Technology

Cycling legend Greg LeMond on his new e-bikes, his failed partnership with Trek, and the future of cycling

It shouldn’t come as a shock, however electrical bikes can weigh a ton. It’s not unusual for an e-bike to tip the scales at 50 kilos or extra. Electrical cargo bikes are even heavier, topping out at 80–90 kilos. So for anybody searching for one thing extra in 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. Each are extraordinarily light-weight, which LeMond says comes from his need to buck the pattern of heavier (and normally extra highly effective) e-bikes.

“I really imagine in e-bikes and the way it will change individuals’s lives from a well being perspective,” LeMond informed me in an interview late final yr.

“I really imagine in e-bikes”

The frames of each bikes are made of carbon fiber, together with the forks, fenders, and seat posts. Relying 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 each day transportation or off-roading are likely to choose one thing stronger, like aluminum or titanium. Additionally, carbon is costlier to fabricate, which normally ends in greater costs for customers. However LeMond has his personal carbon fiber enterprise, LeMond Carbon, which shares some workers with his bike firm.

LeMond’s new e-bikes are undeniably enticing — that pink paint job is so winsome, I actually like it — however are in all probability not what many individuals would anticipate from the two-time Street Race World Championship winner (1983 and 1989) and three-time Tour de France champ (1986, 1989, and 1990).

Grid View

For one, they’re not drop bar-sporting speedsters designed for doing circuits at the velodrome. Fairly, 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 electrical drivetrains for Specialised and a bunch of different bike firms.

That doesn’t imply there gained’t be any racing bikes in future lineups, the cycling champ stated. “We nonetheless are popping out with efficiency bikes,” LeMond stated. “We aren’t getting away from my DNA, however that’s going to play in all probability a secondary function with our e-bikes.”

As the solely American to win the Tour de France without the use of performance-enhancing drugs, LeMond is taken into account by many to be amongst the best American cyclists of all time. He’s undeniably one of the nice all-around cyclists of the fashionable period and an icon of the sport’s world reputation.

Greg LeMond is taken into account to be amongst the best American cyclists of all time.Picture courtesy of Greg LeMond

LeMond Process 1

Greg LeMond and his son Geoff working on the design of their new e-bikes.Picture courtesy of Greg LeMond

LeMond first encountered electrical bikes seven years in the past when a pal from the Netherlands who works for Japanese bike producer SunTour let him take a look at out some of the firm’s electrical motors. The expertise, he stated, was “transformational.”

“The one factor that comes near being like a bionic particular person, you already know,” LeMond stated. “The Six Million Greenback Man.”

The Prolog (pronounced like “prologue”) was initially slated for a February 2021 launch however didn’t find yourself delivery till late March. At 26 kilos (11.8 kg), the Prolog finds itself in the similar class as Gogoro’s equally light-weight Eeyo 1S — and it’s going to fall in that upper-tier value bracket as nicely, 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 in the yr.

With the LeMond identify emblazoned on the aspect, the efficiency is clearly a prime consideration. The Prolog’s motor kicks out 40nm of torque, which is lower than the 60nm of torque offered by the Brose S Magazine motors on the equally priced Serial 1 e-bikes from Harley-Davidson, however greater than the 20nm torque offered by the Eeyo 1S’s 250W Smartwheel motor (though Gogoro claims its Smartwheel really places out 50nm).

The bike has a prime velocity of 20 mph, because of a 36-volt / 250-watt energy provide

The bike has a prime 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 increase delivered will 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’s a vary of add-ons that may make the bike fancier and costlier. You may 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 variety extender ($700).

The bike has a really clear look, with all the wiring fed by means of the body. There might be three body sizes: small, medium, and giant. And each bikes have built-in lighting in the entrance and rear that feed off the inside battery.

LeMond Process 4

“I spent eight years defending myself,” LeMond stated.Picture courtesy of Greg LeMond

LeMond launched his first bike firm in 1986, and since then, his profession as an entrepreneur has been a bit of a rollercoaster trip. In accordance with Bicycling journal, that is at the moment the fourth iteration of LeMond Bicycles. One earlier model was a licensing deal with Trek that ended poorly, with Trek asking a federal court docket to dissolve its partnership with LeMond citing “inconsistent enterprise 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 “actually tried to destroy my enterprise, which they did. They put me out of enterprise.” That stated, he stated he needs he had dealt with the Trek partnership in another way. “I spent eight years defending myself. My solely remorse was not slicing ties a lot sooner and then as an alternative of defending myself, hoping to restore a relationship, I might have gone on my very own,” he stated. “As a substitute of being in a defensive mode, I might have been in an offensive mode, constructing one thing moderately than making an attempt to guard one thing that in all probability wasn’t going to promote anyway.”

He continued, “This was all a method for Trek to type of principally paint me as a nasty enterprise particular person, and that caught. It’s unhappy, however individuals could have their very own opinion.”

“This was all a method for Trek to type of principally paint me as a nasty enterprise particular person, and that caught.”

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 gained’t be any totally different. He hopes to additionally add a manufacturing line in Sweden, whereas some of the parts, like the lights, fenders, and baskets, might be manufactured in Tennessee. Ultimately, the objective is to have manufacturing traces up and operating in three continents: the US, Europe, and Asia.

“I don’t wish to communicate too fast, however we’re going to convey some superb issues up in the subsequent 12 months,” he stated. “These are made by us. This isn’t an outsourced deal.”

LeMond insisted that every one of the velocity bumps he has hit in his post-racing life have been extraordinarily minor. “The onerous half for me is I’m not only a particular person; I’m a enterprise,” 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 in the rearview — and e-bikes, he stated, are the future of cycling.

“We’re actual,” he stated. “For actual. We’re not simply advertising and marketing or graphic design, which most firms are. Some are simply outsource firms. We are actually assembling issues. We’re making these bikes.”

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