Like every bike show back-in-the-day, time was short. At the end of each day there would always be a list of meetings missed, bikes we didn’t get to see and people we didn’t get to talk to. At the 2013 running of the Interbike show in Las Vegas, I had the opportunity to sit down with 3x Tour de France winner Greg LeMond to talk about the new eponymous bike brand he was planning to launch. This latest bike venture would actually mark LeMond’s third effort with his name found on the downtube following earlier forays with Craig Calfee and Trek.
Although far from being BFFs, after a variety of industry meet-ups, Greg and I were friendly enough that he never commented on the bright yellow LiveStrong bracelet I was wearing during the interview which ended up being a fun-filled hour to find out about the new bikes. He did however speak to wanting a chance to win back the $20 I won off of him in a late night bar game back in 2004.
What Greg had come up with for that 2013 bike show was a trio of bikes that were made in cooperation with the French pedal and bike brand Time. Greg and his dad Bob had put together an impressive booth that attracted hordes of fans and the curious alike. The following are some outtakes of the interview I did with Greg that appeared in the January 2014 issue.
THE FRENCH CONNECTION
Q: You first got involved in having your own bike brand back in the late 80s. How would you compare the process from then to now?
A. There’s a lot more hype out there now. I mean you see these ads about bikes claiming to be three seconds faster than the other bikes – I want to ask, faster than whose bike?
Back then we hired Craig Calfee and moved him to Reno to make our bikes. In my years at La Vie Claire, I had ridden TVT bikes, and I knew that I wanted to make a competitive bike that was bound by the past.
In 1986 I rode a bike that weighed 16 pounds, and in 1991 Craig built me a bike that weighed 15 pounds – although I spent $10,000 on titanium parts for it! It was a capital intensive process, and as a racer I’m not sure my dad and I were ready for that. The business was becoming a burden between us, and eventually I decided that the company wasn’t worth having if I couldn’t get my dad back. And so in 1995 Trek stepped in and produced the LeMond bikes.
Q: What can you tell us about the new bikes?
A: As I thought about the bike, I was interested in in just outsourcing the bike. Being part of the production process and being able to say, “I make this bike,” was something that I felt was important. As I looked around, I considered Asia, but I mean how many fingers are in on any one bike company’s production over there. I’ve known the guys at Time for years. I’ve always used their pedals, and I knew they made their own frames. Time is a small company and one I thought could use a boost. Right now the three bikes all use a standard Time NXS front triangle, but I got to change the rear end for added compliance. The bottom line is that as much as Time knows about building bikes, I know cycling and I think that gives us a good competitive advantage.”
Check back next week for part two of my interview with Greg when the Q&A took a more personal direction.