One of last year’s outstanding bikes turns carbon and loses half a kilo of frame weight for 2010. Despite the dieting and slightly divisive new geometry, it’s still in a lightweight lunatic league of its own.
Rob Weaver posted a first ride review of this bike back in the autumn, and Guy Kesteven’s now had a chance to put it through its paces too. Our testers don’t always agree, but in this case their verdict is unanimous: it’s one hell of a ride.
Not everyone likes the new shorter geometry, and the suspension sometimes lacks clarity. The weight, suspension performance, chaos taming capability and sheer speed of the new carbon Zesty are astonishing though.
Ride & handling: Playbike feel and chaos conﬁdence at a race bike weight
It might have 140mm of travel and ISCG tabs, but the super low weight, semi slick rear tyre and totally direct drive of the Zesty make it an absolute missile.
With the addition of a Boost Valve shock, the OST suspension is almost totally motionless however slowly you’re mashing the pedals. It still swings open to suck up stepped climbs and keep the rear wheel glued for maximum traction though.
A low front end means a naturally more aggressive position and less lift on the steep stuff at stalling point. Heading down the other side is equally as inspiring. The short stem, long tail and slack angles give it enviable stability and the big volume, long stroke shock can swallow the biggest rocks and drops without a hiccup.
In fact the only suspension criticism we had on test was that it sometimes isolated the trail too well, but we never struggled for grip or control as a result. Some testers didn’t like the new shorter front end, as it reduces breathing space and descending conﬁdence, but it improves tight technical agility on what’s still a long bike.
You’ll need to watch the big front tyre too: it’s grippy most of the time but can snap out from under you if you turn or brake suddenly. Running lower pressures increases ﬂoat and traction though, and tube-free survivability is a deﬁnite bonus on rocky runs.
Frame: Light and good-looking, but a tapered head tube would up front stiffness
Lapierre put carbon rear ends on their top Zestys last year but now they’re matched to a full-carbon mainframe on the 914 and 714 models, saving 500g over the alloy frame.
The bobbin head tube is conventional rather than tapered but gets big reinforcing wraps top and bottom. The S-curved trapezoidal section down tube and seat tube base are seriously oversized and the steeply sloped triangular top tube forks into a bracing strut.
Long rectangular section chainstays link to super-deep hatchet-shaped seatstays via rear pivots well below the chainline. A small H-brace and bolted V-shock mounts complete the remarkably twist and ﬂex free OCT suspension system.
There’s no conventional bottle mount but practical detailing is otherwise excellent. There’s a removable red anodised sag pointer mounted on the seat tube for instant measurement against the seatstay guides. The continuous cable and hose routing is super-clean and rear tyre clearance is vast.
There’s an ISCG mount on the bottom bracket if you want to totally lock down your transmission for alpine/downhill or Hammerschmidt crank use. All the pivot caps, cable clamps, quick-release seat collar and shock mount bolts are red anodised for extra pimp too.
Equipment: Quality kit selection, and much of it is colour-matched too
Lapierre have gone colour coded with the superlight but powerful Formula R1 brakes and lock-on grip collars, and the Shimano XT wheels add matching nipples and rotor retaining rings to their reasonably light, tough tubeless performance.
The FIT cartridge ﬁxed-travel Float fork is a good match to the tightly controlled Boost Valve rear shock, and the XT transmission gets an XTR upgrade rear mech hidden behind the carbon ﬁbre crash shield.
The Lapierre stem and bar are well shaped and sized while the Thomson seatpost and Gobi saddle combo is the ultimate seating setup in our view. The Continental Race King rear tyre adds insane straightline speed, but you’ll want something grippier for winter.