Post-war French cycle manufacturers Lapierre have been in the game long enough to know a thing or two about building exciting machines for the connoisseur and newcomer alike.
The X Lite 400 Francaise Des Jeux is a ﬁne example of the poise, character and performance that a skilled manufacturer can impart onto what can sometimes be seen as a restricted canvas.
With components supplied by Shimano and Ritchey, and a wheel package courtesy of Mavic and Hutchinson, Lapierre are left with the challenge of creating a platform that will not only serve to showcase the aforementioned contributors, but highlight the unique qualities of the frame.
They succeed with panache. The challenge is met with a true carbon monocoque frame, the result of in-house mould development and design, combined with the close collaboration of a top Taiwanese manufacturer.
- Frame & fork: Superb design, concept, engineering and performance (9/10)
- Handling: Perfect combination of response and poise, with impeccable, lively manners. Lapierre's all-carbon creation proves its race-bred credentials but offers something for everyone (10/10)
- Equipment: Expect flawless performance – but you may not turn many heads (8/10)
- Wheels: What better than excellent Ksyrium Equipes from top French wheelmaker Mavic gracing a fellow countryman's creation? (9/10)
As a benchmark for the current East/West cycle industry paradigm, the X Lite 400 offers a sub-1kg frame mated to a superb Easton EC 90 fork employing a differentially sized headset.
The added torsional rigidity of the more substantial crown to steerer tube transition sharpens up steering response, while beeﬁng up the already muscular appearance of the front of the bike.
Frame and fork alike beneﬁt from doses of hi-tech highlights, from the unique bottle-shaped steerer tube employing a massive lower sealed cartridge bearing, integrated headset adjustment, and clamp protection system, to the super-clean and compacted frame internals.
Unlike many carbon rivals, whose insides look like an old attic in a haunted mansion, Lapierre go great lengths to ensure the inside offers as smooth and uniform a surface as the outside.
Well placed and attractive cable guides keep proceedings quiet over rough roads, and even the internally routed rear brake cable gets a clever quick-ﬁt solution which time pressed mechanics will ﬁnd a godsend.
Burly carbon dropouts with protective metal caps and a massive down tube utilising the entire width of the bottom bracket shell as an interface ensure lively acceleration and zero ﬂex. Yet the Lapierre frame comes in at just 925g, while still displaying excellent high speed stability.
An attempt to make things comfortable by pinching the non cross-braced chainstays and keeping seatstay size to a minimum doesn’t really pay off.
A substantial wishbone linking the seatstays to the seat tube and a 31.6mm seatpost diameter topped with a narrow Selle Italia seat do provide sufﬁcient distraction to keep any fatigue or pain in your legs from getting noticed though.
Fortunately, this tendency towards the rigid is tempered by excellent wheel and tyre choice: Mavic Ksyrium Equipes enveloped in Hutchinson rubber.
These special Fusion 2 FDJ edition tyres provide excellent grip and potential for comfort level improvement. Drop the tyre pressures a bit, slip on a second pair of padded shorts, and enjoy the lively and perfectly dialled handling characteristics of the X Lite 400.
The Lapierre gets Shimano Ultegra SL with Ritchey ﬁnishing kit treatment. The bar’s transition from tops to drops is a sharp 90-degree angle, creating maximum grip width and a very comfortable riding position.
Our bike came with a set of 175mm cranks rather than the 172.5mm ones we’d have expected for the size of bike tested (55.5cm), slowing down leg speed a little.
But making up for it, the 12-23 combo at the back gave a perfect one-tooth gap from 12-19, including the all important 16 and 18 which are usually absent on wider cassettes yet make life so pleasant 90 per cent of the time.
As a complete package, the Lapierre gives you a slightly lower spec level than some of its price rivals, but overall classier ride characteristics, with more unusual engineering features in the frame design. And with those great bars, and a generous top tube length of 57cm, ergonomics are well catered for.
Whether it’s ﬁnding a good climbing tuck while seated, or dancing on the pedals while tackling a steep section of your local climb, the Lapierre offers a well proportioned and willing platform. If you want exclusivity without showing off, it’s just the ticket.