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  1. #1
    Junior Member briantrek1984's Avatar
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    Helicomatic freewheel - 1984 Trek

    I have a Maillard Helicomatic 6-speed freewheel (original) on my 1984 Trek 560. The cogs go from 13-24 (not sure what the inner 4 cogs are - haven't removed the freewheel yet and counted them), but I would like to 'tighten' this range to something like 12-19 as i ride most flat areas. Any ideas on a good cog range that would reduce the number of cogs I need to buy. There are several individual cogs on ebay. Anyone had any experience with this change? Thanks!

  2. #2
    Senior Member ramzilla's Avatar
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    I had a Helicomatic hub on a 82 Trek 400. I got so frustrated with it I eventually wound up buying a new set of wheels. Got a set of 27" with threads for freewheel. Good luck on yours.
    Univega, Miyata, Fuji, Kuwahara, Shogun, Ishiwata, Centurion, Lotus

  3. #3
    Still learning oddjob2's Avatar
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    I am sure someone on BF has a corncob they would be glad to swap.
    Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. Albert Einstein
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  4. #4
    Airborne! Re-Enlist! The Golden Boy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by briantrek1984 View Post
    Thanks for all the tips guys.. .I think I will switch back to those beautiful original Dia-Compes, clean them, replace the cables (probably some gunk in them), and find some donor parts on Ebay. I want to keep my '84 Trek 560 as original as possible... I look forward to sharing our mutual love of all our vintage bikes... Brian
    Hi Brian,

    I hope you don't mind me stealing your quote from your other thread- but I think it's relevant here.

    While there's all kinds of glorious old bike stuff, lots of new stuff has come about that works with and in place of some of the old stuff. In some cases the old stuff will just work better. In some cases new stuff is leagues better. While there's a certain coolness about riding a Helicomatic- it's an engineering dead-end that still had some serious kinks in the design and application.

    If the gearing was meeting your needs, and you were happy with the hub, I'd say just ride it until it dies. If a Helicomatic freewheel pops up for you in your preferred gearing- ride it.

    Because the Helicomatic has a bad reputation, I would hesitate in putting money into it and would suggest finding a different set of wheels with a "normal" freewheel threading. If that's a 27" wheel, I think you've got a world of stuff to look at.

    For the wheelset that came with my Trek 720- I kept the Maillard 700 front hub, but changed out the Helicomatic for a Maillard 600 sealed bearing hub. That's been a really nice wheelset.

    Now, go post some pix of this 560!

    Both here and the 'show your Trek' thread!!

    Best!
    *Recipient of the 2006 Time Magazine "Man Of The Year" Award*

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  5. #5
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Why not keep your 13-15-17-19-21-24 (I am guessing) cluster and changing the one or both chainrings to give you a half-step gear pattern, with a 3-tooth drop in front? Something like 50-47/13-24 would work brilliantly.
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  6. #6
    Junior Member briantrek1984's Avatar
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    Good advice on simply looking for a good solid freewheel and already sewn wheel ready to ride (maybe a tire would help too!). Everything I've read explains why the Helicomatic was doomed (see Sheldon Brown)... sounds like it was 'a solution looking for a problem'. Not really being a purest, I've put new Speedplay pedals on my Trek and really love them! Also I hope to post pics of my bike with two days. Thanks... brian

  7. #7
    Ride, Wrench, Swap, Race dddd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by briantrek1984 View Post
    Good advice on simply looking for a good solid freewheel and already sewn wheel ready to ride (maybe a tire would help too!). Everything I've read explains why the Helicomatic was doomed (see Sheldon Brown)... sounds like it was 'a solution looking for a problem'. Not really being a purest, I've put new Speedplay pedals on my Trek and really love them! Also I hope to post pics of my bike with two days. Thanks... brian
    It was a very real solution to a couple of problems having to do with axle strength and the ability to change out the freewheel without the need for use of heavy torque/force for removal.

    It was however plagued by poorly-considered spacing between the spokes and the cogs, between the cogs themselves (and somewhat between the smallest cog and the frame, but which the end-user could alter).

    There was also the issue with their using smaller bearing balls, together with not-so-good bearing quality, and not-so-good quality elsewhere, so the bearings usually didn't last long.

    Lastly, their proprietary freewheel and bearing system was soon eclipsed by the better-designed Shimano freehub system, versions of which are still top-of-the-heap today!

    And, of course, the fact that Maillard itself died out, so any further development or parts supply options disappeared overnight.

    More than anyone else outside of perhaps Peugeot, Trek really bought into the Helicomatic system, but by the mid-1980's, even the Trek dealers had had enough and were not wanting to push these parts on their customers any longer.

  8. #8
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    I have a 13 -21 from my Peugeot PSN. I am in hilly North NJ and could use the 13-24. If yours is in good condition we can swap.

    WP_20151210_20_23_11_Pro[1].jpgWP_20151210_20_24_45_Pro[1].jpg

  9. #9
    Airborne! Re-Enlist! The Golden Boy's Avatar
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    How awesome is that?!!

    *Recipient of the 2006 Time Magazine "Man Of The Year" Award*

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  10. #10
    Senior Member Lascauxcaveman's Avatar
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    I've seen my share of Helicomatics (I have three or four right now) but that's the first Helicorncob I've seen yet.

    Good show, @LarryBSky!
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lascauxcaveman View Post
    I've seen my share of Helicomatics (I have three or four right now) but that's the first Helicorncob I've seen yet.

    Good show, @sv also came with a HelicorncobLarrysv also came with a 13/21 HelicrocoBSky!
    IIRC, my 84 Peugeot PSV also originally came with a 13/21 Helicorncob.....

  12. #12
    Senior Member gaucho777's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Golden Boy View Post
    How awesome is that?!!

    +1 Hope this works out for all involved.

  13. #13
    Junior Member briantrek1984's Avatar
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    I will post some pics of my 13-24 tonight Larry... the cogs are 13-15-17-19-21-24.

  14. #14
    Junior Member briantrek1984's Avatar
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    I was amazed with the ease of taking off the freewheel and putting it back on, which with higher risk of spoke breakage I've read about this make a lifesaver on the road. Handy that my Helicomatic wrench also has a spoke wrench slot!

  15. #15
    Ellensburg, WA scozim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chombi1 View Post
    IIRC, my 84 Peugeot PSV also originally came with a 13/21 Helicorncob.....
    Yep, so did mine
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  16. #16
    Junior Member briantrek1984's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LarryBSky View Post
    I have a 13 -21 from my Peugeot PSN. I am in hilly North NJ and could use the 13-24. If yours is in good condition we can swap.

    WP_20151210_20_23_11_Pro[1].jpgWP_20151210_20_24_45_Pro[1].jpg
    Here are three pics of my 13-24 Helicomatic... very smooth spinning, I haven't done a cleaning as i wasn't sure what i could soak the entire cassette in that would not compromise the internal lubrication (anyone know what would be best BTW?)... These are black anodized... let me know if you would still like to setup a swap... BrianIMAG0064.jpgIMAG0078.jpgIMAG0087.jpg
    Last edited by briantrek1984; 12-16-15 at 07:59 AM.

  17. #17
    Senior Member bikemig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by briantrek1984 View Post
    I was amazed with the ease of taking off the freewheel and putting it back on, which with higher risk of spoke breakage I've read about this make a lifesaver on the road. Handy that my Helicomatic wrench also has a spoke wrench slot!
    The tool makes a fine beer opener as well which can be a big help when you get mad over that spoke breaking . . . .

  18. #18
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    Brian, the swap is a go. I will pm you with the shipping details. I will send mine out to you. You can check it out and either return it or send me yours. Larry

  19. #19
    Junior Member briantrek1984's Avatar
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    briancampbellmcad hotmail

  20. #20
    elcraft
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    I believe Yellowjersey.org still supports Helicomatic (or at least has some NOS parts available). See: Maillard Helicomatic System from Yellow Jersey

  21. #21
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Take a look, but I think YJ ran our of French stuff a while back.

  22. #22
    Bike Commuter in training Phil_gretz's Avatar
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    Wow. I'm impressed at the sharing of Helicomatic freewheels. It's nice, I guess. : /

  23. #23
    Airborne! Re-Enlist! The Golden Boy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by briantrek1984 View Post
    I was amazed with the ease of taking off the freewheel and putting it back on, which with higher risk of spoke breakage I've read about this make a lifesaver on the road. Handy that my Helicomatic wrench also has a spoke wrench slot!
    I'd had a couple of Helicomatics for a good long time before I took one off- I guess I was afraid of it- and, like you, I was amazed how easy it was to take the freewheel off and put it back on.
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  24. #24
    Airborne! Re-Enlist! The Golden Boy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
    Wow. I'm impressed at the sharing of Helicomatic freewheels. It's nice, I guess. : /
    Think about it this way, how many people do you personally know in real life that have had a Helicomatic failure? Not people you've read, not the internet reputation- a person you ride with or hang out with.

    There's a few people here that have ridden their Helicomatics more miles than I've ridden in my lifetime.
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  25. #25
    Senior Member bertinjim's Avatar
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    The Helico system is under rated, I believe. I use it on one of my bikes and the freewhel is a breeze to remove and lube. The rear hub grenaded one bearing which I caught during a routine service and then replaced all of them with Grade 25s and have had no further problems. You may want to replace all the rear hub bearings as a preventative, Brian. Great that you and Larry worked out the freewheel exchange.

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