Launching today, the LeMond All-Road Prolog E-Bike is the dropbar sibling of the original super-commuter/hybrid Prolog, which we reviewed last year. Equipped with Shimano GRX di2 and Mahle X35+ rear hub motor, the complete carbon build weighs in at under 30lbs. Richard Pool (aka Bicycle Crumbs) has been putting the Prolog AR through its paces in Portland, OR for the past few weeks and, below, provides a first look at the bike’s tech/design, and proposes which types of riders it’s best suited for…
First off, this is an introduction to the LeMond All-Road Prolog (which I’ll be referring to as the “AR”). I’ve only had the bike a few weeks and don’t think it’s fair to review an e-bike in such a short amount of time. So, look for a long-term review in the coming months where I will dive deeper into the tech and longevity of this interesting platform. By all accounts, the bike is a visually unchanged version of the original, except for some minor tweaks in component spec (most noticeably the new stem and bar, rather than the one-piece flatbar-stem combo).
The new carbon stem is beefy, to put it lightly, but it does a good job following the design language and forms of the frame and fork, flowing from section to section. Isolated though – let me reiterate – it is THICK. The stem features a bolt-on back plate design and standard handlebar front faceplate, with an impressive front light bolted to the bottom of the stem. From there we have carbon super shallow drop handlebars, the tops are a mild aero profile and they are quite cozy. I cannot identify the make or model of the handlebar, but my assumption is they are made by LeMond.
The groupset is a Shimano GRX di2 1x build, and the bike is rounded off with Token GR23 Alloy tubeless-ready wheels, and integrated lighting front and rear. Additionally, it has a Level 2 ASTM rating and comes stock with Panaracer Gravel King Sk 700×43. Finally, the bike is of course an e-bike using the Mahle X35+ 250w rear hub motor system, with a max torque of 40Nm. It is a class 1 pedal assist-only (no throttle) e-bike up to 20mph. This is, in some ways, a similar system to the Cannondale Compact Neo I reviewed earlier, but also wildly different.
The Prolog AR in this form retails for about $6400 though they start at $5995.00
Prolog AR Design
Available in three colors Blanc, Rosa, or Noir. I will mention here and in my longer review Matte light pink bikes are super hard to keep clean. Matte paint can also burnish when you try and clean it, which makes some areas shinier than others. It’s a weird choice, as you can see in my first round of photos the dirt already on it. The Prolog is a full carbon frame and fork, with carbon stem, seatpost and handlebar as well. Available in only three sizes small, medium, and large the sizing is limited and at six feet tall on the dot, my fit splits the medium and large model. I elected to size up for the large, though in hindsight I may have made the wrong choice.
The name of the game with the Prolog AR is integration. Sleek carbon forms pair nicely to create near seamless junctions from headtube to fork or from downtube to bottom bracket. This all adds up to a bike that looks minimal in visual design but is a true head turner. When shooting this bike I had to stop and have three separate conversations from people walking by. What’s under the paint though is complex but delivered in a killer package. Lighting is integrated into the seat stays and is perhaps my favorite feature. As a designer the highest compliment in my opinion is having your work called “smart”. These rear lights are perfectly placed to bounce off the rear wheel and tire, giving you both visibility, front and rear as well as perpendicularly. It’s smart. Then there is the integrating of the hub motor and batteries.
The Mahle x35 system is super nice, the hub is strong and very quiet. The range is absolutely impressive (we will deep dive into this in the full review). Though once again you have a necessary phone app for firmware updates, settings, battery level and range. Within the settings on the app there are several, what I would consider to be power profiles. Which set limits on power output based on the assistance speeds (green slowest to red fastest). These power profiles give you the keys to tailor your range and also adapt the bike to how you intend to use it.
Who Is It For?
Y’all aren’t the only ones struggling to picture who exactly a drop bar gravel e-bike is for. To me, gravel and e-bikes are on opposite ends of the spectrum. But I’ve always said if you had to be a one-bike person, it should be a gravel bike. They are truly the best of all worlds. So here are the buckets I believe this bike makes sense for.
An in-office working professional with a long commute: Think a designer, creative, marketer or photographer; you can’t always show up a sweaty mess. Alternatively, if you are an outdoors, cycling, lifestyle, etc content creator this bike would be killer for photoshoots, route planning, etc.
Serious Cyclist: Wait what? Why would a serious cyclist need an e-bike? Well, hear me out on this: my first ride on the Prolog AR was coming back from illness. Who hasn’t pushed too hard too early and absolutely got sicker the following day pushing too hard? Then also think of someone seriously training, this could be a recovery ride best friend.
Outdoors People: Not all lovers of the outdoors love bikes, but enough of them don’t love cars. So, this could be a great alternative.
Aging Cyclist: Greg LeMond’s prominence in the late 80s (he won his first Tour in 1986 the year I was born) and most of his fan base is at a minimum 10 years older than me and more likely 15-20 years older than me. There’s a reason he came back to cycling with an e-bike-specific brand and this is my best guess why.
Partner Bike: No, not in the way that e-road bikes are marketed. This isn’t a bike for flex on your spouse. But it could be a great addition to absolutely increase your car-free range, from hangouts to events.
First Ride(s) Pros and Cons
I’ve had the Prolog AR in my hands for roughly sixteen days so far, so this is just an intro of what I’ve experienced. The full review will go into more detail. What I can tell you now, though, is this is a bike, not just an e-bike. No other e-bike I’ve ever ridden feels as good as this with the motor off and I can’t imagine there being one out there that’s better. It pedals, shifts, rides, and performs like a normal bicycle. The GRX Di2 parts work perfectly here though I find it mildly annoying the left shifter buttons do nothing at all. It has 70-plus miles of true rideable range. It has all but eliminated my range anxiety from other e-bikes. It’s quick yet feels safe and enjoyable. The Mahle system has been great thus far: It’s silent; I’ve never realized how much I love a bike that makes no noise.
Yet I’ve already noticed a few minor drawbacks. First, fit can still be a problem with all the integration and lack of ability to raise or lower the bars. This has been the case in my situation, as there are only three sizes available. This can also have negative effects on the ride characteristics. For me, it equates to slightly less weight on the front wheel than I would prefer, which leaves me lacking some confidence on high-speed descents.
Finally, we know e-bikes are polarizing here, and I feel like we’ve all been pretty clear about our stance here at The Radavist: Keep them to where they are allowed in accordance with regulations and best practices. It is illegal to ride e-bikes on almost all United States Forest Service trails right now. For that matter please don’t poach any trails that are illegal on e-bikes. Hell, performance e-bikes are even polarizing to me.
I’m not an e-bike guy, but I am a BIKE person. I’ve been in this industry for nearly a decade. I do feel like I can provide some solid opinions. Especially while e-bikes are still relatively in their infancy. I would rather ride them and come up with my ideas and opinions to share around policy and usage, rather than sit on the sideline and let the vocal minority scream about something they know nothing about. Albums can’t be judged by the art, and bikes can’t be reviewed with only a geo chart or spec sheet. You have to ride them to know what you are talking about.
Finally, we all get older, you never know when an injury could take bicycles away from us. These things that we all love so much, an object that has been my entire life for 10 years now. I hope I’m lucky enough to ride bikes forever, but if I ever NEED an e-bike I truly believe there should be no shame in that at all.
Have any questions you’d like me to address in the long-term review? Drop ’em in the comments below…