Greg LeMond and the Amazing Candy Colored Dream Bike
The whole future of the domestic carbon-fiber manufacturing industry may be at stake, but right here, right now, the Prolog is simply splendid. It’s an ebike for people who just really like bikes.It doesn’t have the supercore—the foam was supposed to expand and "heal" the carbon fiber tube when LeMond whacked it, but it didn't, which is why it snapped later. That formula will have to be tweaked. It does have a stunning soft matte-pink paint job based on the winning jersey in the Giro d’Italia, a carbon-fiber frame, and integrated handlebars. But it also has Panaracer gravel tires, Shimano brakes, and an 11-speed Shimano GRX drivetrain, which is a gravel-specific gearing system that’s meant to give you, the rider, a lot of options in terms of how much torque and speed you want on varied terrain.The components aren’t locked down or proprietary. They’re just sturdy ones that work well and feel good, made by well-known manufacturers that most people will be able to fix themselves or take to their local mechanic—no calling in a Rad-specific support van, or trying desperately to find a nearby VanMoof-licensed retailer.I generally prefer a Bosch motor to a Mahle one—I think Bosch motors and computers are smarter and smoother, and I like being able to toggle back and forth between assist levels with different buttons rather than mess with Mahle’s confusing single-button system. But now, I get it. The single-button system makes it easier to pretend that it’s not an ebike at all.You can live in a few seconds for a lifetime, or years can pass without you noticing. When I was a kid, I thought we had all the time in the world to fix everything. But my home is wreathed in heat and smoke, and my young children lost two years of their lives to a global pandemic. The disaster is here. We can’t get back all that time, but we can still snatch a little here and there—a grim, car-bound errand turned into a gleeful escape; a chance to inhabit your younger, less-wounded self; a vacation with your kids. Thirty years ago, LeMond bought himself a few seconds and a new life with an aerodynamic helmet. Now I buy myself a little bit of childhood back and take mine off.It’s not the safest thing I’ve ever done, but if you’re riding a bike this light, you don’t want anything else weighing you down. The Prolog isn’t perfect, especially if you’re my size—I want to swap out its fancy integrated handlebars for narrower ones, and the small frame is just a little too long for me—but it’s the most fun ride I’ve had in a long time. It feels … well, it feels like me, riding, if I were lighter and stronger than I’ve ever been before. It feels like me, if I were a young Greg LeMond.
“Until you get fit, riding fast hurts a little bit,” LeMond says. “It’s just really hard to get to the point where it feels good. Being able to go that fast—it’s a whole different sensation. It’s magical. I can’t even ride that fast anymore, but an ebike can take the pain away. An ebike can get you there.”
We all want that magic bullet, a simple solution for overwhelmingly complex problems. The Prolog comes closer to being perfect than any ebike I’ve tried before, but it’s such a small, light thing upon which to pin so many dreams. Is it even remotely possible for a bike to reduce carbon emissions, revitalize domestic manufacturing, bring a new technology into the light of day, and secure the legacy of an American legend? Within a matter of months, or years?
LeMond thinks so. Like everyone else who has ever doubted him, I’m still not sure. But right now, it doesn’t matter. If all the time I had in the world was eight seconds, I’d want to spend it like this, too: flying.
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