Hourglass

LeMond road bikes are back, but there are more questions than answers

LeMond Bikes returned to the high-performance road bike market a few days ago with the low-key announcement of the LeMond 8 – a tribute to Greg LeMond’s historic eight-second victory over Laurent Fignon in the 1989 Tour de France – and it’s certainly looking to tick all the boxes for a modern flagship road race bike.

It’s made of carbon fiber and features an aerodynamic shape designed to cut through the air efficiently. It is disc brake only. It has clearance for 700c road tires up to 32mm wide. There’s an integrated one-piece carbon fiber bar and stem in multiple sizes with fully internal cable routing.

A one-piece bar and stem combo, plus internal cable routing. Sure.

There are also a number of intriguing features that set the LeMond 8 apart.

On the one hand, there’s the brand’s MatrixCore composite construction method, which uses expanding foam inside the frame and fork instead of disposable preforms or inflatable bladders to smash the carbon fibers forward. exterior against the mold for what the company describes as “a carbon fiber top ply.” consolidation.” LeMond says the foam also dampens vibration for a noticeably smooth ride quality.

The tapered head tube features a new X-shaped internal truss arrangement which, along with the expanding structural foam, supposedly provides enough strength and stiffness that there’s no need for a plug conventional compression. The threads for the preload cap bolt are even cast directly into the steerer, so no matter how it’s cut, it’s always ready to assemble with no additional parts needed.

The head tube features an internal lattice structure and is filled with expanding structural foam.

Interestingly, these preload cap threads are carbon fiber. In reality, all LeMond 8 wires are carbon fiber; there is supposedly no metal in the frame or fork. The threads for the T47 threaded bottom bracket? Carbon fiber. The replaceable rear derailleur hanger? Also in carbon fiber – and it’s only offered direct fit for Shimano drivetrains.

All of this is done at LeMond Bikes headquarters in Knoxville, Tennessee, with no international outsourcing. Frame reliability is apparently a prime guideline here too, with the company boldly claiming to offer “some of the strongest and most secure frames in the world.”

These bikes are further distinguished by the frame geometry, which uses a proportional chainstay length for each of the eight stock sizes, starting at 405mm for the 47cm and up to 430mm for the 62cm. Otherwise, the 54mm track is what you’d expect from a fast-handling road race bike, and the battery and reach figures are also what you’d expect. On the contrary, they are perhaps a little too big for a road racing bike (although I would say they are more in line with what everyday cyclists really need).

Up top, the flat-back, aerofoil carbon fiber seatpost is hardly revolutionary. However, LeMond says the unique geometry of the clamp reduces the chance of damage compared to more traditional clamp designs, and there’s also a channel in the back of the post for a range of accessories to pop out like lights and bags.

The whole bike is even cost-competitive (meaning it’s just as ridiculously expensive as other high-end road bikes these days). A complete bike with a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset and LeMond-branded carbon wheels built around Tune hubs will take US$12,500 / £11,400 / €13,900 out of your wallet. Want to DIY with just a frameset? It will be US$8,500 / £7,800 / €9,500. Australian prices are to be confirmed.

The bike looks good, if somewhat derivative.

The expected delivery date is July 2022, with “priority given to complete bike orders and/or receipt of full payment”. Customers who only paid the respective $9,500 or $6,000 deposits for the complete bikes or the frameset apparently have to wait a bit longer.

big projects

LeMond has risen from the ashes for the first time with a pair of rather striking electric-assist urban bikes – the Prolog and the Dutchman – and with the addition of the LeMond 8 it’s shaping up to be a somewhat eclectic mix.

LeMond Bikes clearly has growing performance aspirations, however, as the road bike product page also hints at an upcoming aero gravel bike, a second-generation LeMond 8 road bike, additional LeMond wheels and LeMond components in additional carbon fiber that will be developed “over the next 3-4 years.”

LeMond also offers branded carbon fiber wheels, though it’s unclear if the company makes the rims in-house or outsources them.

There’s even a Team LeMond membership program that’s included with the purchase of a LeMond 8. What do you get with that membership, you wonder?

“As a member of the LeMond team, you will have exclusive access to annual private rides with Greg and his team – in Europe and the United States – free entry to cycling events and early access to new products that LeMond develops, even helping us to evaluate and test new products.

“In addition, Team LeMond members will receive annual cycling kits, including jerseys, shorts and socks, and quarterly interviews with Greg via Zoom.

“Our goal is to create unique and extraordinary experiences that will last a lifetime.”

The lines of the fork harmonize well with the hourglass-shaped head tube.

LeMond team members also get 50% off all future products mentioned above, all of which are designed to keep people firmly in the LeMond ecosystem for years to come.

Why should you be interested in being part of this community? LeMond Bikes apparently sells a philosophy, not just a bike, with that philosophy apparently being defined by a number of questions:

Why is it done this way?

Why is it made this way?

Why can’t we do things differently?

Why can’t we do better?

We like to ask these questions.

so many questions

Turns out I have quite a few questions myself.

This expected delivery date of July 2022 looks promising as there are only four months left. However, if you look closely, all images on the site are computer renderings and not photographs of the actual product. With the announced initial delivery date fast approaching, aren’t there any physical prototypes?

And what about the frame itself? The web page is hopelessly devoid of concrete information. How much does it weigh? How is it made? Is it actually aero or does it just look aero?

When it comes to frame construction, it can’t be ignored that sister company LeMond Composites made a big deal in 2016 about a new method of carbon fiber production which was supposed to significantly reduce the cost of composite bikes. Does the LeMond 8 use this technology? Maybe, but if so, why is it still so expensive?

How are these carbon threads constructed, anyway? Are they cut after molding or are they molded in place? Are they strong enough? How tolerant are they of over-torque, especially compared to various metallic threads?

How exactly does LeMond make the carbon fiber threaded bits? Your guess is as good as mine right now.

If you’d rather not run a completely internal cable route, the webpage mentions an external option, but doesn’t show it to you. What does it look like ? Likewise, there’s an option for a separate bar and stem if you prefer (or if one of the four built-in sizes doesn’t work for you). Is this a standard handlebar clamp shape and diameter? Is it still compatible with all-internal routing? If so, what type of bar is needed?

Make no mistake; I am very, very excited to have this bike announced. In fact, one of my favorite road bikes was a steel and carbon LeMond Maillot Jaune – so much so that years after foolishly selling it years ago, I recently bought a Maillot Jaune frame instead used to correct this error, and I’m still on the hunt for an old all-titanium LeMond. I’ve always subscribed to the versatile geometry philosophy of LeMond’s stage race frame, and I’ve also always been a fan of the brand’s focus on ride quality and handling over weight. and numbers.

In short, yes, I’m dying to see — and ride! – one of these new LeMond 8 bikes. But this cryptic version unfortunately leaves me quite perplexed, and several days after sending a request to the company, I still have not received answers to my questions or information additional.

I guess we’ll just have to see where it leads. But fingers crossed, this goes for a real bike, not just vaporware.

(Some) additional information is available at www.team-lemond.com.