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LeMond plans re-entry to bike market

Published February 21, 2013

DENVER, CO (BRAIN) — Tour de France hero Greg LeMond said he expects to begin selling bicycles again, possibly showing prototype models as early as this year's Interbike.

"I've got quite a few different ideas," LeMond said in a Skype interview with BRAIN this week. "Ultimately I'm looking at coming back into the bicycle business, integrating some technology and stuff that I have used in my cycling career."

LeMond, who was still wearing a back brace as he recovers from a car accident earlier this month, said he had decided to avoid a licensing agreement like he had with Trek Bicycle, and instead look for a "partnership" with a manufacturer, with a goal of eventually bringing manufacturing in house.

"I want to build a company that can be around for more than a few years; I'm still young," he said.

LeMond sold Seattle-based LeMond Fitness, which sold stationary bikes and trainers, to Hoist Fitness last fall. Then he and investors set up a new company, LeMond Inc., that bought back the trainer business from Hoist. Hoist is focused on selling LeMond stationary bikes into the health club market.

The new company, based in Minneapolis, is selling the trainers and will expand from there. Among its employees is sales director Gene DiMenna, who is a former regional sales manager at Trek, involved with the sales of LeMond bikes when Trek still sold the line.

Trek began licensing the LeMond name for bikes after LeMond's retirement from racing in 1994. The relationship ended badly with a suit and countersuit that were finally resolved in 2008. Since then LeMond said he has received several licensing offers from bike manufacturers and had considered re-entering the bike market with a consumer direct sales option, but has since swung around toward selling through bike shops.

"There was a period when I needed to digest the whole end of the relationship with Trek and decide where I wanted to go and whether I wanted to get back into the bike business," he said.

He said the company has "conceptual designs" for new bikes and he hoped to produce a special Tour de France 100th anniversary bike this year, with prototypes at the fall trade shows.

For more than a decade LeMond was in the public eye as a critic of Lance Armstrong, and that criticism was central to his messy divorce from Trek.  Armstrong's more recent sanctioning and confession to doping reduced LeMond's personal stress at the same time it changed the public's perception of him.

"We are in a much better place in terms of what I want to do, now," he said.

Aside from the planned bike line, LeMond said he has ideas for products involving power training. Revolution trainers offer a power measurement option and LeMond — who began training with an SRM power meter in 1993 — said he has insights into power training that few possess.

"I want to get a little more in depth in simplifying the mystery of watts for the consumer," he said. "Ideally I'd like to be able to provide a complete service to the bike shop: indoor trainer, outdoor bikes, things that work together and complement each other."

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Watch for more on LeMond's new company in the March 15 issue of Bicycle Retailer & Industry News.




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