Greg LeMond’s 1991 Carbonframes LeMonster
This bike is a bit rare, to say the least.
This is a Carbonframes Onyx mountain bike from 1991. As far as we know, Craig Calfee built about a half dozen Onyx frames, and all of those were slightly different from this one. The six “standard” Onyx models that were built didn’t mix titanium and carbon tubing, they didn’t have brakes mounted on the chainstays, and they were all carbon fiber (this one has titanium seatstays).
So this bike is unique. It was also built with only one rider in mind for exactly one race.
In 1990, Tour de France champion Greg LeMond entered and won the main event at the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival in Wisconsin. The Chequamegon festival was (and still is) one of the biggest off-road gatherings in the country, drawing over 2500 riders into the woods each year. During the height of LeMond’s racing career, the Wisconsin race was the only off-road event that he entered.
When September 1991 rolled around it would be necessary to defend the title. Greg had selected Carbonframes for his “Z” team’s road equipment, so a call was made. A mountain bike had to be procured to contest the big Midwest event. Carbonframes (now known as Calfee), was happy to oblige. Two bike frames were made for Greg to choose between.
One frame was a traditional diamond-style frame, designed for use with a rigid front fork and Greg’s preferred Mavic off-road components. This frame was option “b”. It was built with elevated chainstays and suspension “correction”. If the head tube looks a little droopy to you, it should. Greg got to ride on the latest and greatest Rock Shox of the day, and the head tube angle was changed to keep the handling predictable with a suspension fork installed.
The parts on the LeMonster bikes are very Greg, and very 1991. The Scott handlebars were a LeMond style signature for sure. This bike has a super long top tube and a Cinelli Grammo stem that set those bars out at an impossible reach for anyone other than Greg. Like a lot of road-bike racers in the ‘90’s, Greg was nervous about trusting new off-road clipless pedals so instead relied upon toe clips or his road set-up (in this case Carnac shoes and Time Titan Magnesium pedals).
An early Magura HS22 hydraulic rim brake was the obvious choice to stop the bike since nothing else would actually work in the tight space behind the seat tube. The saddle here is Greg’s preferred San Marco Regal, in this case the weird version with the square cast aluminum seat rails.
Like a lot of mountain bike designs at the time, this LeMonster was built with elevated chainstays as a way to combat problems with “chain suck”, an issue where the chain would wedge itself between the crankset and the chainstays. Chain suck would never be a problem on our restored LeMonster, as we neglected to install a third chainring on the crankset. The frame is mostly made out of carbon fiber, but there are titanium stays on this bike and titanium bands around the tubing to support the waterbottle bosses.
From what we have figured out, of the two mountain bikes made for Greg that year, it’s likely that the “A” option got raced, and this one just hung on a hook somewhere. Our friend Duan rescued the bike sometime in the late ‘90’s and now 30 years after it was first built up we have it all ready for Greg to rip through the Wisconsin woods again (although he might like a little more upright riding position these days).