Lapierre’s Zesty and Spicy are deservedly popular on the trails of Britain, but their success tends to draw attention away from the French brand’s other offerings. The 100mm-travel (3.9in) X-Control is pitched as a cross-country/marathon bike, but with a 120mm (4.7in) fork it's got what it takes for fast trail riding too. It's good value and looks great, but would benefit from a more sophisticated rear shock.
Ride & handling: Lively yet confident handling, but own-brand shock limits its potential
Lapierre’s FPS2 suspension design is low on pedal feedback, which is in many ways a good thing but does mean that it relies on the shock to stop it wallowing. The simple own-brand shock isn’t quite up to the task – by the time you’ve minimised wallow with more air pressure you’ve also blunted the small-bump response.
Once we’d reached a suitable compromise, the 310 proved to be an enthusiastic and lively ride. It’s a whisker steeper than some of its rivals, which translates into more agility on the trail but without seriously hindering the X-Control on steeper or rougher trails. You need to pay attention as speeds rise, but it’s not twitchy – the stiff chassis keeps things under control.
You do start to reach the limits of the shock earlier than you’d like, however. The back end gives up sooner than the front but not because of the shorter travel – it just starts getting bouncy and losing composure. Aggressive pedalling isn’t a great idea, leading to a fair bit of squish. That’s easy enough to work around though.
It’s a shame that the X-Control tends to go unnoticed while Lapierre’s longer-travel bikes get all the attention. It’s a light, reasonably specced and fast bike for the money, although some more aggressive tyres wouldn’t go amiss for non-race purposes. Unfortunately the own-brand shock keeps the Lapierre from realising its full potential. It’s not bad by any means, but you can tell that the frame’s got more to give than the shock will let it.
Frame: Good looking chassis with effortless suspension setup
There’s no shortage of tube shaping in the X-Control’s frame – it’s all curves, swoops and arcs from front to back. The heart of the frame is Lapierre’s short-link suspension system, with a rigid rear triangle hung off the main frame via a pair of linkages. The lower link pivots off the bottom bracket shell, which uses press-fit bottom bracket bearings and is therefore extra wide.
Lapierre have taken advantage of this to put the pivots way outboard for a wider, stiffer stance. On the subject of wide, the swingarm offers gobs of tyre clearance – there’s scope for going up a size on tyres with room to spare. The upper link pivots from the seat tube and doubles as a rocker to drive the vertically mounted shock.
It’s a Lapierre-branded unit rather than the Fox that we’d expect to see at this price. There’s no ProPedal platform damping equivalent or lockout, just an air valve and rebound damping clicker. Setup is made simple by a handy anodised pointer bolted to the swingarm and a scale stuck to the seat tube – put air in the shock, sit on the bike, look down, see where the pointer’s pointing and adjust.
Up front the top and down tubes have an inverted triangular cross-section that looks like it’d be a pretty good shape for a powerboat. They arc gracefully to the hourglass-shaped head tube. Despite appearances, it’s not a tapered setup, just a chunky tube for a semi-integrated 1.125in headset. The X-shaped anodised bolt-on cable/hose guides are a nice touch.
Equipment: Lightweight wheels and tyres reflect this bike's racing DNA
We’ve no arguments with the full Shimano SLX 10-speed transmission, and the Formula RX brakes are effective if a little wooden. The narrowish bars speak of the X-Control's marathon racing orientation, although it’s all relative – we wouldn’t have been referring to 25in bars as narrow a few years back.
Lapierre have opted for a Fulcrum wheelset with distinctive asymmetric spoking – the front wheel has twice as many spokes on the disc side, while the rear one has twice as many on the driveside. It’s all about equalising spoke tensions apparently. The wheels behaved themselves fine during the test, although the bearings in the rear one were a bit grumbly. They’re light for the price though, at 4.16kg the pair, which counts for a lot.
The 310’s racing DNA manifests itself again in Continentals’s short-knob 2.2in Race King tyres. We like these under the right conditions – fast-rolling, large volume treads are a winner in our book. They’re not the most effective tool in the slop though, and likely to be a candidate for change for more all-round use.