Lapierre has considerable heritage in the cycling industry, having been producing bikes since 1946. There is also a well estabilished history in the pro-peloton, with the Dijon-based brand sponsoring the FDJ.fr pro team.
The French team, riding French bikes enjoyed one of its most successful seasons in 2014, with 28 victories, including: three stage wins and best sprinter at the Giro d'Italia, third overall and best young rider in the Tour de France, and two stage wins at the Vuelta a Espana.
The partnership with FDJ.fr goes beyond just supplying team bikes – Lapierre tells us that the professional riders have significant input in the specification, design and testing process. For 2016 Lapierre has updated the wind-defying Aircode and completely redesigned their climbing bike, the Xelius. The bikes now have simplified naming too, with each number corresponding to a Shimano groupset.
- 700 = Ultegra Di2
- 600 = Ultegra
- 500 = 105
- 300 = Tiagra
- 200 = Sora
- 100 = Claris
Lapierre also offer custom specifications, in what is called their 'Ultimate' builds. To get an idea of where the bikes sit against each other, their relative attributes are in the graphic below.
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The Aircode SL
For 2016 Lapierre has updated its aerobike, the Aircode, with the updated version being called the Aircode SL. Lapierre claims to have lowered the weight on what was already a light aerobike, with the Aircode SL frame and fork weighing 90g and 20g lighter respectively (for a size medium ~54cm).
Despite the weight loss, Lapierre claims that the new Aircode still retains the same stiffness as the previous model. How has this been achieved? By reducing the length of carbon layers in the seat tube, having fewer layers inside the head tube and using some higher modulous carbon in key areas.
Similar to the Merida Reacto, the Aircode SL features 'Kamm tail' tube profiles, essentially an aerofoil wing profile with the trailing edge cut off. This is said to offer better behaviour in lateral wind conditions owing to less of a vortex created when compared to a classic trailing edge. In addition it offers a superior ratio for stiffness weight and aerodynamics.
The Aircode SL was actually secretly ridden and tested by Thibaut Pinot in the 2014 Tour de France.
The Xelius SL
The Xelius SL is a completely new frame for 2016 and is the French brand's climbing bike, designed for the demands of mountainous terrain. The keen eyed amongst you may have spotted Alexandre Geniez riding the Xelius SL to ninth place overall in the 2015 Giro d'Italia, prior to its official release. With a claimed weight of 850g for the frame in a size medium (~54), it is not as light as the Trek Emonda SLR, Cervelo R5 or Merida Scultura 9000, but remains respectable.
Where this bike differs from the competition, is that there has been a huge emphasis placed on the frame's centre of gravity and how this can be designed to optimise handling.
By keeping the top tube as light as possible and concentrating the mass in the lower portion of the frame, Lapierre claims to have a bike which feels more responsive in corners and is better suited to out of the saddle efforts, where the rider typically levers the bike from side to side. It makes sense, so we look forward to seeing how it performs.
Other innovation comes in the form of the Shimano Di2 battery, which is in the down tube, just above the bottom bracket. This placement contributes to lowering the centre of gravity, but also aids maintenance. It is made possible by a feature Lapierre is calling the 'Trap Door' – an easily removed plastic cover adjacent to the bottom bracket.
The Xelius SL features a distinctive rear triangle. Rather than using a traditional design, Lapierre has attached the seatstays to the top tube, instead of the seat tube. This reduces weight in the rear triangle and also increases comfort, by permitting some flex at the rear end.
To further improve responsiveness and handling Lapierre has also shortened the wheelbase on the Xelius to 405mm, down from 408mm on the previous model.
Other details include an integrated seat post clamp, internal cable routing and a 27.2mm diameter seat post, which is designed to strike a balance between weight and comfort.
For the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix, FDJ.fr riders turn to the shock-absorbing Lapierre Pulsium, with its vibration dampening elastomer ring, located at the top tube-seat tube junction. For 2016 the Pulsium will be available in new colour schemes and will come with new and updated Mavic wheels, with wider rim profiles.
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The Sensium is Lapierre's endurance road bike, ideal for long rides and less aggressive riding positions. The new models were not on show, but Lapierre told us that there will be two disc brake versions and two women's specific versions in the offing for 2016.
We look forward to getting our hands on the new bikes once they are fully available, so we can fully test them. Prices are yet to be confirmed for the new models, but in the meantime, for more information head over to Lapierre.
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