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Vintage Components - Normandy Hubs

On this page: Information about the Normandy company. We have no Normandy hubs in stock at the present.

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Maurice Maillard

The Normandy 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 in an earlier time

Then the company took a wrong turn. 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. 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 Helicomatic debacle, 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.