Lapierre Xelius 400: Race, Fondo, Charity

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by Byron on Jan 16, 2011 at 4:15 PM

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White Kit

Nothing says ride me in a punishing Pacific Northwest rainstorm like white rims, bar tape, and saddle. I took the Lapierre Xelius 400 out for a quick ride in the rain today before the Seahawks played Chicago. This post is an initial review.

Stiff and Compliant?

Like all mid-to-high end carbon bikes yes the bike is stiff and compliant. It also flexes. Lapierre makes Grand Fondo style bikes. That means a bike that performs for a clientele who ride fondos and charity events. It’s built to race, but also comfortable on long rides. The first Lapierre I wrote about did this, as does the Roubaix, the Museeuw I ride, and more. Flex in this context is not bad. It’s a characteristic and does not mean mushy like a noodle or unstable and whippy.

An example of the flex I noticed, is when pedaling, the rear brake cable moved with my body. The bike was transmitting my pedaling motion up into the bars. That’s a bike you don’t describe as “wooden,” but lively and active.

Expect to feel the road with this Xelius. All of it.

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At home on the path, races, tours, and events.

You’ve Got Personality

If bikes have a personality, this one is anxious and busy. One ridden by a cyclist that talks nonstop on a ride, promises to keep it together, and then drops the group at the next rise in elevation. The bike is distinctively different then others I’ve ridden. It’s French and wants to go fast. When it does, take care with it in the corners, on rough road, and descents. You can win a Livestrong ride with the Xelius, as long as you stay in control.

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Attractive paint and graphics with curious touches like a thumbprint on the top tube and a chicken on the chainstay.

Like a Hole in the Head

Holes for internal cable routing and Di2 mean, well, many holes for water to get in (and out) and noise. I hope there are product managers that go into meetings with Shimano and say, “no we’re not going to put a hole in the downtube for you.” I covered the hole with electrical tape, but not before joking around in the garage and using it as a flower vase. If the rumors about Ultegra Electric are true, then that’s a good upgrade for this bike along with a set of racing wheels.

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Expect your mechanic to not like BB cups threaded into outboard carbon brackets.

Where a bike like the Lapierre has a market is for a cyclists looking for a good value and their own style of bike that isn’t a Trek or Specialized. Also a bike that performs and is comfortable. This bike is as ready to race as you are. It will also get you to the end of a fondo or charity ride.

Specs

As tested, the Lapierre is nicely spec’d with

  • Ultegra
  • Mavic Krysium Equipes
  • Easton Fork
  • Hutchinson tires
  • Weigh ~16 lbs.

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Pops on the banks of a muddy river

Expect to pay about $3500 for this bike at your local bike shop.

Full size photos and more comments on Flickr.

Seattle Bike Supply provided us this bike for the review.

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Comments: 2

Thanks for the review.  I’ve been looking at this frame set for some time and appreciate your thoughts. You mention noise.  What kind of noise and/or how noticeable is it?  My current frame is all alloy and want to move to a carbon frame for a little more road compliance.  I’m familiar with the occasional bottom bracket tick that echoes up the down tube or rear derailleur miss alignment that drives me nuts until I adjust it out or lube it. Just wandering if you could comment further.  Thanks.

You’re welcome. It’s a good bike and the noise is nothing unusual for a carbon frame. Lapierre runs their cable internally which can create noise at the head tube where the cables vibrate against the tubes, also where they enter the tubes. Fixes are some foam where the cables are or run a loop that doesn’t touch. For compliance, this is a good choice in frame. Also note this isn’t specifically a Fondo frame—they make another for that—but Lapierre is thinking Fondos even with their racing bikes.  This is a far more compliant frame than others I’ve ridden and raced.

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