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Found 5 results

  1. Nick

    Review: Lapierre XR 729

    The Frame The XR 729 frame is all carbon and is designed to run 29 inch wheels. Lapierre use a linkage driven single pivot suspension design. Most of Lapierre’s longer travel bikes make use of a chainstay pivot, on the XR 729 however the pivots are replaced with flexible carbon stays. The seat tube is interrupted by a wedge which supports the suspension linkage and houses the rear shock. The design raises some eyebrows in terms of aesthetic tastes. Personally, I like it. There are far too many curvy carbon masterpieces out there. I find the brash design on the XR 729 refreshing. And, when you take the bike out on the trails, it's clear that the design is not only for cosmetic purposes. Component check The Lapierre XR 729 as tested was built up from a frame with a custom parts. With the exception of the wheelset, none of these components come on the full factory build.Fork: We’ve harped on about the excellence of the Pike in a number of bike reviews but never have we had one on a full blown cross country bike. Despite my initial skepticism it turned out to be an excellent choice and matched the feel of the rear suspension surprisingly well. Shock: I have had mixed experiences with Fox Float CTD shocks while testing other bikes. The XR 729, however, managed to awaken the Fox shock and it was a pleasure to ride on the Lapierre.Wheelset: The DT Swiss Spline X1700 wheelset proved to be up to the challenge. Despite being a bit narrow for current trends, the wheels performed flawlessly. Even with some hard bashing they remained predictable and sturdy throughout testing. Tyres: While the Schwalbe tyres rolled excellently on farm roads, the Thunder Burt on the rear was ill-equipped for the dry Cape trails and farm road turns.Drivetrain: The drive train was a bit of a mix and match. Shimano’s XT 11-speed shifter, derailleur and cassette were driven by an older XTR crank fitted with a Wolf Tooth chainring. The combination shifted well and proved to be reliable. Seatpost: The XR 729 arrived with a RockShox Reverb adjustable seatpost. While not yet widely adopted by endurance races, from my observations at least, there are many riders (and medical insurers) who would reap benefit from the use of a telescopic seatpost. On the trail Although the Lapierre XR 729 arrived dressed with some components you would expect to see on a trail bike, it remained a very capable cross-country weapon.Going up the hills, the XR 729 did a good job transferring pedalling energy into forward motion. In full lockout, I found myself occasionally spinning out the Thunder Burt tyre on steeper, loose trails. I favoured the Trail setting for just the right amount of pedalling platform while still giving enough compliance to maintain grip and comfort. The efficiency of the rear suspension continues on the flat open road with a direct feel of pedalling effort translating into forward motion. The Lapierre XR 729 climbs and covers distance like a cross-country bike but on the descents it outshines the competition. The 100 mm rear travel felt deep with good support from the mid-stroke onward. There was a firmness at the end of suspension range that gave the XR 729 an almost bottomless feel. The bike felt composed through rocky sections and punchy on faster smooth trails. The full carbon frame felt nimble, stiff and responsive throughout testing. The sturdy Pike in a 120 mm configuration matched well with the capable rear suspension. It provide the added assurance needed to explore the unexpectedly broad boundaries of the XR 729. The unique shock position proved to have its advantages and disadvantages. While it may sound trivial, the position of the shock in the frame was perfect for easily adjusting and checking the damper switch position. The downside, there is no space for a second bottle cage on the seat tube. It also makes it a bit tricky to measure sag with the shock tucked into the frame. Unfortunately, despite trying, I was unable to source a 100 mm cross-country fork in time to put it on the XR 729. It would have been interesting to see how a shorter race inspired fork would have sharpen the geometry and impacted the feel and balance of the XR 729. Verdict The Lapierre XR 729 is a decent marathon and cross country race bike with the ability to push harder than most on technical terrain. It will climb with the best, cover distance with ease, and slap a big confident smile on your face on the descents. If you are looking for a race bike with some trail personality, you won’t go wrong with a Lapierre XR 729 like this. Pricing and availability XR 529: R49,725 XR 729 with electronic suspension: R85,150 XR 729 as specced in the review: R65,000 XR 929: R104,000Frame only: Sorry, you will have to contact them for pricing.
  2. The Lapierre XR 729 is the French manufacturer's cross country race offering. There is a option to have an electronically controlled shock, which is rather intriguing, but a story for another day as we tested the mechanical shock model. Checking out the stock component specification for the bike online, I expected a traditional lean and mean cross country bike. I was pleasantly surprised when the custom built bike arrived from Durban. Click here to view the article
  3. With the curved top tube, black and yellow colour scheme, and skin wall tyres, the XR 729 draws attention wherever it goes. A bike this distinct is bound to divide opinions and generate some strong reactions. I enjoy the highly engineered appearance, and after three weeks with the bike, I can say it is not just a pretty face. The Frame The frame has seen some tweaks from the 2016 model (which we reviewed here). The geometry has been updated significantly: the chainstay is 5 millimetres shorter, the reach is 20 millimetres longer, and it has been specced with a shorter 70 mm stem. These changes aim to provide more responsive steering and a more agile ride.Other features include internal dropper post routing, and trap door technology which offers Di2 battery mounting inside the frame above the bottom bracket, or the option to store the e:i suspension battery out of sight. Components The XR 729 is the second from the top of the XR range, and is well kitted out.Fork: I got on well with the Rockshox SID RL. I find the travel very smooth and the fork easy to set up. Shock: The Rockshox Monarch e:i RT3 feels super plush. Lapierre recommend running it at 30% sag which I did. I felt that there was a bit of a mismatch between fork and shock. The shock felt very plush, while the fork is a hardcore cross country fork and handles like one. I tried pumping up the shock to just over 25% sag, and this felt a little more balanced but meant I wasn't using the full travel on the rear. I think time, and some more tweaking of the suspension setup might have resolved this. Wheels: The Mavic Crossmax Elite wheelset features boost front and rear hubs. The wheels felt reassuringly stiff and engagement time on the hubs was good.Tyres: The Maxxis Skinwall tyres are a nice peacocky touch and are one of the reasons the bike stands out so well from the crowd. The 2.25" Ardent on the front offers acres of grip, and the 2.2" Ikon on the rear serves its purpose well, as a fast rolling, lightweight cross country tyre. Drivetrain: Lapierre opted for a 2x11 drivetrain on this bike, with an 11-40 SLX cassette and an XT crankset with 26- 36 chainrings. Only their top of the range offering, the XR 929 Ultimate comes with a 1x drivetrain: SRAM's 12 speed Eagle. Although from an aesthetic and simplicity point of view, I prefer a 1x drive train, the reality is that my legs do love the granny gear on a 2x system. I find it a lot more comfortable covering distance, and dealing with punchy climbs with the aid of the 26 tooth chainring. So while I think this bike would look even sleeker and more dangerous with a 1x setup, and losing the extra cabling and weight wouldn't hurt: from a functional point of view the drivetrain does the job admirably. Brakes: The Shimano XT brakes, as always, offered firm reliable braking. Contact points: I used the Lapierre VL-1743 by Velo saddle for the three week test period without issues. It was comfortable, although it was noticeably too narrow for my super wide sit bones. I liked that it didn't feel cheap and slippery like stock saddles often do. The grips offered good cushioning and the 720mm handlebars with a 70mm stem were a good fit for me on the medium frame. E:i Shock The e:i Shock is the intelligent suspension system pioneered by Lapierre and is the reason for the somewhat space age appearance of the XR 729. The system is composed of a rechargeable battery, mounted to the down tube, a control & display unit on the headset including an accelerometer, a servo motor mounted to the shock, an accelerometer on the fork lowers and a cadence sensor on the crank axle. The entire system has a claimed weight of 350 grams.The motor shifts the compression damping of the shock between three modes: open, medium and closed based on input from the sensors which change depending on the terrain. The compression mode is indicated by the display LED which is solid in automatic mode. Green indicates open, yellow the medium setting and red is fully locked out. When freewheeling or not pedalling the suspension automatically moves to the open setting: this is useful for descending and jumps or drops where the fork may not register a hit before the shock needs to open. It is possible to adjust the sensitivity of the system by pressing and holding the button on the control unit for 4 seconds. The green light indicates maximum sensitivity to bumps, the yellow light is the medium (and most commonly used setting) and the red light indicates minimum sensitivity ie. the firmest suspension setting.The system can easily be switched to manual mode by simply pressing the control button once. When the display LED is solid it indicates automatic (electronic control) mode. A flashing LED indicates a manual setting, where green = open, yellow = medium, red = closed. On the trail, the e:i Shock system is pretty handy. Much like the Specialized Brain, it lets you get on with the business of riding, without having to fiddle with suspension settings. It can feel rather weird as it switches between modes: the change is noticeable as it firms up on flat ground, or opens on rough terrain, along with the characteristic buzz of the servo motors. Once you get cracking on a fun piece of trail, it is easy to forget about it, but I found myself watching the light and trying to predict when the mode would change whenever I was slogging along jeep track. To give you a rough idea: the e:i shock locks out on tar, flat jeep track and sand, while choppier jeep track with small stones and roots would cause it to switch to medium, and finally any bigger hits or baby head sized stones would open up the suspension completely. The battery provides 24 hours of riding time. I was none too pleased at having yet another battery to think about and sure enough: after riding the bike for two weeks without charging the battery I was caught out by the flashing green and red- indicating low battery. The shock defaults to open when the battery dies, and thankfully I was able to continue riding. Geometry & Sizing Specifications FrameXR 29’’ CARBON 100mm Rear Travel BOOST 148ForkROCKSHOX SID RL 29’’ SOLO AIR BOOST 15x110 / Mechanical: SID RL + ONELOC REMOTERear shockROCKSHOX MONARCH e:i RT3 190x40mm / Mechanical: DELUXE RL 190x40mmHeadsetFSA ORBIT 1.5E ZS + 8mm Top CapBottom bracketSHIMANO SMBB7141A PRESS FITCranksetSHIMANO XT FCM8000 BOOST HOLLOWTECH II 36x26 FOR 11-Speed 170mm (S) / 175mm (M, L, XL)StemRACE FACE EVOLVE 6° Ø: 31.8mm L: 70mm (S, M, L) / 90mm (XL)SeatpostRACE FACE EVOLVE Ø: 31.6mm L: 400mmHandlebarLAPIERRE HB-FB21L TOP FLAT W: 720mm R: 15mm Ø: 31.8mmFront derailleurSHIMANO XT FDM8020E6XRear derailleurSHIMANO XT RDM8000GS 11-SpeedBrakesSHIMANO HYDRAULIC XT BRM8000 BLACK - SHIMANO SMRT76 180mm / 160mm 6 Bolt TypeShiftersSHIMANO XT SLM8000 I-Spec 11-SpeedSaddleLAPIERRE VL-1743 BY VELOWheelset CROSSMAX ELITE UST 29’’ 15x110 / 12x148 BOOST + LAQR12-E Thru AxleCassetteSHIMANO SLX CSM7000 11x40 11-SpeedTyresMAXXIS ARDENT Tubeless READY 29x2.25 / IKON Tubeless READY 29x2.20 SKINWALLSizeS,M,L,XLPriceR85,000.00 On the trail Jumping on the XR 729 initially felt like piloting a space ship. The “bzzzz” of the servo motor as the shock changes modes can be disconcerting, and the nest of cables around the cockpit feels cluttered and excessive.Once you hit the trail you forget about it all. The bike eats up climbs, the more technical the better. I love the challenge of a steep, loose and rocky climb, and this bike feeds that: powering straight over rocks that I would usually try threading my way around and motoring through thick sand. As long as you put in the power, the bike finds a way. It made me feel like a superhero. On the flip side, when my legs weren’t in the game it felt like a lot of bike to be pushing around. The XR 729 comes alive in the rocky sections. Photo credit: Theo Bruwer. Point it downhill and it feels like a trail bike, the 69 degree head angle lends confidence, and the shortened chain stays give it unexpected agility. It is the sort of bike that has you looking for rocks, roots and bumps in the trail to boost off. There is no better way to test an XC bike, than in cross country race. Fortunately for me, and the purposes of this review, the test period coincided with the first SA Cup XCO series event at Rhebokskloof and the Cape Town Cycle Tour 55km MTB marathon race the following weekend, so I was able to get a feel for the bike in its natural habitat. The XR 729 delivered on both occasions. The slack head angle translated into heaps of confidence, and forgiveness through the rock gardens on the XCO course. Drop offs that would otherwise have given me the horrors, were barely noticeable. Weighing in at 12.8 kilograms without pedals, but with plenty of sealant in the tyres, the bike is not the lightest on the climbs, nor does it feel ultra stiff, but it eats up ground in response to power through the pedals, and absolutely destroys technical sections. It really feels like it looks after you when you make a mistake. I came to appreciate the e:i suspension more and more, especially towards the end of the marathon race: it was just one less thing to fiddle with. I could focus on eating and drinking, and most importantly, keep my attention on the racing at hand. Where normally I would have ended up leaving my shock in trail mode for short bits of open jeep track and punchy climbs, the e:i system flipped modes for me so that the bike was always pedalling as efficiently as possible. Most importantly, the bike had a smile on my face during, and after every ride: it was fun, capable, and for lack of a better phrase: powerful. Business and party somehow in one package. In short If you are looking for a do-it-all cross country ripper, that will allow you to cover ground, and invite you to get involved, and enjoy the descents then the XR 729 is well worth a look. It's a bike that comes alive when ridden hard, both up and down, and will have you looking for a new tiger line to try on every ride. ProsFast Fun No fiddling with suspension ConsLots of cabling Remembering to charge the battery Not super light
  4. Lapierre XR 729 The Lapierre XR 729 is a carbon cross-country orientated mile cruncher. The first thing you notice on the XR 729 is that the shock is hidden in an odd protruding seat tube to accommodate the single pivot suspension design. I've grown fond of the striking look but don't expect to squeeze two water bottles within the front triangle. Expecting a full blown XC bike, we were a little stumped when a custom built XR 729 with a 120mm Pike and dropper seatpost arrived in the office. The only component that was stock (according to the Lapierre website) was the wheelset and tyres. After the first ride, however, it all made sense but I'll leave those details for the full review. Lapierre also produce the Lapierre XR 729 e:i which uses an electronic shock to adapt automatically to the terrain. This models retails for R82,995. Custom builds of the mechanical suspension bike can be arranged. You can view all the 2016 Lapierre bikes at www.lapierrebikes.co.za. LuvHandles Luvhandles was started by twin brothers late last year who were tired of paying too much for bike components such as grips. So they set out to find a high quality silicone grip to sell directly to the public at a reasonable price. A neat feature of their online offering is that it allows you to select the colour of your grips and plugs separately. They say this results in almost 50 colour combinations, perfect for the matchy-matchy builders. On first look the grips and plugs appear to be top notch but I'll have to see how well they with stand up to some abuse on my wide tree bashing handlebars. A set of Luvhandles grips and plugs currently retail for R120. Check out their online store for more details here. Thule VeloCompact The Thule VeloCompact comes in a two or three bike configuration. The VeloCompact is a relatively new addition to the line up having been released in 2015. It promises to be light weight and compact. The carrier attaches to a tow bar and has a tilt mechanism so that you can access a hatch type rear door. The VeloCompact retails for R8,999 in the two bike configuration and R11,999 for the model that can carries three bikes.
  5. First Look Friday is an introduction to the products that we are currently testing for review. This week we're featuring the Lapierre XR 729, Luvhandles soft grips and Thule VeloCompact bike carrier. Click here to view the article
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