The LeMond Tourmalet is a well-priced all-round road machine. We put it through its paces.
Greg LeMond named the Tourmalet bike after the Pyrenean stage that proved to be pivotal in the American's win of the 1990 Tour de France, and sits at the top of their Performance Aluminium series. It uses 6066 aluminium that has 25% greater 'ultimate tensile strength' than the 6061 grade used on the lesser models. The Tourmalet looks larger than other similarly-sized frames, though we can only put this down to the longer than average headtube, because the top-tube is the same length as on other brands.
Carbon wishbone back ends simplify large production runs, because it's quicker and easier to bond the moulded wishbone onto the frame than it is to weld aluminium tubes, but LeMond has eschewed this trend and has instead opted for a welded all-aluminium construction. Finished with a pearlescent paint job, the welds are nice and smooth, and there are six sizes to choose from ranging from 51-61cm based on the centre of bottom bracket to top of seat-tube measurement.
The LeMond has an upright and semi-compact appearance, but without the short top-tube of a pure-bred cyclosportive bike. This makes it an agreeable combination of what the all-out performance cyclist is looking for, with the more elevated handlebar position that's preferable for long days in the saddle. The absence of steerer spacers between the headset and the stem helps to minimise flex when pulling hard on the handlebars and should also help stability in strong cross winds.
While the bike has a vertically compliant nature - meaning there's a bit of 'give' over rough road surfaces - the complete absence of chainrub during high-power pedalling efforts reminds us that bottom bracket stiffness is as it should be as the frame is not twisting under heavy pedalling loads.
The decision to use a smaller 27.2mm diameter carbon seatpost as standard is a good one, because the smaller diameter of the pillar helps it dissipate vibration. The Bontrager Race-Lite tyres also have a remarkably positive effect on comfort, with the tyres' supple carcass conforming well to road surface irregularities, especially helping comfort on long runs.
LeMond's Tourmalet has a remarkable level of kit for the money. The 17-degree rise stem is practical because the riding position can be changed so that the stem points upwards, but it does look odd with it set this way. The Race Lux saddle looks bulky, but is plush and supportive making it the most popular here among the testers.
It's great to see the two-piece Bontrager GPX chainset on a bike costing £900 and the beautifully machined chainrings give an expensive appearance to this component. However, LeMond should make the chainset available in a compact 35/50t configuration to provide a more useful range of gears for climbing.
The Bontrager Select wheels on the LeMond are the entry level model and all the wheels in the range are based around the original and highly regarded Rolf design. The round section stainless steel spokes are grouped in pairs and laced in a two-cross design on the asymmetrical hub. The rim drillings are also offset to reduce the difference in tension between the drive and non-drive side spokes.
This design has stood the test of time as many ten-year-old Rolf wheels are still in service. Their excellent lateral stiffness also makes them a top choice for heavy riders. The cartridge bearing hubs are smooth to turn between thumb and forefinger although the skewers aren't quite as easy to use as some. These wheels cost around £120 per pair and while pinchpuncture prone, the Bontrager Race-Lite's are very comfortable. Paul Vincent
The LeMond has a high level of equipment that would normally be found on a bike costing around £150 more. It has a great pair of wheels for this kind of money, but just falls short of a 9 out of 10 score in the overall ratings because it lacks the compact chainset option. We would expect to find this on a bike intended mainly for use at sportive events. Otherwise, the LeMond is hard to fault.
Frame geometry: Aside from the usual frame angle figures and tube lengths, frame type is generally referred to as either 'compact' (sloping top-tube - downwards from front to back), semi compact (slightly sloping top-tube) and traditional geometry (level top-tube)
Gear hanger: Sacrificial bit of metal that attaches your rear mech to the frame. In an accident it will bend or break instead of your aluminium frame
Specialized Allez Elite £899
Giant TCR Zero £1,099
Focus Variado £599
BH L60 £1,279-£1,399
Specialized Allez Elite £899 The Elite 2007 is based on a full aluminium frame, Shimano 105 groupset together with FSA chainset, Mavic CXP22 rims and has a carbon/alu/ carbon fork commonly seen on bikes costing over a grand. Specialized - +44 (0)1159 775900 www.specialized.com
Giant TCR Zero £1,099 The TCR uses Giant's proprietary Aluxx aluminium tubing throughout and looks like sound value for money based on a full complement of Shimano Ultegra equipment, together with Giant-branded wheels and finishing kit. Giant - +44 (0)1159 775900 www.giant-bicycle.com
Focus Variado £599 Came a resounding 3rd in our 'Budget race bike of the year 2006' and is now probably the best value bike currently available for less than a grand. The Focus has a fully butted aluminium frame with semi- compact geometry, and the spec is based on 105 triple and Shimano's WH-R550 wheels. www.wiggle.co.uk
BH L60 £1,179 This took 1st place in the C 2006 awards (C 191), winning 2006 Race Bike of the Year. The Shimano 105-equipped BH L60 is a pound lighter than you would expect for this money and is currently discounted down to an incredible £1,179. BH - +44 (0)7977 157223 www.bhbikes.com