Posts in Category: Garel/LeRun/Max/AXL

Nick’s LeRun Jr Skatebike Restoration

Nick W (UK) contacted me August with questions on rebuilding a LeRun Jr. I connected him with Jon N (UK) who has written most of the LeRun articles here. Turns on they live close to each other. As you can see from the before images, the scoot was in pretty rough shape. I love the colour. Here is Nick’s story in his words.

Before

After

So the story begins when I was 8 years old, living in Holland. My parents bought me this new contraption called a skatebike, supposedly Michael Jackson had one! I remember tearing around on it as an actual mode of transport, bike lanes being superb in Holland and me living in a sleepy suburb meant it was actually viable. Always loved speeding along and then pulling a massive skid with the back pedal braking.

Fast forward 34 years and the skatebike has made various appearances over the years in gatherings, parties etc and always provides a ‘woah, what is that?’ kind of reaction, followed by a rush of the more adventurous people wanting to give it a go. Sometimes it sits dormant for years at a time, but always comes back out to play when the time is right!

So we’ve been getting a pool build done. The guys laying the surrounding patio are onsite in the beautiful sunshine and baking hot temperatures, and somehow a unicycle comes up in conversation. I say nothing, but the next day I’ve got the unicycle out ready, freshly pumped-up wheel… and also the skatebike. Cue all 3 of the patio guys leaping at the chance to give them both a go. And as always, everyone fails miserably on the unicycle, but get to grips with the skatebike nice and quickly. The video I’ve shared is of the ‘pool chase’, one riding the skatebike and the other on my latest of crazy contraptions, my onewheel. Lots of fun had!

But the skatebike is looking tired, paint flaking off everywhere, severe rust showing all over, dirty and sad. I’ve thought to myself many times over the past decade that I really should clean it up, and now, finally, I’ve found the motivation and impetus to do so.

Into the workshop I go, and begin the teardown, carefully photographing everything along the way as I’ve never done any work to any kind of bike, beyond pumping up tyres! Most things came apart fairly easily, but I definitely got caught out on the crank arms. After much googling and some advice from Facebook friends, identified that the LeRun has a cottered crank, found some videos about how to remove and they came apart pretty easily thereafter.

Once I had the frame free from all other parts, I began removing the paint and rust. Used a hot air gun on the paint, although realised afterwards that some wire brush attachments I got for the drill would have done the job perfectly well without the heat. Once the frame was mostly clear of paint and rust, I treated it with a rust converter and my canvas was ready.

I mocked up a range of 14 colour schemes in total and between my 8-year-old daughter Ella and I, we chose a sky blue with yellow scheme. Ordered the spray paints and then primed the frame, followed by 2 main colour coats.

I’d also manged to steam the original decals off the frame. With photos of these I used photoshop to create a template which I then printed on to stencil film and after some careful work with a craft knife, I had a stencil ready to use. I sprayed the secondary colour on to the frame i.e. the letters themselves – and had a load of yellow overspray on my freshly painted sky blue frame. In hindsight, I should have sprayed yellow first and then masked the letters themselves before laying down the main colour.

After that I applied a metal varnish to try and protect the paint. I’ve realised now I need something more durable (after the skatebike fell and left a nice sky blue streak on the living room wall) so will be getting some 2K acrylic clear coat laquear and recoating the frame with that.

I tried the coke and tin foil approach to remove rust from the other metal parts, but it wasn’t particularly effective. Then tried vinegar but that had basically no impact either. So got the wire brush drill attachments going again and used them to clean up every nut and bolt, as well as the crank and crank arms. Came out nicely and seemingly no damage inflicted either, will definitely take this approach on my next one!

Then began reassembly, putting everything carefully back together. Thank god for the teardown photos! After seeing the price of skate/longboard wheels I looked around on Facebay (A UK Facebook selling group) and picked up a penny skateboard for £3 with some yellow wheels on it. They seem perfectly acceptable for now! Got a cheap coloured chain and pedals delivered and popped them on. Realised I hadn’t done anything to the seat handle so stripped that and painted that up too, and then some yellow faux leather to recover the seat.

And there you have it. I’m really pleased with the result, I’m so glad this relic has stayed with me throughout the years, and I’ve taken the time to give it the makeover it deserved. There’s plenty of things I could have done better, and I’ll learn from those mistakes on the next renovation – I managed to pick up another one off Facebay for a stupidly low price, and it was actually advertised as a unicycle! Looking forward to when that gets delivered and starting the next project. I’m thinking hot pink and neon yellow…

Nick W (UK)

France MAX Poster and Price List

Here is the 1989 French poster for MAX in France and the component price list from Joh N’s collection. MAX was clearly going for a more hip older audience.

France component price list

The Motobecane Rodeocycle

By Jon N – UK

The Motobecane Rodeocycle was the precursor to the Garel Monocycle and shares multiple similarities including 32 tooth chainring and 16 teeth at the back, 16 wire spoked wheel, 110mm crank arms and cottered crank, although the bottom bracket shell on the Rodeocycle has a smaller diameter. The Rodeocycle has a two piece seat tube rather than the continuous one piece that is curved on the Garel and Lerun designs. My example has the clip missing from the coaster brake, which is easy enough to replace, the body did have stickers on when I acquired it and I used some WD40/3in1 Oil to help remove the gum left from the stickers. Overall it is in good condition and just needs a coaster brake clip to complete it.

The skateboard truck uses old school hole spacing and displays the Motobecane ‘M’ logo underneath. I believe the orange/red wheels in the pictures are original as I have seen them on other examples and are some in the 85a range firmness (comparing them to 78a wheels), measuring 62mm diameter and still have life left in them however I have changed the bearings to a fresh set of Bones Reds.

The plastic body sections screw together and are fixed to the frame via three screw points, one by the skateboard truck and one either side of the rear wheel axle nuts. It was a simple case of removing the pedals, then the screws and gently removing the two panels. Once removed I gave the panels a wipe down, replaced one of the axle nuts that had been rounded off and was then able to adjust the chain tension (which at that point was slack and rubbing on the plastic panelling).

Having given it a test ride on a running track I felt it was very similar to the Garel though depending on your viewpoint the Rodeocycle is arguably more eye-catching. It does feel a little heavier than the Garel or Lerun models however not by much and is likely going to be the same with the plastic panels removed.

Locating one for sale was difficult and I spent a good amount of time looking at pictures on the internet try to find recent images to see if they are linked to for sale adverts. I managed to locate one on a Polish classifieds website and reached out to the vendor, thankfully he was willing to post and even sorted out the courier from his place in Poland to mine in the United Kingdom, although it was definitely a risk so I would advise doing your homework before transferring money, if it doesn’t feel right then don’t do it. Luckily the vendor, had been registered to the website for years and was friendly, it took 3 days to arrive safely and after a good clean and a couple of parts it’s ready to roll!!

Garel/Lerun Generations

By Jon N. – UK

The Motobecane Rodeocycle designed by Yves Garel is the starting point for what would become the Lerun skatebike and locating one to purchase is rare so if you see one buy it! If I ever manage buy one I’ll go into more detail as to how it is constructed and the differences to the examples listed below.

Garel Monocycle

The Garel Monocycle was produced in Italy and is the next step in the design by using a single tube rather than the multiple welded sections of the Rodeocycle. The Garel Monocycle featured a 32 tooth chainring at the front and 16 tooth chainring on the rear wheel. Unfortunately my example does not have the original skateboard truck however the hole spacing is the same as the Lerun examples being reviewed here that were produced after the Garel Monocycle. It also features a 16 wire spoked rear when and 110mm crank arms. It’s hard to put a date on when this examples was produced but predates the others here.

Lerun Gen 1

The blue Lerun example is the next step in the design, the frame has remained the same however the front chainring was increased to a 36 tooth and a 14 tooth chainring on the rear wheel, which is now a 5 spoke hard plastic wheel, the crank arms have also been amended to now be 130mm. The increased tooth count and longer crank arms means it is easier than the Garel to go faster and have a lower cadence. The former owner of this example said it was from 1982, it did have a red reflector mounted under the seat which I have removed, the seat post clamp was a quick release format and I have switched it to a fixed clamp, the tyre was changed to a Vans Cult blue camouflage tyre and the Lerun branded skateboard wheels were changed. The sticker on the bottom bracket shell states it was produced in Malaysia.

Lerun Gen 2

The black Lerun examples is the last of the design steps with the only notable change being the crank whereby it was switched from the cottered crank format to a one piece crank with a larger bottom bracket. The 32/14 ratio remains as does the 5 spoke rear wheel. It’s difficult to place a date on the production however when MTV paired up with Lerun in 1989 Lerun were still using the cottered crank so my guess is that it is 1990 or after. The wording on the sticker references Garel rather than Lerun (as shown on the earlier blue example) and does not confirm the country where it was produced, although I have seen several examples of Lerun skatebikes stating they were part of the Raleigh group (who had a factory in Malaysia).

Summary

Each of the 3 examples here offer something slightly different, the Garel is great for learning on and cruising however the shorter crank arms can mean your legs will get tired quickly on a long ride. The blue Lerun is great for longer distances and better speed whilst the black Lerun is equal to the blue for speed it also has the benefit of having a more maintenance friendly one piece crank, which means it’s gives the option for an amateur like me to change the chainring and try and disc chainring or even try and go for a larger chainring with more teeth, which would then increase the torque going into the back wheel.

Motobécane Rodeocycle Owner’s Manual

Jon N found an old site with some images of the pages for a Motobécane Rodeocycle Owner’s Manual. I assembled them into a manual. If anyone has an actual manual, I would welcome some quality scans.

Max Skatebike Generations – How to Tell Them Apart

Max skatebikes are great fun but finding the right one means knowing what to look for when buying one. There are essentially three editions of Max skatebike and I’ll try to cover the differences between them all. As I’ve not been able to find any confirmed dates of manufacture I am making an educated guess for the dates, if you know of when the different editions were produced or the quantities then by all means get in touch.

The frame in primer grey is what I believe to be the first edition Max skatebike and created in the mid-1980’s. The main features to note for this model are that the mounting plate for the skateboard truck has the standard ‘old school’ hole spacing, the bottom bracket shell is smaller than the other two editions, the chainstay section is a slightly different shape to the later two editions and at the top of the seat tube there is a hole in the frame that is not present on the other two editions, lastly the seat is flat and has a different fixing to the seat than the later 2 editions. This edition comes with a 12inch rear wheel however the tyre is solid rubber as opposed to having an innertube that holds air. This frame shape is able to accommodate a 16inch wheel if you are looking to experiment or you can switch it out to a normal 12inch coaster brake wheel with an innertube. Overall I would advise not buying this type of Max skatebike unless it is in very good condition, I say this as spare parts for this edition can be troublesome to locate as I found out after a reputable indie bike shop advised me that the bottom bracket could not be replaced as the parts for that size shell were no longer produced and advised getting a new bottom bracket shell welded on and remove the original. The standard rubber rear wheel is not of the best quality and whilst it could be removed and a hole drilled for an innertube drilled and new tyre fitter this should be considered when thinking of buying.

The black frame is from what I believe to be either second or third edition, the differences when compared to the primer grey frame are clear, the smaller skateboard truck hole spacing on the mounting plate, the larger bottom bracket shell (I believe this to be called a ‘USA sized’ bottom bracket), then finally the chainstay shape is straighter. This edition is not safely able to accept a 16inch wheel however the rear wheel does have an innertube as standard as opposed to the solid rubber predecessor. I prefer this later edition frame as spare parts like the bottom bracket, crank and bearings are easy to source, replacement trucks can be located from auctions sites like ebay by searching for vintage penny boards as they have the same hole spacing to fit the Max. The main difference between the second and third editions is that one had a plastic skateboard truck and wheels (documented elsewhere on the site), as I’m not certain on the dates of production I’m not able to confirm whether the plastic truck edition was second or third however I would suggest avoiding the plastic truck edition as I found the truck was not strong enough and quickly broke when I tried it so it would be best to replace the truck so again would need to be considered when looking to purchase a Max.

In summary when looking for a Max skatebike I would suggest going for a Max that has a metal skateboard truck and an innertube in the rear wheel, checking these two details will save you time and money down the line when looking for parts and customizing. The Max skatebikes that have an innertube and metal skateboard truck do not need to be altered before using, maybe just need skateboard wheels and bearing depending on the level of use it has previously seen.

Jon N. – UK

Mats van der Gugl – Slovenia

Mats van der Gugl has some skatebikes in Slovenia. Here are Instagram posts from him.

I’ve attached a shot from Instagram of a design similar to the Lerun but with a 16inch wheel. Mats said it was a Slovenian bike maker who made it. Looks pretty cool.
Jon N (UK)

Jon asked:
@skatebikeuk
Is the red one a Lerun too? I’ve not seen a 16inch wheel Lerun, looks very cool!

mats.garage.67
@skatebikeuk No, it’s a “PlayBike”, made in a small Slovenian local bike shop in 80’s. I admit didn’t know for them till I got one in my hands 😉

Scotty Cranmer Pro BMX Rider restores and rides an AXL Skatebike

You Have NEVER Seen A Bike Like This Before!

Scotty Cranmer – Pro BMX Rider restores and rides an AXL skatebike that was delivered to his shop with the frame, seat and crank. It is fun to watch him discover what a skatebike is all about. The truck is missing the bushings as it flops to the side.

This is what a new AXL looks like

LeRun Jr.

Jon N from the UK sent me an interesting find, pictures of a LeRun Jr. I did not know a junior model existed. Notice the Jr uses a traditional bicycle seat, unlike the regular model with a unicycle seat.

The LeRun Jr comes from Winson Ooi of Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. He posted these photos on KELAB BASIKAL LAMA, a Facebook bicycle club to share their collections of bicycles owned.

The “thebigfatlittleshoppe” in Singapore is showing this pretty red LeRun Jr.

Garel Monocycle Repaint – Jon N – UK

I purchased the Garel from eBay thinking it was a Lerun skatebike, the previous owner had made some alterations to the front and replaced the original truck with a newer and poorly fitting skateboard truck. The skateboard wheels were dry and cracked with one coming off on the first try riding it, the rear wheel didn’t sit correctly under the frame and the spokes were bent and needed attention. (See part 1)

I took the skateboard truck off and switched it with a Continental skateboard truck that I purchased from eBay mounted on an old Penny board. The hole spacing for the truck to be mounted to the Garel is the same as the Lerun and Max, for finding a replacement I would recommend old Penny boards made by companies like Variflex, Skuda and Super Star if you are on a budget as they can be picked up quite cheaply, alternatively higher end models by companies like Vulcan and ACS-430 also appear to have the correct spacing but always double check with the vendor before you buy it. With the Conti fitted I installed two Deville Whitewalls 70mm / 78A and would highly recommend them to anyone. My attention then turned to the rear wheel whereby I took it to a local bike shop where they managed to true the rim, the next change was to the tyre and switching from an old and degraded one and to a newer whitewall I had taken from elsewhere. I put some washers in place on the rear axle and managed to line up the wheel to be under the frame which in turn would improve the stability. I then switched the quick release seat-post clamp to a fixed one to improve the lines of the design and eliminate the risk of someone pinching the seat if it was locked up outside a shop.

Riding the Garel after these modifications it was clear how the changes vastly improved the riding experience, it is stable and smooth rolling and a pleasure to ride!

Lastly I changed the colour to Chromacoat Peacock (available through Kustom Canz suppliers) as the original green had chipped and rubbed off in various places (I did buy a can of a very similar green before I started just in case it didn’t work out and I wanted back the way it was). There are lots of colours to pick from and I wanted something that would appear as a different colour from different angles and Kustom Canz do a kit of 3 cans consisting of base coat, main colour and the top clearcoat, alternatively you can just go for the main colour if you wish. I removed the truck, rear wheel, chain and seat-post clamp but left the crank arms, pedals and bottom bracket on (it is a Cottered crank and I didn’t want to risk damaging it trying to remove it) and masking taped them to be ready for spraying. I then removed the Garel sticker from the frame and sanded down the frame to ensure it was smooth before applying primer. The primer went on without issue and I checked to see if there were any sections that needed attention before adding a base coat. I gave the primer a light sanding with some 2000 grit paper and a clean down before applying a black base coat in order to help the main colour stand out. I then gave it another quick sanding with 2000 grit again and then went on with the Peacock colour, which like most spraying is better done in multiple lighter coats rather than 2 thick ones. Make sure you are spraying in a very well ventilated area and use a mask as this has a very powerful odour and harmful chemicals, even outdoors wear a mask for it! Once the main colour was dry I applied multiple coats of a clear finish to protect it, once that was dry I reattached the wheels and chain (I had sprayed the seat-post separately).

The Garel rides great and looks even better and is a far cry from how it was when I originally received it, I might change the colour again at some point and go for another variation but I’ll keep it like this over summer as the sun highlights how vibrant it is.