Lapierre Froggy 318 £2249.99

Downhill performance with uphill ability

BikeRadar score 3.5/5

Lapierre’s OST (Optimised Suspension Technology) platform has been universally applauded on their shorter-travel Zesty and Spicy bikes. Travel has been upped to a whopping 180mm on the Froggy, and it's a hugely capable machine.

Here's a bike that can take on anything the Alps can offer, tackle an enduro downhill race like the Megavalanche and could even be taken for a spin round the local trail centre. It's a truly superb bike, marred by some minor issues.

Ride & handling: Stable on steep descents but high front end hinders handling

The Froggy lulls you into a false sense of insecurity! Its cross-country looks, full saddle height adjustability and range of gears make you forget that you’re sitting on a very capable 180mm-travel (7.1in) bruiser.

The straight seat tube enables you to fully drop the saddle to make the most of what you’ve got. It gives you bags of confidence when you hit super-steep chutes and drop-offs, because the chunky headset and 38mm-rise bars give a high front end.

That benefit soon becomes a disadvantage though. It hinders your body positioning, so you can’t weight the front wheel through berms, sprint effectively or control the bike sufficiently in the air. We reckon we’d need a flat bar to get the front end low enough, because the chunky headset adds to the stem height.

The front and rear suspension are superbly well matched in both compression damping and rate. This means the bike sits evenly through compressions and hitting jumps, and landings have controlled grace. Hitting rocky downhill runs is a joy, thanks to the well matched suspension.

That said, hit a big square-edged slab at speed and the harsh shock through your ankles will make it pretty clear that you’re not on a 200mm-travel (8in) downhill race bike. The 67-degree head angle is spot-on for the Froggy's travel, and the control and feedback through your feet is sublime.

The back end is, surprisingly, massively stiff, despite the apparently weedy quick-release axle. With predictable grip through the humongous tyres and the controllable back end, you can really push this bike over the edge of traction and into drift territory with confidence.

This Froggy has legs, too. Get to the bottom of a downhill run, drop it into granny gear, raise the saddle to proper height and then sit and spin your way all the way back up, in a perfectly comfortable climbing position.

Frame: Superbly well matched front and rear suspension, but tyre clearance could be better

Lapierre’s OST uses a very-low-mounted pivot on the chainstay, well in front of the rear axle, to achieve virtual pivot point suspension characteristics. The main pivot is directly above the bottom bracket axle and in line with the chainline of the 32t chainring.

The system is designed to eliminate as much pedal-induced input into the shock as possible, to prevent loss of power and control. The low-mounted central main pivot gives an intuitive feel, as all the action happens right between your feet. The shock is directly driven by the seatstays and sideways flex is kept in check by a swing link mounted to the underside of the top tube.

Standard 10mm quick-release dropouts don’t offer the option of upgrading to a through-axle, but do usefully carry a carbon deflector shield to protect the rear mech from impact. The frame carries Lapierre’s signature bolt-on aluminium cable guides, which both tidy up cable routing and add to the bike’s good-looking appeal.

Clearance around the huge tyres is super-tight, to the point that the injection-moulding hairs on the rubber brush against the seatstay bridge. A considerably more petite tyre would be needed for mud riding.

Equipment: Wide range of gears for fantastic versatility, plus top brake performance

The front end houses a RockShox Domain 302 fork, with 180mm (7.1in) of travel to match up the rear end. The tapered steerer takes full advantage of the 1.5in head tube, adding both strength and stiffness to steering duties.

The 35mm steel stanchions don’t add too much weight, with the fork coming in at just 100g more than a basic Fox 36. External adjustment is minimal, with just a rebound dial. The twin-chainring-plus-bashguard setup gives the Froggy extra legs on the ups, while 203mm rotors front and rear get the most from Formula’s excellent RX brakes.

Continental must have been having a laugh when they labelled the Rubber Queen tyres as 2.4in – they’re more like the average 2.7in. They’re huge, but roll amazingly smoothly. Shimano provide the drive with Deore cranks and shifters, and SLX mechs, and are as slick as ever, shifting quietly even under full load. A full Syncros cockpit adds a touch of class and quality to finish the package.

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