The LeMond Prolog wasn’t exactly what I was expecting to see as the first bike from a former Tour de France champion, but this sporty e-bike is an easy one to love thanks to a fun ride, lightweight design, sleek integration and a great groupset.
I use the term ‘sporty e-bike’ because the Prolog isn’t really easily pigeon-holed into a category such as ‘urban bike’. I’ve happily ridden this the short commute to the office, down to the shops, over to football (before my pro dreams were shattered by injury) and on weekend social rides out to a country pub for a long lunch.
It has been at home on the lanes just as it has been in the city and in both environments, it is a very fun ride.
The low weight certainly helps, as does the long and rather low riding position. It feels like an endurance bike, albeit with an added sprinkling of confidence that the flat bar offers.
Motor and battery
Offering a helping hand is a Mahle X35 motor. It is a very familar hub-based motor that you’ll find on plenty of e-road bikes. I like the Mahle system on these types of bikes where the rider is generally wanting a workout rather than looking to sit back on the motor on every incline. For nipping away from the lights and just generally giving you a helping hand on the climbs, the assistance it provides is plenty.
You get three power modes to pick from and naturally, I chose red mode every time for the biggest punch. For hilly city riding with constant stopping and starting, I find this really helpful and the instant power from the X35 motor is very welcome.
One area where this bike might not suit a city commuter is on the steeper hills. Even with my tiny 62kg climber body and no rucksack weighing me down, the hub motor struggles to drive you upwards when the gradient gets over 10%.
This is because unlike a mid-motor, a hub motor isn’t working at an efficient RPM at low speeds. If you’re looking for an easy ride home from work and there’s a big hill in the way, the Prolog might not be the bike for you.
LeMond rates the battery life at up to 45 miles but, in the real world, a host of factors will combine to determine what you get. For my hilly, but very short commute and shopping trips, the Prolog easily managed a full week of riding on one charge. A longer weekend ride through the lanes of around 20 miles was also easily ticked off, but I made sure to start on a full battery and then recharged before I started the next week of commuting and city riding.
The glowing button on the top tube is called the iWOC. This is the control centre for the bike and beyond simply picking your desired power level, you can also turn the lights on by going to the orange power mode and then pressing for a second. It is simple to use and well-placed for on-the-fly power adjustments.
Once your power mode is selected, the light changes to show your battery level. White is 100-75 per cent, green 75-50 per cent, orange 50-25 per cent, red 25 per cent and flashing red less than 10 per cent.
You can control the lights via an app but the button is just simpler to use. The clever thing that the app does, aside from checking battery level and tuning power levels, is to allow you to connect a heart rate monitor. The bike will then self-adjust the assistance to keep you in a certain heart rate range.
LeMond turns to Shimano for the groupset and its GRX 1X setup which you’d usually find on a gravel bike.
I think that this is the perfect groupset for the bike, offering a wide range of gears, smooth shifting and plenty of braking power.
That range, consisting of a 40T chainring and an 11-40T cassette, was perfectly big enough for all of the riding I did. Yes, you can spin out at the very top end, but you have to be absolutely hammering away on a descent to do that, so I don’t think it is an issue.
The trigger shifter is simple to use, even in big winter gloves and the amount of easily modulated power from the brakes makes emergency stops easy.
Other components include a set of Panaracer tyres made especially for LeMond. They are 38mm wide and they are nicely supple. The tubeless design makes running lower pressures in wet weather easy and this is good because the grip in the rain isn’t the best.
These are mounted onto Token’s G23AR Prime wheels. They are alloy hoops that were intended for gravel bikes and this is great because they have a wide inner rim width that works really well with the wide tyres.
Stopping those tyres from flinging standing water all over your clothes is a set of custom carbon mudguards. Over the most broken ground they do rattle a bit, but they did a great job of keeping road spray away from my jeans
One component on the Prolog seems to have a huge impact on the handling and that is the handlebar. At 760mm wide, it really makes the long wheelbase and 77mm trail figure feel much closer to that of an endurance road bike.
Add that to the stack of 600mm and long 400mm reach and you’ve got a bike that feels best being ridden quickly, but which can still nip around a line of stationary traffic where gaps are generally tight.
Mostly good handling
For the most part, the Prolog handles very well. At speed it is stable, thanks to the long wheelbase and the slightly slackened head angle. But it doesn’t go too far, countering what could be a dull ride with the wide bar and long reach.
That makes for a fun ride when you head out into the lanes and I was surprised at just how tempting it is to ride this bike at full pelt.
Out in those lanes you’ll find some relatively poor surfaces and the wheelbase does a good job of making these sections pass without causing abject terror. The wide tyres certainly help to smooth things out and you can really start to push this bike through faster corners, thanks to that smoothness helping with tracking.
There was one area where I wasn’t overly happy with the handling and that is under braking. Here, there is a fair bit of dive. So, if you’re heading towards a corner and begin to turn under braking, the front end will really dart into the corner. I believe the wide bar is to blame here, but I’m not certain.
The wide bar
Now, the wide bar does add a certain amount of confidence in faster situations, but it does present some issues and I’m not convinced that such width is needed on a bike like this. We’re not going mountain biking.
If you’re trying to get to the front of a long line of traffic and the gap is narrow, then you’re going to need to take extra care doing so. That happens quite a lot when riding through town, so it is worth bearing in mind.
And then if, like me, you have to cart your bike into the hallway and through the house when you get home, that bar width is going to have you banging into door frames regularly. I couldn’t even get it through the door at work without turning the bar. LeMond says that the carbon bar is safe to chop down and quite honestly I’d be lopping a significant amount off each side if the bike didn’t have to go back.
£4,350 is a heck of a lot to spend on a sporty commuter e-bike. The Specialized Turbo Vado SL 4.0 is £3,000 and despite being heavier thanks to the aluminium rather than carbon frame, it has a larger battery and a more powerful motor.
The Ribble Hybrid ALe is another very good option at an even-lower price of £2,199. It uses the same motor system and has a similarly sporty feel. There’s also a Fully Loaded version with a rack and mudguards for another £100.
If you’re dead-set on carbon fibre however, it’s a material that is far more commonly used for e-road bikes and eMTBs. This means you’re looking at the likes of the Cybro No.2 (from €7,590) or the Porsche eBike Sport (£9,600).
There are more sensible options to spend your money on, but the LeMond Prolog’s sleek lines, stiff frame and elegant looks will make it worthy of your cash should you decide to drop north of four grand on a sporty e-bike.