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LeMond launches steel road model, still planning larger bike line

Published September 25, 2014
New Washoe road model will be offered consumer direct with wholesale pricing also available.

MINNEAPOLIS (BRAIN) — Greg LeMond is continuing to work on a re-entry to the bike market, launching a new U.S.-made steel road bike model this fall, with plans for other models to be launched in 2015.

The new road bike, called the Washoe, is being sold consumer direct from the LeMond website. Consumers can choose color schemes and parts kits. The frames are being built by Zen Bicycle Fabrication in Portland, Oregon.

LeMond Bicycles president Bryan Melton said the Washoe also is available for wholesale purchase by retailers. However, he said LeMond does not have a complete dealer sales program with dating programs and sales reps. Revolution trainers are offered the same way — they are sold consumer direct, but also available at wholesale pricing direct from LeMond in the U.S. The company also has 28 distributors outside the U.S.

"It's not a typical retail program; the focus is on the consumer, but we don't want to shy away from dealers. It's not the Canyon Bicycle model, which is consumer direct only. If a dealer wants to work with us, then yes, we can offer wholesale prices so he can get his margin. But we aren't pushing the product out to the dealers. It's more of a pull, rather than a push," Melton said.

In an interview published on Thursday, Greg LeMond talked to Neal Rogers about the strategy.

"There’s a whole change in the business model today. It’s going to be a mixture of consumer-focus, where we want to work with the consumers who want the product, we don’t want to shove it down their throat. I want to be able to bring in some stuff, that I wanted to bring in … It’s not any different than anyone who wants to make something. I think about things like ergonomics, and doing innovative things. When I was working with a bigger company, like I was before, I was just a figurehead, and I didn’t get to impact a whole lot. Now I get to control my own destiny," LeMond told VeloNews.

The Washoe is available as an $1,800 retail kit with an Enve carbon fork, or as a complete bike with Shimano mechanical or electronic drivetrains. Complete bike prices range from $2,600 to $5,600. Custom color options are an extra $250.

The Tour de France hero's company also continues to sell its Revolution stationary trainers, which Melton said remains LeMond's "bread and butter." Hoyt Fitness sells LeMond stationary bikes in the fitness center market.

After launching a line of limited edition bikes at the 2013 Interbike, Greg LeMond is continuing to develop products and has focused on fine-tuning his company's business model this year, Melton said. Plans for a carbon road bike line are coming together; that line might be launched as early as spring 2015.

"The drawings are all done on the road bike line, it's just a matter of setting up manufacturing at this point," Melton said.

LeMond also is working on the "LeMondster," a road bike that accepts tires up to 2-inches wide and a 100-millimeter travel suspension fork. He recently showed a prototype of the bike on European television. Melton said LeMond sees the LeMondster as an adventure bike suitable for rugged touring but with road bike handling.

Last winter, LeMond's company dropped its plans to distribute Time products in the U.S., deciding it was too much of a distraction from developing LeMond's own products. Time built the limited edition bikes launched last year (Melton said all but about 30 of those bikes have been sold, out of 300 made).

Melton said LeMond continues to have a relationship with Time and it's possible the French manufacturer will make LeMond bike models in the future.

LeMond also has talked to several electric bike motor manufacturers and is pondering getting into that market with a lightweight road bike model. He has looked at the Hungary-made Limemotion motor, which can be hidden inside a frame. At the recent ExpoBici show in Italy, Limemotion's Stefano Varjas told BRAIN that LeMond might distribute the motor.

"Greg is really interested, but no contracts are signed (with Limemotion)," Melton said. "Greg really likes to bring forward new ideas ... he really wants to ride with his wife, but she can't keep up with him, so Greg would love to have some kind of electric assist that would allow them to ride together. But he still needs to look at the motor's battery life and its cost before making a decision."

The LeMond Washoe.

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