Leon Lebeniste Le VALET Rack Review

May 16, 2012
by Mike Levy  
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 Le VALET rack can hold four bikes, with two on each side and hooks for helmets or other gear.<br><br><span style='font-size:17px'>Leon Lebeniste Le VALET details:</span><br><br>- Holds four bikes (<i>two on each side</i>)<br>- Bikes hang from their rear wheel and front triangle<br>- Multiple gear hooks (<i>helmets, gear bags ect</i>)<br>- 18mm Europly wood construction<br>- Tool free interlocking construction (<i>can also be screwed together</i>)<br>- Footprint: 31'' wide x 34'' deep<br>- Height: 89''<br>- Manufactured in Squamish, B.C.<br>-MSRP: $429.00 USD
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 Details

Four Bikes and Gear: 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''.

Leon Lebeniste rack
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.

Europly Plywood: 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.



Performance

Assembly: 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.

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.


Issues

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:
bigquotesThere 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


www.leonlebeniste.ca


67 Comments

  • + 102
 thanks for the design. i'll make it myself
  • + 3
 Me too Razz
  • + 9
 My Dad is too.
  • + 4
 On my way.
  • + 1
 I thought it was $3.99, then took a look again and realized it was $399.
4.bp.blogspot.com/-ParpNGnvIUo/T0aAyPB_mlI/AAAAAAAAEb0/lerbAyOwV6I/s400/flip-table-meme.png
  • + 36
 $3.99 for rubber hooks, outrageous!
  • + 34
 $429 for a sheet of 25mm ply and an hour or so with a jigsaw, ridiculous!
  • + 6
 Agreed, for that price, it should at least be solid wood.
  • + 2
 I think an hour is a little optimistic, so is a consistent fit with a hand held jigsaw. But $429 is still too steep for my budget.
  • + 21
 Cool design, crazy price. But I can imagine a Hipster sticking his fixie bikes on it...
  • + 4
 1st thing I thought Razz
  • + 11
 Yes, a SKILLED individual could make one for cheaper. However, keep in mind Leon has made dozens upon dozens of these, and made the tiny revisions along the way to refine the product. Chances are for most hacks (except for really good craftspersons and carpenters) you would hack up a bunch of wood, and end up with what looks like little Jimmie's grade 3 spice rack. It's not like you can just download the template. Probably take you the better part of a day or two after sourcing materials, designing, cutting, screwing up, starting again, fitting sanding, and finding out all the little challenges that Leon already has. Oh, and finishing, that takes a bit of time IF you want it to look nice. I seriously doubt any of the trollers are going to get off their butts and actually build one of these in a few hours. Just saying. Yes, the price may seem high for the materials, but that applies even moreso to things made of plastic. The value here is for some decent craftsmanship, the thought in the design, and having a nice looking wooden rack instead of hooks or something of metal or plastic. Personally, I'm a ghetto rubber coated hook guy, but I can see why some people might like it. Having seen the racks in real life, I found them quite stable, and much nicer to behold than a bunch of old hooks or pipes. I'll add this, Leon is a nice guy, he's supported local races here in Squamish, and a lot of people really like his work.
  • + 3
 Agreed with everything you said! You don't get more +props just because people don't read long comments...
  • + 13
 That price is insane. Looks like something you'd get from Ikea!
  • + 7
 I like it a lot. If I had the money, I'd buy it. If I only had a big enough appartment... and money. And fame. Geeez I need coffee.
  • + 3
 It looks nice BUT...
- price is to high
- no high adjustment - on my homemade wall mount rack I can put my 3 bikes (2.5m cell hight) and it take less space than this.
ps: last picture is photoshop or it's DH bike with 24" wheels? )))
  • + 1
 It's simply because you're looking down at it, the top bike is a bit closer and looks bigger. It kind of freaked me out a bit as well...
  • + 6
 well... i personally like it
  • + 2
 To those complaining about the price: do you even know how much 10-ply birch wood costs? You could make something similar yourself for $100ish but it would have to be much thicker pine or mdf that would fatigue over time. Not saying this is an ideal solution for everyone, but it looks beautiful and is about the price I would expect a full birchwood structure of this size to cost.

Plus I'm a little tired of giving all my money to Taiwan and China. This looks like a sweet rack for someone that has bike-porn-worthy bikes that they need displayed appropriately; so again, not for everyone.
  • + 2
 not practicle for many storage locations and looks more like something you would see as a display in a bike shop. Now, if I wanted to display my bikes in my living room by my fire place, I would use this rack. But then againm that price is killer high- build it less and customize it.
  • + 2
 This looks like a nice rack for a person who values aesthetics over practicality. For my family I would need 4 of them and it wouldn't make efficient use of my garage space. It looks to be a great rack for a Yuppy couple.
  • + 1
 Nice design. Yep, a bit overpriced but it looks very nicely finished. This would cost more in money and time to make than you might think.

I've got the Topeak pole and its been great, but its a different idea to this. The Topeak isn't free-standing, and requires you to press the pole up against the ceiling in order to give it stability (see here: www.topeak.com/products/StorageAndDisplay/Dual-TouchBikeStand). Not practical when in a garage with no ceiling for instance.

I've seen a few different free-standing designs, but this Leon Lebeniste looks the nicest so far.
  • + 2
 $429 is insane for a bike rack that my daughter can make in a wood shop class. How do manufacturers come up with these ridiculous prices?
  • + 1
 My old room mate had one in our garage, it took up way to much room and deffinitly wasnt the strongest piece of construction in our garage. Personally I wouldnt spend more than ten dollars on any kind of bike storage system.
  • + 1
 Topeak makes similar racks, in ALUMINIUM that cost less and are more stable. If this is sold as "art furniture" in high end stores...fine...but for actual mountain bikers... useless.
  • + 1
 Have you tried it?
  • + 1
 Without having tried the Topeak one, I do have to say that the Wood ones featured here are stable - really, really stable and that I use a 4 bike one daily with out issue. While it may be more than what you are willing to spend, there is a place for this product and it does look really good in a small apartment / living area.
  • - 1
 There is a lot of really over-priced shit in mountain biking... but this has to be among the most over-priced things I've ever seen. What amounts to $50-80 or so of wood and effort going for $430 is just absurd... You could hire a contractor to come in and build you a custom rack setup in your garage for $500... why would anyone pay nearly the same for this? "Pinkbikes take" is rediculous as well... It'd be much nicer to see an honest critique ratheron the lack of value in this product rather than what amounts to an advertising plug.
  • + 5
 I personally think that someone that has a garage is less likely to be looking at this product, but someone who is tight on space, lives in a nice apartment etc and wants something that does not "look cheap" and out of place to store their bikes might be best suited to this. Being someone that does not have bike storage in my place I like the idea of this style of rack (Topeak alumininum, Leon Wood ones) for my place. If I lived in nicer quarters, yep I'd want the Leon in my "bike area" as my carpet would be happier too and straight up they look good in person. Do we all need to ride boutique bikes? Nope, but if we can, why not, so same goes for any accessory in my opinion.
  • + 1
 That's a good point. For that type of situation, I agree... it's a nice idea. But for this product in particular, being made of plywood, the price is just way out of line with the end product in my mind. If it was made out of some 'real' wood, I could see the price being a bit more justified. Even with it being the nicer Europly though, you're still only talking about $100 a sheet for retail prices on the raw materials and I'm sure considerably less for someone who works with it on as large a scale as Lebeniste does... so, in my opinion, something like a $250 price tag would seem justified but nearly twice that just seems way out of line.
  • + 2
 leroy brown here probably has a plastic deck table in his dining room. Bit harsh don't you think? It's nice. Yeah, a skilled individual could make one, but it would take some hard work and Im certain the materials would be more than $50.
  • + 1
 LMAO... Actually, my dining room table is made of imported South American Bocote and cost more than most people make in a month... Not sure how that's at all relevant to the value of a plywood bike stand though.

If you're a fan of over-priced plywood creations, knock yourself out... buy two of these racks for all I care. Personally, I believe in getting value when you spend money. At most, the materials are $100 at consumer retail as that's definitely not more than a single sheet of Europly and it goes for $101 per sheet retail. For a producer like Lebeniste, he's probably getting it for something like $60-70 a sheet. From there, a machine is making a bunch of cuts and some minimum wage worker is packing it in a box to ship to you. So where exactly is all the cost coming from? Even if it was handmade and you figure $40hr for the time, it's still only maybe a $350 product at best.
  • + 1
 BBLB - Good point on the final price and I can accept that when breaking it all down. Still wish I had a garage though haha. As for your kitchen table I had to google South American Bocote, way fancier than the set up in my place man, nice work.
  • + 2
 I know what you mean... Finally having a garage was my favorite thing about buying a house, lol. And, unfortunately, I can't take credit on the table... that was an ex with a good eye for decorating, I just wrote the check. lol
  • + 6
 You guys aren't figuring in what this company spends in overhead and shop running costs, insurance for the workers, design costs, lacquer/poly finish, etc, all of which is a big financial burden. I'm a furniture/cabinet maker and have made similar products as this. Every day I have to deal with people who don't understand/can't justify costs incurred in putting together a seemingly simple piece such as this. This is made in Canada, by Canadians, not Asia. This guy is not making $350 profit per piece, believe me. Everyone has the prerogative to buy or not to buy. Although he does have a right to make profit, employ locals and stay buoyant, he could quite easily have this mass produced in Asia and sell it for $100, but that is not who this company is.
  • + 2
 i've used this rack before. It was way too wobbly and unstable for me to spend 450$ on.
  • + 1
 Have you? Where? How was it?
  • + 1
 They had them at the vancouver bike show. They look really good. but once you actually put a bike on it seems to have tons of play.
  • + 1
 Don't know what planet the price came from ! ...1 sheet of ply and a jig-saw ....£30 max...sorted ...thanks for the design ;o)
  • + 1
 I do like it.If i would have a milion $ and a nice house I would probably buy it.
Untill than i will look for cheaper products or I will built it my self.
  • + 1
 those wooden joints are just going to get slacker and slacker with use and cause it to be unstable
  • + 2
 This rack should be sold at IKEA.
I'm not spending $300 on this one.
  • + 1
 $300 would be a down payment.
  • + 2
 well i know what my next wood shop project is!
  • + 1
 nice!!!!........ but for the price i could make one similar for about 75 bucks and 4 hours of time great rack though!
  • + 1
 i cant imagine anyone other than a LBS buying that. ridiculous
  • + 1
 i agree with everyone else, beautiful, but the price, holy cowbells!
  • + 1
 looks like something one would buy at ikea
  • + 1
 I'll pass on the rack but I'd take the Chromag.
  • + 0
 lol this thing is a joke, give it a few months and it will start to rock and be un stable it made of wood. no thx.
  • + 0
 I'd buy it.... if it was maybe 75-100$... for 300$ I'd rather buy a jigsaw and make one myself.
  • - 1
 cool idea, but that price is comical. it probably takes 20 minutes to make with a CNC router,
  • + 6
 Is a CNC router cheap?
  • - 1
 They arent that expensive compared to a CNC mill... Plus once you've got your CNC code for it all you have to do is put in a sheet of their fancy plywood and return in bit.
  • + 4
 Yes this is correct, but you have to pay for your tools in any trade, it's like complaining to a carpenter that his hammer was inexpensive, so your house should not cost that much. You pay for a product that is quality and in this case is finished to a higher degree than a do it yourself shop project. While it's not for everyone, it is for some folks and those people will appreciate it in their homes.
  • - 2
 true, but once they've got a CNC, all they have to do is load the wood, wait a bit, bung it under a laser cutter for the etching, give it a coat of sealant (if it is sealed), and sell it for a profit. their only materials costs are wood and possibly sealant. there's no way that's $200 worth of wood. they're probably making $300 or so on each one.
  • + 2
 Ever wonder what a tube costs to make? I think you are trying to dig a little too deep into this, but that's the beauty of open discussions. There will always be products that someone sees more value in than others and if I lived in a sweet little place with limited storage, this is something that I'd consider.
  • + 2
 their pricing is very inflated. if I needed to store my bikes off the ground, I could buy 2 park PCS-10's and still have $100 left over. as well as having a stand with much more practical use.
  • + 1
 Good way to break it down man, I like your answer.
  • + 2
 Some people clearly don't understand the skills it takes to learn how to design and prototype a product in 3D let alone how to program a CNC machine its not something you can learn over night it takes years of studying at college. Not only that people need to take in to consideration the fact that its not just the materials of which are cover in the cost of the bike racks its also human resource, electric, insurance and the cost of the machine used to make these products of which cost $60,000+.
  • + 1
 to much dough
  • + 0
 wow**** now i have seen it all lmao
  • - 1
 thats sweet how much does it cost
  • + 2
 Maybe you should read
  • - 1
 cool

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