Lapierre's new Pulsium and Aircode bikes have received a generous re-design, but for the French company the real intention has been to improve performance but also create a family DNA, a likeness across the brand.
Input has of course come from the FDJ professional racing team, who have also drawn first blood on the new Aircode when Arnade Démare outpaced the pack to win stage two of the Critérium du Dauphiné. Of course, since then Démare has also gone on to win Stage 4 of the Tour de France, proving the bikes capabilities further.
Lapierre Aircode: First ride review
An improvement on aerodynamics and handling was the "simple" brief that Lapierre set itself with the Aircode.
After all, this is the bike that the FDJ team will race upon, and riders liked the performance but wanted greater handling zip.
Acting on this feedback, Lapierre's chief engineers shortened the change stays t0 405mm, and lowered the head tube by 10mm.
The latter is also a move that improves the bike's aerodynamics, with the front end receiving greater integration. So much so, that if you slam your front end, it'll now integrate with the head tube.
The bike's profiles have also seen a shake up, and the French brand introduces a National Advisor Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) informed down tubes which are matched to Kamm Tail tubing nearer the bottom bracket for its increased lateral rigidity.
It's a sign that Lapierre has been flexible in its workings, and not afraid to develop a bike in an original way.
Much like the new Pulsium, Lapierre still employs its Powerbox technology on its FDJ race level bikes.
Other aero tweaks include direct mount rim brakes – there's currently no disc option for the Aircode – as well as its Trap Door Technology, where the Di2 junction box is smuggled underneath the bottom bracket.
Of course, we haven't been able to subject the new Aircode to any time in the wind tunnel, but on our brief excursions out in France the bikes felt like it retained zip, skipping along happily, even when the riding started heading uphill.
On the downs, too, the Aircode really came alive and the revised geometry and frame changes have clearly worked, with the bike feeling agile and poised, gobbling up big carving bends.
Keep your eyes peeled for a longer term test of the bike in the near future.
Seven models of the Aircode will go on sale, specced from Dura-Ace Di2 through to 105.
Lapierre Pulsium: First ride review
As with the first iteration of the Pulsium in 2015, the bike is the intended ride for FDJ riders over the cobble sectors of the spring Classics.
For the second generation, Lapierre has focused on integrating comfort even more thoroughly, with the aim of keeping the end consumer in the saddle for as long as possible.
The distinctive looks remain, but Lapierre has improved upon its Shock Absorbtion Technology (SAT), an elastomer that sits in the top tube, just above the point where it blends into the seat stays.
It’s now a one part setup, rather than the previous three part system, and the result is a smooth ride than ironed out the untidy roads of Frejus, France. This is partnered with a newly designed seat tube that now has a “flex zone” for increased comfort.
Up front, the stack height is changeable by a whopping 25mm with the use of spacers, meaning you can dial the fit so it's correct for you. The head tube is long, and Lapierre says it deliberately extended it to help with on bike comfort. Happily, it hasn't negatively affected the handling.
It's not lightening sharp but the Pulsium rarely strayed from its line on the descents, carving the long corners of Frejus with ease. With the aid of the excellent Shimano Dura-Ace brakes, it’s a real confidence inspirer.
But increased compliance and comfort can often mean a decrease in efficiency, and Lapierre has worked hard to avoid this.
Its Powerbox technology is employed in the bottom bracket and down tube area, and the two top tier models, of which we rode the 900 Ultimate, come with a different carbon layup – one where more fibres are focussed in important, power-transfer areas.
Lapierre has partnered this with a newly optimised down tube, that will, according to the French brand, increase lateral stiffness.
It’s a similar story at the front end, and supposedly the head tube sees a 20 per cent increase in rigidity and the seat stays improve by 25 per cent, too.
On the road, the Pulsium is pleasantly stiff, and it's nice to see that despite a comfort orientation, there's still performance to be pushed from the frame.
There’s very little flex, or any real noticeable wasted energy at all. Out of the saddle efforts are rewarded with a direct response, especially from the built up bottom bracket and Powerbox area.
Because of this, the Pulsium feels like an adept climber, and it skipped uphill comfortably. No doubt the excellent Mavic Ksyrium Pro Carbon SL wheels helped.
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The updated Pulsium receives the same fork offset as the Xelius SL, something Lapierre hopes will sharpen its handling and responsiveness on the road. This also helps create a familiar feel between Lapierre's bike family.
While the looks of the frame are obviously Lapierre, and consistent across the brand, it's aided by a distinct similarity when hopping from one bike to the next.
The range will have nine different models, with the two top tier, "Ultimate models" receiving the different, A-Grade carbon make up.
The range covers Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 through to mechanical Ultegra. Lapierre's Pulsium range also includes disc brakes. There's currently no word on either weights or prices.
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