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Greg LeMond is cycling royalty, and if winning the Tour de France three times – including after being shot in a hunting accident – isn’t enough credibility, he’s also an entrepreneur and innovator in bike design, as well as an early master of creating carbon-fiber cycling components. So when I was contacted in the dead of an Oregon winter to review the new $4,795 LeMond Prolog ebike, I didn’t hesitate to say yes, but I did peek to see if it had fenders (it does!). Also, it weighs an astonishing 26 pounds – lighter than my non-electric mountain bike.

The Prolog arrived in hipster-color-of-the-moment matte black, with black wheels and spokes (and black everything else), but it’s also available in a very sharp white color option, as well as… pink (or “rosa” as they call it).

Prolog Tech and Design

The Prolog is a “flat bar” ebike with a riding posture similar to a mountain bike, and the construction of the bike is highly integrated, so don’t count on swapping out a lot of parts. But that’s just fine, because the included parts are excellent performers and the construction and design of the prolog is next-level stuff – it has an attention-grabbing look, especially to other cyclists, and while the black colorway I had makes it blend into the background a bit, the Prolog impressed even non-enthusiasts with its ultra-clean design and parts integration execution that’s far closer to an Apple product than to a typical mass-market ebike.

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Shifter cables, brake lines and such are all in-frame, and with the standard 11-speed Shimano GRX derailleur as on my bike, there’s no LCD display atop the handlebars, just a simple, single button and LED on the top frame rail to toggle the bike on and off or switch between assist levels. Thoughtful touches abound: The included fenders ride very close to the tires yet never touch or rattle, and even at full power, only a quiet whir gives away the fact this is an ebike. This is definitely an ebike Steve Jobs would have appreciated – and probably ridden.

A small and slim Mahle M1 250-watt, 36-volt motor with 40 newton-meters of torque hides in the rear hub and I do mean hides: with the slim 250Watt-hour battery hidden in the frame tubes, it’s difficult to tell the Prolog is an ebike at all. The multi-color LED ring around the lone button also tells riders battery status, and those that want to fine-tune the motor’s output and other parameters can do so with a smartphone and Mahle’s app, which will also sync with Strava. The calipers for the Shimano RS405 hydraulic disc brakes front and rear seem to almost blend into the frame and fork and provide excellent feel and stopping power. The Prolog is a true hard tail and does not have any suspension systems.

The Selle Royal Lift saddle was comfortable for me on long rides and can easily be changed out for whatever your buns might prefer. A bright 500-lumen LED headlight is built into the handlebar stem and provides a broad, flat pool of light ahead of the bike, but doesn’t look quite far enough down the road for me. Out back, two large LED tail lights frenched into the rear frame give excellent visibility to traffic but do not function as brake lights, and panniers will likely block them. Lightly treaded street tires developed for the Prolog by Panaracer give a quiet and smooth ride with plentiful traction.

As an $800 option, buyers can get Shimano’s Di2 auto-shiting tech, which adds a touch of weight and a small LCD screen to the handlebar. Those looking to commute on the Prolog can also add a rear rack and front cargo basket for $185 each. Got a really long commute? A second battery will fit in a custom water-bottle mount cage on the frame for another $700. Want it lighter still? Carbon fiber wheels are an $1,800 option. My review bike had none of those options, but did have fenders (a $0 option).

Riding Experience

I’m not a small human and certainly not a peloton alum although I did some mountain bike racing, mostly for fun, some years back. I asked LeMond for a Large frame (they offer Small and Medium as well) and the fit was spot-on. I used mountain-bike style pedals instead of clipless since the Prolog is clearly more of an urban-focused bike than a race entrant.

I poked around in the Mahle app settings and such but for the most part I just pushed the lone button to turn the bike on and then set it for modest assist (Level 3 of 4, typically). With “only” a 250-Watt motor and no thumb throttle, the Prolog is a Class II ebike with pedal assist that tops out at 20mph, a speed easily reachable in the flat even with minimal e-assist thanks to the featherweight construction. I also rode it with no assist and it’s easily the most “regular bicycle” riding ebike I’ve ever ridden.

Fast and sure-footed, the Prolog was a delight to ride around bike-loving Portland, with its extensive network of bike lanes and byways. Heading for one of my hill tests, a 1.5-mile climb that gains about 700 feet, I popped the Prolog into maximum assist and dropped the GRX derailleur to granny gear, but had to go up a couple of cogs as the Prolog is a highly capable climber and again, that low weight and flat-bar form factor allow for unexpectedly rapid out-of-the-seat climbing, and the assist was actually more pronounced than I expected.

I was up to the summit quickly and then pointed the Prolog down a winding road back down the butte, where GPS indicates I touched 41mph with the bike in top gear and some generous assist – from gravity. At speed, the brakes have solid power and feedback, and did not fade despite some heavy-handed use on some downhills. I’m a motorcycle rider more than bicyclist, so I tend to take sweeping corners at fairly high speeds, and the Prolog felt planted and neutral heeled over through wide turns I was hitting at close to 30mph.

Rolling around town on mostly flat streets and bike lanes, the Prolog’s assist at maximum, maintaining 15 to 20mph speeds is easy and the Prolog handles quick direction changes confidently. I even had a little fun sending it off some curbs, down some park gravel trails and through some rough patches and it was always settled, predictable and fun to ride. At night, the front headlight is bright and the illumination pattern is very wide (a good thing) but it didn’t peer down the road quite far enough for my tastes (and speeds). Overall, every time I rode the Prolog, I felt like going fast, as befits a bike from a racer who also always searched for more speed from his bikes. Sure, you can beach-bike it around the neighborhood just fine, but this is clearly an ebike for those of us afflicted with a certain amount of velocity addiction.

As for range, Lemond says the Prolog will give assist for 45 miles in U.S. spec, but even after a full day of mixed riding, the battery was still showing over 20% remaining, so unless you plan on some epic adventures on the Prolog, it should power your pedaling all day and be ready for action again after an overnight charge. Otherwise, it seemed to take about three hours to fully refuel on electrons.

Conclusion

It’s great to see more “flat bar” style ebikes come to market after what seems like a period of so many heavy, balloon-tire machines that, while certainly fun to ride, don’t offer a performance edge for experienced riders looking for less “e” and more “bike” in their ebike. The LeMond Prolog certainly fits that niche, and if you want to commute on it, it can do that as well – quickly. I was hugely impressed with the design, build quality and performance of the Prolog, and while $4,800 is a fair bit to ask for a 250-Watt ebike, the design, fit, finish, components and ride quality make it worth every nickel in my opinion. I was actually surprised it didn’t cost more. Optioning it up can certainly push the figure higher quickly, but if I were to splash out for it, I think I’d add the racks for commuting and call it good.

If you’re a more serious cyclist considering an ebike, the LeMond Prolog is probably a great fit for your style and needs. Riders looking for the ultimate mix of light weight, superb design, just enough assist and great road manners need look no further. Highly recommended.

LeMond Bikes Prolog eBike: MSRP $4,795 and as tested

Source: Forbes

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