Lapierre XR 929 Ultimate first ride review£6,500.00

Premium-equipped, super-rapid French fancy

Lapierre’s hyper-fast XC race machine has been tweaked for better technical trail handling, as long as you can get the ‘upside-down’ RS-1 fork to play nicely.

Lapierre XR 929 Ultimate specs

  • Frame: Carbon fibre, 100mm (3.9in) travel
  • Fork: RockShox RS-1 with XLoc remote, 100mm (3.9in) travel
  • Drivetrain: SRAM XX1 Eagle (1x12)
  • Wheelset: DT Swiss XR 1501 Spline ONE 29 Boost wheels
  • Tyres: Maxxis Ardent TR 29x2.25in (f) and Ikon TR 29x2.2in (r)
  • Brakes: SRAM Level Ultimate, 180/160mm rotors
  • Bar: Race Face Next flat, 720mm
  • Stem: Race Face Turbine, 70mm
  • Seatpost: Race Face Next rigid
  • Saddle: Lapierre VL-1743
  • Weight: 10.92kg (24.07lb), large size without pedals

A closer look at the Lapierre XR 929

The XR gets a totally new frame for this year, with a humped top tube, S-curved down tube and a bend in the seat tube for improved rear-wheel clearance.

Travel is still 100mm but the punctured-seat-tube shock arrangement of the previous XR has been replaced with a top-tube-mounted damper (in this case, a metric-length RockShox Deluxe) and hanging linkage.

Two dropped reinforcing struts create a distinctive stiffening ‘basket’ in the top corner of the frame, but it still comes in at a claimed 2.1kg (with shock and rear axle).

The chainstays are 5mm shorter than on last year’s bike and the rear pivots sit ahead of Boost-width dropouts. Lapierre has also stretched the top tube by 20mm to allow for shorter stems and slackened the head tube by a degree, to 70 degrees. It’s a shame that its unique ‘E:I’ load-sensing, self-tuning suspension isn’t available in the UK though.

The XR’s humped top tube, shock ‘basket’ and skinwall tyres give it a distinct look
The XR’s humped top tube, shock ‘basket’ and skinwall tyres give it a distinct look

As you’d hope for £6.5k, Lapierre hasn’t spared the kit budget. SRAM’s 12-speed XX1 Eagle is the pinnacle of performance transmissions, with faster, wider-range shifts, a uniquely clean driving feel and impressive wear life even in filthy conditions.

Its Level Ultimate brakes are aptly named too, in terms of precision braking control. DT Swiss’s XR 1501 wheels are some of my favourite 29er hoops and the front comes with oversize ‘Predictive Steering’ hub ends to match RockShox’s radical RS-1 fork. The skinwall Maxxis Ardent Race and Ikon tyres are very light, very fast and very stylish. Race Face provides an appropriately light cockpit and fixed seatpost.

Lapierre XR 929 first impressions

With semi-slick tyres, tight wheels and a super-efficient drivetrain, the Lapierre leaps forwards with minimal effort. There’s a definite sense of twist and some torque loss through the narrow asymmetric seat tube/main pivot/chainstay-head area if you’re straining through a high gear though, so you need to spin rather than stomp for best results.

The soft start/firmer centre/ramped finish rear suspension character means great traction without obvious bob though, so I rarely touched the compression damping lever on the shock, even when PB-hunting on the climbs.

Complete with semi-slick tyres, tight wheels and a super-efficient drivetrain
Complete with semi-slick tyres, tight wheels and a super-efficient drivetrain

While the featherweight frame is unsurprisingly flexy along its length, the XR has got a more stable 455mm reach (large size) and 69-degree head angle than most XC race bikes. The 720mm bar is tight-tree and crowded-start-line-friendly, and the relatively short stem potentially gives fast, slide-saving reactions too.

Unfortunately, front end trust is seriously undermined by the startlingly vague steering of the hard-to-tune RS-1 fork. The ‘upside-down’ independent lower leg design also creates time-wasting wheel refit frustration if you puncture, marring an otherwise excellent race-focused bike and kit package.

Lapierre XR 929 Ultimate early verdict

Blisteringly rapid race/distance weapon, but the fork seriously undermines control and confidence.

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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