Lapierre’s bike can fly a little under the radar in the UK, but its trail-focused Zesty deserves a closer look. And with input from one of the world’s greatest riders, Nico Vouilloz, it’s certainly got some pedigree behind it too.
Lapierre Zesty AM 6.9 CF frame
Underneath the pearlescent paint job sits a carbon frameset that shares much of its structure with the longer-travel Spicy – a few flip-chips, links and shock-length changes mean Lapierre has been able to create both bikes from essentially the same tubes.
The 150mm travel is dealt out via a floating shock design, with the shock’s upper and lower bolt holes being fixed to the rocker link and an extended rear chainstay (as opposed to the front triangle) respectively, meaning both ends move relative to the mainframe under compression. Meanwhile, reverse-threaded rear pivots, doubly secured with a circlip, took a couple of head scratches to work out.
There’s also a small storage caddy built into the underside of the down tube – although I needed to loosen a hex bolt – which often filled with mud – to access it. An extra point arrives thanks to the thru-axle bottle opener!
My only real gripe with the frame is the rear chainstay protector. It has a pair of clips around the chainstay to keep it in place. However, the rearward clip is right where my heels rubbed the stays, so through descents I found my heels constantly clipping and clicking the protector – both annoying and a little off-putting.
The low-slung top tube gives riders a little more standover height, though the kinked seat tube will mean taller riders (who may have to pull the seat post further out of the frame) will have a slacker effective seat angle than those with a slammed dropper.
The bike’s geometry figures won’t stand out as particularly radical, more middle of the road, but this isn’t always a bad thing, as it can make a bike very easy to jump on and ride.
A Large has a reach of 470mm – which is definitely respectable, though the 66-degree head and 74-degree (measured at my pedalling height) seat angles won’t appeal to the more aggressive rider. The Small bikes get a 425mm chainstay length, but Mediums to XLs get 433mm – a better balance for the longer front ends.
Lapierre Zesty AM 6.9 CF kit
Fox provides the suspension – 150mm at both ends – on the Zesty. The Performance level 36, with a notched three-position compression lever has stout legs meaning plenty of authority out on the trail. This is paired with a Float DPS shock at the back – its non-piggyback design is acceptable, though a DPX2 might match the fork’s intentions better.
A mixed SRAM groupset drives the bike forward, with a visible GX Eagle mech and chainset, but lower spec shifter, chain and cassette, adding weight and denying the Zesty the plushest of feeling through the thumb and feet.
The SRAM G2 R brakes are basic, but reliable, and grip 200/180mm rotors to bring the bike to a halt. Maxxis’ rubber is present and correct, with a High Roller II 2.5in WT at the front, and a 2.4in Minion DHR WT at the back. These sit on 30mm-wide rims, which are built around Lapierre-branded hubs.
This is echoed across the rest of the build, with Lapierre’s logo sitting on the remaining components. Broad but shorter riders might want to be aware of the narrow 760mm bar fixed on the Small and Medium bikes, taller riders get a 780mm bar. Markings on them make setup nice and easy.
Lapierre Zesty AM 6.9 CF ride experience
Up hills, the Zesty liked to sit deeper into the middle portion of its travel. In this area, the suspension is very supple, meaning traction via the rear Minion DHRII was good, however pedalling efficiency was improved either by flicking the compression switch on the shock (which removes some sensitivity), or by adding air into the shock (which has knock-on effects on the way back down).
With the suspension sitting deeper into its travel, the already fairly slack seat angle gets slacker. As such, I used the shock’s lockout switch a little more than usual and put up with the slightly less sensitive ride. By pedalling smoothly, I was able to get the bike up pretty much anything, just not at the speed I might have done on other bikes.
This willingness to drop into its travel is noticeable on the descents. It’s a very, very smooth feeling bike, and is quiet to boot. The Zesty feel planted when traversing high-frequency repeated hits or rattling down knee-height drops so long as you’ve got the shock’s rebound set up to recover quickly enough.
The suspension ramps up late in its stroke, meaning I easily used the first 130mm of travel and often got all of the 150mm on offer. In a straight line, it gives it a relatively calm feeling, and I was often surprised at how fast I was exiting straights. Here, with the rear suspension compressed, the front end of the bike gets slacker, boosting front-centre length and high-speed stability.
Occasionally I found my heels dropped much further than expected, with a resultant boost of speed that was, at times, not quite in the flight plan…
It did, at times then, fire me into corners faster than I would have liked with the base model SRAM G2 R’s desperately clamping around the 200mm (f) and 180mm (r) rotors to kill the speed. Fortunately, the Fox 36 fork, with its 150mm of travel, provides a stout back-up when it comes to getting the bike’s trajectory altered when things may otherwise be going south.
I experimented with less sag than I usually would on a 150mm bike, which propped the rear-end up a touch more. I struggled to get all the travel at this point, though, and the bike lost its stable, planted feeling on the faster, rougher test tracks.
However, it did add the support that comes in much more useful on flatter, more pedally tracks, where something to push off from comes in handy. When I had the bike set up for the descents, the Zesty wasn’t as peppy when pedalling from corner to corner as the name suggests, unless I consciously pushed it deeper into its travel to find that support.
Lapierre Zesty AM 6.9 CF geometry
|Seat angle (degrees)||75.7||75||75||75|
|Head angle (degrees)||65.5||66||66||66|
|Rear - centre (cm)||42.5||43.3||43.3||43.3|
|Seat tube (cm)||40||43||46||50|
|Top tube (cm)||57.1||60.8||63.7||66.6|
|Head tube (cm)||9||10.5||12||13.5|
|Fork offset (cm)||4.2||4.2||4.2||4.2|
|Bottom bracket drop (cm)||2||3.2||3.2||3.2|
A massive thank-you to BikePark Wales for granting us access to its trails despite the bike park being closed to the public.
And not forgetting Muc-Off, for its help keeping the bikes washed and lubed throughout testing.
Bike of the Year 2021 contenders
A decent trail bike should also be fast and capable on the descents, but with less weight and travel (130–150mm) than enduro bikes, they’re nimbler on flatter trails, less of a drag on longer rides and better on the climbs.
The following bikes were shortlisted for our Trail Bike of the Year award, with a price range of £2,999.99 to £4,695.
- Bird Aether 9 (winner)
- Canyon Spectral 29 CF 7
- Intense Primer 29 Expert
- Lapierre Zesty AM CF 6.9
- Privateer 141 SLX/XT
- Propain Hugene
- Saracen Ariel 30 Pro
- YT Jeffsy Blaze 29
|Price||EUR €3999.00GBP £3699.00|
|Weight||15.01kg (L) – without pedals|
|Available sizes||S, M, L, XL|
|Tyres||Maxxis High Roller II 29x2.5 WT 3C EXO (f), Maxxis Minion DHRII 2.4 WT EXO (r)|
|Shifter||SRAM NX Eagle|
|Rear Shocks||Fox Float DPS Performance|
|Rear derailleur||SRAM GX Eagle|
|Bottom bracket||SRAM DUB|
|Fork||Fox 36 Performance, 150mm|
|Cranks||SRAM GX Eagle|
|Chain||SRAM SX Eagle|
|Brakes||SRAM G2 R, 200mm/180mm rotor|
|Wheels||Lapierre Rodi 30|