Sachs Maillard 6 Speed Freewheel

I removed this very nice early 1980’s Sachs Maillard 6 speed freewheel from the Méral Randonneuse I am currently restoring.  Since the bike is already in great condition, probably the better word is “servicing” – there isn’t much restoration involved for this Méral, being very well preserved already.

Meral Randonneuse – early 1980’s

Sachs Maillard 6 speed freewheel

This freewheel looked sparkly after just a tiny bit of cleaning.  It spins sweetly, with that pleasant sound that some vintage freewheels emit, like a Suntour or a Regina. The freewheel is well engineered, and is lightweight.

Notched tooth pattern

As I was cleaning and lubricating this freewheel, with its useful 13-28 cogs, I noticed these interesting notches on the cog teeth.  That made me wonder if this was a freewheel designed for indexing, and perhaps added later to the bike.  But that didn’t make sense, as the Méral is equipped with friction Simplex downtube shifters, which were clearly original to the bike.

So, I did a bit of research to find out what model this was, as well as to determine the timeline involving the Maillard and Sachs companies, wondering when they had merged.  According to Velobase and other sources, Maillard was absorbed into Sachs in 1980.  By 1989 the Maillard name was no longer used.  Sachs did indeed develop an indexing compatible freewheel, which supposedly can index with any system.  This was the ARIS model which stands for Advanced Rider Indexed System.  It appears the Aris line was developed in the late 1980s’, using their proprietary “Rapid Grip and Shift” tooth design.  So, why does early 1980’s this freewheel’s teeth have these notches?  Is it an early indexing model, or is it an idea that Maillard had developed before indexing was standard?  As far as I can tell, these notches in the cog teeth were present in early 1980’s models. has several Sachs Maillard freewheels from this era, all of which have the notches on the freewheel cog. Reader insight is welcome!

The freewheel takes a standard splined tool, which can be had from Park Tools or other suppliers.  That was a pleasant surprise.  And, I won’t be needing to overhaul this freewheel.  With a little bit of lubrication – a light oil at first, and then heavier automotive oil – this freewheel will probably last another 35 years or more, and we’ll see how these notched teeth work out on the road.

20 thoughts on “Sachs Maillard 6 Speed Freewheel

  1. I’m starting to feel like a Retrogrouch… I recently called one of my favorite Portland LBSs I’ve used since the 1980s and the person who answered the phone did not know what a freewheel was even after I explained what it was …

  2. Hiya , those were the maillard version of pick up ramps, they give best operation when coupled to a sedis chain , the idea was that even friction systems needed help when the rider was climbing and could not afford to lose momentum . I use them on all 3 of my vintage bikes which have freewheels , worth noting that a campagnolo rally/ Nuovo record rear mech and Shimano downtube 6/7 speed shifter combo index perfectly with these old maillard freewheel combo . 😊😉

  3. Nola-
    I found that the ARIS freewheels work perfectly in friction mode as well as in indexing if used with a Sedisport chain as vintagebicyclefixer said. My experience was a 6 speed ARIS freewheel indexed through a Simplex SX 610 RD with a Sedisport chain and 6 speed Sachs ARIS levers. (You absolutely need a derailleur with the adjuster on the derailleur body to fine tune the spacing for clean indexing.) Still have those levers even though everything is now Retrofriction.

    • Thank you, Jim. I am looking forward to trying out this nice freewheel with the Huret rear derailleur and friction Simplex shifters included in the bike’s original equipment.


  5. Hi
    This also carried through into the 7 and 8 speed Sachs ARIS freewheels. Mailard/Sachs also used this on the helicomatic system.

    By using a cogs of 1.9mm and spacers of 3mm it was then “usable” with not only Campagnolo but also mavic, both shimano 8 speed systems then available and suntour acushift. (though their is a 1997 only version that was spaced at 1.8 and 3.2 respectively).

    The 8 speed was primarily designed to run with the New Success gruppo which was a collaboration with spidel originally and then Campag.

    Currently running a 13-26 with Chorus 8 rear Chorus ergo2 9 front and a pair of athena egro levers on mavic 501 with the 130mm hub adaptor and an ofmega competition chainset.

    It shifts much more precisely than any of the bikes I have with SIS. Does take a bit more time to set up well and has to be set up systematically (ie what campag say in their tech manuals) but when it is it is very crisp. Have also used with Mavics index system and same thing.

  6. Its a bit of a digression but to go beyond this teeth design issue, I confess that I am now torn between “love” and “hate” about these 40’s to 70’s freewheels. True their durability is just mindboggling. Most of the ones I undid have hardly worn out teeth and the freewheel mechanism is most of the time in decent condition, I don’t even bother to touch it and I just clean the cogs and lub it. But both the unmounting from the hub and the build of a specific one with chosen cogs is another issue ! I have a stash of Maillard cogs but the different internal diameters of bodies and cogs is just a nightmare to deal with. “Road” bodies are thinner ( not to mention the two different diameters on each body) so most of the time its quite difficult to manage to rebuild a properly or evenly spaced freewheel especially if you wish to go above 26 teeth. It has to be recognized that Shimano’ “revolution” with the cassette was welcomed and no wonder it “killed” its opponents. The toolbox become also lighter. I have at least 10 different freewheel tools and still encounter some issues sometimes to undo them. True the maillard standard on this pictured one was already a big progress compared to earlier Maillard or Cyclo ones that reigned on previous french bikes.

    • Interesting commentary. While Shimano was definitely trying to control the marketplace, they ended up standardizing it at least with regard to free hubs and cassettes, allowing other manufacturers to piggy back on to the free hub revolution (sorry for the pun…)

  7. Hi, this is Bruce. I was wondering what thread pitch your ARIS freewheel is? I am in the search mode for a 6sp. 13-28 with French thread configuration. I enjoy your articles and you passion with the french bikes.


  8. Hi Nola,

    Bruce. Thanks for the reply. I was not asking if it were sale as I know it is hard trying to find French threaded freewheels. I was inquiring because I am in the process go going through a mid to late 80’s Alex Singer bike I have. She has the Sachs Huret New Success ARIS 2nd Gen. rear derailleur and a 13-24 freewheel Sach millard freewheel. She has Stronglight 107 triples and a 13-28 same group would be nice. I do have a Regina GS 5sp
    13-28 for the 6sp. index shifters on Maxi-car hubs.

    I also have two Rene Herse bikes a 1971′ chrome I rescued and a 1974′ Racer. I have been very lucky to go through both of these bikes to see how they were built. The 71′ chrome has all of the RH parts he made. I have resourced your blog to learn. Josh with Simplicity bikes is a friend of mine. Hope all is well up there and the Family is OK.


  9. Nola,

    Bruce. I have to say I have seen your bikes from your site for maybe two years and they are very, very nice. I admire your work and patience going through them.

  10. Hi Nola,
    I really enjoy your wonderful articles.
    Forgive me if this is a stupid question, but how can one tell if the freewheel (and hub) is French-threaded? I’ve recently got hold of a 70s/80s Peugeot with a Maillard freewheel, and I understand Maillard made both French- and British-threaded versions.

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