There’s a reason why we picked the Froggy 318 to test, rather than the more expensive 518 (£3,399). At less than £2,500, it has a sensible spec and the geometry looks great on paper. And in reality, it’s just as good as we thought it would be - the whole bike comes together really well.
The most memorable detail of the Froggy is the fun factor, which is huge. Whether we were bombing down fast, hard hitting trails, going over jumps or getting super steep and technical, the Froggy didn’t fail to put a smile on any of the test crew’s faces.
Ride & handling: All-round capability with oodles of fun
The head angle is spot on at 66 degrees, and it slackens off nicely under sag, giving a real downhill bike feel. The rear end is stiff, and the suspension action is seamless, despite the Fox Van R shock lacking any compression adjustment. There isn’t any nasty square-edged bump spiking, or any falling through the travel or bottoming out. The Van R’s basic, progressive tune works well and doesn’t limit the bike’s capabilities.
Even when it comes to pedalling, the Froggy just gets its head down and cracks on up hills. The lower gears come in handy thanks to the 22 to 34 low gear, but all work amazingly well considering the 180mm (7in) of travel and the 16.4kg weight, without any serious pedal bob or feedback anywhere in the gear range. The relatively heavy wheels don’t help acceleration, but once you get going it’s easy to maintain speed and the performance of the rear end is conﬁdence-inspiring.
The RockShox Domain fork pulls its weight too, with the proven Motion Control damping system. The performance is great and almost makes up for the fork’s heavy weight, which is caused by its steel stanchions. Continental Rubber Queens are a great choice for a bike such as the Froggy, rolling fast and providing grip where it’s needed, although they weren’t too brilliant at coping with wet surfaces. The super high-volume 2.4in size did cause some mud clogging though, thanks to the seatstay brace that sits no more than 10mm from the tread of the tyre.
The cockpit on the Froggy is the only place where we could really ﬁnd any fault. The Funn stem couldn’t be run any lower due to the combination of its poorly thought-through angled base and single headset spacer – with the riser bar on there as well, everything seemed a little high. It meant that sometimes getting weight over the front wheel in order to keep it gripping in turns became quite hard. A new stem would be the sensible solution because the Funn bar is comfortable and super strong. It’s a good width too, at 750mm, providing scope for it to be cut down if width isn’t necessarily your thing.
Frame: Dialled geometry
On the drawing board, the Froggy appeared to be absolutely spot on. Its 66-degree head angle, 585mm top tube and 1,152mm wheelbase tick all the boxes. Since Lapierre introduced the Froggy in 2009, the geometry has remained the same, but for this year the 12 x 142mm axle has been introduced to keep the rear end stiffness up. ISCG05 chainguide mounts and E-type front mech tabs allow a host of different crank and chainring set-ups, the 1.5in head tube keeps the fork compatibility wide open and Lapierre’s OST suspension system is still doing its job of keeping the rear end moving. A 240 x 76mm (9.5 x 3in) Fox Van R shock controls the 178mm (7in) of travel well.
Equipment: Great spec for the low price
Being cheaper than some of its peers means that corners understandably had to be cut somewhere from the spec for the Froggy, but the cost-cutting has been done sensibly, with minimal effect on the ride quality. The RockShox Domain fork and Fox Van R shock are perhaps the most obvious examples of money saving, along with the Shimano group-less chainset, shod with 22 and 36-tooth chainrings and a bashguard.
We’ve been impressed by the Alivio shifters though, with a number of our test riders being heard to exclaim that their positively solid feel was better than some of the higher-spec shifters made by Shimano. Spec strength is present in a big way though, in the shape of Formula RX brakes, Shimano SLX mechs, e*thirteen DRS chain device and Continental Rubber Queens.
This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine.