Lapierre Bikes has been in business for almost 70 years, and its premium carbon models see action in pro races the world over, beneath riders from team FDJ.fr. Lapierre's entry level 'Sport' range includes three Audacio models, of which the 400 is the most expensive.
We reviewed a model called the Audacio 400 CP a couple of years ago, and this is outwardly a very similar machine. Look a little closer though, and there's one appreciable difference – where the CP had slim, gracefully curved seatstays for maximum compliance, the newer bike has fairly stout, straight tubing. Lapierre has also switched from a 7005 alloy to 6061, although what effect this might have on ride quality depends on a number of factors.
Tubing on the Audacio frame is pretty stout and sturdy
The frame is a conventional affair, with a practical threaded bottom bracket, external cabling in eye-catching white, and nicely smoothed welds. It's matched to a carbon-legged fork with a straight alloy steerer. If you sort of squint, the blue and black livery looks remarkably Team Sky-esque. We'll let you decide if that's a good thing or not, but a small boy did shout "BRADLEY WIGGINS!" at us on a ride.
Rather than piecemealing an assortment from the parts bin, Lapierre gives you a full Shimano Tiagra 10-speed groupset, offering clunky but dependable shifting along with slightly old school aesthetics. Shimano's entry level R501 wheels are similarly functional, as is the alloy Ritchey finishing kit and the distinctly firm Selle Italia X1 saddle.
Our first ride on the Audacio didn't get off to the best start as it soon became evident that the left-hand shifter had a fairly tenuous relationship with the handlebar thanks to a loose clamp bolt. One quick fix later and we were on our way again, but it wasn't all smooth sailing from then on.
Comfort is at a premium on this stiff alloy steed
It's disappointing when a bike lives up to the negative stereotype suffered by alloy frames, but our overwhelming perception of the Audacio was that it's a harsh ride. There's ample stiffness on offer so power transfer isn't lacking, but the unyielding chassis is a jarring intermediary between rider and road, with an inflexibility that makes it skittish over rough surfaces. It's not just the wooden perch and substantial seatpost either; even out of the saddle, we were keenly aware of every lump and crack in the tarmac beneath our wheels. Ride quality is highly subjective of course – and tyre pressure and rider weight are important factors in one's experience of a bike – but in back-to-back testing the Lapierre didn't cover itself in glory.
Handling-wise the Audacio offers few surprises at least. A moderately tall head tube affords a more endurance-oriented position and we got on well with the ergo bend Ritchey bars, but a further impediment to riding pleasure comes in the form of the bargain basement Michelin Dynamic Sport rubber joining you to the road – which does little to inspire confidence on slick surfaces.
When you combine a less than appealing ride quality with an average spec, you're unlikely to end up with an attractive prospect. The Audacio isn't a bad bike, but we'd be inclined to look elsewhere unless substantial discounts are on offer.