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The Frame


What sets the frame design apart from other bikes is the unique way the top tube and seat stays blend. The top tube thins out towards the seat tube before splitting into three. While the main tubing continues straight and connects to the seat tube, the two offshoots curve past the seat tube to form the seat stays. This was done to offer a ride that is a bit more forgiving than most race bikes on the pro circuit. The skinny 27.2 mm seat post and integrated clamp are a further nod to comfort.

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Lapierre engineers also looked closely at the way they constructed the carbon frame. For example, the length of the carbon layers has been reduced in the seat tube while there are fewer layers in the head tube. The carbon used in the frame also varies from 30 to 38 to 40-ton modulus. By selecting different modulus carbon throughout the frame, Lapierre’s engineers have tuned it for strength in the places where it is most necessary. Playing with the layup like this is one of the reasons Lapierre are claiming a reduced frame weight without sacrificing strength.

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The frame also features a rather large BB86 press-fit bottom bracket, full internal routing, a heavily sculptured tapered fork with the front brake tucked in to reduce drag. As is the norm nowadays, the frame is Di2 compatible with a "trap door" underneath the bottom bracket for easy access to the battery. This positioning also places the battery weight low and centre on the bike.

Components


The Xelius SL 500 CP runs a full Shimano 105 drivetrain including brakes. We've been spending quite a bit of time with this groupset across our test bikes and it never fails to get the job done. Shifting is good with a positive click between the gears. The brake set does an excellent job at stopping the bike.


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It was nice to see a Zipp handlebar and stem on a Shimano 105 specced bike rather than cheaper or own-brand alternatives.


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The 30TPI Michelin Dynamic Sport tyres fitted are the cheapest in their range and at a claimed weight of 315 grams, they are not the lightest tyres around. I changed to a set of Vee Tire Apache, with a claimed weight of 180g per tyre. They made a huge difference to the overall feel and acceleration of the bike. Although the Apache is a full on racing tyre, it did highlight the drag and heft of the Dynamic Sport tyres and something more deserving of the frame would have added value.

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At 8.3 kg the bike is not the lightest, but an upgrade to SRAM Red will bring that down to 7.3 kg before touching the wheels or any of the other components. The potential is there to happily start off with this build and slowly upgrade it into a pedal to the metal racing machine.

Full specification:


  • FrameXELIUS SL CARBON
  • ForkLAPIERRE XELIUS SL CARBON - Carbon Steerer
  • HeadsetFSA 1"1/8 1"1/4 FSA ORBIT C-33 44E + 15mm top cover
  • Bottom BracketSHIMANO KSMBB7141B PRESSFIT
  • CranksetSHIMANO 105 KFC5800CX26L 52x36 170mm (XS, S) / 172.5mm (M) / 175mm (L, XL, XXL)
  • StemZIPP Service Course BLACK 6° Ø: 31.8mm L: 90mm (XS, S) / 100mm (M) / 110mm (L) / 120mm (XL) / 130mm (XXL)
  • SeatpostLAPIERRE SPC-619 CARBON Ø: 27.2mm L: 350mm
  • HandlebarZIPP Service Course 80 Anatomic 40mm (XS) / 42mm (S, M, L) / 44mm (XL, XXL)
  • Front DerailleurSHIMANO 105 KFD5800FL
  • Rear DerailleurSHIMANO 105 KRD5800SSL 11-Speed
  • BrakesSHIMANO 105 KBR5800 / KBR5810 FRONT DIRECTMOUNT
  • ShiftersSHIMANO 105 KST5800 2x11-Speed
  • SaddleSELLE ITALIA X1 BLACK / WHITE
  • WheelMAVIC AKSIUM
  • SprocketSHIMANO 105 KCS580011128 11-Speed 11-28T
  • TyresMICHELIN DYNAMIC SPORT 700x25
  • Claimed Weight8,3 Kg
  • SizesXS,S,M,L,XL,XXL
  • Suggested Retail PriceR45,000.00

On the Road


Setting off on the Xelius for the first time, there's an immediate sense of comfort with a hint of steel-like flexibility in the overall feel. Despite its light frame, racy geometry, and racing heritage, the rear absorbs bumps and manages to take the edge off uneven tarmac as well as any endurance frame, without sacrificing much stiffness in the process.

The Xelius SL 500 CP felt at home on climbs. It always had more to give no matter how fast I gained altitude. Smooth pedalers won't notice any give in the frame but if you're often out of the saddle to stomp on the pedals, then you will notice some initial movement. I found it best to settle into a rhythm and focus on a steady cadence.

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Compared to the rear, the front is completely rigid. The bike manages to blend the feel of the two ends very well. Its combination of razor-sharp handling, weight, and comfort, makes for confident handling rather than the nervous twitchiness of some race machines.

Considering the compliance built into the frame, I was surprised at the feel when attacking descents and fast turn sections. The bike is superb at holding fast lines and, even with the heavier Dynamic Sport tyres, the Xelius always felt like it was begging to go faster which gave me new found confidence to push it low and hard around corners. I can only imagine how the top of the range model must feel at speed.