Napier Lopez is a writer based in New York City. He's interested in all things tech, science, and photography related, and likes to yo-yo in Napier Lopez is a writer based in New York City. He's interested in all things tech, science, and photography related, and likes to yo-yo in his free time. Follow him on Twitter.
Aesthetics are supposedly subjective, but I’ll be darned if LeMond’s new ebikes aren’t the most beautiful electric bikes I’ve ever ridden.
If you’re into cycling, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of the name Greg LeMond. With his racing days behind him, the three-time Tour de France winner has a couple of forays into making ‘acoustic’ bikes, but the most recent iteration of LeMond Bikes go the electrified route — in style.
The company currently has two models, the ‘Dutch’ and ‘Prolog,’ the former being an upright city bike and the latter sporting a more aggressive hybrid frame. Both models are constructed from carbon fiber — a material LeMond helped popularize for use in bicycle frames.
As one would hope for their $4,500 price tag, these are completely original frames, not just off-the-shelf parts. The frame, fork, and the combined handlebar/stem are all feature monocoque carbon fiber construction. The seatpost, fenders, and even the proprietary (and optional) racks and baskets are all made for carbon fiber too.
This allows both bikes to weigh just 27 lb (12.25 kg). That’s lighter than any ebike I’ve tested, and much of that weight is simply taken up by the motor and battery, a Mahle X35 rear hub system with the battery integrated into the downtube. For reference, most ebikes are in the 50-70 lb range, and remarkably few weigh in at under 40 lb.
More than just being gentle on the weight scale, the custom carbon frames, let these bikes look like nothing else out there. There are no nasty welds and few seams. I love the way the headlight is integrated into the handlebars, and the taillights are visible from the seat stays. I also dig the matte finishes, and I really love the pastel pink of the Prolog model I tested.
If I had one of these bikes, I’d want to mount it on a wall to display as artwork, not tuck it away in my basement. I even managed to garner a compliment on my demo bike in just 30 minutes of riding.
And what a fun little ride that was. I knew the bike was light going into the test drive, but I was still amazed to lift the bike in person. Maneuvering both bikes down a Manhattan greenway was a markedly different experience to the ebikes I’m used to riding, nimble and agile while being surprisingly comfortable too, especially on the Dutch model.
I won’t deny the possibility of placebo, but the carbon frame seemed to absorb the few bumps I came across better than the heavy metal ebike frames I’ve ridden, especially among those with 700c tires. Despite this, the bikes also felt reassuringly sturdy, even as someone over 250 lb.
The LeMond bikes ‘only’ have a 250W motor, but I don’t mind sacrificing some power for a lighter bike. It makes ebikes easier to live with; you can fit them on regular wall and car racks, you can bring them up several flights of stairs or down to the subway.
In any case, these are pedal-assist bikes with no throttle option, and in my brief ride with both models, it had no problem moving me around. The bikes feature a torque sensor and thus know when they need to provide more power, as opposed to just offering a fixed amount of power based on your assist level as on some lesser bikes.
The Mahle system here is proven and offers smooth power delivery. Some might not like the lack of a proper display — all your interactions basically happen through a single button on the top tube surrounded by an LED ring — but I appreciate the minimalism. There is an app though, if you’re into that kind of thing, and I appreciate that the system supports range extender batteries too.
There’s just one obvious caveat to having as nice ebikes as these: you’ll be paranoid about them getting stolen in any kind of an urban environment. There’s no attempt at a security or theft-recovery system as you’d have on say, a VanMoof. At $4,500, this is a bike you’ll probably want to get insurance for if you actually plan to ride it for anything other than leisure.
And of course, that price tag immediately invalidates these bikes as options for many more casual cyclists. If you want something more in the 33-35 lb range, the Tenways C-GO 600 and Ride1Up Roadster are fantastic options. Also there isn’t a kickstand (or mounts for one) on these bikes, which just seems silly at this price. I get that some people like their bikes to look extra clean, but the Dutch, at least, seems to have some everyday cargo aspirations. I don’t think you’d have much fun trying to load groceries with your bike leaning against a wall.
That’s nitpicking though. The LeMond Prolog and Dutch show ebikes can be as lightweight as an acoustic bike while taking ebike aesthetics to new heights with a stunning yet familiar design.
The company has more models coming — including a road bike later this summer. I hope to get a chance to put LeMond’s ebikes through more extensive testing in the future. In the meantime, you can read more about the bikes over at LeMond’s site; the bikes are currently available to order, though be warned that there’s a wait time of 8-10 weeks at the moment.
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