It’s not very often that I’ve got a bike to test, just adjust the saddle/stem, ride it for 4 hours and and totally enjoy a comfortable ride. That says a lot about the Lapierre S-Lite 500 I rode around the South end of the Lake yesterday. The more I rode the bike, the more I liked it. For the S-Lite series, Lapierre has “tube forms that offer more comfort, with 25% more vertical flexibility in the rear triangle for better absorbtion of vibrations.” That means it’s a vertically compliant frame that flexes enough to smooth out the ride. As I wrote in my initial review of the bike, it’s for a century like Seattle to Portland. That flex also transmits road vibration so it doesn’t feel dull and carves very well. Consquently, without all the stiffness, it’s not the fastest climbing or sprinting bike. You’ll need to wind it up towards the finish line and use that triple to get over the big climbs.
- At the 3K point, the parts are mix-matched with Ultegra and 105 – that all worked well, but a comparison shopper is going to look at other bikes that are spec’d with full Ultegra or SRAM Force.
- A rider will want to upgrade the low-end Mavic wheels for race or tour day.
- I wouldn’t spec or want a triple. Yes it works, but I find it cumbersome and would either just run a bigger cassette or a compact.
- A super light fork introduces horizontal flex. To test this, grab your handlebar and shake it side to side. Does the whole frame move or does the front end wiggle like a worm on a hook? Strong hits did make the front end of the Lapierre move; that’s not good or bad, just an observation from me that I think the next refinement in carbon is the headtube. They’ve got bottom brackets down, even tuning them to specific ride characterizes. Next up is massive head tubes.
- The bike’s aesthetic is also refined. It’s not NASCAR logo’d like the Tarmacs or in-your-face painted like the Treks. It’s understated French with the various trademarks. Lappiere doesn’t use lugs so the bike looks like a monocoque frame. It’s stylish and looks fast.
Having ridden carbon frames since there were carbon frames, it is remarkable to see this much refinement. Now on the market are specifically tuned bikes like the Lapierre S-Lite series, very stiff bikes from Specialized and Trek, or even the Davidson Hotspur that mixes Ti and Carbon. Builders continue to improve what they do with carbon.
Man, I don’t follow the custom/chopper bike scene very much so I may be out of touch, but this thing is scuplture! Amazingly, you can even ride it (here’s proof). More photos and construction details here. You gotta take a look, the design process and details are great to see. For example: it’s a single, drive side chain/seat stay.
Having been arrested and prosecuted for a car/bike road rage incident, I try my best to just ride away from a-hole drivers, but yesterday when a motorist drove his car onto the bike path in front of me, I decided that was “over the f’ing top” and gave his Lexus a Love Tap. A Love Tap is a gentle reminder to a car that you’re nearby, that they’re in your lane, or have rolled past a stoplight into your path. Dude wigged out when he heard the tap on his trunk and I was all, “seriously dude you’re on the bike path with your car.” I rode away and he parked his car. Never saw him again.
It’d been a while since an altercation and the last incident was in Maui where ironically a hippie-driven, bio-diesel, end-the-Iraq-war-stickered Mercedes tried to run me off the road. I’d never yelled at a hippie before, but this went down harsh and could’ve ended badly, if I’d not backed off, and that was a straight-up defensive-protective measure. I later concluded it was karma for me flipping off this Mercedes the year before.
Tip: a good Love Tap technique is to pop a breakaway mirror. That’ll get their attention and not do any damage.
What’s your Love Tap story or worst incident with a car?
It was tough for me even to mount a bike with a triple drivetrain, but we’ve got a Lapierre S-Lite 500 and that’s what it ships with. I figured, I’ve been running a 25 cassette for a while and finally put a 26 on my bike with SRAM, I’ll try it. That doesn’t mean I’m like those dudes palling around on bikes in the Flomax commercials, even though I’m a Masters Racer that’s closer to middle age than I’d like to think about.
So, of course, I spent the first 30 minutes of the ride messing with the triple: slamming it around, trying to drop the chain; small ring, middle ring, big ring. Conclusion: Fine, ok, it works and well. But it does seems overly complicated and just out of place on a road bike; especially, with the gear-ratio choices from SRAM. You could either run a bigger cassette or even compact. Be aware though, if you’re an old-school roadie, you’ll keep looking for a comfortable gear ratio that doesn’t exist. When I rode a compact, that drove me nuts. I was always looking for a gear that I’d ridden for years and it wasn’t there. Upshift, downshift, damn it!
I’ll post more on the Lapierre after some long miles. Quick review:
Performance Comfort Carbon. A responsive, carbon bike that soaks up the bumps and is comfortable, but not soft. Perfect for a tourist that wants a fast bike that won’t beat them up. It’s designed for the Grand Fondos in Europe and perfect for a century in the US.