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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Jon N. from the UK wrote this article about changing the seat on his Max Skatebike to a unicycle seat. My personal skatebike is a Minson which uses a traditional seat post and seat. The Garel/LeRun/Max skatebikes use a unicycle like seat connection.
BTW: A unicycle seat is often referred to as a unicycle saddle.
The skatebikes used in the photos are a black Max skatebike and a blue LeRun, the LeRun and the original Max seat are the same design and are shown for comparison purposes. When I purchased my Max skatebike from eBay the seat post was too short for me to ride in a comfortable position. The post was 250mm long which once you’ve taken into account the section required to go into the frame it did not leave a lot the space required for a person just over 6 foot tall like myself. I had hoped to simply replace the seat post with a longer one and all would be fine, however when I examined the fixing of the post to the seat I realised the seat itself had 3 shafts for nuts and were positioned in a triangular shape. I searched online and couldn’t find a replacement seat post that had triangular hole positioning so I decided to replace the seat too. The fixings on most bicycle seat posts are designed to work at an angle and for a skatebike it needs to be straight up which is how I arrived at a unicycle seat and post.
I used unicycle.com who had a good selection of seats and posts along with other supplies. The seat post width for my Max is 25.4mm (Lerun and Garel models use 25mm), I went for a 350mm long post and a zebra print seat for a total of £30. There are other colour variations out there but as soon as I saw this I knew it was the one for me! As you can see there are differences in the designs of the original seat and the unicycle seat, namely the width is reduced on the unicycle seat and the curve angle is increased on this ‘freestyle’ seat (flat unicycle seats are available on the website too). The unicycle seat is firmer than the original from the Max and is fixed to the seat post via 4 shafts in a rectangular formation and allows for tweaks on the angle of the seat rather than the fixed position of the original seat. The grab section at the front (there is also a grab section at the rear of the unicycle seat) is incorporated into the seat design rather than the ring design of the original, this can take a little getting used to at first if you’ve been using a ring for a long time. When I first put the unicycle seat on and went out on it I really noticed the width difference compared to the original and was concerned that it would take something away from the comfort aspect however I found it is easier to understand where my body weight is in terms of positioning. The original seat is wider and in comparison feels almost too wide for me now and there’s less clarity in knowing where your centre of gravity is, however the original is more comfortable and has more of a shallow sideways C profile. From a top down view the unicycle seat is an hourglass shape which helps position the rider and the original is a teardrop shape. I would suggest trying one out in a shop if you can, I’m average build and a unicycle seat may not be comfortable for everyone.
Out of the two seats I would say I prefer the unicycle seat as I find it better for comfort, response and firmness. The original seat works as a seat but there are other options out there and it might change how you feel on a skatebike and grow your confidence to try more moves or go for longer distances so why not give it a try?
Another change I made to the Max was to the seat post clamp and removing the quick release system. I decided a fixed seat post clamp would be better for me for when I lock it up outside a shop I don’t have to worry someone can pinch the seat, plus it looks slicker to me and matches in terms of colour. It was a simple case of taking off the quick release fitting and popping the fixed seat clamp post (I sprayed it black as it was chrome – 28.6mm seat post clamp for Max/Lerun/Garel) and tightening it accordingly.
Jon N. – UK
Jon’s Garel Monocycle, his LeRun Skatebike and Max Skatebikes use an unusual skateboard truck. The mount is much smaller than traditional old and new school skateboard trucks. Minson trucks are Old School – 2 1/2″ X 1 5/8″. LeRun truck holes are 1 5/8″ X 1 1/4″.
Jon took some photos of the original LeRun truck for reference for this site. The bike has not had any work yet. As you can see the bushings in photo one are cracking.
Important: AXL Skatebikes use a similar but different skateboard truck setup.
Jon N. from Manchester, England recently bought two skatebikes on eBay. The first I had never heard of before, a Garel Monocycle. Garel Monocycles were made in Italy.
Yves Garel patented his skatebike on June 18, 1981. He licensed his patent to LeRun which is why there is such a similarity. This agreement was dissolved later and fell into litigation.
I purchased the Garel Skatebike from eBay thinking it was a LeRun Skatebike and had the intention of restoring it as the previous owner had changed the front truck to that of a skateboard truck. When I received the Skatebike I tried it out in my local park and the skateboard truck was far too flexible and made it unusable so I tightened it as much as I could and managed to get some straight runs and a few wide corners before one of the front wheel coverings peeled off as it had become brittle and cracked over the years, so they will be on the list to be changed as part of the restoration. You can see that the hole spacing on the skateboard truck is larger than the Skatebike mounting holes and additional holes have been added to the skateboard truck in order to fit correctly.
The pedals are not really to my taste so I will probably change them too, I’m not sure if they are original or have been changed over the years like the skateboard truck. I took the rear wheel to a local bike shop for them to true the wheel which did improve the stability, however I may try and have some of the spokes changed as some are bent.
It has a 12 inch rear wheel, a 32 tooth crank, pedal backwards to brake and skid, 25.4mm diameter seat post that is 350mm long, the saddle has ‘run’ printed on the sides and back. At first I thought it was a faded and partially rubbed off ‘Lerun’ however Wiki shows that the Garel Skatebike was also called the ‘Run’ which would suggest the saddle is original.
I was considering sanding off the green and respraying it a different colour however as I’ve not been able to find any pictures of other Garel Skatebikes I am tempted to leave it green and try to remove as much of the rust and weathering as possible, change the trucks, tighten or replace some of the rear spokes and take it for a ride!
The original patent for the Garel skatebike. The Garel patent was granted on Nov 29, 1983. This patent is the basis of the Garel, LeRun and Max Skatebikes.
A velocipede having a single driving wheel which is powered by rotating pedals that rotate a sprocket that is connected to the driving wheels by a chain. A roller assembly comprises small diameter rollers having a roller axis that is disposed lower than and in front of the pedal axis. The rollers are connected to the velocipede frame by a bearing member so that the rollers can be articulated allowing the rider to lean on the velocipede thereby controlling the direction of movement.