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Hub Recommendations for an old Motobecane

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Hub Recommendations for an old Motobecane

Old 03-06-16, 10:06 AM
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Mechanicjay
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Hub Recommendations for an old Motobecane

I'm looking for a new front hub for my '71 Motobecane Grand Touring.

The cones in the original Normandy front hub are shot and I've been unable to source replacements, not surprisingly.

I was at the LBS, digging through the spare parts bins with one of their mechanics for about a half hour and we found an axle and cones which looked like they might work, but the profile of the cone wasn't quite right and the bearings chewed the cones up in short order -- the hub is still fine.

Anyway, I'm looking for a recommendation on a high-flange front hub that wouldn't be out of place on this bike. Um, I'd also like to not break the bank. My biking budge is quite limited right now -- I'm into this bike for about $145.81 at this point. I'm afraid that getting the Wienmann rim moved onto a new hub is going to double my investment (or worse) in this bike For example, there are a bunch of fabulous looking NOS Campy Front-hubs on flea-bay for more than I paid for the bike. If that fear is going to be true, I don't want to be in this same position in some number of years, needing parts that just don't exist any more.

Is there a balance between cost, longevity, serviceability and 'correctness (whatever this means)' I can attain?

Looking forward to peoples thoughts on this.

Thanks,
Jason


Edit: While I do all work myself, I would be outsourcing wheel work to the LBS -- I just don't have the skill or the tools to do it myself.

Last edited by Mechanicjay; 03-06-16 at 10:08 AM. Reason: final thoughts
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Old 03-06-16, 10:11 AM
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Best bet for a decent wheelset at a reasonable price might be to put up a WTB thread on the C&V sales forum. You'd be surprised what some of these hoarders, err collectors, have sitting in their parts bin. I'll bet there's someone local to the Seattle area who has what you need.

Otherwise you have to make a decision whether to "upgrade" to a 130 mm rear wheel set that uses a cassette or look around for a 126 mm rear wheel that uses a freewheel.

High flange hubs are tougher to find and can be pricey (velo orange has them).

If you're OK with spreading your frame to 130 in the rear and going with an 8 speed cassette, I'd get a set of these from Universal cycles (which is in the pacific NW):

https://www.universalcycles.com/shop...s.php?id=79047

https://www.universalcycles.com/shopping/product_details.php?id=57167

I'm a big fan of sealed hubs; you will get a lot of miles out of these without needing to service them.

Velomine usually has good deals on 700c wheels that take a freewheel but last time I checked they were out of them.

Last edited by bikemig; 03-06-16 at 10:17 AM.
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Old 03-06-16, 10:21 AM
  #3  
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
Otherwise you have to make a decision whether to "upgrade" to a 130 mm rear wheel set that uses a cassette or look around for a 126 mm rear wheel that uses a freewheel.
OP is looking for a front hub, not a rear.

That said, Normandy hubs were quite common on bike-boom bikes. I'd be surprised if e.g. "Recycled Cycles" didn't have a couple in a bin. If you can get the bare hub, it's trivial to pull out the axle set and swap it into your hub.

Otherwise, an axle set or cones from Wheels Mfg. might work. You could email them and see if they have any recommendations.
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Old 03-06-16, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
OP is looking for a front hub, not a rear.

That said, Normandy hubs were quite common on bike-boom bikes. I'd be surprised if e.g. "Recycled Cycles" didn't have a couple in a bin. If you can get the bare hub, it's trivial to pull out the axle set and swap it into your hub.

Otherwise, an axle set or cones from Wheels Mfg. might work. You could email them and see if they have any recommendations.
My bad, well then a used wheel is the OP's best bet; or he could look for a donor bike with the right wheel set. He can flip the donor bike once he picks up an inexpensive front alloy wheel to recoup his costs.
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Old 03-06-16, 10:36 AM
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One thing to consider is that a good used wheel or even wheel set that is a close match to the original would likely be cheaper than finding a correct hub and having the wheel rebuilt. I would check out a few shops in your era and bike coops if there are any. You can usually find a nice vintage correct 27 inch touring type fronts for $30-40 and sets for under $100 often with good rubber and freewheel. If you don't mind a low flange slightly different looking hub you can buy a new wheel master fronts with a similar rims for around $40-45.

Wheel Master Weinmann-LP18 Front Wheel - 27" x 1.0, 36H, QR, Silver
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Old 03-06-16, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
OP is looking for a front hub, not a rear.

That said, Normandy hubs were quite common on bike-boom bikes. I'd be surprised if e.g. "Recycled Cycles" didn't have a couple in a bin. If you can get the bare hub, it's trivial to pull out the axle set and swap it into your hub.

Otherwise, an axle set or cones from Wheels Mfg. might work. You could email them and see if they have any recommendations.
Yeah, I do almost all my shopping at Recycled Cycles. That's where I came up empty in the fall. They do move a lot of stuff through the used parts bins -- it's probably worth checking out.

Wheels mfg doesn't seem to have anything of the right size, these are kind of a strange size/profile, but yeah, it's probably worth an email..
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Old 03-06-16, 10:47 AM
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I find that co-OP's have a lot more parts in the dead of winter than in the sunnier months. You've got to go back a lot and check. Sometimes it's a boom and other times it's a bust.
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Old 03-06-16, 11:10 AM
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Why not just buy a Normandy hub off flea-bay? You should be able to find one for $15 or so.

normandy hub | eBay

Keep in mind that Normandy hubs were the cheapest decent quality hubs that you could buy BITD. They were around $10/pair in the mid/early 80s IIRC. While I admire your desire to keep it authentic, you will be spending a fair amount in labor for some pretty utilitarian gear. That said, your plan isn't unreasonable.

If properly maintained they should last 5-10k miles before the cones wear out, I'd guess. If you think you might ride more than that, I'd seriously consider putting modern wheels on. IE, for probably around what you are spending, you could buy brand new VO wheel with their Grand Cru high flange hubs.
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Old 03-06-16, 11:29 AM
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Mechanicjay, I work at the Bike Shack in north Seattle. We have a bin full of hubs, and I will look for something that might work this afternoon.

did you look over at Bike Works or the Bikery?
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Old 03-06-16, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
Why not just buy a Normandy hub off flea-bay? You should be able to find one for $15 or so.

normandy hub | eBay

Keep in mind that Normandy hubs were the cheapest decent quality hubs that you could buy BITD. They were around $10/pair in the mid/early 80s IIRC. While I admire your desire to keep it authentic, you will be spending a fair amount in labor for some pretty utilitarian gear. That said, your plan isn't unreasonable.

If properly maintained they should last 5-10k miles before the cones wear out, I'd guess. If you think you might ride more than that, I'd seriously consider putting modern wheels on. IE, for probably around what you are spending, you could buy brand new VO wheel with their Grand Cru high flange hubs.
I do plan on putting some miles on this bike. I'm just concerned that used cones with an unknown number of miles is just kicking the can down the road, but not far enough. Though if it's cheap enough, it's okay as long as the supply stays cheap. I've been eyeing those Grand Cru hubs - very pretty!

Originally Posted by Aubergine View Post
Mechanicjay, I work at the Bike Shack in north Seattle. We have a bin full of hubs, and I will look for something that might work this afternoon.

did you look over at Bike Works or the Bikery?
I've been meaning to stop in at the Bike Shack to check it out. I'm at 160th and work in the U-District, so the Bikery or Bike Works is kinda out of my way. Though, my cheapness in this matter may necessestate a special trip. Thanks for looking for me today!
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Old 03-06-16, 12:37 PM
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Pelissier 2000 professional .... cheap on ebay
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Old 03-06-16, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Mechanicjay View Post
Wheels mfg doesn't seem to have anything of the right size, these are kind of a strange size/profile, but yeah, it's probably worth an email..
If you provide them with measurements of the original cones, and the ball size and number it would likely help in finding a suitable match.

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Old 03-06-16, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
Why not just buy a Normandy hub off flea-bay? You should be able to find one for $15 or so. They were around $10/pair in the mid/early 80s IIRC. […] While I admire your desire to keep it authentic, you will be spending a fair amount in labor for some pretty utilitarian gear. That said, your plan isn't unreasonable.
Assuming the rest of the wheel is in decent condition, simply replacing the cones or axle set is likely to be the most cost-effective solution, especially if parts can be sourced locally.
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Old 03-06-16, 01:21 PM
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How about Maillard?
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Old 03-06-16, 01:30 PM
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If the cones, not the cups are pitted, you may want to try this;

1) Disassemble the front axle (cones, washers and nuts)
2) Degrease all
3) Wrap a couple layers of duct or masking tape on 2" of one end of the axle
4) On the other end of the axle, mount one nut, a cone and the other nut
5) Tighten the nuts against the cone, not too tight!
6) Gently mount the taped end of the assembly in the chuck of a drill.
7) Tighten the chuck on the taped end of the axle, not too tight!
8) Have a friend hold the drill.
9) Roll a 2" piece of 600+ grit waterproof sandpaper into a pencil shape
10) Oil the paper
11) Fire-up the drill and carefully bring the pencil-o-sandpaper in contact with the cone.
12) Remove as little metal as possible, while maintaining the approximate curve of the cone.
13) Repeat with the other cone.
14) Use #25 bearings and lots of grease on reassembly.

I've brought many cones back to life this way. I hope this helps!
Post some pics if you can.
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Old 03-06-16, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
Why not just buy a Normandy hub off flea-bay? You should be able to find one for $15 or so.

normandy hub | eBay
Hey, thanks for the plug..... the second hub from the top is my listing


BITD, I recall riders "improving" Normandy Sport hubs, by cleaning out the grease, replacing it with Simichrome
and using a drill hooked up to the axle to polish the cones and cups with the bearings and compound. Clean out everything.... new grease and bearings and
Presto! smoother running economy hubs.... or so it was claimed. Never tried it myself.

Last edited by vtchuck; 03-06-16 at 03:14 PM.
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Old 03-06-16, 04:11 PM
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@Mechanicjay, the Bike Shack has several Normandy hubs, including one that has smooth-rolling bearings. No skewer though. Want me to hold on to it for you? It will need cleaning, but I'd sell it for five bucks. I should add it looks like the one you mentioned from the eBay list.
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Old 03-06-16, 04:29 PM
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Edit: While I do all work myself, I would be outsourcing wheel work to the LBS -- I just don't have the skill or the tools to do it myself.
when i first started rebuilding bikes, i wish someone would have told me how easy it is to build a front wheel with a new rim and new spokes. it's so simple when using sheldon's wheel building page as a guide. if you can build a model airplane or follow a cake recipe, you can build a wheel. all it takes is your upside down bike frame, a screwdriver, a rubber band, a spare spoke, a spoke wrench you can find on ebay for $5, and some patience.

buy a used hub from bikeforums or ebay for under $50. i like campy and suzue.
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Old 03-06-16, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Aubergine View Post
@Mechanicjay, the Bike Shack has several Normandy hubs, including one that has smooth-rolling bearings. No skewer though. Want me to hold on to it for you? It will need cleaning, but I'd sell it for five bucks. I should add it looks like the one you mentioned from the eBay list.

Wow thanks @Aubergine! Yes, do hold that for me. How late are you there today? I'm about to run out for some tools for a automotive project gone awry.
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Old 03-06-16, 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Mechanicjay View Post
Wow thanks @Aubergine! Yes, do hold that for me. How late are you there today? I'm about to run out for some tools for a automotive project gone awry.
The bike shack is open only until 5 but I live just a bit north (so closer to you) ;-). I will bring it home with me if you don't get here before we close, and I'll send you a PM.
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Old 03-06-16, 08:27 PM
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Originally Posted by vtchuck View Post
BITD, I recall riders "improving" Normandy Sport hubs, by cleaning out the grease, replacing it with Simichrome and using a drill hooked up to the axle to polish the cones and cups with the bearings and compound. Clean out everything.... new grease and bearings and Presto! smoother running economy hubs.... or so it was claimed. Never tried it myself.
You've got to be careful with that, though: the cones are only case-hardened, so if you take off too much material you wear through the hardened layer and will run your bearings on unhardened steel, which will not last long before having problems.
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Old 03-08-16, 12:16 AM
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i picked up 2 used Normandy from @Aubergine at the coop. I got 1 good cone and one with only 1 tiny pit in it. I'm going to try polishing the cone with the pit as mentioned above. That should at least get me on the road for now.

@eschlwc I've read over Sheldon's wheel building guide many times -- I think i'm happy to farm out wheel work at this point. I have too many other projects around here that could use 2+ hours of my time.
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