Lapierre Zesty 314L £2299.99

Female-fit version of our favourite technical trail bike

BikeRadar score 4.5/5

Lapierre’s Zesty has been one of the standout full-on fun trail bikes of the last few years and the L version means its insatiable enthusiasm is available for lasses as well as lads. Mountains or local trails, novice or nutter, we’ve given Zestys to every level of rider and they’ve all come back wide eyed with amazement at what this French flyer will let them do, making it a must try for any mountain biker.

While the amount of sag suggested by the clever bolt-on indicator on the seat tube might seem excessive, within a few metres off road you’ll realise how right it is. The same applies to the lack of a lockout lever or different compression settings on the Fox Float shock. Lapierre have worked hard to get the preset damping tune spot-on, so all you have to do is set the rebound to match the spring pressure and you’re good to go.

Go is what the Zesty does like no other bike, too. While it managed to feel plush over the smallest cobbles and chattering farm tracks, there’s no trace of pedal related pulse or bob. Add a semi-slick rear tyre and it ripped along any section of trail long enough to put a few pedal strokes in.

That’s selling the remarkable OST rear suspension short. Even when you’re not pedalling it’s got a remarkable ability to drive the bike forward off every drop or rolling trail section, generating forward momentum from the bits that less well tuned bikes get knocked back by.

Add the impeccable overall balance of the bike that seems to always put your body weight right where it’s needed and it’s probably the most natural pump-and-flow bike available. Even on sections where we couldn’t see anything remotely like a clear or rideable line, the Zesty would just nonchalantly glide through, pedals level, rider smoothly mobile and spectators stunned.

The impressively stiff, relatively long rear swingarm delivers both corner carving and straight line stability too, offsetting the snappy front end steering with a rock solid straight line confidence. Off camber slate scattering, clattering turns with no outside edge or brain-out, brakes-off, organs-floating runouts are treated with equally knowing contempt that makes Lapierre’s Alpine test origins all too obvious.

While you’re likely to hit the tyres’ limits first in damp conditions, the kit choice is totally complementary otherwise. Nobody puts more finely controlled and better-communicated stopping power into a crooked brake lever than Formula.

Even without a screw-through 15mm axle at its tip the open bath 140mm Fox fork is a showcase of supple, seemingly bottomless composure.  The Fulcrum wheels are impressively tight, Shimano transmission faultless and the Fizik saddle was declared gloriously comfortable by every girl who rode it.

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.

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