Published on January 13th, 2021 |
by Jo Borrás
January 13th, 2021 by Jo Borrás
2020 was a banner year for e-bikes, and 2021 is shaping up to be even better with launch after launch of desirable, electrified two-wheelers. Today, we’ll be looking at the latest e-bike entry from storied bike-builder LeMond. It’s called the Prolog, and it’s an ultralight, pedal-assist e-bike with some slick tech, a reasonably accessible price tag, and an unbelievably low, 26 lb. weight. Which — yeah, that’s just awesome.
One of the most common criticisms of modern e-bikes is weight. And, sure, the high-powered Ducatis and Pivots of the world do carry big motors and big batteries that have a bit of a domino effect on weight, but the new LeMond Prolog is different. Instead of posting massive, motorcycle-level torque figures and century rides worth of range, the LeMond is a smaller, 250W Mahle motor powered by a 36V Panasonic battery that’s integrated into the frame’s downtube. That frame, by the way, is made of carbon fiber, and that’s the real secret to the Prolog’s ultra low weight.
There is carbon fiber everywhere on this bike — the Prolog’s frame, fork, fenders, seat post, and monocoque (one-piece) handlebar-stem are all made of the stuff, which makes it very light and very rigid. Even the wheelset, developed in partnership with Munich Composites, is carbon. In addition to being super light, carbon fiber is also super expensive … or, it was. LeMond managed to pack all that carbon fiber goodness plus Shimano’s “revolutionary” Di2 shifting system into this bike for just $4,500.
That price speaks volumes to Greg LeMond’s decision to shutter his bike business back in 2016 in order to focus all of his efforts on his manufacturing process. After licensing his technology to Oak Ridge National Labs (ORNL), it seems the company is now — finally! — ready for the big time, and LeMond Composites has plans that are much bigger than bikes. “We can provide the advantages of our carbon fiber to many industries by improving strength, stiffness, and weight reduction. If you imagine replacing steel, aluminum, and fiberglass with our carbon fiber, you begin to understand the scope of the potential market,” said Connie Jackson, the CEO of LeMond Composites, in a 2016 interview. “Our process will have global applications and we are ready to move forward with scaling the technology.”
All of which is probably worth its own post, maybe. For now, though, let’s get back to the new LeMond Prolog.
The all-carbon bike is expected to start shipping to dealers next month. And, in addition to the exotic stuff it’s being made up, it will pack an always-on set of LED head and tail-lights, Shimano hydraulic disc brakes with internally routed cables, wires, and hoses, and the ability to support tubeless tires. Riders can enjoy up to 46 miles of range at 20 MPH using the lowest of three levels of electronic pedal-assistance, which are selected by an easy-to-use, top-tube mounted button.
That Di2 shifter is worth bringing up again, since so many e-bikes seem to struggle to get shifting “right.” My own experience with the chain-driven Mercedes-branded e-bikes from a few years ago kind of spoke to this, and I felt like the numerically lower gears being almost useless with the pedal assist. I also felt like the chain was missing or skipping gears a bit. Mercedes just bailed on chains altogether and switched to a belt drive in its newest EQs, but Shimano and LeMond seem to think they’ve solved the chain problems. From the Prolog’s launch site, “the revolutionary Di2 shifting system solves the challenges drive trains present to the power-delivery equation in (e)cycling,” they write. “Di2 gives you instant, accurate, lighting-fast shifts the first and every time, at the push of a button. Even in the most extreme conditions, shifting is precise and controlled. You can change gear even under heavy load while climbing or accelerating. With Di2, you are in complete control.” I’m hoping to get a chance to experience it for myself soon, now that the re-launch of LeMond is in full swing and new dealers are being signed up all the time.
So, you know — Greg, if you’re reading this, I’d love to ride one of these around Chicago and let you know what I think (wink-wink, nudge-nudge).
What about you guys? Does the LeMond’s ultra high-tech carbon fiber construction do it for you, or is $4500 still too much to ask for any e-bike, regardless of what it’s made of? Flip through the official photo gallery of the bike below, then let us know what you think of the reborn LeMond bike brand in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
LeMond Cycles Prolog E-Bike
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