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.
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:
I was very encouraged by yesterday’s ride. The tire pressure was low so I pulled the tire/tube but could not find any leaks. I applied two layers of cloth tape to the rim inside to protect the tube from the spoke caps, dusted the tire inside with baby powder and reinflated. I will watch it.
I was not happy with the seat height so I need to look for another post. I got an aluminum one but it is snug. I will check the steel/chrome ones. The post is one inch but sold as a 25.4mm. A steel one is easy to find.
Next was the seat. I have several saddles at home and found this old Trak one. The hand brake lever mounted nicely and the seat is higher so I am going to try it. As discussed before I went for a coaster brake wheel. I can see the value of the hand brake so I am looking for a new one. The old one is badly corroded.
I am getting there. In the last few days I installed a 300 mm 25.4mm aluminum seat post to replace the steel 200mm one. The old post was corroded but the key problem was it was too short. Even with it extended beyond the safe limit I was still about two inches short. I believe having the seat at proper height will give better control like it does on a unicycle. The challenge was the new posts were a hair too thick. Between a belt sander and a wire wheel I removed a small amount and the new post fits great.
All of the new parts are on. Biggest challenge was the seat post and the crank cotters. The aluminum seat post I bought is speced as the same size but it is just a hair wider. I cleaned up the old steel chromed post and will see how it works. If I need the additional length I will work on the aluminum post to thin it or look for an older spec steel post. The crank cotters are also a hair large. I still had the old ones so I refit them.
Today I rode the rebuilt skate bike for the first time. The new hard bushings worked well. The seat needs to be a bit higher but was extended as far as it could go. Also I would like to try a longer seat to help with control.
Andrew C. from Australia’s skatebike restoration is done. Here are Andrew’s comments on the restoration.
Well the re-build is complete and I have been out on the street riding my Skate Bike and reliving memories from many years ago. Of course I am much older and bigger now plus I rarely ride even a normal push bike but was still able to do a couple of laps of the street.
I will visit the local skate shop at some stage to replace the bushes as the ones that came with the truck are too soft (I think you previously mentioned this) as I remember the old ones were quite stiff which would give more stability.
Overall pretty happy with the build and looking forward to my son being able to ride it. I am looking to organise a new sticker for the little plate at the back “Life’s pretty straight without a Twistie” to finish it off.
Eric has been restoring his skatebike. Eric asked me a few questions about mine. I figured others restoring a Minson Skate Bike might find the answers helpful.
The hand brake is one of the unique things about a Minson Skate Bike. To use it looks unusual to say the least. The Skatebike came with the hand brake setup only. My wheel was rusted badly so when I replaced it I bought a 16 inch wheel with a coaster brake. They are by far the easiest ones to find. I often wondered why the bike didn’t come with a coaster brake originally. Then I used it. The problem is the crank arms are short (100 mm). This means to work you end up skidding. I wanted to replace the arms but could not find any that short. There is about 120mm of ground clearance so a slightly longer arm may work. The sprocket is only 36 teeth so the combination of the small sprocket and short arm is hard to find. A slightly longer arm with a smaller sprocket may even work better.
Got an email yesterday from Eric Alley. It said:
I saw your site regarding the skate bike. I just purchased one off Ebay. Unfortunately, it did not include the brake system. I was wondering if you have any, or if you know of a source for one.
During high school (Walnut High School, California) in 1986, I was given one of these as I raced BMX for a local bike shop. Had to give it back after a few years though. The picture is of me at 17 on halloween at school. The principal actually let me cruise around on it the whole day.
Joel Leek of Australia has a Twisties promotion edition 1983 Minson Skate Bike. You had to collect 10 Twisties packets and then mail in with the money to get one. Joel has never found another Twisties edition with the rear sticker – life’s pretty straight without a Twistie and also the red frame with yellow wheels and tyre (red and yellow Twisties packet colors).