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.
Here is Eric’s list of parts he used in his restoration. His is a wonderful combination of original parts such as the seat and pedals with modern anodized cranks, brakes and chain.
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 1985, 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.
Brakes are easy except for the handle. Cable and brake itself are pure old school low end. The challenge is the handle.
On my system I have 2 brakes. When I replaced the wheel I put on one with a coaster brake. Those are easier to find then a wheel without a coaster brake. The challenge is it is hard to lightly apply the brakes. Tend to skid.
The handle connects to the two bars on the bottom of the seat. I live in Canada and my brake cable and wheel assembly are from Canadian Tire.
The handle is going to require some construction. Either build a new base or find a way to connect a piece of handlebar under the seat for the brake to connect to. Here is a picture I took of my brake handle.
Eric – Looking forward to pictures of your restoration. Be sure to take apart the cranks and clean/grease. The chain is basic old school as are the pedals. The biggest recommendation on parts is family bike store. My skateboard truck and wheels were trash. I wrote several posts on replacing them and the challenge of bushings. Just read previous posts.
Eric sent a few before pix.
I made two improvements to the skate bike. First was replacing the old seat clamp. The old clamp was working fine but it was rusty and didn’t look very nice.
The second change is the addition of Chain Tugs. Chain tension is controlled by positioning the axle. The challenge is when you tighten the bolts the axle tends to move. A chain tug restricts the movement of the axle during tightening.
Thanks Myles at Spoke O’Motion for your help.
Next was reinstalling a rear hand brake. The brake handle worked even better on the Trek seat than on the original supplied seat. The front slope of the tubes provided a downward slope making for cleaner cable routing. I purchased a basic real caliper side-pull brake. The cable needed to be long enough to accommodate the seat raised to full height. In the pictures it is more in the position for me so there is extra bend.
To make my next ride more challenging I bought soccer collapsible marker cones. It was an idea I read in a unicycle book. The nice part is if I run over one it just flattens. I also bought a handlebar mount for the GoPro camera so can do shots with the camera attached to the frame. That should give an interesting perspective.
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.
My goal now is to try the bike this evening. It is 33o C (91F) right now. Too hot for me. Once the sun gets on the horizon it will cool down. Once I see how things work I can plan on the frame restoration.
Cleaned and polished the skate bike bottom bracket and cranks. From the beginning this was going to be the toughest part to replace. The bottom bracket (BB) is an old British/I.S.O. 1.370″ X 24 tpi threading with a shell width of 68 mm. The size on the spindle is listed as 3S but does not match any I can find. Fortunately the corrosion is not too bad. I wire brushed the parts. The most corrosion is on the locking ring which should not be hard to replace. I am going to mount them and use a grease finish to protect the raw metal. The skate bike will not be exposed to rain so the covering should provide the necessary protection.
British/I.S.O. 1.370″ X 24 tpi threading
Shell width of 68 mm
Spindle width: 147mm A: 42mm B: 53mm C: 52mm
Adjustable cup on the left, fixed on the right
Sprocket 36 teeth
In the mid 1980’s while shopping in Eaton Centre I spotted this SkateBike in Collegiate Sports. It was love at first sight and I bought it. After we moved to the country it got little use as we lived on a dirt road. For years it sat in my barn. Recently I pulled it out and set out to restore it.
This video shows the same model. One of the key issues is the seat post is only 200 mm long so unless you were a kid you could not get proper leg extension. Also the brake lever under the seat is a bit weird.
My bike is badly rusted and the tire cracked. I have been collecting up measurements to replace parts. Fortunately most of them are common. As I intend to actually use it I want to replace the wheel with a coaster brake one. The tire is 16×1.75 so finding a coaster brake unit should not pose a problem.
A longboard truck will work on the front. The included truck is an old-school mounting with 2.5″ holes front to back. Once I settle on the tire and truck/wheel I can select the appropriate riser thickness.
The biggest challenge is the cranks. The old bottom bracket is a common British/ISO unit but the cranks are only 100 mm long. The shortest unit I can find is 115 mm for BMX riding. You can see from the videos there is room for a longer crank and as I recall the short length makes for hard pedaling. This weekend I will investigate the bike parts. I may have to just restore the old BB/crank.