Lapierre’s French designers like to demonstrate a bit of Gallic flair, but the Pulsium’s radical frame isn’t all about va va voom and style over substance. Its top tube actually splits in front of the seat tube junction, with the top spur flattening to act like a leaf spring and the bottom half separated by an elastomer. In a typical example of bike-speak Lapierre calls this SAT, or ‘Shock-Absorbing Technology’, and claims it’s 27 percent more compliant than Lapierre’s already comfortable Sensium endurance bike.
But unlike the Sensium, this is part of the FDJ pro team’s race arsenal, so it backs up that comfort with drivetrain stiffness, optimising the carbon lay-up through the front third of the top tube, head tube, down tube and bottom bracket.
The Pulsium doesn’t have the same bouncy plushness as Trek’s Domane, but what it achieves is every bit as good. The response and pick-up is the equal of any race machine, but with one big difference – the absolute lack of noisy buzz through bar and saddle. You still know you’re riding over a poor surface but it’s never wearing; it dulls vibrations to a background murmur, which is a stunning achievement.
The geometry features racy parallel 72.5-degree angles and a long top tube, but a taller endurance-friendly head tube and a longish wheelbase. The result is a quick steering response and impressive stability, especially at speed and over rough roads. In fact, measured alongside the Trek, GT’s Grade and Cannondale’s Synapse, the Pulsium proved one of the swiftest over gravel.
Climbing on the Pulsium is an absolute breeze. The active back end and long chainstays add bags of traction in the wet, while the compact chainset and 11-32 cassette ensure you never run out of gears. It has a similar character to the Domane on descents too. Put the Pulsium into a corner and its rear end seems to bite and grip, helping you maintain speed through corners and stay on line. Mirroring the back, the fork is designed to cancel out vibration – and it does a great job.
Ultegra is what you’d expect at this level, but the Zipp bar and stem are better than the norm. The carbon seatpost and Fizik Aliante saddle are also classy touches on this superior race-cum-sportive crossover.