Lapierre Spicy 516 - First ride £2899.99

A great bike gets even better for 2012

BikeRadar score 4/5

Under the watchful eyes of 10-time world champion Nicolas Vouilloz, Lapierre have refined one of their most successful bikes and improved on its well-established performance. The Spicy 516 is a great complete package that's ready to tackle just about anything.

Ride & handling: One of our favourite bikes just got even better

Straight away it’s clear that Nico knows what he’s talking about. The changes he’s made to the Spicy have translated well to the trail. Steer the 516 into the rough stuff and it’ll rocket through with control and poise, carrying plenty of speed and keeping your momentum ticking over nicely. Increased sensitivity at the beginning of the shock stroke means the rear end tracks the ground well, keeping the tyre planted and you on track.

It’s when things get really wild that the Spicy shines though. It’ll remain composed over the big hits, taking on braking bumps and other unpleasant trail obstacles without floundering or getting overly twitchy – making it feel far more capable and more exciting than the 160mm (6.3in) of travel may have you initially believe.

The slacker head angle and lower bottom bracket for 2012 keep things stable and solid in turns, yet the shorter back end ensures that Lapierre liveliness is still there, so things stay nice and flickable on the trail. Suspension wise, the custom tuned Fox RP2 shock matched nicely with the Fox 36 fork and delivered the 160mm (6.3in) of travel with plenty of control.

On flatter sections or uphill, pedalling is nice and efficient thanks to improvements to the suspension platform and the well-proportioned cockpit. The quality finishing kit that mixes up top brands and Lapierre’s own kit makes this a great all-round package and well capable of taking on just about any kind of riding.

Frame & equipment: Lower, slacker and better than ever at eating the bumps

Lapierre have made some subtle yet significant changes to their OST suspension platform for 2012. It’s now referred to as OST+, and on our alloy Spicy 516 it promises an improved leverage ratio curve courtesy of a new link and push rod. This means the 160mm (6.3in) of travel is more supple initially, with more support in the mid-stroke and a more progressive end of stroke.

Other notable changes include the lower bottom bracket, slacker head angle (now 66 degrees) and shorter chainstay length (425mm). Its looks haven’t been forgotten – the heavily hydroformed head tube junction looks great, with new internal cable routing tidying things up further. Our test bike was a pre-production sample so no accurate weight was available.

The most notable bit of kit on the 516 has to be Lapierre’s prototype height-adjustable seatpost with remote lever control. As this was a prototype, the function wasn’t perfect but it’s good to see another bike brand getting involved in this area. Other key kit highlights include the use of Fox's 36 Float RLC fork. This replaces the TALAS model previously specced on the 516, and gives more damping adjustment and increased efficiency.

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