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Refurbishing a 1979 Motobecane - Trying to determine Freewheel

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Refurbishing a 1979 Motobecane - Trying to determine Freewheel

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Old 04-12-18, 07:46 AM
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Jagracer48
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Refurbishing a 1979 Motobecane - Trying to determine Freewheel

Hi, I have a Motobecane which has Columbus tubes and I was told it's 1979. I plan to ride the Eroica later this year and need to change the gearing so I can cycle up the hills.

The Freewheel is tiny and says: MAILLARD M34.7x100 on the top and 04 FRENCH79 on the bottom.

I don't know anything about older bikes so am not sure if 04FRENCH79 means week 4 1979.

Can I assume all I need to find is a decent M34.7x100 28 x 13 Freewheel?
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Old 04-12-18, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Jagracer48 View Post
Hi, I have a Motobecane which has Columbus tubes and I was told it's 1979. I plan to ride the Eroica later this year and need to change the gearing so I can cycle up the hills.

The Freewheel is tiny and says: MAILLARD M34.7x100 on the top and 04 FRENCH79 on the bottom.

I don't know anything about older bikes so am not sure if 04FRENCH79 means week 4 1979.

Can I assume all I need to find is a decent M34.7x100 28 x 13 Freewheel?
I don't think you can assume that if it says "French" on the bottom. try threading on an English BB lockring - if the threading is French the lockring will be very loose. If you have access to a left BB cup you can thread the freewheel onto it - a French freewheel will not go on very far.
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Old 04-12-18, 08:03 AM
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Correct as to the freewheel's fitment onto the hub, it is what most will call "French threaded". While there are many out there the number is a tiny fraction of the vastly more common "English" or "Italian" threaded ones (which for practical purposes are interchangeable but not recommended to be swapped frequently). I would suggest trying to find a SunTour Perfect model as it shared the same cog mounting interfaces as the English ones did. meaning you can swap out/replace cogs easily and use the same freewheel core for many more thousands of miles.


Those of us who don't toss out stuff might have a stash of freewheels on our shelves. Sometimes we don't even know if we have a French threaded one. If no one else steps forward PM me and I'll dive into my stash and see what I actually have. Andy
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Old 04-12-18, 11:16 AM
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French loved rounding down or up to whole MM.. lots of fractional sizes are expressed in metric equivalents, as 1" = 25.4 mm.



As their market share of the bike biz kept shrinking, they fell into the common dimension standards, of the rest of the game..
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Old 04-12-18, 02:50 PM
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https://www.sheldonbrown.com/freewheels.html

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-ATO...-/302691981422
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Old 04-12-18, 10:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Jagracer48 View Post
Hi, I have a Motobecane which has Columbus tubes and I was told it's 1979. I plan to ride the Eroica later this year and need to change the gearing so I can cycle up the hills.

The Freewheel is tiny and says: MAILLARD M34.7x100 on the top and 04 FRENCH79 on the bottom.

I don't know anything about older bikes so am not sure if 04FRENCH79 means week 4 1979.

Can I assume all I need to find is a decent M34.7x100 28 x 13 Freewheel?
Yes, that's "all" you need to do! (Good luck, that's probably not that easy to find.) I think your date code is plausible (might be month/year) but it's really irrelevant unless you're entering the bike in a Concours d'Elegance. You may do better finding a similar freewheel with another threading and transplanting the cogset onto your freewheel body.

As others have noted, it's definitely a French thread freewheel. Do not attempt to put an Italian, British, or ISO thread freewheel on your hub. It won't even come close to fitting, at least not without damage.
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Old 04-14-18, 12:50 PM
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To motobecane "freewheel" question

Um I'm sorry...bro...that no one here has any memory beyond the age they are. What you have in your eroica pedaling hands is the first version of a cassette...not a freewheel. It is a really rather crude adaptation of what we have come to know.. I'd not search for cogs for that I'll fated ...cassette...but rather replace the wheel. If you wanna keep the mavic red diamond label rims that are likely laced to it...you may take it apart ...and any low flange modern or not campy or Shimano hub will lace right in with no problems. Keep right and left spokes separate. You may find an old shop with a lockring tool but a slip joint plier or channel lock should do just fine...since it is or should be a one way trip to the round fole. Good luck
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Old 04-14-18, 12:52 PM
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Oops...this was old...nvm
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Old 04-14-18, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Jagracer48 View Post
The Freewheel is tiny and says: MAILLARD M34.7x100
By the Sheldon Brown page, French threading is: 34.7mm x 1mm

Which is what your freewheel is saying.

So, any "French" freewheel should work. And, with friction shifters, I tend not to care whether I source 5s or 6s (or perhaps 7s) freewheels, although it may depend a bit on the dropout spacing.

What kind of a rear derailleur are you using?

Photos of the bike?

Go to the "Advanced Editor", and click on the paper clip attachments to attach photos.
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Old 04-14-18, 02:55 PM
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Is this a Helicomatic hub?
Scroll down about 1/3
https://www.sheldonbrown.com/velos.html
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Old 04-14-18, 05:28 PM
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So it seems that we have confusion as to whether the hub/cog set are a freewheel design or a cassette/Helicomatic one. Since the OP says there is a thread marking on the freewheel I suggest this confusion is misplaced. I have not seen a Helicomatic with any thread dimension on it, as these use a unique multy thread form "helix" and that a newbie coming across a Helicomatic is far more likely to confuse it with a modern cassette design and more likely to call it as such. Andy


I just checked my stash of old freewheels and the French one I thought I still had isn't in the collection.
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Old 04-16-18, 08:42 AM
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Freewheel

Photo of freewheel added to post. It's on a Miche hub laced to Rigida rims. So far I haven't found anything on e bay etc. perhaps the best option is to find another hub with ISO thread?


Thoughts?
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Old 04-16-18, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
Is this a Helicomatic hub?
No, it's a standard freewheel with metric thread. That's what the "M34.7x100" marking means.

A different wheel with an ISO thread hub would give more versatility in finding replacemeent freewheels.
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Old 04-16-18, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Jagracer48 View Post
Hi, I have a Motobecane which has Columbus tubes and I was told it's 1979. I plan to ride the Eroica later this year and need to change the gearing so I can cycle up the hills.

The Freewheel is tiny and says: MAILLARD M34.7x100 on the top and 04 FRENCH79 on the bottom.

I don't know anything about older bikes so am not sure if 04FRENCH79 means week 4 1979.

Can I assume all I need to find is a decent M34.7x100 28 x 13 Freewheel?
Another option:

Get a modern 130mm wheel with a wide range cassette and jam it in your frame.
Get the appropriate narrow chain to match the "speeds" of the cassette.

Will probably work with your existing derailleur & shifters.
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Old 04-16-18, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Jagracer48 View Post
Photo of freewheel added to post. It's on a Miche hub laced to Rigida rims. So far I haven't found anything on e bay etc. perhaps the best option is to find another hub with ISO thread?


Thoughts?
French thread freewheels aren't as rare in France, as you might expect. But to search French ebay you might want to have some mastery of the language, or at least know the relevant French terms for condition etc.

The suggestion to buy an ISO thread hub is a good one, as ISO thread is compatible with BSC and Italian threaded freewheels as well as ISO. And ISO created the standard in 1981, so the threads have been available quite a long time. Of course any hub made before 1981 will not be ISO threaded. In North America, most pre-ISO hubs and freewheels would be BSC.

But there are plenty of Italian thread hubs and freewheels out there as well. And folks don't always know the difference when selling them. Many people consider them interchangeable, but they aren't quite perfectly so. There are risks to mixing BSC and IT freewheels and hubs. I don't recommend it.
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Old 04-16-18, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Jagracer48 View Post
Photo of freewheel added to post.
By the way, do NOT use an unmodified Suntour 2-prong remover on that freewheel. The teeth are too tall.

Maillard made their own remover of course, and the VAR 186 is also good. (The VAR 01 is king, but fewer have one than the previous two listed.)

Some Regina removers will also work, but not all, because they often have a ring outside the teeth, or wider teeth that will prevent the teeth from fully engaging the notches.

If you only have a Suntour, grind the teeth down to around 3mm tall or so before using it.
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Old 04-16-18, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Jagracer48 View Post
Hi, I have a Motobecane which has Columbus tubes and I was told it's 1979. I plan to ride the Eroica later this year and need to change the gearing so I can cycle up the hills.

The Freewheel is tiny and says: MAILLARD M34.7x100 on the top and 04 FRENCH79 on the bottom.

I don't know anything about older bikes so am not sure if 04FRENCH79 means week 4 1979.

Can I assume all I need to find is a decent M34.7x100 28 x 13 Freewheel?
...what kind of crank is on your bike ? It might be easier to source smaller chainwheels for the crank, depending on what it is and the bolt circle diameter. Nobody at Eroica is going to notice if you swap to smaller chainwheels.

1979 is an awkward point for Motobecane, because they were the first French maker to start using a lot of Asian components. I was actually surprised your bike was still using French threading on the hubs in 1979.

Anyway, that's what I might try first as easier and faster than building a new wheel with a matching rim to the front one.
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Old 04-18-18, 12:44 PM
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I am restoring a 1979 Peugeot tandem. The attached photos show the freewheel removed. I need to strip, clean and lub. Normally there are recesses easy to get at to unscrew and disassemble.

There are recesses but very hard to get at. I'm assuming there is a tool or something that will do the trick.

There are four recesses on the back. Not sure if I'm looking at this all wrong.

Any ideas?


Front Wording

Maillard Made in France

Rear Wording

M34.7x100 FRENCH
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maill1.jpg (257.5 KB, 33 views)
File Type: jpg
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Old 04-18-18, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by johnggold View Post
I am restoring a 1979 Peugeot tandem. The attached photos show the freewheel removed. I need to strip, clean and lub. Normally there are recesses easy to get at to unscrew and disassemble.

There are recesses but very hard to get at. I'm assuming there is a tool or something that will do the trick.
You will need to remove at least the outer cog, possibly the outer two cogs, with two chain whips, or a freewheel vise and a chain whip. Once you do you will see the outer race.
Are you sure you want to disassemble it completely though? It's not usually necessary. You know what's inside, right? Lots and lots of tiny ball bearings. It's rather tricky to reassemble.
I don't recommend freewheel disassembly unless it's really rough and can't be smoothed out by dripping oil into it. Most of the time, a soak in solvent will remove most of the old lube and dirt. Blowing it out with compressed air usually takes care of the rest, if you have it.

Originally Posted by johnggold View Post
There are four recesses on the back. Not sure if I'm looking at this all wrong.

Any ideas?
Those holes are the lubrication ports for the pawls.
Tandem freewheels have more pawls to handle the torque of two people. A strong tandem team can blow up a freewheel for singles without much trouble. I'd expect a similar freewheel for singles to have only two such holes.

Originally Posted by johnggold View Post
Front Wording

Maillard Made in France

Rear Wording

M34.7x100 FRENCH
As you might guess, it's French thread. Do not replace with any other threading of freewheel, you will ruin the hub threads.
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Old 04-18-18, 02:55 PM
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The tandem has been in storage for 25 years, and has original parts, so I am lothe to replace any component.


This is the last bearing set to disassemble. It is full of dirt, very rough, and I am not confident that I can wash it out well enough.


I have never understood why people are so afraid of small bearings. I disassemble inside a washing bowl, and the only problem is understanding the rachet mechanism when reassembling.


Based on Grumpy's advice, I have had a go removing the first two cogs, there is an obvious join there, so I don't think the first two are separate, but this looks loke the way to go.


No luck yet, so a bit of soaking and some gentle heat if necessary should do the trick, plus patience. I had to lubricate the freewheel itself for a day until it decided to part from the wheel.


These are the joys disassembling old bicycles,especially French ones. Everything has to be a different size or thread type.
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Old 04-18-18, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by johnggold View Post
The tandem has been in storage for 25 years, and has original parts, so I am lothe to replace any component.
Hats off to you for that.

Originally Posted by johnggold View Post
This is the last bearing set to disassemble. It is full of dirt, very rough, and I am not confident that I can wash it out well enough.

I have never understood why people are so afraid of small bearings. I disassemble inside a washing bowl, and the only problem is understanding the rachet mechanism when reassembling.
I'm not personally afraid of ball bearings. I've rebuilt many a freewheel. But I do tend to be a "ain't broke don't fix it" person when I can get satisfactory results without extra disassembly/reassembly. Go ahead if you want, there's no harm in it.

Might help to take a pic of the pawls and springs installed, so you know how to reassemble when it's time. Especially if some time passes between disassembly and reassembly.

Originally Posted by johnggold View Post
Based on Grumpy's advice, I have had a go removing the first two cogs, there is an obvious join there, so I don't think the first two are separate, but this looks loke the way to go.

No luck yet, so a bit of soaking and some gentle heat if necessary should do the trick, plus patience. I had to lubricate the freewheel itself for a day until it decided to part from the wheel.

These are the joys disassembling old bicycles,especially French ones. Everything has to be a different size or thread type.
Indeed. It's like a trip back in time.
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Old 04-19-18, 09:24 AM
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As I suggested above, French threaded freewheels are an Orphan, even the French quit making them, You hit a Cul de Sac..

Agree wholeheartedly with ..
A different wheel with an ISO thread hub would give more versatility in finding replacemeent freewheels.
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