Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Bike Parts - Schwinn Approved Freewheel - A Maillard?

Is this a Maillard freewheel?
"Schwinn Approved France Model F 3" stamped into the metal is the only clue in the photo  of this freewheel. 

A customer from Cape Cod, MA, is seeking the right tool to loosen the component and pull it off his old wheel.

This morning, however, Mr. Pump says BikemanforU is over his head in summer repairs. Friday's Tech Happy Hour is still three days into the future. How to help our loyal customer? 

The 24 splines inside the part eliminate using Park Tool's FR-4, which fits some Schwinn Approved freewheels but only has 20 splines. 

The France clue seems to indicate the freewheel is likely a Maillard. A few generations ago, the once venerable French manufacturer produced bicycle components like the rare Helico-Matic hub . Well-made Maillard parts could be found on bikes made by or for Schwinn, Peugot, and Trek, among other brands..

Fichtel & Sachs, a veteran German parts manufacturer, absorbed Maillard some time during the 1980s, according to Wikipedia. Normandy was another brand associated with Maillard. 

Maillard Freewheel
In bicycle manufacturing history, Schwinn Approved is a mid-century marketing term. It appeared in the 1970s and well into the '80s on certain bikes and components that were manufactured to the American brand's specific quality standards. Maillard's factory was among those that were "Schwinn Approved." 

If this is a Maillard freewheel, the problem is the now defunct French manufacturer made the only tool that fits it. This special remover, however, can be found at some local bike shops. And that's where we suggested our customer bring his wheel. 

Vintage Maillard freewheel remover tools like the one at left and what appear to be reproductions can be found online for $25-40. Is this the tool our customer needs? 

How can we be sure the freewheel is a Maillard or a Normandy? Or an Atom - also associated with Schwinn and Maillard? 

Our customer has asked the voice of experience for help. Let's see what he says.


  1. I remember Maillard and the Helico-Matic hub. Just saw your ‘presta valve core’ video and wondered to your blog, great to see a 30+ yrs family bike store kicking around.

    Best to you Bikeman


  2. Maillard and its Helico-Matic hub hold a firm place in the history of mid-20th century cycling technology. Welcome to the BikemanforU team.