Lapierre Zesty 514 £2900

Smooth technical trail bike

BikeRadar score 4/5

The 514 is the entry level in a three-model carbon Zesty range. The black stuff saves almost a pound over aluminium, even while increasing stiffness. Some irritating component choices mean it’s gagging for upgrading though.

Ride & handling: Smooth and surefooted without losing speed

While the shock is softer through the start of the stroke than before, it still pedals smoothly and stably. Add the low weight and it drives very hard out of corners, demolishes technical climbing challenges and kills fireroad spins with ease. This suspension composure and easy, efficient pedalling make it a super-responsive singletrack weapon, one which blasts between corners and flows through technical bits with outstanding momentum.

As speed increases, the 67-degree head angle becomes more valuable, keeping you on line as the trails try to take you out. While it’s not totally slammed, more sag than previous Zestys mean it’s low enough to feel secure.

The progressively increasing resistance as you go through the shock stroke means a firmer platform to carve corners from, and even with limited bar leverage it bursts out of berms at blistering speeds.

Mid-sized bumps are a bit more obvious through the rear now, and the fork needs plenty of pressure to stay high under braking, but the OST+ suspension squeezes an amazing amount of drive and flow from rolling, pumping trails and boulders. It also has better control on the biggest drops, and while travel is only 140mm it feels more controlled than most 150mm machines.

The carbon frame unleashes the Zesty’s superb pedalling ability, adding serious climbing and contouring speed over the alu bikes. The revised suspension carries that speed through rough ground brilliantly, and it even turns better than the benchmark 2011 bike. It’s an outstandingly confident, speed-happy hooligan – even with bars and tyres that hinder more than they help.

Frame & equipment: Let down by bar and tyres but still a bargain

The front end is the same as the 160mm Spicy’s, but a different linkage and shock keep the travel to 140mm. The reworked OST+ leverage – including a large spacer block on the end of the shock – gives a more progressive feel than before, with better traction, cornering support and finishing control. The rear end is shorter than on last year’s bikes, which creates a livelier feel. While it’s still a QR back axle rather than screw-thru, it’s a very stiff rear end with little twist.

Kit wise, the 514 is similar to the £2,300 alloy-framed 314 – carbon doesn’t come cheap. Still, you do get a screw-thru RockShox Revelation fork (15mm axle) rather than a quick-release skewered Fox, and the SLX chainset is cosmetically tougher and not much heavier than the 314’s XT. 

Lapierre have dropped a clanger with the slippery, hard compound Continental tyres though, and the 680mm bar restricts leverage and cornering confidence. Still, even after upgrading the tyres and bar it’s still a bargain for such a high-quality carbon frame. It’s also an impressively light bike.

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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