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Parting the first wheelset I ever built (1980)

1980: I am getting close to turning 18 and finishing high school, having outgrown the first quality bike I bought when I turned 13 (a 53cm Pink Mercier “service course” with the best of French racing equipment of the time Stronglight 105bis, Simplex SLJ, Maillard, Mafac Racers, the stuff used by Bernard Thevenet to win the Tour de France…).

Now firmly in the light cyclotourist crowd, I am all in anticipation waiting for the made to measure Follis frame being built for me out of the top French tubing of the era (Vitus 971, the French answer to Reynolds 531 and Columbus SL). After debating which constructeur to use and looking at Rene Herse, Alex Singer, and Follis, I decided to go with Follis because I plan to go study Engineering in Lyon and because the Herse and Singer are about 500 Francs more for the frame (about $100 more, in retrospect that would have been a pretty good 500 francs investment) ;) !!!!

On a tight budget, I have decided to only buy the frame and low riding front carrier and buy all parts and build myself. Going with the best French touring stuff: MaxiCar hubs, Mavic BB, TA Cyclotouriste, Huret Jubilee, Ideale saddle, Mafac Criterium cantilevers… The only non-French equipment on the bike will be a Cinelli BB and Fork crown, and Cinelli 1R stem and Criterium handlebars (could not resist those curves).

Now, I have decided to go for light but durable wheels, as I intended to do long touring and some camping that included the legendary (and expensive) MaxiCar large flange hubs, 36 stainless steel spokes at 4-crosses and the newly released Mavic Module E2 light clincher rims.

I rode that bike all over Europe (at least the Alps), from Bulgaria and Greece all the way back to France.

Follis 1983: Rode back to France from behind the iron curtain (Bulgaria, Yugoslavia)…

The legendary durable MaxiCar hubs, fully original since home built in 1980

The bike went through some minor changes over the years, most significantly added the first generation Look clipless pedals after 1986, about 8 years ago I decided to convert it with 8 speed Campagnolo brifters that still allowed me to use the original wheels with the 7 speed cassette, but eventually as I intended to keep using the bike regularly, it moved to 10 speed a couple of years ago and then recently to 11 speed Campagnolo Athena which meant switching to modern wheels with a cassette

The Follis in 2019…

2019: So here is my pair of legendary durable MaxiCar wheels gathering dust. The rear wheels went through three rims over the 38 years, the original Mavic E2 cracked around a nipple after one too many cyclo-camping trip, it was replaced with a G40 in the 1990’s which succumbed about 5 years ago when a driver looking at his cell phone hit me from the rear at a traffic light while commuting to work, so it was replaced with an original Mavic Module E (thanks to Ebay).

So a few weeks ago, I decided that yes, I could keep them as souvenirs but I do not believe in show-off museum bikes and I have been using modern wheels on my 1981 Follis for a few years now. So I decided to part with them. Ebay did its magic and Bruce in California found what he has been looking for his new build.

My MaxiCar hubs on their way to California for a new build, born to be ridden.

Oh, well I still have a pair of 650B 40h SuperChampion on MaxiCar on my 1984 camping bike if I ever get nostalgic:)!

About the author: Julien Meissonnier stared riding seriously just a bit over 40 years ago as a 13 year old in the late 70’s when 10 and 12 speed included both front and rear not just cassette... After long distance cyclotouring, pass hunting, cyclo-camping across much of Europe and the US, and some triathlon racing, gently slipped into a lower bike gear going into the 1990’s and making a reasonable comeback in the 2010’s... After a high tech and entrepreneurial career decided that I would focus on doing interesting bike stuff, anything that does not feel like work. Enjoying developing a line of carbon wheels and all sorts of custom projects with a more pronounced interest for “mature” bikes and non–standard projects.

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