Francis Mourey, FranÃ§aise des Jeux pro and French national champion, had a pretty good week here in the states, claiming a wet, wet Starcrossed title as well as conquering Cross Vegas, both times aboard a new Lapierre carbon CX bike equipped with Di2 electronic shifting. I got to look his bike(s) over before the rain started falling at Starcrossed. What I like about CX bikes is the detail in the set-up, from the factory as well as the rider’s personal touches.
Mourey is racing on Shimano’s Dura Ace Di2 electronic shifting system, but you’ll notice that the crank lacks a 7900 big ring to match. Instead he has a 46t ring from the older 7800 gruppo. Rumour has it that the only person to have the fancy 7900 ring in a CX size is Sven Nijs.
Not having my own camera, I couldn’t get a good picture to show the complex shaping of the chain and seat stays. I usually think manufacturers are just taking the micky when they give reasons for the shaping, but I’ll say that the Lapierre’s stays are kinda sexy regardless.
The day will come when CX bikes have disc brakes…just not today. The fork was an off-the-shelf Easton EC90 cross fork (sans disc mount), as all the premium Lapierre road and cx bikes use Easton forks.
The frame is routed for internal shifter and brake housing runs; looking pretty slick here for the Di2 wire harness. Since CX bikes tend to be busy with cables and housing on the top tube where they are unavoidably visible, the Lapierre appears especially clean. I was told that the Lapierre has detachable cable stops for the top tube should external routing be preferred.
p> I hear and read differing opinions of CX bike fit; recently one of the big online mag/sites espoused sizing your CX bike no smaller than your road bike. I don’t think Mourey read that article, because his bike looks pretty small. The head tube is tiny for an integrated headset unit, and check out the custom brake cable hanger for low stack height. Clearly the man wants his bars low. Personally, as a shorter rider the market trend for taller head tubes drives me nuts.
In the theme of Shimano components, Mourey also uses their house brand of bars and stems, “Pro”. I still think the name is a bit weak, but I actually love Pro bars. The Vibe series (both carbon and aluminium versions) have rather short reach and lots of forearm clearance from the drops. Along with their “round” and “ergo” beds, Pro recently introduced a modified ergo bend which they call “compact”. Much like FSA’s “compact” bend and Deda Elementi’s “Zero 100” , the new Pro model has a variable radius bend that smooths out the abrupt bends of previous “ergo” designs. Many riders like this type of bend because it gives them the powerful grip of a regular “ergo” bend but allows their hands to roam freely along the drops instead of being restricted to a distinct section. It’s no secret that many professional racers don’t like ergo bends, but the newer compact styles seem to be more agreeable. Note that Mourey does use the Pro “round” bend on his bikes, rather than “compact”.
The Pro stem is light and attractive in design, if you happen to like big logos (and you better, because all the premium stems on the market have logos visible from low orbit), but I wish they offered a -17deg option. Yet Pro’s 10deg +/- seems to be the happy median between 6deg and 17deg.
One of the visually sweet aspects of the internal routing and integrated seatmast features is that Lapierre can route the rear brake housing run through the seat cluster. This would improve the operation of the brake as there are no abrupt housing bends to increase friction like most CX designs have. Mourey’s small frame size would have seen this situation even more distinctly than larger frames, as the lower seat cluster leaves little room to properly set up the straddle cable between the stop and brake bosses. And when Shimano finally shows its cards and brings out its rumoured CX-specific disc brake system, then this cable stop is removeable.
p> Talking to Tim Rutledge of SBS (importer of Lapierre), the new CX bike won’t be available till sometime next year. The Lapierre is a stunner that takes in all the technologies available today while making room for those of tomorrow (disc brakes!). As I studied Mourey’s two race bikes, I couldn’t help but notice that his bike could probably fit me. Hell, he had two…would he really miss one? Unfortunately Francis was chilling out in a lawn chair 2 meters behind the bikes while Rutledge was right behind me. So instead of larceny, I waved at Francis and told him “bon chance!” He then went on to win Starcrossed and then Cross Vegas a half week later. The Lapierre probably had more to do with his wins then me.…