Lapierre Pulsium 500 disc review£2,699.00

Flexing French endurance ride

BikeRadar score3.5/5

The first Pulsium arrived back in 2015, and introduced Lapierre’s Shock Absorption Technology (SAT), which interrupted the top tube with a complex combination of three elastomers to dampen road noise and offer comfort over rougher surfaces.

  • The Lapierre Pulsium 500 disc is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2018. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women's bikes, visit our Bike of the Year hub.

Lapierre Pulsium 500 disc frame and kit

The 2018 bike strips back the elastomer to a single piece, while increasing the compliance over the previous generation and lightening the overall frame. Lapierre claims that a combination of the new frame design — curvier and more slender than the previous model — and increased stiffness through the bottom bracket, head-tube and chainstays make the bike a more capable racers’ option.

Like the Lapierre’s flagship models, the 500 frame incorporates its trapdoor design for Shimano Di2. Instead of the traditional inside-the-seat-tube/post fitment of the battery, there's a trapdoor in the down tube so you insert the battery lower down. This offers better weight distribution resulting in more stability and superior handling. My 500 isn’t Di2 equipped, it has the more modest 105 mix, but it’s good to know the frame is upgrade-worthy.

My Large test bike, the equivalent of a 56cm in traditional sizing, has a low-for-an-endurance bike 583mm stack, and middling 387mm reach.

That gives a more aggressive ride position than I’d have expected, but the smoothness of the frame and long 412mm chainstays all amount to a bike with sparkling stability at speed and over seriously coarse surfaces.

While I love the modernity of the frame, the fork doesn’t seem to have been updated. It’s well shaped with ample tyre clearance even when running the large volume 28mm Continental tyres — but the post mounting for the disc brake is a standard that’s been surpassed by the latest minimal flat mounts.

The 505 brakes are flat-mount units, so the fork also requires an adaptor. It also has a rather overbuilt dropout for the thru-axles, which adds a lot of width to its base. It looks rather at odds with the slender smooth lines of the 500’s main frame.

Lapierre Pulsium 500 disc ride experience

For those who are fans of the original’s smooth ride, the new model continues the comfort. Rarely has a bike felt so effortless when the road surface takes a turn for the worse.

That’s all down to the combination of the clever frameset with big-volume 28mm tyres, which shape up to nearer 30mm on the latest wider Aksium disc wheels. Where the 500 also scores on the endurance stakes is the gear choice, the combination of a compact 50/34 and a super-wide 11-32 cassette meant I started to actively seek out the steepest ascents I could, knowing that having a 34/32 bottom gear meant I could get to the top of double digit percentage climbs spinning a light gear.

The 505 discs and their compatible shifters are decent units, braking performance is close to Ultegra level, but some may have an issue with the large bulbous hoods of the 505s.

Our testers with larger hands didn’t have any issues and some liked the oversized shape for a secure handhold when honking on the bars on climbs. Conversely those with smaller palms found the transition from hood to flat section had an awkward lump. Our best advice is try before you buy on the 505’s divisive shape.

The choice of a 140mm rotor on the front of the 500 did mean a bit of noise coming through on extended periods of braking. For smaller size bikes (and smaller riders) a 140/140 combo is fine, but on larger sizes try a 160 on the front as it seems to cope with slowing down the extra mass better with no protesting noises. It doesn’t detract at all from the brake performance, it's just that I prefer a quieter ride.

I  love the way the 500 rides, but it can’t quite deliver as well as it should on the value front. If it was a few hundred pounds cheaper, it would be a surefire hit. At the moment, it’s still a superior sportive bike but I can’t help feeling a little short-changed.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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