Zut alors! While Lapierre's Xelius (quoi?) doesn't have the catchiest name ever, this Gallic galloper's good enough for the Française des Jeux pros.
It’s available in the UK via Lapierre’s website, while UK Importer Hotlines sells the frame in conventional or integrated seatmast styles for £1799.99 and £1899.99 respectively. But if you go through Lapierre’s website you can specify components, have the bike built in Dijon and delivered to your nearest dealer within a month.
With a quoted frame weight of 850g, and a feathery Easton EC90SL fork, the overall 6.59kg weight isn’t perhaps a surprise, but that does include Shimano Di2 with the extra grams it brings.
The Xelius has quite restrained and svelte looks for a modern team bike, with undramatic lines but strength where it matters. Ride quality – as you’d expect – is excellent – with a light feel at the front and a wonderful ability to soak up bumps and rough surfaces, seemingly floating across the terrain.
With a 120mm stem banged right down on the 170mm tapered head-tube, the bike gives a long, low position, and even though the steering is slower than the Orbea, we liked the considered feel, and it’s still ultra reactive to being flicked around obstacles.
Triangular profiling stiffens the down-tube and head-tube junction, the seatstays and a bulged section of the chainstays, and the down-tube is ovalised where it meets the 90mm-wide BB30 bottom bracket shell.
One feature that is either designed for ease of maintenance or to maintain frame strength is the Di2 cable routing – after running through the down-tube, the rear mech cable exits in front of the bottom bracket and is stuck to the underside of the chainstay.
Even without the usual heavily built bottom bracket area, the Lapierre stayed defiantly solid, however hard we pressed. Sprints and big ring efforts uphill didn’t bother it or the drivetrain one bit, and while not exhibiting Germanic stiffness, it feels willing when the road ascends, climbing efficiently and exploiting that ride finesse.
Equally, descending feels stable and reassuring as the stiff front end allows for great accuracy when leaned on, the overall compliance helping the bike to dig in nicely through tight corners.
Hugely influencing the ride quality are Easton’s superb 38mm deep EC90SL wheels. Their slim round spokes improve feel, the super-light aero rims accelerate urgently and offer consistent braking, and the Hutchinson Carbon Comp tubulars fitted only enhance the magic carpet-ride and fine handling.