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
Recently Jon (UK) and I were discussing variations in the LeRun/Garel skatebikes. Jon is working on an article on those. My experience is with the Minson bikes. There were several changes in the Minson design, I believe for economic reasons (ie make it cheaper to manufacture).
The Minson Users Manual that came with my Minson shows the original Gen 1 version. Gen 1 bikes are the hardest to find.
In Aug 2019, Eric Alley of Walnut California contacted me about an old skatebike he bought and wanted to restore. For months we emailed back and forth with questions and answers. One of his biggest challenges was his bike was missing the under-seat brake handle. I sent many measurements and detailed photos. Eric bought a similar handle and a friend made a bracket to hold it on. Eric used the same skate truck as I did also replacing the stock bushing with a hard downhill one.
This week Eric sent me the finished picture and to put it mildly I was blown away. I took my restoration pretty far but Eric went the whole nine yards. This is by far the best skate bike restoration I have ever seen.
Minson skatebikes use standard “Old School” skateboard truck hole pattern.
Garel, LeRun and Max skatebikes use a smaller pattern
AXL skatebikes use a third hole pattern
AXL trucks are plastic rather than cast aluminum like the other skatebikes.
This is an AXL skatebike that Jon N from the UK bought. One of the wheels came apart on his first ride. Because the hole pattern is so small he could not fit any of the old skateboard trucks. The axel hanger from an old 70’s Continental skateboard truck fit.
May 19, 2021 update
Jon also found this old Tony Hawk skateboard in second hand shop. The holes are very close and for not much money he got 2 trucks, 4 wheels and 8 bearings.
Updated May 7, 2021. Two ads added, Nov 1984 and Sept 1986.
Minson was sold through several companies.
SKATE BIKE AMERICA, INC. was incorporated on September 16, 1983. On September 23, 1983, they filed a trademarks for “SKATE BIKE” (73444980) and on July 29, 1983 “MINSON” (73436921) The trademarks were later ABANDONED.
There were three brandings used:
Anthony from Australia found this 12″ junior skatebike on eBay in the UK. Notice they call it a Minson Roller Shuttle. Also it has the curved front support tube and even has the original box.
I searched on Minson Roller Shuttle and found this new eBay UK listing
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.
I found the original owner’s manual for my Minson Skate Bike. I usually save owner’s manuals and while cleaning found it.
It is interesting that the manual refers to a 16″ wheel version (which is what I have) and a 12″ wheel version. I have never heard of the small wheel Minson. The LeRun used a 12″ wheel.
Brett from England acquired an unridden Minson skatebike, circa 1985. This is a first release version. In the UK it was called a Roller Shuttle. You can tell it is a first generation from the stripe on the seat, the brake mount and the secondary curved tube to the front truck.