A striking element of the 7005 T6/T4 aluminium package is Lapierre’s take on maintaining torsional rigidity by means of a pinched groove either side of the down tube as it joins the head tube. More than just a dressy Euro afterthought, harmonising compliantly with a stiff front end, the rear triangle consists of a more traditional swept seat and chainstay affair. Neat line guides are fitted for disc brake hoses, although none are utilised by Lapierre.
The Lapierre is the only other RockShox Tora SL-equipped bike on test (incidentally, like the Specialized it comes at the sacrifice of disc braking). Making the most of the 32mm stanchions, the added meat certainly helps pin the bike’s light riding characteristics, ensuring positive steering when loading into the bends, while TurnKey damping distinguishes trail subtleties.
Unfortunately, the wheels kept Lapierre off the podium. If the ride’s good enough we can forgive the V-brake spec, but not including disc-specific hubs means any upgrade is expensive and unviable. Such an aftermarket wheel upgrade alone is going to cost almost a quarter of the bike’s worth. At least the 2in Michelin XC All Terrain tyres made [up] for such inadequacies on the move with a wide tread pattern and generous shoulder knobs.
Apart from the fork spec, the upshot of the lack of discs is a more durable LX and Deore-based nine-speed drivetrain with an Octalink splined crankset fitted. Avid Single Digit
V-brakes at least have cartridge pads for ease of replacement.
Although only in-house finishing kit, the slender saddle is surprisingly useable and the narrow riser a better shape than many here, enabling a dynamic position to match the Lapierre’s urge to be hammered.
Next to Specialized this feels like the fastest of the bikes on test when putting down the power, so perhaps it’s no coincidence that it saves a little overall weight in the non-disc braked set-up. This is a comfortable ride without being over-relaxed and unresponsive. Indeed, it still proves exceptionally nimble, with enough compliance to allow it to be ridden hard all day and a fork and tyres that are made for taking all manner of trail hits.
Lapierre surprised us all with a bike that initially rang alarm bells. Although it didn’t get off to a good start with the hubs, it’s testament to the sweet ride of this bike that we could overlook such a howler, and even a 20 quid premium. Shortly after swinging a leg over the Tecnic you realise the shape’s spot-on and this is the bottom line of the test. Matched by a more considered specification, we could have had another nine on our hands. We’d been promised Lapierres in the UK for several years and judging by this entry-level example, now they’ve finally reached our shores it seems to have been well worth the wait.