Test Ride: Lapierre X-Lite 400

Rode the Lapierre X-Lite 400 this weekend on a fast-paced team ride around the South end of the lake with Mercer Island and in a smaller group to Kent and back. The routes had flat sections with rollers and a few steep climbs. Performing very well, the bike also attracted attention with lots of questions from cyclists.

x-lite400.jpg

The white and black paint job is a handsome and looks good in the Sun – thank you Sun for showing yourself! White is the new black in carbon, so you could really euro out with aftermarket parts like TRP brakes and PRO bars.

The Ride

First impressions are a smooth comfortable ride. It’s plenty stiff and responsive and rides like a solid road bike. Accelerating well, it moves fast down the road, but is less a crit or climbing bike and instead designed for long miles in the saddle.

The X-Lite handles as expected, but does shudder on big hits. I think that’s the super stiff fork and chain stays. It feels like you’re suspended comfortably well between the wheels, until a large pothole or bike-path root gets your attention abruptly.

I also noticed that the front end steers like a rudder at speed. Rather than turning the handlebars when I pulled through to the front of the pack, I could just steer the bike with body english and thinking of where I wanted it to go. It was like riding atop a solid wedge of carbon: point a knee to the right and go right instantly.

I agree with RBA’s review that the 15-centimeter tall headtube offset my normal fit. I was more upright than usual. That’s a Grand Fondo, tourist-style geometry and intended for all-day comfort and to appeal to a broader range of cyclists. Trek does this as well with their performance Fit and so does Specialized with the Roubaix. Added benefit is less stack height and spacers for the steerer tube.

The X-Lite is similar in ride to the S-Lite I rode last year, with more stiffness in the bottom bracket.

Vertical Stiff and Horizontally Compliant

Bike manufactures use various alchemic methods to layup carbon in the best manner to achieve a frame that’s vertical stiff and horizontal compliant. A bike that’s stiff when you stand up and accelerate and also moves side to side is the universal elixer they’re seeking. On the road, that means a bike that goes fast, but doesn’t beat the crap out of you on a bumpy road.

I’ve ridden bikes that we’re flexy noodles and others so stiff each bump was like getting a roundhouse kick in the butt from Chuck Norris.

Lapierre, with an odd French sense of humor, labels the frame with

  • Weight Saving Progress
  • Full Carbon
  • 3D Lab
  • Nano Vibration Control

Setting aside the marketing jargon, the X-Lite 400 is an excellent choice for cyclists wanting to improve their touring time, make it up the climb, and finish strong in a race. It performs well in all areas with its best characteristic being big-miles ride quality.

I have this X-Lite 400 on long-term loan and will report back after a few races and more hard riding.

Upgrades

Ultegra SL is a perfectly good group and puts the bike at the $3500 price point with high-to-mid level components. I’d keep the Krysium Equipes for training and upgrade the wheels for the big day. You could drop another pound with incremental upgrades to the parts and get it under 16.5 easily.

Note: the bike ships with compact cranks and those were swapped out for Dura-Ace for this test. I don’t ride compact and will point you to Mark’s post for opinions on riding compacts.