St. Etienne, in south-central France, he took advantage of his location to start making bicycle parts for bike makers closer to him, who found shipping from St. Etienne too expensive.

During the First World War, most of the St. Etienne bicycle parts makers converted their factories to weapons manufacturing while Maillard continued to make bike parts. His business grew considerably because of that decision. Sensing an opportunity, he set up another factory in Dunkirk to supply British bike makers.

Over the years, Maillard expanded his production, becoming a maker of hubs, pedals and freewheels.

After the Second World War, Maillard was the only maker of freewheels outside the St. Etienne region and by that time was making 300,000 freewheels a year.

Maurice's son Pierre took over in 1966. A few years later the great American bike boom hit. Pierre jumped on the opportunity and in a mere 18 months had tripled his company's production of freewheels and hubs. The result? By 1971 the firm was making components in five factories staffed with 1,770 employees.

Inchville

Inchville in an earlier time

The bike boom lasted only into the mid 1970s and the company invested heavily into a radical redesign of the hub and freewheel combination, called the Helicomatic hub.

It was (we believe), the first integrated freehub. It was designed to answer the problems freewheels presented, especially as freewheels grew from five to six and more speeds. The unsupported axle on the drive side was prone to bending. Also freewheels and the cogs on freewheels could get locked into place and be very difficult to remove.

Frenchman Francis Bes invented what we now call a cassette hub with the outboard hub bearing now being near the end of the axle on the freehub side. Maillard put Des' design into production around 1982. We believe the last Helicomatic hubs (8-speed) were made in 1988.

Maillard Helicomatic hub drawing

Here is the drawing Francis Bes submitted to the U.S. Patent Office in 1979. He was granted a patent for the design in 1982.

Though most Helicomatic hubs were produced under the Maillard name, there were a few made that were branded Atom and Normandy. Plus Maillard made a few mountain bike and BMX Helicomatic hub sets. Peugeot produced some bicycles with Maillard Helicomatic hubs.

But the flange spacing wasn't optimal, the rear wheel needed more dish (pulling the rim to the center of the hub's lock nuts by making the drive-side spokes tighter) than other hubs of the era and the bearings were an odd 5/32". The bearings and cones wore quickly. Shimano's later freehub solved the Helicomatic's problems and that's how hubs are made today.

Between the loss of the bike boom business, Asian competition and the cost of the marketplace failure of the Helicomatic design, the Maillard firm became a shadow of its former self.

In 1987 the German Fichtel & Sachs firm purchased Maillard. And then, the now-renamed Sachs company was sold to the American SRAM company in 1997.


Maillard 36-hole Helicomatic hub with 5-speed 14-28 cogset. Used, $60.00

  • Hub is 126mm wide
  • Hub has been overhauled.

Maillard Helicomatic hub

Hub, sprocket set and spoke guard are included.

Maillard Helicomatic hub

And here's the sprocket set with the spoke guard.


Helicomatic 36-hole 126mm rear hub. Used, $60.00

We have overhauled this hub. It is ready to go.

Maillard Helicomatic rear hub

Ready to be built up and hit the road.

Helicomatic rear hub

Close-up of the drive side

Maillard Helicomatic rear hub

And the non-drive side


Helicomatic 5-speed 14-28 cassette/cogset. Used, $60.00

Helicomatic cogset

Need a new Helicomatic cogset? This one has had very little use.

Helicomatic cogset

Here it is from the back.