Lapierre Spicy 316 £2499.99

Updated frame means even more fun

BikeRadar score 5/5

Lapierre’s Spicy was already established as the all-mountain bike to beat, but frame updates for this year keep it confidently ahead of the competition, no matter how crazy things get.

Ride & handling: Superbly balanced, high speed, high confidence ride character

The full abilities of this bike are well worth accessing – it’s a truly outstanding ride in a remarkably wide variety of conditions. For a start, once you’ve got the sag somewhere in the right region – according to the handy red pointer – and adjusted the rebound you can forget about the suspension entirely.

Lapierre have found the Holy Grail of suspension tune and linkage that lets them run a standard volume, long stroke air can with minimum compression damping without suffering any obvious pedal bob, wallow or feedback. That means the Spicy climbs, accelerates and tackles singletrack very well, despite its relatively heavy weight.

It’s once you’re up the top that the real fun begins. With a relaxed head angle and long wheelbase, the Spicy is a naturally super stable, speed friendly bike. Big bars, short stem and great overall balance mean tiny line adjustments, or full-on changes in direction are never a drama though.

The extremely stiff frame and fork give exceptional amounts of feedback, helped by the fact both ends ride in such a controlled and connected way whatever is happening under the wheels. That means even though the hard compound Conti tyres have a tendency to go sideways when shoved we soon found ourselves just working with the surf rather than contemplating slowing down at all. The Formula brakes complete the fine control suite for pin sharp reactions that keep you calm amidst the most mental chaos.

While a good bikes has the capability to look after you and keep you safe in situations that would otherwise stretch your skills, the Lapierre does all that and also adds its own drive and dynamism to your riding. Despite the lowered rear pivot layout staying very stable when you are pedalling up, the Spicy’s OST suspension also sets benchmarks on the way back down.

It’s particularly impressive over big, flat faced, square edged hits on rocky trails, which catch a lot of bikes out, choking their forward momentum and popping tyres. In contrast the Spicy doesn’t just suck up hits, it actually feeds them back as forward motion, surging through boulder runs and rolling trails with an amazingly natural flow, which even our more novice riders noticed and exploited.

It’s equally composed at slow and high speeds too, so while the long wheelbase should theoretically catch it out on tight singletrack or North Shore skinnies, its infectious overall composure extends through every aspect of the ride.

Frame & equipment: Lightweight yet tough frame and sorted all-mountain kit

While the overall outline of the Spicy is unchanged for 2011, there’s some significant changes up close. The new tapered head tube heads up a whole new tubeset, which extends right through to new 142 x 12mm screw-through dropouts at the far end. The shared top tube/down tube and front end are seam smooth welded for slick looks, with red anodised X clips fixing the control cables under the down tube for extra flying rock protection.

The short under-slung X-shaped rocker link drives a long 220mm shock with a removable sag indicator, which makes set-up easy and proves how stiff the frame is by refusing to show any flex despite minimal clearance between it and the seatstay.

The screw-through axle plays some part in this, but uniquely for Lapierre, the seatstays actually have a reverse taper so they’re fatter at the far end by the low rear pivot, and it definitely seems to work.

The seatpost can be dropped deep into the frame, mud room is perfectly adequate and there’s a carbon mech protecting fin to prevent scratch and crash damage.

The Spicy is another bike where we’re surprised you’re getting a triple chainset rather than double-and-bash set-up. The Shimano SLX/Deore transmission is trouble-free though, and equipment is spot on otherwise.

The 20mm axled Fox 36 fork adds serious accuracy and control up front without adding excess weight and the short block Funn stem and wide bars on top of it transfer all that control to the rider.

The Formula RX brakes add excellent fingertip feedback and impressive power for confident control at the traction limit. The Continental Rubber Queen tyres are also decent all-rounders but relatively pop prone, so expect to upgrade to your favourite rubber to get full potential from your Spicy.

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine.

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