French brand Lapierre have been around for more than 60 years. Their full-sus MTBs have always impressed us, but we haven’t tested many of the hardtails. This is the best of five models in the Raid range, which starts with a £520 200.
If you can’t quite stretch to the 700 we’ve tested, the 500 costs £100 less with a 3×9 drivetrain and a RockShox XC fork. But the extra £100 for the 700 is well worth it for a 3×10 drivetrain, XT rear mech and the better performing RockShox Recon fork.
Ride & handling: Not one for fans of the fun
The Raid is one of those bikes that never disappoints… But never particularly impresses either. It just does the job in a reliable, confident, comfortable and stable manner.
Its 3×10 drivetrain makes it an attractive prospect componentry wise, but it doesn’t have a particularly dynamic ride feel. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why, but the wheel weight is certainly a factor – light wheels can make the ride of bikes like this far more sprightly, while heavy hoops make everything feel a little duller.
Still, we had no complaints on the handling front.
Frame & equipment: Functionally perfect gearing but wheels could be swapped
The butted alu frame tubes of the Raid are variously shaped to create just the right amount of lateral rigidity, with a touch of vertical compliance at the back and maximum joint strength via big weld contact areas.
Gear cabling takes the shortest down tube route, the head tube is reinforced to protect it from frontal impact damage and the top tube has plenty of standover room.
All-rounder use is taken care of with rack mounts, and the geometry is relaxed enough to take the 120mm (4.7in) travel of the RockShox Recon fork. The fork’s air spring allows for easy rider weight tuning, there’s a rebound adjustment knob and the PopLoc bar-mounted lockout leaves a small amount of compression when it’s activated.
We’re happy to see a full Shimano drivetrain on any bike. There’s nowt wrong with the mix and match approach seen on other bikes, and we understand that Shimano cranks are a more costly option for manufacturers, but the chain ring profiles shift more smoothly than from most other brands.
While an Octalink bottom bracket setup isn’t quite as light or stiff as a more costly combi-axled external bearing arrangement, the 3×10 Deore/XT gears are functionally as good as anything you’ll find on a sub-£1,000 bike.
The wheels are well built, with Shimano hubs rather than the no-name hubs that are often on bikes at this price. They’re not light though, especially with Schwalbe’s all-rounder Black Jack tyres.
The tyres roll fast and have a well spaced tread pattern that never blocks, but the compound is slippery on wet rock. Shimano’s discs do a great job on the braking front, and all the finishing kit is quality Lapierre branded stuff that none of our test riders had any moans about.
This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.