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.
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)
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.
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)
Is the red one a Lerun too? I’ve not seen a 16inch wheel Lerun, looks very cool!
@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 😉
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.
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
Lerun began its operations back in the 1970s, pioneering the manufacturing of mountain bikes for the local market. Lerun’s ‘claim to fame’ is the Skatebike – the one-wheel unicycle which was launched back in the late 80s. The introduction of the Skatebike created a cult following amongst youngsters and henceforth catapulted the Lerun Unicycle up to the top of every kid’s wish list. Since then, the Lerun brand has become a household name.
Headquartered at Puchong, Selangor, the Lerun head office controls all distribution and sales operations for its diverse portfolio of bicycles. The product range that is offered includes MTB, BMX, Tandem Bike, Folding Bike, City Bike and Racing Bikes with wheel sizes ranging from 16 inches to 26 inches, which are marketed under the popular “Lerun” and “Polygon” brands.
A pristine LeRun before the MTV branding.
Feb 8, 1988 – MTV announced their first licensing agreement, the MTV LeRun. The pact provides for an advertising campaign on MTV with retail sales to begin in Fall 1988.
In the My DI-WHY Electrified MTV LeRun Skatebike we were introduced to an eLeRun. The builder is Braxton M. from Michigan. He filled me in on braking.
There is some braking due to the motors natural resistance but overall it’s more like a skateboard than a bike. The speed is a max of about 13mph (my max comfortable speed anyway lol) so a quick step off is easy enough to do if needed but you get used to the natural motor braking with time. The bottom bracket is still in place, there is two polycarbonate 3D printed pegs pressed on. Eventually I’m going to replace the old brushed motor for a brushless one for a bit more speed and efficiency. In addition, stronger regen braking will be added with a different motor controller and I may add a manual brake at some point. Battery pack is custom built with around 30 miles of range per charge and there is an integrated 12v converter to run the lights on the sides of the battery case.
Braxton M. from Michigan
Braxton included some interesting images from the build.
I am impressed.
Here is something interesting. wer2000 on Reddit electrified an MTV LeRun. As the bottom bracket, cranks and pedals were replaced with stationary pegs, there are no brakes. One solution could be to add a brake like Minson uses with a brake handle under the seat. The speed control is mounted on the seat handle.
In his words
I had a geared 350-watt motor laying around and a 500 watt-hour battery used on a different project and decided to have some fun with them since they were just sitting around. It started out as more of a joke but its honestly quite fun to ride. It rides relatively stable and the max speed (~13 mph) is more than enough given the circumstances. As far as I know, no one else has done something like this so I guess I can at least say that I’ve done something unique?
How do you control the speed?
Leaning for turning and I’ve got a little vertical thumb throttle cleverly attached to the little hand grip in the front of the bike.
Motor mount is the only frame addition. Motor and controller were just laying around and the battery is from a different ebike I built awhile ago.
Most of it is in part to 3D printed parts. Exterior of the battery module is printed and even the foot pegs (with a super high density that is). The black coat also helps in cleaning up the welding motor mount though as my welding is certainly not top tier.
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.