Lapierre Spicy 516 (09) £2849.99

Truly outstanding trail bike

BikeRadar score 5/5

Lapierre are one of the top brands in France, but they’re only just starting to get the recognition they deserve in the wider world. Bikes like the Spicy look set to launch a proper French revolution though.

Ride & handling: Outstandingly light, stiff and controlled performance

With a seriously long top tube on our medium model, the Spicy immediately feels fast and effortless on cross-country trails and sustained climbs alike. The OST suspension stiffens under power to help launch it forward as soon as you press the pedals. There’s no trace of flex or twist diluting every watt you can give the high traction, low pressure tyres either.

As a result the Spicy rips up technical climbs with contemptuous speed, sprints singletrack in a way that would shame some race bikes and can inject immediate speed into pretty much any situation.

This ultra precise snap and accuracy is equally obvious in the handling too. Even with a relatively long stem it never felt too slow or stubborn to snap onto new lines or slot the narrowest gaps between tyre-ripping rocks.

Spot-on steering angles combine with a long wheelbase and tail-end for unshakeable stability. While it isn’t going to be pushed off line or bullied by any trail, it still responds immediately to any rider input. The standout frame stiffness also means immaculate sliding poise even when you push the tyres too hard.

What’s remarkable is that the Spicy carries this speed over the top and straight into the descent without any hint of backing off. You have to push weight forward onto the distant fork on flatter, faster or looser terrain but there’s so much information coming from either end that you can push it right to the edge of reason in confidence. The high volume Fox shock and fork work superbly together too. 

The only thing we would say is that overall length can work against the Spicy in really tight technical moments or when you’re airborne and trying to style. Switching to a small, which still runs a 575mm (22.6in) top tube, will solve that though.

Frame: Stiff and stylish, with great attention to detail

It’s certainly a sweet-looking chassis, with heavily shaped hydroformed main tubes locking down stiffness between the short, fat integrated headset, head tube and curved seat tube.

The massively oversized bottom bracket shell completely swallows the Shimano XT bottom bracket bearings while asymmetric chainstays slope down to super-low double-sided pivots on massive triangular dropouts. 

The seatstays are a total reverse of the norm, swelling in size as they head backwards to form a long mitred weld onto the dropouts. Add a short, stout ‘X’ brace linkage and you’ve got an incredibly stiff back end, even with just a quick-release skewer holding the wheel in rather than a through-axle.

The detailing is excellent too, with a sag adjuster, pivot bolts, shock spacers, bolted ‘X’ clips for the continuous outer cable and hose routing and seat quick-release all picked out in matching anodised red. 

Ample tyre room, a direct mount front mech, a tough carbon fibre rear mech guard and ISCG mounts mean it’s fully ready for mud and mountains too.

Equipment: Excellent kit from Fox, Shimano, Formula and Thomson

The kit is equally sorted and well detailed. Fox’s 36 Talas fork is super-stiff and very well damped. Shimano’s XT provides rock solid yet reasonably light tubeless wheels with fast yet trustworthy all-weather Continental Mountain King UST tyres. XT also delivers the faultless cranks and gearing, while the powerful Formula Oro brakes get a sweet short lever blade upgrade.

A top class Thomson kinked back seatpost and stem hold a quality Lapierre saddle and broad Easton bars respectively, while the white grips get red anodised clamp collars for colour-coded security. All this looks fly and works extremely well, and it brings the complete bike weight down to 13.31kg (29.36lb) – remarkably low for a bike with this much travel (160mm/6.3ins).

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