Leon Lebeniste’s workshop is located in the mountain bike-centric town of Squamish, British Columbia, smack dab between Whistler and North Vancouver. The Leon Lebeniste name might be new to many, but they are well known for their high-end furniture design and fabrication, and are looking to make a name for themselves with their new line of bike storage racks. Leon Lebeniste manufactures three different racks to meet differing needs: their Le FRERE model
retails for $299 USD and holds two bikes, and their $399.00 USD Le GARDE
holds four bikes with a front loading layout. The rack that we've used the most, though, is the $429.00 USD, four bike Le VALET
tested below. Like all of the Leon Lebeniste racks, it is made from multi-layer Europly wood and has been designed to be easily assembled without tools.
The Details Four Bikes and Gear:
|The Le VALET rack can hold four bikes, with two on each side and hooks for helmets or other gear.|
Leon Lebeniste Le VALET details:
- Holds four bikes (two on each side)
- Bikes hang from their rear wheel and front triangle
- Multiple gear hooks (helmets, gear bags ect)
- 18mm Europly wood construction
- Tool free interlocking construction (can also be screwed together)
- Footprint: 31'' wide x 34'' deep
- Height: 89''
- Manufactured in Squamish, B.C.
- MSRP: $429.00 USD
The Le VALET is the largest of the three racks in Leon Lebeniste's lineup, offering space for four bikes. It is both front and rear loading, with two bikes stacked vertically on each side to make adding or removing them easy, as well as allowing for an unobstructed view of each bike - ideal as a shop display rack. There are eight bike holding hooks in total, each shaped to cradle the rear wheel and front triangle of the bike, while the gear hooks utilize two different profiles to hold onto backpack straps, helmets, or anything else that you might want to hang from them. The design employs two vertical sections that are tied together by twin stringers at the bottom, along with two main horizontal sections that also provide the anchor points for each bike hook. This creates a freestanding structure with a height of 89'' and a footprint of 31'' x 34''.
Vertical slots on each piece (top left) allow them to lock together. Hooks on each side of the rack (top right) create a convient spot to hang gear.
All three of Leon Lebeniste's racks are manufactured from a type of plywood known as Europly, a multi-layer mix of 60% imported Polish birch and 40% alder core that is claimed to be void free (which allows it to be easily machined to shape
) and very sturdy. The hardwood plywood also carries a Forest Stewardship Council ecolabel that signifies its origins from a well managed forest that takes environmental sensitivity in account, and is completely formaldehyde free.Interlocking Construction:
The Le VALET rack comes in seventeen different pieces, with each piece mating to its neighbour via interlocking slots that join together. Assembly involves pushing each wooden section through its corresponding slot and then sliding the section down to lock it in to place. Both the gear hook and the bike hook arms mesh in a way that prevents them from shifting, but still allows the rack to be taken apart easily. The entire unit can be secured together with supplied hardware as well.
Each rack section slides into place, interlocking with the section next to it.
The rack comes comes unassembled, requiring you to put the pieces together. The Le VALET is made up of seventeen different sections - that may sound complicated, but building the rack is quite simple. We started by connecting the upright sections together with the two lower stringers and the two main cross members that span between them. This gives you a freestanding structure to work with, and then you can install the smaller bike and gear hook sections that also serve to lock the cross members into place. The pieces come together easily for the most part, but a few sections did require some tapping with a rubber mallet in order to fully seat them. It also includes a package of screws that allows users to screw the separate sections together, although we were told that this is entirely optional. All things considered, any Le VALET owner should be able to assemble the rack, without much trouble, in about five minutes.
The Le VALET provides a place to let your stink gear air out.
In The Garage: The Le VALET's 31'' x 34'' footprint creates a very stable structure that makes us believe that it would take a large earthquake to tip over, and even loading the heaviest downhill bike onto the upper hooks won't bother it. When not loaded with bikes, though, it is still light enough that it can be moved around the room with a little bit of effort, although the 89'' height makes it a bit unwieldy to do so - build the Le VALET in the location that you plan to use it.Issues
Loading bikes couldn't be easier, with hooks that hold each one by its rear wheel and from under the down tube and head tube junction. The hooks are thin enough to easily fit between the rear wheel's spokes, and any shape or size of bike seems to be able to fit well. The hooks themselves don't feature any foam or rubber padding, but their wooden construction won't leave any marks on the frame or rim contact points over time. The separate gear hooks are also quite handy, providing a good place to hang not only helmets and bags, but also shoes and jackets that need to be dried out after a wet and muddy ride.
It is clear to us that a lot of thought and effort have gone in to the Leon Lebeniste rack, but there are a few quirks that we should mention as well. The fit of a few pieces was tight enough that we resorted to a rubber mallet to get them together and apart, defeating the purpose of it being easily collapsible, although Louis at Leon Lebeniste tells us that all rack pieces are now 0.15mm thinner. This change should eliminate the tight fight that we experienced. We also found that bikes with short stems ended up with their handlebar making contact with the rack's upright pillar - not a deal breaker by any means, but it will be annoying if all of your bikes are fitted with short stems and wide bars. In the same vein, certain bike combinations required us to lower the bottom bike's seat to keep it from making contact with the top bike. The fitting issues above are a symptom of the many, many different shapes and sizes of bicycles, though, and you may not have the same bothers.Pinkbike's take:
|There are less expensive bike organizing solutions than the Leon Lebeniste racks, and it clearly isn't for those who prefer to use $3.99, rubber coated hooks to hang their bikes from their rear wheels, but we have to admire the Le VALET's design and wooden construction. The $429.00 USD rack tested above will likely be more than many need, but the $299.00 USD Le FRERE model is just the ticket for riders who need to corral two bikes in an apartment or garage.- Mike Levy|