Lapierre Aircode Ultimate custom build - first ride

Impressive, tweakable new aero machine

BikeRadar score4/5

Back in January BikeRadar reported on Lapierre's unveiling of a fresh aero frameset – the Aircode.

We've now had a chance to ride the French manufacturer's new machine for a a few hours in the hills around Lapierre's factory in Dijon – and first impressions whetted our appetites nicely.

Also read:Lapierre 2015 road bikes – first look

Frame and equipment: impressively light, with mix and match kit

Lapierre's online Ultimate custom selector enables you to chose the finish and components of your bike. The bike we rode came with mechanical Ultegra, Kysrium Elite wheels and finishing kit from 3T, and was finished in the team colours of FDJ. No price was given – we'd expect it to retail for slightly more than the existing Aircode 500.

The aero fork features a direct mount semi-integrated brake

Out on the road, what's most impressive about the the new Aircode is just how 'normal' it feels. Like the best new aero-road machines – such as Felt's latest AR and Giant's brilliant Propel – the Aircode does feels explosively quick. Yet it's also totally composed and free of flex without being overly stiff. In fact the overwhelming feel is one of smoothness, helped in no doubt by fine equipment – especially the carbon semi-wing shaped 3T Ergonova Team bar, carbon Team post and 25c rubber.

Kamm-tail shapes feature throughout the Aircode frame

Despite the extra shaping on the frame the Aircode is still remarkably light, with the frameset weighing in at 1050g (opt for the non-fully painted option and this drops to sub-1kg). Our complete 57cm bike tipped the scales at just over 7kg, impressive as it certainly wasn't a specification built from super light parts.

Ride and handling: long, low and planted – like a true race bike

The ride position is long and low, just how a true race bike should be but e never felt overly stretched or uncomfortable even on the steepest climbs. On the flat the Aircode goes about its very-fast business smoothly and quietly and, although the geometry of the steering is a little more relaxed than a Xelius, it doesn't feel hampered by lesser reactions to steering inputs. It's full of stability which makes control easy. On the couple of long-fast twisty descents of the test loop the Aircode feels planted through corners holding your chosen line with ease.

Our only criticism, and this could have been with the set-up, was with the brakes (there was a quick switchover to UK spec just before the ride) – and in particular, with the balance between the brakes.

In the limited time we had with it, the Aircode impressed us as a worthy next-gen aero contender

Up front the direct mount Shimano's power is superb, with plenty of feel and lots and lots of stopping power. At the rear though, the under-chainstay brake never felt anywhere near as close. It felt almost like having a modern dual pivot up front and an old-school Weinmann out back.

We also got a little rub from the rear brake under sprinting, but without checking the rear wheel or brake set-up it's difficult to identify the cause. We'd suspect the wheels, which had been on the demo rounds at Lapierre for some time.

In all we're hugely impressed with the Aircode – it feels as good out on the road as bikes like the new AR and Propel. Its quick, silky handling and smooth riding and a worthy contender for top honours in the competition for best next-gen aero road bike.

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