Lapierre's Xelius SL platform is a favourite here at BikeRadar. The combination of light frame, stiffness through the drivetrain and excellent comfort thanks to the long seatstays that bypass the seat tube all add up to a bike that’s a real stunner to ride. With that as our positive bias going into this test, our first ride on the 600 Disc FDJ model generally did not disappoint.
Lovely road manners
We expected a little drop-off in climbing performance over the standard model, which comes with higher grade Mavic Kysrium wheels compared with the disc version's fairly lowly set of Shimano RX30s. It does feel a little less peppy, but is still pretty punchy when you want to go for it.
Thankfully its super smooth road manners remain, with the extra beefing up for disc mounts on the chainstays having no discernible effect on the smoothness of the rear end, and the new disc fork is a fine complement to the rear.
On rolling terrain with a mixed quality of tarmac, the SL really comes into its own. The ride position is aggressive, yet not overly so and the sharpness in the steering makes navigating twisty descents an absolute joy. Combine this with the added brake control and you’ve got a bike that’s seriously fun to push hard on descents, confident in its accuracy to hit the perfect cornering line and regulate speed without overbraking or locking up.
The wheels, despite being a little weightier than the bike deserves, didn’t put a foot wrong, with no adverse flex or noise. And the 25mm clinchers added further smoothness to an already fine chassis that exudes smoothness that’s not just impressive for a race bike, it's impressive for any road-going machine.
Through our test loop I actively sought out rougher patches of road, ruts, holes and scars to try and get the bike unsettled, and you can get a bit of buzz occasionally up front but the back end is remarkably fluid and impressively smooth.
I would look to change a few things. First, the middling wheels – the SL would really come alive with an improved set of hoops. Second, the quick releases used on the thru-axles are pretty basic, the sort of thing you’d find on a lower-end MTB. While we had no issues with their operation, the fact that the QR levers sit on the end of an inch long cam-seat just looks ungainly, ugly even on what elsewhere is a damn fine looking and great riding bike.