Lapierre took stock of the 29er movement before committing to carbon frames. The XR 29 line-up consists of three bikes and promises to be the fastest way to slice up singletrack in 2013. We hammered the cheapest of the three, the XR529, to sort the truth from the hype.
Ride & handling: Go-getter that can double up on XC and trails
The XR529 feels like a bike that’s had 10 years of effort and reﬁnement put into it. The bike doesn’t show any bad habits hammering tight stuff, riding ﬂat out or when dog tired. You can ride the front end hard in turns or back it into corners moto GP style – the XR529 doesn’t mind.
While it spins along and climbs without bothering the rider with any hysterics, when it heads into the technical stuff (ﬂicking the CTD to Descend mode) you sense there is more ability there than a 100mm (3.9in) travel cross-country bike should have. It felt like it was suckered to the ground like it had another 20mm of travel. Easing off the brakes, trusting the tyres and letting it run you’re rewarded with accuracy and a feeling that all will be okay.
Back on the climbs in Trail mode, we added a turn or two more on the rebound adjuster to dial out rider activity, then we were able to forget that we even had rear suspension.
The XR series will be a hit with racers, and especially those doing marathons. Similarly though, as a trail bike, the attitude of the XR529 is such that it’s happy to take on much more demanding trails than most race tracks offer.
Frame & equipment: Race geometry with Deore XT and flawless suspension
Lapierre have committed to a full carbon ﬁbre construction for their 29er full suspension frames (some manufacturers opt for just the front or rear end in carbon). The result is a frame that feels light under power but also stiffer than most others of similar proportions. It also means the frame is choc-full of ﬂowing shapes and lines that create a look that says ‘fast’.
The most striking element is the mount for the Fox CTD rear air shock. Using carbon allows the shock to penetrate the seat tube without affecting strength or adding any extra weight.
Lapierre have added all the new trends, such as a tapered head tube and 12mm through-axle rear dropouts, future-proofing the bike and further enhancing cornering accuracy.
Shimano’s excellent Deore XT groupset handles speciﬁc key areas. We love the compact 38T big ring paired with the wide 11-36T 10-speed cassette, because it means you’re in the big ring most of the time, with fewer grinding front gear changes, better cadence and smoother power delivery to the rear wheel.
The Formula RX brakes are superb, with power to spare and loads of feel to boot. We’d upgrade the bar and seatpost to lighter carbon options for a weight reduction, and switch to tubeless tyres for better grip/trail feel and puncture protection. The Fox rear shock and RockShox Reba fork were faultless throughout.