Lapierre's Zesty is one of the most feted trail bikes of recent years, racking up top scores from our testers in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. For 2012 the French company have made some tweaks to the successful formula which should help keep this 140mm-travel speed machine at the top of many riders' wishlists.
The head angle is now slacker (67° vs 68°), the chainstays shorter (425mm vs 438m) and the bottom bracket lower. The OST suspension design has been tweaked too – the new OST+ system uses a shuttle between the shock and linkage to refine the leverage curve. The result is said to be a more supple beginning to the stroke, better support in the middle and a more progressive end stroke.
Seen here is the entry-level carbon fibre framed model, the Zesty 514. We reckon the sleek, swoopy black frame is a thing of beauty, even in the XL size pictured here. Key features include a massive tapered head tube, press-fit bottom bracket, carbon linkage and Lapierre's trademark 'back to front' (ie. they increase in size towards the rear axle) stays.
Up front is a RockShox Revelation RL fork with tapered steerer and 15mm Maxle Lite axle, while a Fox Float RP2 shock takes care of rear damping duties. Other equipment includes custom-colour Formula RX brakes, Mavic Crossride Disc wheels fitted with Continental tyres, a Fizik Gobi XM saddle and own-brand cockpit kit.
The most obvious example of cost cutting to hit the 514's £2,800 pricepoint is the Shimano SLX transmission. This may not have the cachet of XT but apart from weighing a few grams more, offers very similar performance, so we reckon it's a sensible area to downgrade, even if it won't please the showroom snobs.
Lapierre's attention to detail is impressive – clear protective tape has been applied in key areas, there's a plastic rock strike guard on the down tube and a carbon shield for the rear mech, and the bike comes with a custom rubber chainstay protector.
The bike shown here belongs to BikeRadar's operations editor, James Costley-White, who reckons Lapierre's claimed weight of 12.1kg (26.7lb) is pretty close to the mark. He's been impressed by the bike's performance so far, and says all it needs is a tubeless conversion, a wider bar and, eventually, a dropper post. For more information, visit www.cycles-lapierre.fr or www.hotlines-uk.com.