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  1. #1
    Senior Member balto charlie's Avatar
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    620 wheels w/ maillard helicomatic

    Hey folks: The maillard helicomatic freewheels have a bad rep. from what I've read here and Sheldon. Do they break down easily or just a pain to fix or find parts. I am currently looking at a Trek 620 and wondering what price to offer. If new wheels will be needed then I don't want to spend a fortune onthe bike. Thanks Charlie

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    I believe it's a matter of replacement cogs if one wears out and that those hubs were prone to breaking spokes. I had one on a Trek 412 I owned way back when and never had a problem with it over about 5 years and lots of riding. Also, you don't have to replace the wheel until something goes wrong with the hub, so no immediate need. Could be good leverage to work the price down though.

    Neal

  3. #3
    59'er Mariner Fan's Avatar
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    I have a set of those from my Trek 520. I chose to change them out immediately with a new set when I rebuilt the bike. I'll give them to you if you want them for the price of shipping (if you want a backup). The wheelset I put on the trek is a Mavic Open Pro with 105 hubs. Much lighter and better in every way.

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    ♋ ☮♂ ☭ ☯ -=(8)=-'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by balto charlie
    Hey folks: The maillard helicomatic freewheels have a bad rep. from what I've read here and Sheldon. Do they break down easily or just a pain to fix or find parts. I am currently looking at a Trek 620 and wondering what price to offer. If new wheels will be needed then I don't want to spend a fortune onthe bike. Thanks Charlie
    I have broken a spoke on my commuter bike but its a total rat so its not a
    good indicator....The other Peugoets with less mileage and abuse are holding
    up fine. They are no harder to fix than anything else. I like how easy the cluster
    comes off for soaking and cleaning. For the inevietably lost 'special tool'....a huge
    pair of channel locks works fine

  5. #5
    Senior Member grolby's Avatar
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    Those hubs have a bad rep because of a tendency to break spokes. If you want to breathe easier, you should replace them. If you feel like taking a chance, you should keep them and take Mariner Fan up on his offer. If you really feel like living dangerously, you should keep them and not take Mariner Fan up on his offer .

  6. #6
    Senior Member sykerocker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by balto charlie
    Hey folks: The maillard helicomatic freewheels have a bad rep. from what I've read here and Sheldon. Do they break down easily or just a pain to fix or find parts. I am currently looking at a Trek 620 and wondering what price to offer. If new wheels will be needed then I don't want to spend a fortune onthe bike. Thanks Charlie
    I'd like to jump into this thread, too. I just picked up a nice bargain on a bunch of Maillard hubs and parts, I primarily bought it for the skewers and front hub (to go with a standard threaded rear that I've already got and want to build up into a set of wheels) but two Helicomatic hubs plus freewheels and tool came along with the deal.

    As part of my learning experience to catch up on the 28 years I'm missing in the sport, I'm tempted to build up at least one of the rears. Now, I've read Sheldon Brown's entry on the hub which is pretty damming.

    On the other hand, I can also remember the reputation of the Ford Pinto, which said you were fried meat if you were crazy enough to drive one - and can remember form my mid-7-'s autocross days when the Pinto was THE low-buck alternative to the BMW 2002 in SCCA B-sedan autocross, so historical reputations aren't all they're necessarily cracked up to be. Just don't get rear ended at high speed.

    Here again, assuming I build the wheel, am I going to be getting normal use with a more often than usual spoke replacement rate, or am I going to be looking at replacing a spoke or two every ride, which is what Sheldon's entry alluded to (not that I'm assuming that's what he attempted to convey)?

    The experiences of anyone who's owned and ridden a Helicomatic rear hub over a period of a couple of years would be greatly appreciated. Both hubs I got were branded Puegot - and I can't believe that a company of this reputation would have used something that was completely unreliable for years, thus trashing THEIR reputaton. Less then perfectly reliable as a trade-off for being the first attempt at a new technology I can happily live with. After all, it's going to be used on a vintage bike, not my main, daily rider.

    Syke
    Deranged Few M/C

  7. #7
    I am the Eggman Mooo's Avatar
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    Sherman, set the way-back to 1986

    Sherman, set the Wayback to 1986.
    Right away, Mr Peabody...

    I bought an '84 620 new in the fall '85, and loved the Helicomatic hub for about 300 miles. Then it was spring, and I started riding it in earnest.

    It was beautiful to look at, and great fun to remove from the rear wheel just to look at the splines neatly machined into the hub. The tool had a bottle opener & spoke wrenches embedded in it (I still have the tool).

    My real issue wasn't with broken spokes, but with my inability to find a chain that wouldn't try to find a happy place in between sprockets during higher than average torque events. I often toured somewhat aggressively then, and the blasted thing would autoshift at the drop of a challenge. And just forget trying to shift under stress. I suspect the hills of western PA & NY are still echoing my curses of this particular bit of Gallic engineering. Sedisport, Regina, Ultra-6, Ultra-7... I must have tried 3-4 different chains... Some of the onus might be on the Duopar derailleur, but either way ... ick. Eventually I figured out how to mostly ride around it's limitations, but it was only by having the stupid hub cut out and replaced by a very pedestrian Suntour 6 spd that the problem went away. It's been 20 years since I rode with that hub; I haven't missed it one day. I think I even gave it (& a spare freewheel) to the LBS just so I wouldn't have to look at it anymore.

    I'm sure someone has had a happy experience with it, and maybe if you rode it at 10-12mph on sunny days and never pushed it very hard it would be a fine thing. I didn't; it wasn't, certainly not by comparison to what else was available at the time.

  8. #8
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    ^^^ I would agree with the above. I am not a very hard rider but If I need
    to stand up a hill I make sure my naughty bits wont impale themselves on the stem...
    I have experienced the tendancy of the bikes opinion of what gear to be in differ
    than mine. Maybe thats why they made the AVA stems so breakable, as a safety
    precaution ??
    But, as has been pointed out to me the spoke breakage issue is due to a 1mm offset
    in wheel dishing. If you dished the wheel evenly the problem might go. Knowing what
    little I know, I cant beleive this small amout would be noticable in the way a 20 year old
    bike tracked.

  9. #9
    Senior Member balto charlie's Avatar
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    Thanks folks. Mariner fan I'll let you know if I buy the bike and want your wheels. thanks for the offer. Charlie

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