With rumours of a new downhill bike from French manufacturer Lapierre rippling across the internet in recent weeks, all eyes have been on the unfolding 2014 World Cup series to see signs of what could be coming our way.
Thankfully round three of the series, from the rugged and iconic venue of Fort William, Scotland, proved to be the perfect location to show the world what Lapierre have been busy working on and what the Gravity Republic team will be riding for the remainder of the season and available to mere mortals come the end of year.
Video: Lapierre 650b downhill bike
It's not just about bigger wheels!
With virtually all the major manufacturers working on new DH bikes designed around the quickly adopted 650b wheel size, the 2014 season is proving to be one of the most exciting for new tech in recent years. But more than just larger wheels is the adoption of new ideas into the frames and forks being designed to accommodate them.
Lapierre’s decision to look at a totally new frame design stemmed not just from the successful adoption of the larger wheel size by the team in 2013, but a response to the constantly evolving nature of downhill riding and racing. New geometry, damping configurations and lighter, smarter materials go into the two new bikes, the DH 727 and the Team DH.
Unlike many downhill bikes currently being raced, the new Lapierre DH frame is 100 percent aluminium – a similar trend that we're see with GT, Specialized, Scott and Polygon with their new new 650b downhill bikes.
Internal cable routing designed to work with SRAM’s DH-specific 7-speed transmission takes pride and place in the huge swingarm
The reason behind this decision ultimately lies in the large tooling costs involved with carbon frame manufacturing and the constantly evolving trends in the sport. And while carbon looks like an obvious choice as a dream material in the bike industry, modern tubing and aluminium frame production are yielding successively lighter and increasingly more reliable bikes, which raises the question as to carbon's necessity in downhill bike production. Time will tell if Lapierre choose to adopt a carbon frame in the future and were unable to specify weight at this stage.
From the use of the oversized pivot for increased stiffness to the removable dropouts, internal cable routing, adjustable head angle, increased tyre clearance and a rear fender to protect the linkage, this new Lapierre DH is packed with innovation and with input from none other than Nicolas Vouilloz.
The SLT (Supra Link Technology) suspension design at the heart of the new Lapierre DH features a linkage-driven, single-pivot design with a progressive suspension curve that maximises sensitivity on small hits, while being progressive toward the rear of the 210mm of travel. This new MX-inspired system was been designed specifically for this DH bike.
The heart of Lapierre’s new motocross-inspired SLT design
There are two models. The more economically minded DH 727 will come with the RockShox Boxxer RC and Fox Van R shock and X01 DH 10-speed transmission. The Team DH features a smothering of top-flight components including the new Boxxer World Cup with Charger damper, 7-speed X01 DH transmission, Easton Havoc wheels and tubeless Schwalbe Magic Mary tyres.
The bikes will be released around October with stock due in the UK around December, although no prices for the UK, Europe or Australia are available at this time.