Lapierre has shown just how committed it is to the burgeoning yet controversial electric-assist mountain bike category by investing heavily in its latest e-MTB, the Overvolt AM carbon. We took the cheapest of the three bike line-up for a spin on its native trails in Dijon, France to see just how Lapierre's new take on e-MTB design shapes up in the real world. Here’s our initial impressions…
Lapierre Overvolt AM700 Carbon: highlights
- All new carbon frame shifts the battery position as low as possible
- Convertible between regular 27.5in and 27.5+ wheels
- 150mm travel up front and 140mm of travel at the rear
- Uses Lapierre’s proven OST+ suspension platform
- Features Lapierre’s new internally routed dropper post
- Aggressive geometry
The frame: how low can your battery go?
According to Lapierre, creating an e-MTB out of carbon was never about weight saving. No, this was all about how its engineers could package the hefty battery and motor in a bid to create an e-MTB that handled more like a regular mountain bike, lowering the bike's centre of gravity and injecting some of the nimbleness that e-MTBs are often a little short of.
In the end, Lapierre managed to lower the 500Wh battery a whopping 72mm in the main frame, rotating it and plonking it just above the Bosch CX Performance pedal-assist motor.
The slack 66-degree head angle certainly gives you an idea of what Lapierre had in mind for the Overvolt AM700 Carbon when pointed downhill. Meanwhile the effective top tube on our medium test bike was a reasonable 600mm, though the 415mm reach certainly isn’t the longest out there. Lapierre has also opted to use a 5mm bottom bracket drop coupled with slightly shorter 170mm FSA cranks in a bid to get the right balance between ground clearance and cornering prowess.
If you’re still unsure whether you’d prefer to run standard wheels or try out the new plus-size option, you’ll be pleased to hear the Overvolt AM will happily accept either, courtesy of the DWS (Dual Wheel System) dropouts and Boost axle spacing at the front and rear. Flip the dropouts and simply slot in your preferred wheel/tyre combo. It’s worth noting that Lapierre will be selling separate wheel packages should you want to try this for around €300. Switching between 650b and plus will grow your chainstay length by 10mm though, stretching it from 475mm to 485mm.
The 140mm of rear wheel travel is delivered via Lapierre’s proven OST+ suspension setup, which was developed in conjunction with 10-times world champion, Nico Vouilloz, and all controlled using one of the new metric RockShox Deluxe RT shocks.
Thoughtful spec choices and excellent own-brand dropper
Although we only had a brief amount of time aboard the AM700 Carbon, we were certainly impressed by the smooth, consistent operation of Lapierre’s very own 125mm dropper seat post. The lever feels nice and sturdy and is a big enough target to hit when you’re really scrabbling around in a rush to drop your saddle. Although it’s early days, there was no saddle wobble or droop to be seen either which is always a plus.
Another of Lapierre’s personal touch here is the wheels. While the front wheel gets straight pull spokes laced to a 30mm rim, the rear wheel uses a narrower 25mm rim and j-bend spokes in a bid to better balance control and precision, as well as handle the loads that come courtesy of the 500Wh Bosch motor.
Though all the catalogue images of the Overvolt AM700 Carbon come shod with Maxxis rubber, our test bike featured Michelin’s Wild Grip’R Advanced Reinforced tyres which I and other journos seemed to puncture quite easily.
Up front sits the RockShox Yari fork which pumps out 150mm of travel. The stiff 35mm chassis feels accurate through awkward, rocky turns while the Motion Control damper does a commendable job of sucking up the hits in a controlled manner.
SRAM’s Guide RE brakes are definitely worth a mention here too. These pair the Guide R levers with the burly four piston Code caliper and deliver precise and controlled stopping power consistently.
A new kind of e-MTB handling
Power delivery from the Bosch motor is, as we’ve come to expect, pretty smooth as you apply pressure to the pedals and only really tricky to handle from standing starts on loose climbs. This is where you’ll be thankful of the easy to use remote which lets you toggle between the various power modes, all of which are displayed by the rather bulky head unit. For the most part of our short loop though, we struggled to ride in anything other than turbo mode as it’s just that much fun. But let’s focus on the ride characteristics of the bike for a minute though, as that’s the big draw here.
In terms of handling, the Overvolt AM700 Carbon feels different to a more traditionally laid out e-MTB. The distinctions are subtle initially, but mow head on into a set of linked turns, or drift a corner or attempt to chop and change your line at pace and the more lively, flickable nature of this unique-looking carbon beast soon becomes apparent.
In loose, slippery turns where I’d struggled to correct and adjust the direction of other e-MTBs earlier in the day, things just felt that bit easier on the AM700. That ‘point of no return’ in the slide where you know you’re about to hit the floor is a little harder to reach, meaning making corrections mid-corner was easier and less energy sapping. That seriously low-slung weight also adds confidence when chucking the bike between quick, successive turns too.
When the AM700 isn’t going down though, the added nimbleness increases the fun factor even further and it wasn’t long until I found myself hopping and popping the bike all over the trail.
There’s still that high-speed juggernaut feeling when you really get trucking, though this time with a bit more refinement.
So are there any downsides? Lowering the centre of mass has certainly had a positive effect on the behaviour of the bike and although it’s no 30lb trail bike, it certainly feels closer to one than the other e-MTBs I’ve ridden. Lapierre does need to stick some burlier tyres on the AM700 though as this is a bike that just wants to take a serious pummelling.
The only other real issue we had during our short stint aboard the bike was the huge crevice in the down tube above the battery started to fill with mud, potentially making things even heavier. Lapierre claims to be rectifying this with a custom bottle that will sit in the gap, which could be a really nice touch if executed well.
Early verdict: Though our experience aboard e-MTBs is still relatively limited, Lapierre’s latest creation certainly adds a little something extra to the experience, offering improved handling and bringing a bit more agility to the mix. Once we get delivery of our test bike, we’ll let you know how we’re getting on in the coming months.
Spec as tested:
- Frame: Overvolt UD Carbon with 140mm travel, Bosch CX Performance 500Wh motor and Intuvia display
- Fork: RockShox Yari RC Boost with 150mm
- Shock: RockShox Deluxe RT
- Drivetrain: FSA CK745 cranks, SRAM NX rear mech and 11spd shifter
- Wheelset: eAM Mavic rims on Formula hubs
- Tyres: Michelin Wild Grip’R GumX Advanced Reinforced 2.35in tyres
- Brakes: SRAM Guide RE
- Bar: Lapierre Nico Vouilloz Signature 760mm
- Stem: CNC stem
- Seatpost: Lapierre dropper post
- Saddle: Lapierre
- Weight: TBC
- Price: TBC