Bike Check: Greg LeMond’s Mavic Equipped 1989 TVT Carbon

Greg Lemond 1989 tour TVT carbon mavic bike (2)

It seems fitting that right after getting to see Greg LeMond’s TVT Carbon race bike at the Mavic 125th Anniversary presentation, that ESPN would air their 30 for 30 program titled Slaying the Badger. Now, as the only clean Tour de France winner from the United States, LeMond holds an even greater place in American cycling history, though there are many who knew that all a long. In addition to being the first American to win the Tour, Greg was also one of the first to use carbon fiber with his 1986 win against Bernard “the Badger” Hinault being carbon’s first.

On special loan to the Mavic Yellow house for the event, Greg’s 1989 winning TVT carbon bike was his return to the peloton after nearly being killed in a hunting accident. In addition to the revolutionary carbon fiber tubes bonded to aluminum lugs, Greg’s bike was also outfitted with Mavic wheels and a Mavic drivetrain which was a major departure from the overwhelming use of Campagnolo at the time. As the story goes, LeMond went on to beat Laurent Fignon by just 8 seconds after an amazing time trial where Greg finished 58 seconds ahead on the final stage.

The rest as they say, is history. But you can check out Greg’s bike after the break…

Greg Lemond 1989 tour TVT carbon mavic bike (5)

Greg Lemond 1989 tour TVT carbon mavic bike (3)

Greg Lemond 1989 tour TVT carbon mavic bike (11) Greg Lemond 1989 tour TVT carbon mavic bike (4)

1989 was not the first use of carbon by LeMond, but he continued its winning ways. The TVT frame uses carbon kevlar tubes that are bonded into aluminum lugs. The construction method was similar to aluminum frames of the day, just with carbon tubes in the center.

Greg Lemond 1989 tour TVT carbon mavic bike (8)

Greg Lemond 1989 tour TVT carbon mavic bike (9) Greg Lemond 1989 tour TVT carbon mavic bike (1)

In spite of never really catching on, Mavic’s drivetrain components always seemed to be ahead of their time. Just look at the Mavic ZMS shifting system that was unveiled in 1993. As the world’s first electronic rear derailleur, it was 15 years ahead of Shimano. In a sea of Campagnolo, LeMond’s Mavic drivetrain stood out. The drivetrain has a few parts that aren’t Mavic including the Simplex Retrofriction shifters. Greg was running Time pedals in 1989 (thanks Mark).

Greg Lemond 1989 tour TVT carbon mavic bike (15) Greg Lemond 1989 tour TVT carbon mavic bike (12)

In a world of 11 and even 12 speed drivetrains, 8 gears doesn’t seem like a whole lot, but it was at the time.

Greg Lemond 1989 tour TVT carbon mavic bike (6)

Greg Lemond 1989 tour TVT carbon mavic bike (10)

Mavic single pivot brakes clamp down on Mavic SSC rims.

Greg Lemond 1989 tour TVT carbon mavic bike (7)

Greg Lemond 1989 tour TVT carbon mavic bike (14)

Internal cable routing in carbon tubes. So future.

Greg Lemond 1989 tour TVT carbon mavic bike (13)

The Mavic équipment stickers provided inspiration for many of the builders of the 125th Anniversary bikes. Thanks to Mavic for allowing us to check out this piece of history!


55 thoughts on “Bike Check: Greg LeMond’s Mavic Equipped 1989 TVT Carbon

  1. Not to crap on anybody’s fantacy but, Lemond was NOT clean. The testing and enforcement of the drugs of the time were just not up to the task of exposing what was being used to aid in riders performance. Simply not using EPO doesn’t make him clean. Not many people were being caught in his day. Find an honest person involved with that era of cycling and you might be surprised how dirty it really was.

  2. Nice. He used an early version of the Calfee frames (called Carbonframes) later when part of Team Z… He was an innovator in many ways.


  3. i’m with odellio here. if he was so clean he wouldn’t still be talking so much about LA.

    and as for blaming EPO use by others for his loss in ’91/’92… ahhh… look at the pictures from those races. he was fat and un-trained.

    if that still isn’t good enough, lets get Otta Jacome under oath, see what he has to say.

  4. Sick bike i like it. Odellio if that’s true I would love to know what they were doping with pre EPO. Personally I could care less about whether anyone was on steroids or stims. Epo and transfusions is just another level. I wonder how many USA-cycling Masters level guys are on test lol.

  5. In honor of LeMond’s ’89 Tour victory, I recently posted a look at several of the bikes used in the ’89 Tour by LeMond and Fignon.

    As a second thing — to Odellio — What proof do you have that LeMond was doping? You make a claim like that, then offer Nothing to support it. Nothing.

    People in that era were being caught. Delgado nearly lost his title in ’88 after testing positive, but for a technicality (the substance he used was on the Olympic Committee’s banned list, but was not yet on the Tour’s list).

    LeMond spoke out against doping in the peloton even before EPO. Without any evidence to the contrary, I wouldn’t call it a fantasy.

  6. The tabs below the brake shoes are to help guide the wheel between the brake pads during a wheel change.

    The brakes are actually Modolo. Mavic has always rebranded Modolo brakes.

    I don’t think those are the original wheels. Shimano was the only company making an 8 speed hub in 1989. Everyone else was still on 7 speed freewheels. That rear hub is a 8 speed Mavic cassette, which wasn’t developed till 1991, I believe. Mavic cassettes uses the shark fin teeth.

    TVT also made one of the first carbon fiber forks. The fork was sub 1 lb which was incredibly light back in the days. It also moved around like a noodle. They were so flexible that supposedly you will here the wheel hit the brake pads during hard cornering.

  7. Hey Brooks. I suspect you are in over your head bloggin. The “650c” front wheels were actually 26″ tubular. There is a difference.

  8. That’s not his bike. Look at any pics from that years tour: Wrong cranks and bars. That plus the other glaring editorial issues listed by others: come on, do your job!

  9. the TVT bikes were built by Jean Marc Gueugneaud who went on to set up TIME’s carbon factories in France and continues to engineer their excellent carbon frames using RTM molding and other really cool techniques. i dont know if there is anyone with more experience in carbon frames, or such a pedigree in racing bikes… the early TVT frames were THE go-to frame of the time, most tour contenders rode them painted over with team colors and bike sponsor brands.

  10. That bike reminds me of the general clunkiness of the brakes and shifting of that time – I bet that thing flexes like a noodle too. So impressive to crush so many miles in a TDF on that thing – and flying down those passes…


  11. @SLOBOB that is his bike, its been at the Los Angeles Velodrome for the last few years.

    @1Pro & Odellio, Greg has said repeatedly in the past that he feels that he was the strongest he had been since 1986 in 1991 and his weight was the same as previous years, the idea that he was fat and out of shape in 1991 is pure fiction.

  12. Hey 1Pro — a 650c wheel is more properly known as ISO 571 and is the common size used for many time trial, pursuit, and triathlon bikes. Some people call it 26″. What is the ISO size of a 26″ tubular? (deleted)

  13. While there is always some “fact-checking” that gets lost and maybe over the years some parts were changed (and decals removed) – I wanted to offer some photo evidence that this is indeed the bike claimed. To clarify, this bike is on loan to Mavic by the LA Velodrome, so they are very aware of the history of this machine.

    Ultimately we hope you can all enjoy an amazing vintage bike that saw some miles at the tour. Special thanks to the LA Velodrome for the loaner!


  14. 650c – ISO 571 – and 26″ tubular all basically refer to the same size. Yes, LeMond (and most pros then or now) used tubulars, and yes ISO primarily refers to clinchers. But people use the size names interchangeably. Numerous sources list the wheel as 650c, whether tubular or clincher. To insist that it’s is “wrong” is splitting hairs.

  15. forgive me but i’ve never heard of a 650c tubular or 700c tubular for that matter, in my 27 years full time bike industry tire gluing experience. i’ll have to get out more.

  16. ps, i think the diff is the bike, they call it a 700c bike or a 650c bike but the 26″ tubular never carried the label 650c. but i get times change as do terms.

    you win.

  17. The bikes had 700c tubulars, most of the guys were running 700×20 Vittoria Corsa CX on the front and Corsa CG on the rear.

    On the time trial bikes, they run a 700 on the rear but a 26″(aka 650c) on the front. Back in the 90’s most triathletes ran 26″ (650c) on both wheels.

  18. 26″ road tubular go on 650c wheels. Look up Zipp disks and they sell 650c disk wheels.

    Now look up Vittoria’s website, you’ll find 28″ tubulars which fit on 700c rims.

    1. Spot-on, Pete…I was also surprised when I looked at the legendary Mavic 305 headset & immediately noticed that the black plastic seal, which is supposed to serve as a dust cover for the recessed section of the upper race, was also missing. #haggard

  19. If memory serves me correct, most of the critical components and adjustments on the Mavic parts could be serviced with a 6mm allen key, which made on-the-fly adjustments from the team car easier in the middle of a race.

    1. I thought the exact same thing the first time that I saw this article ages ago, actually. As well as the LOOK KG86 (’86 Tour) & 2 x Team Z neon tricolour frames – Lemond w/ Columbus EL-OS & the TVT92 Carbone (’90 Tour), I also own the Team ADR-Agrigel red/white Bottecchia w/ Columbus SL & TVT92 Carbone “Bottecchia” replicas that Lemond rode to his incredible comeback victory in the ’89 Tour (but not his beautiful red/white TT frame that we all recall, sadly). And after carefully working my way through all of my old Miroir du Cyclisme, etc magazines & posters from that Tour for many months before having my TVT painted EXACTLY the same as Greg’s frame, it’s a seriously neon yellow & is most certainly NOT the sickly green that this frame is. And one of the biggest giveaways is when one compares the yellow Mavic fork decals to my frame (both yellow but obviously, the paintwork of my frame is neon yellow), whereas this bike above looks more like the Australian, Brazilian or South African sporting colours of green & yellow!

      1. PS. Also A., Lemond’s frame was actually two-thirds neon yellow paintwork upon the lower sections & that was then blended into/upon what was simply a clear-coated upper one-third of the paint scheme, so it was “naked” carbon fibre & not black, as you stated in your post. The photos that accompany this article don’t do the top section of the bike justice at all but if they had been taken in direct sunlight, then you would most definitely be able to see the beautiful weave of the carbon fibre through the clear coat. And the top tube of the Team Z Lemond TVT92 from 1990 has the exact same clear coat job upon the top tube, with the same neon yellow colour through the centre one-third of the tricolour scheme (the top of the yellow paint is very similar to where it blends in upon this frame but on the Team Z TVT, there was also a little bit of clear-coated carbon fibre showing upon the shoulders of the fork) & the bottom one-third of the frame & a tiny part of the fork is neon pink. Ahhh, I loved the late 80s & early 90s, having been born in ’73 & in my teens by this stage!

  20. This is definitely one of Greg’s 1989 Tour bikes. The bar and stem and white Elite cage are the giveaway. The color is correct as well. I think the saddle is wrong. He used a Selle Italia special edition Fausto Coppi with square brass rivets not a Turbo which was used by Fignon and Indurain.

  21. Something with the colors are off, but in the Tour pics Greg’s bike is definitely yellow but these pics it just looks really neon greenish.

  22. This was Greg’s 1989 Tour winning bicycle made by TVT in France but re-branded with Bottechia stickers. Greg rode the same frame in 1990 but it was branded Lemond. He also switched from Mavic to Campagnolo C Record components. In 1991 he switched to a Carbonframes bike with the ugly webbed lugs and he lost miserably to Miguel Indurain after arriving late for the opening TT.

  23. The shifters were made by Simplex, but also sold as Mavic SSC shifters (Much like Modolo and later Dia Compe made brakesets for Mavic) – so the article is both correct and incorrect.

    Also, those hubs look like Mavic 501’s which were introduced a few years later, the bike should probably have Mavic 500/550 hubs. (The plastic band around the outside of the flange is the giveaway.)

  24. Among various bikes I have is a 1976 Alan Super Record, which I raced in 1978. They were fondly referred to as “flexible fliers” at the time. My bike, with 1st-gen Campy Super Record parts, weighs 17 lbs. The TVT frame is lighter but about the same stiffness (as in “low”). I’d be curious to know what the real weight of this bike is, as shown.

    At the time a rider in the pro peloton whose name I can’t recall was quoted as saying, “The only thing scarier than descending on a TVT is not having one on the ascent!”

    Vive les Legere!

  25. Around a similar vintage, I had a Vitus 979 (aluminum tubes with aluminum lugs) and Vitus Carbon 9 (9 Carbon tubes glued in where the aluminum tubes would have been on a 979), and boy, howdy, those things were flexible, especially in a 60cm frame! The comment about lateral flex of forks (these frames had the Vitus aluminum fork) in cornering probably wasn’t as big of a pucker factor as watching how much the fork blades moved backwards on hard braking during a descent just before the corner…

    @denis – It was Delgado who arrived late to the 1989 Tour opening TT by 2min 40s. Lemond lost to Indurain in 1991, but not because of being late to the start of a TT.

    Re wheel sizes, in around 1992, I had three TT bikes (Marinoni pursuit bike, Masi TT, and Giordana TT) each with a 650C (571mm) front wheel and 700C rear wheel. Most 650C rims worked perfectly, but I do recall that I had a Mavic front wheel that was just slightly larger. You could still stretch a 650C tubular over it (it was a b… to mount), but I always had to move the pads up slightly on the Masi and the Giordana and it would not clear the very low profile Marinoni fork crown. What size was that? I remember hearing someone at the Colorado Springs Velodrome saying this rim size was unique to Mavic and was always a PITA because it was too tall to fit most track forks. Would that have been a 650B (584mm) rim? Any ideas?

  26. I was there back in 1989 and while this bike is a good example of what was used back then, it seems to be more a replica than an intact, unmodified, original bike used by LeMond. Thanks for sharing the photos anyway!

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