After a day of electrically-assisted riding on Monday, Tom was made to work a little harder for his miles on the second day of the Lapierre press launch in Morzine…
As well as the Overvolt models, this week Lapierre has revealed two all-new Zesty bikes – the Zesty AM and the Zesty XM (cross mountain).
The Zesty AM was in Lapierre’s 2015 range, but the 2016 version of the 150mm travel bike is completely redesigned – and there are no prizes for guessing that the theme has been longer, lower, slacker. An extra 10mm or so on the top tube, a 66.5° head angle and a 10mm drop on the bottom bracket all sounded promising. Moving on from geometry changes, the rear shock mounting has been moved from the down tube to the top tube, allowing the Lapierre designers to create a stronger frame and shave off weight (a not-insignificant 500g from the carbon model – yes, really!).
I got to ride the all-carbon framed Zesty AM 827, in a classy, top spec build. Unlike previous Zesties, the rear end and linkage are manufactured from the black stuff, as well as the front triangle.
Build highlights include a well thought-out 55mm stem/760mm bar combination, SRAM X01/XX1 mix drivetrain, Guide brakes and Roam 40 wheelset. SRAM also provides the moving bits, via a Pike fork, Debonair shock and Reverb dropper post.
On the trail, the Zesty AM made for a confident ride. Lapierre has reworked the suspension to feel more progressive in the last part of its travel and this, combined with the subtle geometry tweaks, Lapierre claim it creates a stable, predictably-handling bike, even over the roughest ground. On the trail, it was hard to argue with that. The AM tracked well, staying subtle over jumbled roots, without plunging through its travel on bigger hits.
The other Zesty launched this week was the XM model. This wasn’t in Lapierre’s line up last year, and replaces the now-defunct 29in TR. Lapierre says that this was a largely consumer-driven decision and means that all of the brand’s trail bikes are now 27.5in wheeled.
The new frame shares a lot of details with its longer travel sibling. Geometry-wise, the head angle is a smidgen steeper, and the 120mm travel frame is designed around a 130mm fork, but that’s about it for differences between the two.
Again, I was riding the top end, all-carbon 827, sporting a similar spec list to the AM. The only notable changes were the forks – RockShox Revelations – and the brakes, with the Guides swopped for Shimano XT.
The XM will fill the ‘one mountain bike for everything’ slot for many UK riders. It’s simply a very, very good trail bike, and one which I’m looking forward to spending more time on back on home ground.
Both bikes I rode were equipped with Lapierre’s e:i automatic suspension system. An accelerometer on the stem, another on the forks, and a sensor in the bottom bracket sense how rough the terrain you are riding over is, and whether you are pedalling. Based on this data, a small servo motor on the shock moves the platform from locked out, to a stiffened-up pedalling platform, to fully open. It’s possible to completely override the system via a button on the stem-mounted control, or simply leave it in the auto setting and concentrate on riding.
What felt like it could be an unnecessary complicated addition actually simplified the riding experience. There was no blindly fumbling around the frame looking for a shock lever when moving from one terrain to the next, nor was there the opportunity to simply forget to switch off a lock out after a long climb [which is something we do surprisingly often, given that we do this for a living… – Ed.]. The e:i brain is a clever little thing and switches between modes quickly enough that it never felt like I was in the wrong setting.
For everyday riding, this might just be a nice luxury, but for enduro racing on mixed terrain stages, it could save vital seconds. E:i is offered as a (£300ish) upgrade to all models. Both Zesties will be available, via Hotlines in the UK, from September. Prices are currently being set, and we’ll update as and when we get the details.
That’s all from Lapierre for now, but they’ve promised news on a new Spicy in the near future, so stay tuned. Thanks to Hotlines and Morzine for having us!