Lapierre aims to make Overvolt 'as playful as a non-e-MTB'

Brand new, full-carbon electric-assist bike plus significant redesign for XC race machine

There’s no getting away from the sheer amount of controversy that surrounds e-bikes – particularly e-MTBs – but Lapierre has joined the ranks of the big bike manufacturers really pushing them for 2017, with updates to its Overvolt line.

For non-e-MTB fans, the brand has also fully overhauled its race ready 29er cross-country bike for 2017.

We were at Lapierre's recent launch in Dijon to scope out exactly what's on offer…

Breaking the mould?

While the launch in Dijon covered a number of bikes, there’s no getting away from the attention a couple of bikes in particular mustered, one of which was the new Overvolt AM Carbon e-MTB.

As the name suggests, this is a full-carbon, full-suspension electric-assist mountain bike – but it looks pretty different to just about every other e-MTB out there. Why? Well, Lapierre was under no illusions that most e-MTBs handle significantly differently to a regular mountain bikes, due to the weighty battery placement and heft of the motor.

The battery of the new Overvolt was shifted 72mm downwards and rotated so it could sit almost directly above the Bosch CX Performance motor
The battery of the new Overvolt was shifted 72mm downwards and rotated so it could sit almost directly above the Bosch CX Performance motor

Though its engineers couldn’t change the battery or motor itself, Lapierre knew that adjusting their position on the bike could drastically improve how the bike felt on the trail. Making the frame from carbon seemed to offer the best solution and in doing so, allowed them to move the 3kW battery down 72mm in the frame, and by rotating it slightly too, they were able to sit it just above the motor. Though the brand insists that creating a full carbon frame was never about saving weight, it has shaved off a few grams here and there, bringing the frame on its own down to 3.4kg.

Another trick up the Overvolt AM’s sleeve is the ability to switch between 27.5in and 27.5+ wheels, courtesy of the Dual Wheel System (DWS) and Boost axle spacing at the front and rear. Though this may sound complicated, it’s simply a case of inverting the rear dropouts to accommodate the switch in tyre sizing which in turn, lengthens the chainstay length by 10mm. Lapierre claims it’ll not be particularly expensive should you want both sets of wheels either, as it’ll be offering wheel packages separately for around €300.

When it comes to suspension, the Overvolt AM’s 140mm of rear wheel travel comes courtesy of the tried and tested OST+ suspension platform, paired with a 150mm travel fork up front with a 51mm offset. This gives the Overvolt AM Carbon a head angle of 66 degrees, and seat angle of 73 degrees.

Lapierre's latest full carbon e-MTB comes in three different models. The AM700 may be the cheapest option, but it still features some seriously impressive kit
Lapierre's latest full carbon e-MTB comes in three different models. The AM700 may be the cheapest option, but it still features some seriously impressive kit

There will be three sizes of Overvolt AM Carbon available, ranging from small to large, and three different models in the range.

While all three in the range get Lapierre’s new dropper post (which comes in 31.6mm in 100, 125 or 150mm drops with stop anywhere adjustment and is internally routed), they also share the new RockShox Deluxe metric shock as well as the same Bosch CX Performance 500Wh motor. All models also feature Lapierre’s eAM wheel package which uses a 30mm rim up front, laced up with straight-pull spokes and a 25mm rim at the rear laced up with J-bend spokes both on Boost hubs. This, they claim is the best balance of strength, weight and stiffness for an e-MTB application. The top end AM900+ bike gets SRAM’s new dedicated e-MTB EX1 transmission.

Pricing is still TBC but Lapierre says medium bikes should be good to go come September this year, while the small and large models will roll out the factory in December.

XCiting times

Watch any recent cross-country race coverage and its clear the courses are getting more extreme each and every year. This means the bikes inevitably come into play even more. Though Lapierre’s XR cross-country, full suspension race machine has been tweaked over the years since we first spotted it back in 2011, its distinctive silhouette is set to change for 2017.

One look and it’s easy to see just how significant the changes have been. Gone is the seat tube cradle-mounted rear shock, in favour of a more traditional top tube mounted item and this time all built around Lapierre’s proven OST+ virtual pivot suspension platform which delivers 100mm (3.9in) of pedal efficient travel.

Lapierre's 100mm travel XR cross-country bike has had a complete overhaul and looks really quite different to the previous bike
Lapierre's 100mm travel XR cross-country bike has had a complete overhaul and looks really quite different to the previous bike

Surrounding the shock is the odd looking ‘shock cage’ which may not add anything structurally – and according to Lapierre, doesn’t add much in terms of weight either – but does help retain the XR’s ‘spirit’. Weight for the full carbon frame is a claimed 1.8kg without the shock.

Geometry has been heavily overhauled too. The French brand has stretched the new XR’s reach out by 20mm, shortened the chainstays to 441mm, slackened the head angle to 69 degrees and steepened the seat tube angle to 74.5 degrees.

Thanks to Lapierre’s ‘Trap Door Technology’, Shimano’s Di2 electronic transmission can easily integrated into the frame, with the battery sitting neatly into the down tube.

Though the shock cage might not add much structurally, Lapierre wanted it included to help maintain the 'spirit' of the original XR race machine
Though the shock cage might not add much structurally, Lapierre wanted it included to help maintain the 'spirit' of the original XR race machine

Other details include Boost axle spacing to improve stiffness, the new metric RockShox rear shock standard (while the top model uses the Monarch RT3 e.i, the three other bikes in the range all feature the new Deluxe RT3 rear shock), routing for an internal dropper post – a trend the ever-more demanding courses seem to be creating – and the top two models will be available with Lapierre’s electronic e.i auto-adjust suspension system.

While on the subject of e.i, it’s worth noting that Lapierre has improved the e.i’s waterproofing for 2017 too, repositioning the batteries connector to better protect it from the elements as well as better sealing its remote unit. Lapierre also claims to have made removal and installation of the battery easier too.

There are four models of the XR to choose from and four sizes, ranging from small to extra-large. The top flight XR 929 Ultimate comes draped with SRAM’s latest 1x12 Eagle XX1 transmission and inverted RS-1 fork. All models also use differing rim widths (25mm up front, 23mm at the rear) which Lapierre claims delivers a better balance of control and precision.

Prices are still TBC.

E-ven more to come

Though the new Overvolt AM Carbon may be hogging the spotlight, Lapierre's Dijon-based team have been busy overhauling the more traditional looking alloy version of the Overvolt AM for 2017 too.

Just like its carbon counterpart, the Overvolt AM Alloy now houses the OST+ suspension platform and uses RockShox Monarch metric shock to deliver the 140mm of rear wheel travel. On all but the cheapest AM400 option, there’s also a 150mm travel fork plugged in to handle the bigger hits.

If you can't afford the full carbon version of the Overvolt, it's also available in alloy though looks a little more traditional
If you can't afford the full carbon version of the Overvolt, it's also available in alloy though looks a little more traditional

All of the alloy Overvolt AMs can use either 650b or 650b plus wheels thanks to the Boost axle spacing and switchable rear dropout which you’ll need to buy separately.

In terms of geometry, the Overvolt AM Alloy sports the same head and seat angle as the pricier carbon version and there are three frame sizes to choose from, ranging from small to large.

When it comes to the spec sheet, the cheaper AM400 is the only bike in the Overvolt AM Alloy range to feature the Yamaha 400Wh motor while the rest of the line-up gets the Bosch CX Performance 500Wh motor. The AM400 also features a slightly shorter 140mm RockShox Sektor Silver Boost fork and Shimano Deore brakes.

The three more expensive models all get Lapierre’s very own dropper post and SRAM Guide brakes. Both the AM600 and AM700 are also treated to Lapierre’s differing rim width eAM wheel system. The AM700 also gets SRAM's dedicated e-MTB drivetrain, EX1.

The new Overvolt XC sports 120mm of travel front and rear and is aimed as more of an all rounder
The new Overvolt XC sports 120mm of travel front and rear and is aimed as more of an all rounder

If that wasn’t enough e-bike excitement, let’s not forget the shorter travel Overvolt XC. This more playful, lighter weight e-MTB pumps out 120mm of rear wheel travel using the OST+ suspension platform.

Like the other e-MTBs covered here, the XCs are convertible to 27.5+ tyres thanks to the Boost axle spacing and switchable rear dropout which you’ll need to buy separately.

Of the three Overvolt XCs available, it’s only the top XC500 that gets the Bosch CX Performance 500Wh motor, while both the AM400 and AM300 get the Yamaha motor. Meanwhile the cheapest AM300 gets a 2x10 transmission and Suntour XCR fork, the top end XC gets Shimano’s XT 11-speed transmission and the RockShox Recon Silver Boost fork.

There’s also a women’s specific XC300 model that also uses the 400Wh Yamaha motor but more compact geometry, narrower bars and a women specific saddle along with a different paint job.

If you’re not too worried about having rear suspension, the Overvolt HT500 could be an option. It uses the Yamaha 400Wh motor, sports a 120mm travel Suntour XCR fork and 2x10 Shimano transmission.

Again, prices for this lot are still TBC.

Rob Weaver

Technical Editor-in-Chief, Tech Hub, UK
Rob started riding mountain bikes seriously in 1993 racing cross-country, though he quickly moved to downhill where he competed all over the world. He now spends most of his time riding trail bikes up and down hills. Occasionally he'll jump into an enduro race.
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: Natural trails where the loam fills my shoes on each and every turn
  • Beer of Choice: Guinness

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