BIKE REVIEW: LEMOND PROLOG ROAD BIKE
America’s Tour de France champion makes an electric comeback
Most people know of Greg LeMond as an American professional cyclist who won the Tour de France three times, and some would consider him the greatest American cyclist of all time. In addition to winning two World Championship titles, LeMond won his first Tour in 1986 and then two more times after nearly dying from a hunting accident. But what you may not know is that beyond his racing success, Greg has always been an entrepreneur who has a bicycle company, as well as interests in restaurants, real estate and consumer fitness equipment.
It was in the 1991 Tour de France that Greg made history when he and his Team Z teammates rode carbon fiber bikes (built by Craig Calfee) that were branded as LeMond bikes. When the eponymous bike brand faltered, it was swooped up by Trek Bicycles for a 13-year run that ended acrimoniously owing to conflicts over Lance Armstrong who, at the time, was selling boatloads of bikes for the Wisconsin bike brand.
“The LeMond’s ride is sublime with a power delivery that is so natural that you sometimes wonder if it’s turned on.”
After parting ways with Trek, Greg went about pursuing a variety of other business interests, and it wasn’t until the 2019 Eurobike show in Germany when we bumped into him (in the e-bike pavilion) that we had our first inclination that Greg was planning another comeback.
Although Greg’s name has always been associated with pro-level, drop-bar road bikes, his latest comeback is focused (at least for now) on a pair of bikes intended for recreational riders. Both the Prolog and the (step-through frame) Dutch put carbon fiber to good use for the frame, fork and handlebars. The monocoque handlebar/stem combo integrates a 500-lumen headlight as well. Rear lights are on the seat stays and set at about a 45-degree angle to allow for visibility from the back as well as the sides.
The forks and seat stays have bosses and bolts for optional fenders. The overall look is incredibly modern and clean with just a couple of exposed cables up in front that quickly disappear into the stem.
Our test bike was the standard model that was built with a Shimano GRX drivetrain, but there is an optional Shimano Di2 electronic shifting upgrade that comes with a Shimano display for an additional $800. There is also a wheelset upgrade to LeMond’s carbon LC30 wheels (the stock wheels are aluminum). It was developed in a partnership with Munich Composites and paired with a German-made front hub by Tune. The wheels come with a lifetime guarantee and a crash replacement plan, which for the extra $1800 they add to the price of the bike they should!
LeMond chose the 250-watt Mahle X35+ rear hub system that weighs in at 2.1 kilograms and puts out up to 40 N/m of torque to get you going. There’s virtually zero drag when you go above its 20-mph top assist speed.
The battery is non-removable and integrated into the downtube. It’s a mere 250 Wh, which actually should be enough to get you where you’re going. Another option is the $700 range-extender external battery that will increase your range by 70 percent (it adds 208 Wh).
The stock display is the iWoc 1, a simple button with LEDs that is mounted on the top of the top tube and changes color depending on the mode selected and battery life. If it’s solid white, you have 70-plus-percent battery left; if it’s green, you have 50–70 percent; if it’s orange, you have between 25–50 percent; and if it’s red, you have less than 25 percent; and if it’s flashing red, you’re under 15 percent.
WHO IT’S MADE FOR
The Prolog is a commuter/touring bike that has the added utility of carbon fiber racks as an option, making it a solid choice for commuting, running errands or simply enjoying the great outdoors on a really well-designed and sharp-looking bicycle.
Aside from being wowed by the Prolog’s effervescent pink finish and overall contemporary aesthetic, it was the weight, or rather the lack of weight, that was most impressive. Rolling at just 26 pounds, the Prolog was a welcome relief when it came to lifting the bike onto a rack or up some stairs.
It’s obvious that Greg LeMond certainly appreciates great bike aesthetics, and both the Prolog and Dutch have a certain European look to them. Save for the tiny rear hub motor and on/off/mode button on the top tube, there’s nothing that makes the bike look like an electric bike.
The ride is sublime, and power delivery is so natural that you sometimes wonder if it’s on. It comes on almost gradually, giving you what you ask of it, never surprising you. The bike overall feels like a truly high-quality bike, rivaling bikes we’ve had that cost more than twice as much. It rolls so effortlessly and smoothly.
“The LeMond Prolog is a bike that we could almost run out of superlatives in describing, and it has easily made our list of bikes that are in the running for our Bike of the Year honors.”
If you’re already used to riding an e-bike, you’ll be surprised at how light this bike is. If you’ve never ridden an e-bike, you’ll be surprised how intuitive the system is and how it makes you feel like a more powerful rider. You can use all the assist to not get sweaty on the way to work or use it little or none to get in a better workout. The motor is powerful enough to flatten most hills, and you can shift to lower gears to help with that. It’s a 1×11 setup, with a 1:1 ratio at the low end (42T-42T). There was no hill too steep that couldn’t be easily climbed on the Prolog.
You can change the power-assist level by pressing the button multiple times. If the light flashes white when you press it, the system is on but you have zero assist. If it flashes green when you press it, it’s at assist level 1. Flashing orange shows level 2 and flashing red is level 3 assist.
We really like the simplicity of this system. While it does allow riders to concentrate on the ride, instead of watching a display, as we’ve found on previous bikes using the Mahle system, detecting the display color can be difficult in the sunlight, so we’d advise setting the power mode while at a stop. Of course, you can also use the app to get a plethora of added information.
The LeMond Prolog is a bike that we could almost run out of superlatives in describing, and it has easily made our list of bikes that are in the running for our Bike of the Year honors. If you’re looking for a good-looking commuter bike with enough range to get you to the office and back or just around town that offers pedal assist with outstanding fit and finish for a truly good price, then the Prolog is definitely worth a look.
Price: $4500 (base model as tested)
Frame: Carbon fiber
Fork: Carbon fiber
Motor: Mahle X35+ rear hub motor, 250W
Battery: Integrated Mahle 36V, 245Wh
Controls: Mahle iWoc
Charge time: 3 hours
Top speed: 20 mph (Class 1)
Range: 15-40 miles
Rear derailleur: Shimano GRX or optional GRX Di2 Shadow RD+
Chain: Shimano 11-speed super narrow Hyperglide e-specific
Brakes: Shimano Deore XT M8000 hydraulic disc brakes
Saddle: Selle Royale Lift
Rims: Token G23AR Prime
Hubs: Token D1
Tires: LeMond/Panaracer Gravelking slick+ 700x38mm
Weight: 26 pounds, 14 ounces
Color choices: Blanc, Noir, Rosa
Sizes: Small (4’11”-5’5”) Medium (5’5”-5’10”), Large (5’10-6’5”)