French brand Lapierre have become a much more common sight on British shores in recent years. We’ve been liking the great handling, capable suspension and the particularly Gallic and quirky attention to detail across their range of mountain bikes.
We were invited out to test their extensively revised 2012 range in the stunning Portes Du Soleil region of the French/Swiss Alps, where each year the annual migration of thousands of British riders head out to the sample the delights of the massive area of trails and extensive lift system.
Pendbox suspension system makes move to shorter travel frame
The big news for 2012 is that the Pendbox system, first seen on the Lapierre DH bikes last year, has been adapted for use on an all new bike called the X-Flow. Although it won’t replace the X-Control it has a similarly UK friendly 120mm of travel.
The Pendbox system uses a cunning arrangement of pivots with a floating BB shell to “isolate and dissociate pedalling efficiency and shock absorption”, which simply put, tries to eliminate pedal bob to provide a stable pedalling platform but active and compliant suspension.
We’ve been shown a number of graphs that explain exactly how it works but in practice it uses the chain torque created when you pedal to pull the suspension back to the sag level whether in the rear suspension is in compression or extension, remaining neutral when at the sag position.
The movement of the BB is only 5mm at most so it isn’t hugely noticeable or odd-feeling when riding but the bike feels very plush on small bumps and has an ability to soak up the larger hits that belies its travel.
When pedalling, it looks like there’s an awful lot of movement going on at the shock but it feels extremely taut and stable whether standing or in the saddle. We suspect that the visual appearance of the shock ‘bobbing’ is in fact the Pendbox pulling the suspension back to the most efficient pedalling position.
It’s very impressive in action and feels much improved over the X-Control and the shock tunes have been heavily worked with both the input of Fox Racing Shox as well as input from downhilling and enduro legend Nico Vouilloz. Our only niggle would be that the classic Lapierre long and low geometry that we’ve loved so much in the past has become a bit shorter, which might mean a change to the next size up if you like a rangey cockpit.
Top bikes get full carbon frames
All the bikes use a tapered headtube and integrated seatclamp and the top three models will use a full carbon fibre frame and back end, ranging from a full XTR built on the X-Flow 912 to an SLX/XT mix on the X-Flow 612 . There will also be three alloy frame models, the X-Flow 512, X-Flow 412 and the entry model X-Flow 312, which will come with a tapered Rock Shox Reba, Mavic Crossride wheels and a mix of 10spd Shimano drivetrain bits.
No word on pricing for the X-Flow bikes yet but you should probably expect the pricing of the current X-Control range to be revised.