Here we have the new XR from Lapierre – it’s an update of earlier models rather than a completely new addition to the range for this year, although there’s been some significant changes for this year’s edition. Designed to be fast for XC riding and racing, it’s a 100mm travel full carbon 29er featuring Lapierre’s OST+ suspension system and e:i Shock technology. OST is ‘Optimised Suspension Technology’, and e:i is possibly witchcraft – or maybe just electronics. But we’ll come to that in a minute. First up, let’s have a look at the whole bike:
The head angle, at 69 degrees, is a degree slacker than the previous year’s model. The seat tube is steeper, the chainstays are 5mm shorter, and the overall reach is 20mm longer. So there’s some numbers for you.
This is the 629 model – there’s a 529, a 629, a 729 and a 929 – in ascending or of spendiness – and arguably speediness. The 629 comes with RockShox Reba R1 fork, while the 929 is bestowed with a RockShox RS1.
On the rear we have the RockShox Deluxe RT3 shock with 100mm of travel.
This rear shock mount is the most noticeably different part of the bike compared to previous editions. The redesign allows for the bike to be fitted with a dropper post, recognising their increased popularity on the XC scene.
And what’s this? Well here we have the e:i Shock system – electronic witchcraft/cleverness that monitors your riding and the terrain and alters the shock to suit. No more flicking of switches or belatedly fumbling to find the open setting as you head downhill. Just keep riding and the bike makes all the changes you need.
It’s pretty subtle looking – it certainly doesn’t jump out at you that there’s a bunch of electronics fitted to the bike. The battery port has been redesigned this year for improved water run off after cleaning.
Back to the more traditional, and we have foam lock on grips and Shimano brakes and shifters.
Shimano BRM 506 hydraulic brakes are fitted on the 629 model. Step up to the 729 at you’ll get Shimano XT.
The front mech is not dead! Here we have the Shimano SLX front mech, with XT 2×11 drivetrain (11-40T cassette).
Tyres with nobbles possibly not designed for the level of mud encountered on this test ride.
Maxxis Ardent on the front and Ikon on the back – with tan side walls. Love them or hate them?
Plenty of clearance at the crown.
And clearance at the rear – testing conditions were very muddy as you can see.
This is the Trap Door Technology (TDT) that allows neat storage of batteries inside the frame – making it ready to take Di2, or whatever other battery powered inventions might come our way.
So that’s the details – although it is possible that the UK finishing kit will vary slightly from those shown here. The bikes will be distributed by Hotlines and we’re awaiting confirmation of the prices.
What was it like to ride?
First up, is it doesn’t have that teetering over the bars, head down bum up feel that I’ve found some XC specific bikes to have. Although the rather racey tyres weren’t too well suited to the slippery, muddy conditions on the test day, the bike felt responsive and I felt confident enough to have a go at even the steep descents that I might think twice about on an aggressive race bike.
The i:e shock really does seem to work – you can comfortably pedal up a tricky climb without experiencing the bounce of rear suspension, but head down some lumpy bumps and there’s not the same sense of kickback that you get with a hardtail. Pedalling, you pick up speed quickly, and the overall sensation was like a hardtail with added comfort.
The 29 inch wheels felt fun on a technical rocky descent, and picking a line through the bike felt nimble. Although the bike has been redesigned to accommodate a dropper post, this wasn’t fitted to our test bike, and certainly I found myself heading over terrain where one would have been useful.
Time on the bike was limited to a rather wet morning only, and I spent a fair amount of time concentrating on staying upright rather than moving forward. The short sections of grippy trail definitely gave a taste of the speed that is possible however, and this is a bike I’d like to test again in drier conditions where I’d be constrained by my lungs rather than my fears.