In recent months I’ve found myself watching more cross country racing than downhill. It’s not just the fitness that’s required as those ladies and gents are packing some serious skills riding some darn demanding tracks – check out some of the pro-riders pre-course Go Pro footage. The tactics and battles can also make for some great watching, so I was chuffed when Lapierre offered me their pro-race 629 for a few days to try out.
My usual go to trail/enduro bike was left in the shed as I was going to ride the full Gwydir trail ( old money: Marin trail ) in what I was hoping would be a personal best time!
When I arrived, there were a few xc guys getting ready to roll. It seems the bare minimum you need for xc is a bike, some lycra and the ability to do an endo followed by at least two back wheel hops whilst waiting for your mates to finish setting up their GPS devices.
The Lapierre eased up the first lung busting hill and up to the bench in a PB time. It was swift and light on the technical climbing and the more budgeted SRAM NX gearing shifted fine with no issues. Rockshoxs new lockout switch was easier to engage and disengage than it’s predecessor which helped to stop any energy being wasted by halting any compression on the forks.
The first descent however was a little more interesting, as I’ve currently mostly been riding a modern geometry long travel enduro bike. I was a mess! I tried to find clean lines but instead found myself ploughing through obstacles whilst nervously feathering the SRAM Level brake levers. I just wasn’t used to the shorter bars, steeper head angle and descending whilst the saddle was in its fully up position.
The more I went down that first descent the more my respect grew for xc riders. I knew I needed to get my act together for the second descent. I put a few turns on the cranks and relaxed my grip on the bars and it was then that the carbon chariot started to feel more confident on the downhills. The 100mm Rockshox Reba and the shock absorption technology carbon frame were working overtime but it started to become more stable and inspiring.
I completed the ride in a personal best time. However! I’m not overly sure if I’m fully committed to converting over to a full on xc bike just yet. It was certainly fast on the climbs and eased up the techy parts. I had also started to feel good on the descents and had no issues with the cockpit. The thing that did concern me is that on a 14.9 mile trail I was only 3 minutes faster. I understand that in races 3 minutes is a massive amount, but on a trail rather than a specific xc track I believe I may be quicker on a full suspension trail 29er.
Regardless, the Lapierre was a great bit of kit, a really fast lightweight climber. The model I rode was their entry level carbon frame retailing at £2399 and weighed in at 11.2kg in a size large.
More details on spec and pricing here – Lapierre Pro Race 629