This week we’re in Morzine for the Lapierre 2016 Press Lauch. The heart of mountain biking in the Alps isn’t a bad place to launch your new bike range, but it makes even more sense given that Lapierre is one of the main sponsors of the Pass’Portes du Soleil – held this weekend just gone. The town may be winding down now after three days of cycling festival, but we’re just getting started…
Lapierre has served up four bikes for us to check out over the next two days: a redesigned Zesty AM, featuring longer, lower, slacker, more funner-er geometry; a brand new Zesty XM (cross mountain) 130/120mm 27.5in wheeled trail bike, which replaces the new defunct Zesty 29er Trail; and two Overvolt e-bikes. We’ll report back with more details on the Zesties once we’ve had chance to ride them (that’s tomorrow’s job), but for now here’s the lowdown on the two Overvolt electronic assist bikes.
Lapierre is one of the leading e-bike manufacturers in Europe and sees it as a potentially huge market, not just for occasional riders, or those no longer able to ride as fast/far as they used to, but for you or us to have as the next n+1… It’s fair to say that some sectors of the market may still need convincing, but e-bikes are gaining popularity. The Portes du Soleil region has dedicated charge stations in all resorts, and they make sense as hire options for holiday makers, enabling them to see more of the vast resort than their own legs (and chairlifts) would normally allow.
E-bikes are still a controversial topic in the cycling world though. Opinions seem to vary from hatred, to just not getting it, to e-curious. Our man in Morzine, Tom, had never ridden one before and sat in the baffled yet curious camp. How did the bikes fare?
Up first was the Overvolt SX800. This is a big old bike – 170mm at both ends, slack head angle, dropper post, 1×11 SRAM GX drivetrain and a Yamaha motor. Bosch is the current market leader, but others are beginning to see the potential, so expect a few more companies to get in on the act. Sadly, there are currently no Yamaha service centres in the UK, so this bike will only be available in mainland Europe for the time being.
Once we got used to the helping hand and rapid acceleration of the electric assist, the SX800 was a riot, taking winch and plummet to the next level. It handled surprisingly well for what is an incredibly heavy bike (batteries and motors come at a price). The Fox 36 fork helped create an air of invincibility, and as much of that extra weight is centred around the cranks, the bike is still well balanced.
Next up was the Overvolt FS900 – a bike which will be available in the UK. It’s the e-Zesty to the e-Spicy of the SX800, so pairs a 150mm RockShox Pike to a 140mm travel frame. SRAM takes care of stop and go requirements via Guide brakes, and XX1 gearing.
The most notable difference in spec was the motor, though. Bosch provides the pedal-assist power duties this time round.
There are subtle differences between the Yamaha and Bosch systems. The Bosch felt a little more immediate and more consistent with its power. On the flip side, the Yamaha batteries seemed to last a little longer.
Finally, if you had any doubts about whether e-bikes are for ‘real riders’, Nico Vouilloz left his Overdrive FS900 propped up by the refreshment stop at the Lapierre stand (sadly, he couldn’t join us on the ride as he’d hurt his wrist in a recent e-bike race). Apologies for the badly framed spy-shot, the sun had obviously got to us by this point!
UK pricing on the Overvolt should be available very soon, and we’ll update you when we get it. More from Tom in Morzine after he’s refuelled on meat, cheese and Mutzig…