Lapierre has always produced distinctive bikes and if you’re after something as obviously smooth as it is stylish then the Sensium should be on your list. Power players should probably look elsewhere.
In practical terms that means a relatively tall head tube for a naturally upright, back-friendly position. The sloped and tapered top tube also means a long extension of the skinny seatpost to allow extra flex between your backside and the bike.
The frame is very well finished and Di2-ready – though the Tiagra it's dressed in seems a little downmarket
The seatstays use a skinny wishbone design that damps road vibration and lessens pothole impacts. The bottom line is more substantial, with a chunky D-section fork syncing straight into the base of the tapered head tube and a down tube that swells steadily down to the press-fit bottom bracket.
The detailing is really neat throughout. The blister-style inlets for the internal cabling and the rear gear cable exit from the back of the driveside dropouts are beautifully executed and the frame’s even ready to take Di2 electronic shifting with a battery mount bolted under the offside chainstay.
The slick styling continues with the coordinated white cable for the Tiagra shifters, although the two side-exit loops shining bright at the bottom of your peripheral vision can be slightly distracting at first. It also doesn’t alter the fact that a 10-speed setup seems out of place on a bike at this price point.
While their user-serviceable bearings are a lifespan-boosting bonus and they have a solid speed-sustaining feel on the road, the Shimano R501 wheels are also heavier than items specced on comparable rides we've tested recently such as the Vitus Venon or Norco's Valence 105.
Aggressive riders will likely find the Sensium a bit of a turn-off, but it's hard not to be impressed by its unruffled ride
A powerful frame can easily offset a bit of extra mass and still keep a bike encouraging when you put in effort. But despite the Sensium’s press-fit bottom bracket and stout-looking belly, that just isn’t happening here.
Instead, our attempts at hurrying acceleration or gaining altitude were met with a decidedly soft and enthusiasm-sapping response – more Gallic shrug than va-va-voom. You can make reasonable progress if you stay seated, keeping the cadence high and the torque low, but it’s definitely not an ally of more aggressive riders.
The Tiagra brakes also use in-moulded rather than cartridge-style pads and the narrow pivot architecture, compared with Shimano’s 105 SLR-EV brakes, means less power as well as a mushier feel.
While it’s sufficiently accurate in terms of wheel placement and tyre feedback the Sensium's relaxed angles mean a naturally stable and placid feel through the handlebar. Its short wheelbase does mean you can whip it through corners or traffic if you need to, but it’s not the default dynamic on the road.
Where the Lapierre shines is in delivering a level of smoothness that actually had us checking if we’d remembered to inflate the 25mm Hutchinson rubber to our usual 100psi test pressure. Whether it was potholes, roadwork ramps, frost damage or just rough cycle path the Sensium floated across evil surfaces with remarkable serenity.