Lapierre’s aluminium ’crosser looks great, its glossy finish almost identical to the Francaise Des Jeux pro team livery. Sculpted tubing and an aggressive stance promise some va-va-voom, while good components and rubber hint at decent off-road performance. Its backbone is a sizable down tube that encompasses much of the hourglass head tube via some ultra-smooth welding, and supports the wide bottom bracket shell.
Before we hit the trails, the bike did show decent road manners, with the solid and stable feel we’d expect from a cyclocross machine on tarmac. A sensible cockpit with compact drop bar and stem length that enabled quick direction changes was reassuring, and the bar offset the extra reach of the Shimano 105 shifters.
But even with just 35psi in Schwalbe’s excellent Racing Ralph tyres, we could feel obvious vibration being transmitted through the curved knife-like seatstays, which the saddle did little to cushion. The seatstays did aid response though, and as we began threading through the singletrack the firm ride mattered less as the sharp handling made short work of any surprises lurking in the woods.
The rims are dressed in quality Schwalbe Racing Ralphs
The biggest frustration was the wheelset, which, complete with tyres and cassette, weighed in at a less than svelte 3.55kg (7.83lb). That extra rotational mass made acceleration sluggish, despite the Racing Ralphs’ best efforts. Avid’s Shorty 4s are great stoppers, but sit closer to the rim than we’d like, often rubbing when it gets mucky – and don’t rely on the secondary Tektro brake levers in a crisis.
Mud clearance isn’t generous at the rear, and even though the driveside stay has a CNC’d plate behind the chainset to create space, there’s a chainstay bridge and front mech cable pulley that will collect mud.
We wonder where this bike is pitched, as there are mudguard eyes on the fork, but none at the back, and only a down tube bottle cage boss. The sturdy frame and decent spec is let down by ordinary wheels – it could make a good first cyclocross bike, but its road versatility is limited.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.