Lapierre’s 2021 Aircode DRS 8.0 is the third iteration of the Dijon-based brand’s race-ready, aero-road machine that originally debuted in 2014.
Despite being a 2021 product, it’s already seen the podium, having been ridden by Frenchman Arnauld Démare, who won silver on it in the 2020 European Road Race Championships.
Lapierre Aircode DRS 8.0 frame and geometry
The Aircode DRS follows the aero trend with details such as integration of both disc brakes and hidden cable routing. The tube shapes derive from NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) profiles and, in keeping with 2021 trends, Lapierre’s upped the tyre clearances to a race-ready 28mm.
The DRS also addresses two issues commonly associated with aero-road bikes: weight and comfort. Weight-wise – even taking into account the increased aero tube shapes – Lapierre has managed to shave off more than 80g from the frame, bringing it down to a respectable 900g.
As for comfort, new carbon-fibre layup and material selection has improved compliance at the rear by a claimed 12 per cent. The DRS, says Lapierre, is all about aerodynamics but it’s looked to keep the handling dynamics in check, too.
The wheelbase is short to make the bike nimble and the rear stays measure just 405mm, which is about as short as you can go with modern drivetrains and disc brakes.
Lapierre has one final clever addition for the Aircode (on both the 7.0 and this range-topping 8.0 model) and that’s in the form of the new aero handlebar.
This is not only designed to improve aerodynamics but the bar’s flat, aero-bladed tops have twin two-point fittings either side of the stem so you can attach the (included) carbon aero-extensions, which effectively turn the 8.0 from a full-time road racer into a part-time time-trial machine.
It’s a great addition if you fancy the occasional race against the clock or you’re toying with the idea of a duathlon or triathlon.
|Seat angle (degrees)||74||74||74||73.5||73.5||73.5|
|Head angle (degrees)||72||72||73||73||74||74|
|Seat tube (cm)||44||46||49||52||55||58|
|Top tube (cm)||52||53.1||54.7||56.8||58.7||60.5|
|Head tube (cm)||10.5||12||14||16||18||20|
|Fork offset (cm)||5||5||5||5||5||5|
|Bottom bracket drop (cm)||6.7||6.7||6.7||6.7||6.7||6.7|
Lapierre Aircode DRS 8.0 ride impressions
On the road, the Aircode DRS 8.0 is an absolute blast to ride. The super-aggressive geometry, with a low stack height (557mm on our size large test bike) and long reach of 403mm, imbues the 8.0 with a sense of urgency as soon as you swing a leg over it.
The bike’s front end, which cleverly keeps all of the cables and hoses internally routed, is resoundingly solid. This helps the sharpness of the handling, the 8.0 reacting impressively quickly to steering inputs.
The bike has more of a race-handling edge than many aero-road machines, which are more about straight-line stability than the nimble feel on show here.
Lapierre has been clever with the specification on the 8.0. The drivetrain steps away from Shimano Dura-Ace in favour of the equally good (performance-wise, but with a few more grams in tow) Ultegra Di2; the gearing of a 52/36 chainset with an 11-28 is all about high speeds on the flat.
I still found the gearing had enough breadth for climbing, though, and the Aircode performs as well uphill as it does covering fast, rolling terrain and flat straights.
It’s the taught rigidity through the drivetrain that makes the 8.0 a truly efficient pedaller: every pedal stroke effort helps push you on with a pulsing acceleration.
Elsewhere the 8.0 justifies its price with its DT Swiss ARC 1100 DB wheelset. These 50mm-deep carbon wheels (wind tunnel developed by SwissSide) combine a modern, wide carbon rim with lightweight DT Swiss hubs.
The superlight 180s, with the fast, engaging Ratchet EXP 36 laced together with DT Aero Comp and Aero Lite spokes, tip the scales at an impressive (for 50mm deep) 1,472g a pair. These are shod with Continental’s superb Grand Prix 5000 TL 25mm tubeless tyres.
The wheels offer real aero benefits without the associated weight penalty, and they handle themselves very well in difficult windy conditions. You feel pressure on the steering under high crosswinds but it’s easy to control and ride into, rather than simply being reactive.
The dedicated aero-shaped carbon seatpost is topped with ProLogo’s excellent short Dimension saddle in its range-topping, carbon-railed ‘Nack’ edition.
The front end has Lapierre’s dedicated Aircode stem with internal routing channels. The aero bar is well shaped with comfortable holds on the tops, while semi-compact drops encourage you to get down in them for longer and make the most of the aero design.
The four plugs in the bar’s top cover slots fit the included carbon TT bar extensions: simply remove the plugs and put the bolts through, and the Aircode becomes time-trial ready.
The extensions come with padded elbow pads and spacers, allowing for 30mm of height adjustment and over 100mm of reach adjustment. You won’t achieve a high-TT bar position a la Bradley Wiggins, but that old-school, low-pro position is well within reach. It’s a smart addition to the 8.0 and adds versatility.
The 8.0 is a brilliant addition to the aero-bike genre. At its heart it’s a fast and efficient bike, but it handles like a great all-round race machine.
The ride is firm but not harsh, and the contact points and excellent tyres all add to a comfort level that’s not normally associated with this style of ride.
This could be further enhanced if you opted for the 28mm tyres that the Aircode now allows for. I, however, found the 25mm Contis offered plenty of cushioning even on the frost-scarred January roads of testing time.
Lapierre Aircode DRS 8.0 overall
The Aircode DRS is a stunningly good aero race bike that offers swift, accurate handling and great comfort, while the addition of the bolt-on aerobars adds versatility into the mix.
I admire the technical achievement and acknowledge that this is a package that’s very well put together and offers great value into the mix.
|Available sizes||XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL|
|Brakes||Shimano Ultegra hydraulic disc|
|Cassette||Shimano Ultegra, 11-28|
|Cranks||Shimano Ultegra, 52/36|
|Grips/Tape||Lapierre Vexgel Tape|
|Handlebar||Lapierre Aero UD carbon bar - 40cm(XS,S) 42cm(M,L,XL) 44cm(XXL)|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano Ultegra Di2|
|Saddle||ProLogo Dimension Nack rails|
|Seatpost||Lapierre Aero carbon 0° offset|
|Shifter||Shimano Ultegra Di2|
|Tyres||Continental GP5000 TL tubeless|
|Wheels||DT Swiss ARC1100|