Maillard Atom Heliomatic Hub & Freewheel

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NorwichVelo
Posts: 215
Joined: 16 Dec 2013, 10:57pm

Maillard Atom Heliomatic Hub & Freewheel

Postby NorwichVelo » 27 Dec 2014, 3:27pm

I've got something I've never seen before a Maillard Atom Hub with a freewheel. I've had a look online and tried to get the locknut off with some grips buts it's not budging and I'm going to lose the teeth on it? Even the LBS suggested the purpose made spanner is the only way forward. Does anybody have one of the spanners for getting these off or advice?

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gaz
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Joined: 9 Mar 2007, 12:09pm
Location: Kent, car park of England

Re: Maillard Atom Heliomatic Hub & Freewheel

Postby gaz » 27 Dec 2014, 4:28pm

Unless you are familiar with the Helicomatic system and determined to restore and re-use it my advice would be don't bother.

Helicomatic freewheels are almost as common as hen's teeth. Helicomatic hubs are only compatible with Helicomatic freewheels.

Helicomatic Museum.
Nowadays the main challenge for the Helicomatic rider is finding parts. I would suggest to all but the most fanatic about originality to stay away from Helicomatic or replace any Helicomatic hub with a model for which it is easier to source spare parts.
Last edited by gaz on 27 Dec 2014, 9:58pm, edited 1 time in total.
Hand wash only. Do not iron.

pete75
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Joined: 24 Jul 2007, 2:37pm

Re: Maillard Atom Heliomatic Hub & Freewheel

Postby pete75 » 27 Dec 2014, 5:48pm

The spanners crop up on Ebay quite frequently. If you can't get hold of a spanner a pair of stilsons should remove the lock ring.I've a Peugeot with a heliomatic hub and was told spares are hard to find. That was before I found complete and unused heliomatic hubs at £10 on Ebay so bought one just in case spares are needed.

manybikes
Posts: 300
Joined: 9 Apr 2007, 10:21am

Re: Maillard Atom Heliomatic Hub & Freewheel

Postby manybikes » 27 Dec 2014, 9:49pm

I had an MBK Grand Tourer fitted with Heliocomatic. On a trip in Spain over a few days I had three drive side spokes break. The ease with which the freewheel could be removed was incredible, just a twiddle with the proper spanner as distinct from tremendous force needed on other makes. Shame it went out of business.
(I think the spokes were damaged by a badly adjusted gear change which allowed the chain to overrun into the spokes but that's another story)

Brucey
Posts: 36188
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: Maillard Atom Heliomatic Hub & Freewheel

Postby Brucey » 27 Dec 2014, 10:50pm

it wasn't the worst idea ever but there are shortcomings;

1) they were too late to market; shimano already had a freehub system (that shifted better too)

2) you couldn't fit freewheels with very small sprockets

3) the freewheels were not very well sealed and were probe to troubles

4) in a moment of 'genius' Maillard decided that they needed to rework all the sprocket fittings so there is limited scope for using standard Maillard sprockets on these bodies

5) the construction mandates that you use a rather small RH hub bearing; this bearing fails often.

The 'special tool' rather thoughtfully also comprises a spoke key and a beer bottle opener. Kind of tells you the market they were aiming at; those who view a broken spoke as a good excuse for a beer...? :wink:

cheers
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

MGate
Posts: 155
Joined: 19 Sep 2013, 10:22pm

Re: Maillard Atom Heliomatic Hub & Freewheel

Postby MGate » 28 Dec 2014, 9:49am

I had one on a Dawes Ranger (MTB circa 1986) ended up getting the flimsy locking ring off with mole grips which mashed the locking ring - so I then araldited the lock ring back on! Not nice for every picked up the bike later (it ended up in New Zealand...).

pete75
Posts: 12023
Joined: 24 Jul 2007, 2:37pm

Re: Maillard Atom Heliomatic Hub & Freewheel

Postby pete75 » 28 Dec 2014, 1:20pm

Brucey wrote:it wasn't the worst idea ever but there are shortcomings;

1) they were too late to market; shimano already had a freehub system (that shifted better too)

2) you couldn't fit freewheels with very small sprockets

3) the freewheels were not very well sealed and were probe to troubles

4) in a moment of 'genius' Maillard decided that they needed to rework all the sprocket fittings so there is limited scope for using standard Maillard sprockets on these bodies

5) the construction mandates that you use a rather small RH hub bearing; this bearing fails often.

The 'special tool' rather thoughtfully also comprises a spoke key and a beer bottle opener. Kind of tells you the market they were aiming at; those who view a broken spoke as a good excuse for a beer...? :wink:

cheers

Helicomatic came out a couple of years at least before Shimano freehubs. The smallest sprockets available had 12 teeth. 11 appears the smallest on the Shimano system so not that much difference really.
In my experience Helicomatic blocks shift very well with a Simplex SLJ6000 and retrofriction levers.

Brucey
Posts: 36188
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: Maillard Atom Heliomatic Hub & Freewheel

Postby Brucey » 28 Dec 2014, 5:24pm

pete75 wrote: Helicomatic came out a couple of years at least before Shimano freehubs. The smallest sprockets available had 12 teeth. 11 appears the smallest on the Shimano system so not that much difference really.
In my experience Helicomatic blocks shift very well with a Simplex SLJ6000 and retrofriction levers.


Helicomatic [NB not 'Heliomatic' as per the thread title!] was announced in the French press in February 1981 and was due to be in series production march 1981. It didn't reach the UK until 1982.

Image

from the 1982 review in the CTC mag (I think). You will note that the shimano system is described as a prior system.

Shimano freehubs were introduced somewhen between 1978 and 1982. They were already 'old' in 1982 so didn't make the 'innovations' page in the 1982 shimano catalogue, but there are already several freehub models in there. I think it may have been 1979 that they were introduced.

The first Helicomatic freewheels used sprockets with the same tooth form as standard maillard freewheels, and 14T was the smallest to start with. At the time I found the shimano UG 'twist tooth' design shifted better. Later ARIS versions of helicomatic shifted about as well as shimano UG I guess but by then HG was on its way...

cheers
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

pete75
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Joined: 24 Jul 2007, 2:37pm

Re: Maillard Atom Heliomatic Hub & Freewheel

Postby pete75 » 28 Dec 2014, 5:36pm

Yellow jersey describe Helicomatic as being introduced in the late seventies http://www.yellowjersey.org/helico.html and I've been told it came out out in 1978. I don't think Shimano freehubs came out until at least 1980 hence Helicomatic was a couple of years, or thereabouts, earlier.

Define better where gear changing is concerned. Shimano shifts more smoothly than many others but it also shifts more slowly.

Brucey
Posts: 36188
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: Maillard Atom Heliomatic Hub & Freewheel

Postby Brucey » 28 Dec 2014, 6:10pm

well I think that some documentation would be nice to support that hypothesis;

this
Image

is from the February 1981 edition of 'le velo' and (I think) says that they plan to be producing them in march 1981. If so I can't see how they were 'available' prior to this date.

Yellow jersey may be confusing the date of the relevant patent (oct '79 in France) with that of the product's availability. Needless to say these events are normally years apart!

If there were any Helicomatic products prior to 1982 I would like to see some substantiation of this.

You can see the (available, real, bought by ordinary human beings) shimano freehubs in the 1979 shimano catalogue here;

http://www.velo-pages.com/main.php?g2_itemId=6944

[edit; it occurs to me that this should be easy enough to settle; all Maillard stuff is date marked, isn't it?]

cheers
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~