It shouldn’t come as a shock, however electric bikes can weigh a ton. It’s not unusual for an e-bike to tip the scales at 50 kilos or extra. Electric cargo bikes are even heavier, topping out at 80–90 kilos. So for anybody on the lookout for one thing extra within the flyweight class, right here comes three-time Tour de France champion Greg LeMond with a good-looking new lineup of battery-powered bikes.
LeMond unveiled his first two fashions earlier this yr: there’s the high-step body Prolog and the extra accessible Dutch with a step-thru body. Both are extraordinarily light-weight, which LeMond says comes from his need to buck the development of heavier (and often extra highly effective) e-bikes.
“I truly believe in e-bikes and how it will change people’s lives from a health perspective,” LeMond instructed me in an interview late final yr.
The frames of each bikes are made from carbon fiber, together with the forks, fenders, and seat posts. Depending on your opinion about carbon fiber, that is both actually nice or merely okay. Racing fans love carbon fiber bikes, whereas riders who use their bikes for every day transportation or off-roading are inclined to want one thing stronger, like aluminum or titanium. Also, carbon is dearer to fabricate, which often leads to larger costs for customers. But LeMond has his personal carbon fiber enterprise, LeMond Carbon, which shares some workers with his bike firm.
LeMond’s new e-bikes are undeniably engaging — that pink paint job is so winsome, I actually like it — however are most likely not what many individuals would anticipate from the two-time Road Race World Championship winner (1983 and 1989) and three-time Tour de France champ (1986, 1989, and 1990).
For one, they’re not drop bar-sporting speedsters designed for doing circuits on the velodrome. Rather, LeMond is taking goal at city dwellers who desire a sturdy e-bike to assist get them round a metropolis however who additionally may have to hold their bike up and down a flight of steps and don’t wish to get weighed down by a cumbersome battery and motor. These are metropolis bikes with built-in batteries and rear-hub motors from Mahle, a German automotive provider that additionally makes electric drivetrains for Specialized and a number of different bike corporations.
That doesn’t imply there received’t be any racing bikes in future lineups, the biking champ stated. “We still are coming out with performance bikes,” LeMond stated. “We are not getting away from my DNA, but that’s going to play probably a secondary role with our e-bikes.”
As the one American to win the Tour de France with out using performance-enhancing medication, LeMond is taken into account by many to be among the many best American cyclists of all time. He is undeniably one of many nice all-around cyclists of the fashionable period and an icon of the game’s international recognition.
LeMond first encountered electric bikes seven years in the past when a good friend from the Netherlands who works for Japanese bike producer SolarTour let him check out a number of the firm’s electric motors. The expertise, he stated, was “transformational.”
“The only thing that comes close to being like a bionic person, you know,” LeMond stated. “The Six Million Dollar Man.”
The Prolog (pronounced like “prologue”) was initially slated for a February 2021 launch however didn’t find yourself transport till late March. At 26 kilos (11.8 kg), the Prolog finds itself in the identical class as Gogoro’s equally light-weight Eeyo 1S — and it’ll fall in that upper-tier value bracket as effectively, with a value beginning at $4,500. (Like I stated, carbon fiber ain’t low-cost.) The Dutch, with its low-step body and mustache-shaped handlebars, will come out later within the yr.
With the LeMond identify emblazoned on the aspect, the efficiency is clearly a high consideration. The Prolog’s motor kicks out 40nm of torque, which is lower than the 60nm of torque supplied by the Brose S Mag motors on the equally priced Serial 1 e-bikes from Harley-Davidson, however greater than the 20nm torque supplied by the Eeyo 1S’s 250W Smartwheel motor (though Gogoro claims its Smartwheel really places out 50nm).
The bike has a high velocity of 20 mph, because of a 36-volt / 250-watt energy provide, which is fed by a nonremovable 250 watt-hour battery. The quantity of enhance delivered might be adjusted with three ranges of energy help. The cranks, derailleurs, chainrings, and brakes are from Shimano. The bikes roll on 30cm Panaracer GravelKing Slick+ tires and Token aluminum rims.
There is a spread of add-ons that can make the bike fancier and dearer. You can add Shimano Di2 digital shifting ($800), LeMond carbon rims laced to Tune hubs ($1,800), a entrance basket ($185), a rear rack ($185), fenders ($185), and a spread extender ($700).
The bike has a really clear look, with all of the wiring fed by the body. There can be three body sizes: small, medium, and enormous. And each bikes have built-in lighting within the entrance and rear that feed off the inner battery.
LeMond launched his first bike firm in 1986, and since then, his profession as an entrepreneur has been a little bit of a rollercoaster trip. According to Bicycling journal, that is at the moment the fourth iteration of LeMond Bicycles. One earlier model was a licensing cope with Trek that ended poorly, with Trek asking a federal court docket to dissolve its partnership with LeMond citing “inconsistent business dealings.” LeMond responded by suing Trek, which the Wisconsin-based firm characterised as containing false and irresponsible allegations. A spokesperson for Trek didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.
For his half, LeMond claimed that Trek “literally tried to destroy my business, which they did. They put me out of business.” That stated, he stated he needs he had dealt with the Trek partnership in another way. “I spent eight years defending myself. My only regret was not cutting ties much sooner and then instead of defending myself, hoping to repair a relationship, I would have gone on my own,” he stated. “Instead of being in a defensive mode, I would have been in an offensive mode, building something rather than trying to protect something that probably wasn’t going to sell anyway.”
He continued, “This was all a strategy for Trek to kind of basically paint me as a bad business person, and that stuck. It’s sad, but people will have their own opinion.”
The unique plan for his new enterprise was to fabricate the e-bikes out of a 65,000-square-foot facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, however that plan seems to be on maintain. Most e-bikes are inbuilt China, and initially, LeMond’s bikes received’t be any totally different. He hopes to additionally add a manufacturing line in Sweden, whereas a number of the parts, just like the lights, fenders, and baskets, can be manufactured in Tennessee. Eventually, the objective is to have manufacturing traces up and working in three continents: the US, Europe, and Asia.
“I don’t want to speak too quick, but we are going to bring some amazing things up in the next 12 months,” he stated. “These are made by us. This is not an outsourced deal.”
LeMond insisted that the entire velocity bumps he has hit in his post-racing life have been extraordinarily minor. “The hard part for me is I’m not just a person; I’m a business,” he stated. “So there’s been some contractual disputes… and that’s it.”
This new enterprise, and these new bikes, supply an opportunity at redemption for LeMond. His racing profession is within the rearview — and e-bikes, he stated, are the way forward for biking.
“We’re real,” he stated. “For real. We’re not just marketing or graphic design, which most companies are. Some are just outsource companies. We are literally assembling things. We are making these bikes.”