The 220 crew recently took on the Xterra Asia-Pacific Championships and put Lapierre’s off-road beast through its paces on race day. Here’s what we thought
Team 220 recently attacked (read: struggled through) the Xterra Asia-Pacific Championships down in Jervis Bay, NSW. The sun was out, the ocean was warm and we were feeling particularly confident – especially with Lapierre’s brand new XR 529 E:I Shock between our legs. Like a lot of triathletes, off-road triathlons are still new to us, but we’re always ready for a challenge. Besides, how different could an off-road be? Swim, bike, run – simple right? You can find out how wrong we were on page 108, but as to how well the XR 529 carried us through, stay put.
We know our roadies and TT bikes well and have some experience with our MTB brethren, but racing on one was a whole new experience. We quickly learned the best way to put an MTB beast like this through its paces is while going up against the mud, trees and rocks of the NSW south coast bush while grazing legs and wheels alongside some of Australia’s elite off-road superstars.
For the uninitiated, Lapierre is a French bicycle manufacturer based in Dijon, France, where we assume the mustard originated (note: we did not research this). For nearly 70 years, Lapierre has been developing and pushing the cycling industry forward by innovating across all styles of bikes including road, leisure and mountain bikes, and in recent years have helped revolutionise the concept of a more intelligent MTB.
Most of us want our roadies to be as smart as our Macbooks, but when it comes to mountain bikes, as long as they save us from busting our asses down drops and help us climb hills, we’re generally happy. However, in 2013, Lapierre aimed to bring MTBs into the future with the introduction of their E:I Shock system, an intelligent suspension rig that runs through the bike for a much smoother ride. Now, in 2016, it has evolved into the E:I Shock Auto, pretty much the Transformers of suspension systems.
What makes the E:I Shock Auto special is that it takes into account the terrain and your cadence through smart electronics. It has a Rock Shox Monarch RT3 Relay and three captors so your bike will be able to easily read your movements. The sensors measure the movements of the fork and the captor on the bottom bracket measures pedalling frequency. All data is transmitted to a computer, which evaluates the terrain and pedalling cadence.
In automatic mode, the computer interprets data from the three sensors and adjusts the rear shock into one of three suspension platform settings. This gives the rider the benefit of suspension characteristics most appropriate for that combination of terrain and pedalling (think more grip and less slip at the tyres and less ground forces impacting the rider) without needing to risk a crash and remove their hands from the handlebars to adjust any dials, levers or switches. In just one-tenth of a second the terrain information is sent from the three captors to the computer, and onto the shock (at 36km/h)and the rear suspension adapts to the terrain covered by the front wheel. So if you were wondering why electronics in an MTB were so exciting, now you know.
Every year the XR is tweaked and refined to maintain its status as a world-class cross-country race bike. Building upon their XR range as well
as taking cues from their Zesty and Spicy range, Lapierre have managed to create something special and something that has off-road riders and racers clamouring for a taste.
The XR 529 is all about performance and getting the most out of the machine while remaining comfy on rougher trails. The ultra-light carbon frame means you’ll be able to throw the bike around easily while staying firmly stuck to the track. The 29” wheels and 100mm Recon Gold suspension mean small bumps feel like a smooth road, while larger drops feel like landing on a cushion but with top-notch stability.
At 12.4kg, it finds the perfect balance between being lightweight but remaining stable on slippery surfaces, while the Shimano Hydraulic Deore brakes filled us with confidence while pumping it downhill and around tight bends.
The geometry of the bike is also worth a mention – just another key aspect that keeps things smooth and comfortable is the short head tube and lowered cockpit. To newcomers this might not mean much, but to experienced riders, this can help instil confidence while hurling yourself through the bush.
Here at 220 we’re big fans of all things off-road. Not only can it help with your strength, core and stability, but it’s also a great way to mix up your training and to give yourself a brand-new challenge. We’ve spent many an hour picking
the ears of friends of 220, off-road power couple Ben Allen and Jacqui Slack, about the benefits of off-road racing (see more from them on page 26 if you missed it) but nothing can prepare you for the downhill mayhem that is Xterra until you’re in the thick of it – hurtling down hills, through narrow trees and past other athletes pumping their big rings.
This is a bike that’s built for competitors. Every aspect has been built to complement the riding style of racers looking to get the most out of their bike. The lightweight build helps it feel zippy and highly manoeuvrable while the light and simplified suspension keeps things stable and comfortable. We were able to push the bike to its limits while feeling completely in control the entire ride. Combining the high-end brakes, huge wheels, super intelligent E:I Shock suspension and subtle geometry tweaks meant the XR 529 performed like an extension of our body.
Riding on the road is one thing, but when you’re dodging trees, riders and keeping an eye out for obstacles and drops at a split second, it takes a special machine to fill you with enough confidence to push it just that little bit harder – and the Lapierre XR 529 E:I Shock made us feel like off-road supermen.
For more awesome rigs from Lapierre, visit www.lapierrebikes.com.au
XR 529 E:I Shock
SIZE TESTED LARGE
FRAME AND FORK:
Sizes available: S,M,L, XL
Frame: XR 29” Carbon 100mm Rear Travel
Fork: Rockshox Recon Gold Turnkey 29” Solo Air 100mm 15QR
Wheelset: DT Swiss 466D 29” 19C 32H – Formula DC51 15QR 32H Black – Formula DHT142 32H Black 12x142mm + LAQR12 Thru Axle
Tyres: Schwalbe Rocket Ron Perf 29×2.25/ Rocket Ron Perf 29×2.10
Derailleurs: Shimano Deore FDM618E6X E-Type, Shimano XT RDM781GSL 10-speed
Brake Levers: Shimano Hydraulic Deore BRM506
Shifters: Shimano Deore SLM610 2×10- Speed Ispec
Crankset: Shimano Deore FCM617EX84L 38×24 170mm (s)/ 175mm (M, L, XL)
Handlebar: Lapierre HB-FB21L
Stem: Easton EA50 8º
Saddle: Lapierre XR Green
Seatpost: Easton EA50
Brakes: Shimano Hydraulic Deore BRM506 Black
Shock Absorber: Rockshox Monarch E:I RT3 165x38mm