Best of both worlds?
By adding Fazua’s 250W motor and 250Wh battery, the Lapierre eZesty is a sub 40lb e-bike or a 33lb enduro bike that blurs the lines.
Lapierre eZesty need to know
- Carbon trail/enduro bike with 27.5in wheels and Fazua motor
- One of the lightest e-bikes on the market at 18kg
- Motor and battery can be completely removed for naturally aspirated riding
- Two model range starting at £5,299
The e-bike arms race has reached full speed, with rival brands competing to develop the most powerful motor and largest capacity battery. There are now models for sale putting out a staggering 120 Nm of torque – that’s more than a Fiat 500 – fitted with massive 700Wh batteries that can easily clock over 50 miles off-road. But with these eye-popping figures come extra weight, reduced manoeuvrability and even greater divergence from the purity of riding a conventional mountain bike.
Not everyone believes this insatiable quest for power is the way forward. Indeed many would argue that current e-bikes are overpowered and corrupt the experience, even if a little helping hand once in a while is quite welcome.
One of those brands is Lapierre, and along with the Focus Raven2, this new eZesty is one of the first models to lightly tread along this pioneering path. By adding Fazua’s 250W motor and 250Wh battery to its carbon Zesty platform, Lapierre has created a sub 40lb e-bike or a 33lb enduro bike that blurs the lines between assisted and non-assisted and effectively gives you two bikes in one.
Don’t be fooled by the Fazua’s on paper average output; at 250W, it should be on par with popular units from Bosch, Shimano and Brose, but it’s nowhere near. Indeed the peak output – quoted at 400W – is considerably lower than the 600W pumped out by the likes of Brose. There’s less torque as well, so it doesn’t accelerate as sharply, and it can’t winch up steep climbs at slow speeds and low cadences quite like a more traditional e-bike. It’s important, therefore, to revise your expectations before riding the eZesty. Step off a Brose or Bosch-equipped bike it can feel like the Lapierre is broken. But switch the power off and it’s immediately obvious just how much assistance the Fazua system provides.
In simple terms it splits the difference between a regular bike and an e-bike – don’t expect to keep pace with a Bosch/Brose/Shimano motor, but it’ll also drop anyone without assistance in a heartbeat. In terms of climbing, we found it was about 25 per cent faster than a non e-bike but 25 per cent slower than a Specialized Turbo Levo in Turbo mode.
It doesn’t have the car park wow factor then, but there are some real benefits as a result. Because there’s less power from the motor to lean on, I found I would work much harder aboard the Lapierre, perhaps even harder than I would without a motor at all. To keep the power unit singing at its sweetest, a high cadence is required, which encourages you to put the effort in. As such it’s a great training tool.
The battery is half the size of most systems, but because the motor isn’t as powerful, and the bike is much lighter than most e-bikes, the range is acceptable if not exceptional. On maximum power (Rocket mode), with a 70kg rider on board, we were averaged about 30km with 1,000m of climbing. Using the middle River mode improved both those figures. If you’re looking to knock out a few intense hours that’s plenty, but for all-day epics you’ll need to use the lowest power mode or leave the complete battery and motor unit at home.
Yes, you heard me correctly. Slide the motor and the battery out of the down tube, replace it with Fazua’s hollow storage tube, and you instantly drop 2.3kg. And because there is none of the extra drag found on a regular e-bike, you can join your non-e-biking mates for a pedal, enter an enduro race or tackle a monster ride without being penalised.
Turn the motor off on most e-bikes and it’s like wading through treacle – a combination of the bike weight and the friction within the drive unit. The Fazua has no such powertrain loss, so switch it off, or exceed the 25km/h speed limit and you don’t hit the wall. Far from it, in fact you can sprint the eZesty or climb out of the saddle just like a normal bike, and should the battery run out, it’s not the end of the world.
Most e-bikes require a transition period to get the most out of, in which you adjust your inputs and timing to make up for the extra bulk, but the Lapierre feels instantly familiar and completely natural to ride. There’s an agility to the eZesty that no other e-bike I’ve ridden can match, and the handling is virtually indistinguishable from a bike without a motor. Accelerations, decelerations and rapid changes of direction are barely hindered by the extra mass of the battery and motor, and this ensures the stoke remains sky high and the fun completely undiluted.
And just like a classic e-bike, the motor offers significant benefits on the trail; come out of a tight corner and you get that lovely boost of acceleration that maintains the flow. Equally, encounter a short rise on a mostly downhill trail and it’s despatched with ease. There’s even a brief overrun of power when you stop pedalling that can help you get up awkward ledges on a climb.
Dishing out 160/150mm of travel front and rear, the eZesty is pitched as a trail bike, but the aggressive geometry and capable build means it can be ridden as hard as most enduro bikes. Certainly, the added weight of the motor and battery boosts the high-speed stability and keeps the eZesty from getting too unsettled on really rough tracks. In spite of the slack seat angle it’s also an effective climber and rarely feels sluggish or over-gunned on smooth, flowing singletrack.
Although the eZesty is a remarkable machine, it’s not without its faults. The biggest shortcoming is with the rear suspension. There’s a distinct lack of support and progression from the four-bar linkage that means you have to overinflate the shock to keep the back end from collapsing in berms and when landing jumps. To improve the performance we’d suggest trying a larger volume spacer in the Fox Float Evol shock.
When moving off from a standstill, or re-engaging the motor from slow speeds, there can be a frustrating delay in power delivery. Dab a foot on a technical climb and it can be difficult to get going again. Fazua’s control unit is unnecessarily large and bulky. It takes up too much room on the handlebars and the power mode buttons could be much easier to use, particularly compared to the discreet yet highly functional remote found on Specialized’s Turbo Levo. For some unknown reason, you have to turn the system on at the battery before you insert it into the frame. And that means you need the key to unlock the battery. While keys are useful on commuter bikes, they’re an unnecessary hassle on e-mtbs. Finally, and this is a fairly trivial complaint, I kept catching the clip-on chainstay protector with my heel and almost ripping it off.
Occasionally a bike comes along that stops you in your tracks, makes you re-evaluate your ideas and changes the very fundamentals of your riding. The eZesty is one such bike. It won't be everyone's cup of tea, but for me it gets rid of the excesses of the conventional e-bike and gives just enough help to comprehensively enhance the experience. The more I rode it, the more I loved it. Usually, when something is touted as the best of both worlds, it actually ends up being the worst. The Lapierre must be the exception that proves the rule.