With revised geometry and increased travel up front, the Lapierre Zesty 314 is aimed more firmly at big mountains than ever before.
The new matt-finished Zesty frame screams A-grade engineering, with slick graphics, quality pivot hardware and beautifully sculpted 7005 alloy tubes. 2013 sees the frame join the 142x12mm dropout club, while a clever shock shuttle design rotates the (standard fitting) shock and allows the OST+ suspension to run on fully sealed cartridge bearings for increased sensitivity and traction. (The 160mm Spicy sister model shares the same frame but uses a different shock shuttle and longer shock to get the extra travel).
With 10 times DH world champion Nicolas Vouilloz on hand to develop Lapierre’s chassis, it’s no surprise that the tune on the Fox CTD shock is faultless. As a result, the rear suspension on the Zesty 314 offers a perfect balance between pedalling efficiency and high-speed control. There’s possibly slightly less low-speed tracking and grip on off-camber mud and roots than the Norco Sight 2 or Orange Five S, but this could be the result of superior chassis stiffness on the Zesty.
Up front, the 150mm Float CTD FIT fork has the curious distinction of feeling divey under braking and off drops in both Trail and Descend mode, as well as pinging and bouncing off rocks and high-speed impacts. The extra 10mm of travel exaggerates the lack of damping and it is no match for the amazing smoothness and control of the OST+ rear suspension.
Mavic’s CrossRide wheels are the lightest on test and spin beautifully, but Lapierre has tried to exaggerate this fast rolling ‘car-park test’ sensation by fitting flimsy-sidewalled Schwalbe tyres that puncture easily and won’t cut it for all-year-round grip.
With a near full complement of Shimano XT including the Shadow Plus rear mech, the finishing kit here is amazing at this price point. Lapierre also has a well-shaped 710mm bar and a 75mm stem, but neither seem to tie in with the sheer flat-out capability the Zesty geometry hints at. A dropper post is missing too, despite being an essential item on any gravity-focused bike.
With a super-slack 65° head angle, the Lapierre Zesty 314 will be a shock to some riders used to more traditional trail bike geometry, but it does make the bike supremely stable if you frequently ride gnarly terrain. The whole experience feels geared to race speed and the Zesty is closer to an enduro bike than its rivals in this test, encouraged by the rear OST+ suspension swallowing square-edge hits with ease and providing damping and control that’s close to flawless. Unfortunately, the Fox Float fork is out of step with the superb rear shock when you go as fast as the Zesty demands, and the Formula brakes are horrible in the wet — dragging and squealing when muddy, with levers that are too far away from the bars and too stiff to pull easily with cold hands.
Frame stiffness is superb, with a directness that makes the Zesty lunge forward under hard cranking and up steep climbs, and what’s especially great is that the rear suspension rides high and retains excellent pedal clearance when cranking hard, too. The bottom bracket doesn’t feel too high when shredding corners either.
With the long chainstays, the wheelbase is quite stretched out and you need to ride off the back at speed to feel balanced — a trait exaggerated by the divey Fox fork.
Offering class-leading suspension, excellent components and razor-sharp pedalling performance, the Lapierre Zesty 314 is frustratingly close to being one of the best sub £2.5k trail bikes we’ve ever tested.
But the below-par performance of the longer-travel 150mm Fox Float fork, which stretches out the wheelbase and slackens the head angle, makes the Zesty feel closer to the 160mm Spicy it shares a frame with, than the nimble 140mm trail bike we’d like it to be.
The 2013 Zesty platform will suit faster riders, but it isn’t a rounded enough package to take top marks.
MBR rating: 9
Frame 7005 SL alloy 140mm 0ST + suspension
Suspension Fox Float CTD LV Evolution shock / Fox Float 150 CTD FIT fork
Wheels Mavic Crossride wheelset/Schwalbe Nobby Nic front and Rocket Ron rear tyres
Drivetrain Shimano XT chainset, SLX shifters and front mech, XT rear mech
Brakes Formula RX
Components Lapierre Nico Vouilloz signature /Easton
Weight 13.2kg (29.1lb)
Size tested 43cm (M)
Head angle 65.5°
Seat angle 68.8°
BB height 338mm
Front centre 732mm
Wheelbase 1, 163mm
Down tube 664mm