Compare-O Bottom Line: Love it or hate it, electronic suspension cometh and Lapierre strikes first with bold, new Spicy 527

27.5 Enduro Enduro Compare-O 2014

Anchored Climber

With that slack head angle and a hefty 30.97-pound curb weight, climbing is clearly not the Spicy’s forté. For every extra ounce of courage and confidence the big tires and the stout frame deliver on the way down, they serve as ballast going up. But it’s not that the Lapierre’s not a bad climber—it’s just heavy. Thirty one-pounds is 31-pounds and, short of putting an assist motor on it, it’s never gonna climb like our 24-pound Giant. Thankfully, the OST+ suspension does a good job of neutralizing suspension bob, making the Spicy an efficient, if not fast, ascender.

Not fast, perhaps, but efficient on the climbs, the Lapierre Spicy 527 does well enough going up.

Though our riders are all 1x crazy at this point, we appreciated every bit of the Lapierre’s lower 2x gearing as it allowed for relatively painless sit-and-spin climbing.

About that Electric Monkey Business

So far, so good, right? If you like it rough, the Lapierre Spicy seems like a good match. Now comes our friend Pierre on top of it all. Does he add to the equation or just monkey things up? It depends who you ask.

“I had this amazing stint where I went down a rocky, rough chute, through a heavy G-out, then up a steepish climb,” attested one rider. “I was actually amazed at how the shock adjusted perfectly to match what I was doing. I never could have made the adjustments manually…it was kind of awesome.”

The servo’s whir on the RockShox Monarch shock becomes a familiar sound when transitioning from uphill to downhill as the electronics adjust up the shock to match.

Though impressed, the same rider noted that shock set-up took a bit of trial-and-error, which seems counterintuitive for an “automatic” system.

“Once I finally got used to the electronics, I really liked the way the rear suspension worked,” he noted. “But I had to run the fork pretty firm to get the whole bike to feel balanced, and it seems kinda weird that the front end isn’t electronic as well.”

Another point of contention for many riders was the proliferation of wires and cables. To connect the fork sensor, computer head unit, battery and other sensors, a series of think wires ride shotgun on control cables. While more visually unpleasant than anything else, it does have us concerned about down-the-road maintenance, and to a lesser extent, durability.

The Lapierre’s cables and wires are not a minimalist undertaking.

One other concern—charging the Spicy’s battery. We left our bike dormant for a couple weeks and sure enough the battery died during the next test ride, leaving the shock in the locked-out position and our rider a little pissed.

“I was trying to approach the Spicy with an open mind but when the shock stopped working I said ‘screw it,’” remarked the rider. “I realize it comes down to pilot error, but between my  Camelback and my Garmin and remembering my shoes and everything else, I just don’t want another thing to worry about—it’s why I never use my GoPro!”

[Editor’s note: The shock can be manually adjusted—say to the ‘trail’ position—even when battery is dead using an allen wrench.]

Who’s This Bike For?

With it’s brawny build and electronic wizardry, the Lapierre Spicy 527 should appeal to the aggressive all-mountain rider who’s also an early adopter when it comes to technology. If you ride abusive, rocky trails with big hits and jumps, the Spicy’s muscular attitude and deft maneuverability would serve you well—it’s a mini DH hammer. For the electronic aspects to pay-off, you need to be a diligent fiddler and a bit of an e-nerd.

The Last Word

The Lapierre Spicy 527 takes some getting used to, but rewards the rider who does with an empathetic ride quality due to its electronic wizardry. Even without gadgetry, the analog aspects of the Spicy make it a compelling package. Rear travel is luxurious and the bike is efficient thanks to its excellent OST+ suspension. Handling is spirited, and its workman-like mid-level parts spec keeps the price somewhat reasonable and includes some nice flourishes, like an Easton Vice XLT wheelset, a RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper post, and a Race Face Turbine crankset.

Most everyone felt the Fox 34 CTD detracted from the bike’s overall performance, and the heel-clearance issues was a deal-breaker for some—though one Lapierre has pledged to correct.

If you like being on the bleeding edge, and don’t mind adding the care and feeding of the i:e battery and electronics to your bike regimen, you’ll likely find the system appealing. It works best for highly changeable situations where making manual changes to your shock is either too difficult or needed too frequently.

It’s worth noting the Spicy 527 is available sans electronics, and with a Fox Float CTD shock instead of the RockShox Monarch for $4,500. Conversely, the high-zoot Spicy Team slots in above our 527 with a carbon frame, RockShox Pike fork, SRAM XX1 drivetrain and an $8,000 MSRP—it also knocks nearly three-pounds off the weight.

The Good
  • Excellent four-bar link OST+ suspension design
  • Great lateral stiffness and snappy handling
  • Excellent all-mountain capability
  • Brave electronic:intelligence suspension system
The Bad
  • Extraordinarily wide rear stays (will be fixed, according to Lapierre)
  • Heavy at 30-plus pounds
  • Sub-par fork performance
  • Long-term maintenance concerns
  • Electronic diligence required
  • Holy cables Batman!

2014 Lapierre Spicy 527 Key Specs
  • MRSP: $5,300 with electronic:intellegence; $4,500 standard with Fox Float CTD
  • Weight: 30.97 pounds (size medium, without pedals)
  • Wheel size: 27.5 inches
  • Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
  • Color: Grey
  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Fork: Fox 34 Float CTD Performance FIT, 160mm travel
  • Rear Travel: 150mm
  • Rear Shock: RockShox Monarch RT3 Relay with e:i electronic:intellegence
  • Headset: FSA Orbit
  • Handlebar: Race Face Atlas Stealth, 740mm
  • Stem: Race Face Turbine, 31.8mm, 60mm
  • Grips: Lapierre Rubber Lock-on
  • Seatpost: RockShoc Reverb Stealth
  • Brakes: Avid Elixer 7 Trail, 200mm front, 180mm rear
  • Brake Levers: Avid Elixer 7 Trail
  • Shifters: Shimano SLX
  • Front Derailleur: SRAM X7
  • Rear Derailleur: Shimano XT Shadow Plus
  • Cassette: SRAM PG1030 11-36, 10-speed
  • Crankset: Race Face Turbine 2x, 36-22T
  • Rims: Easton Vice XLT
  • Hubs: Easton Vice XLT Tubeless
  • Spokes: Sapim
  • Tires: Schwalbe Hans Dampf tubeless ready 2.35-inches front/2.25-inches rear
  • Bottom Bracket Type: Shimano Press Fit
  • ISCG Tabs: Yes
  • Chainguide: No
  • Head Tube Angle: 66.5 degrees
  • Seat Tube Angle: 73.5 degrees
  • Chainstay Length: 16.75 inches
  • Bottom Bracket Height: 13.25 inches

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This story is part of Mtbr’s 2014 Enduro Compare-O. Check out our intro story here for all the ground rules and goings ons.

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

About the author: Don Palermini

Chicago-born Don Palermini became a cycling-based life-form in the sixth grade after completing a family road bike tour of his home state. Three years later he bought his first mountain bike to help mitigate the city's pothole-strewn streets, and began exploring the region's unpaved roads and trails. Those rides sparked a much larger journey which includes all manner of bike racing, commuting, on- and off-road bike advocacy, and a 20-plus-year marketing career in the cycling industry that landed him at his current gig with Santa Cruz bicycles. Now residing in the San Francisco Bay Area, his four favorite words in the English language are "breakfast served all day," together in that order.

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  • Andry says:

    Thanks for the review. Beautiful bike indeed.
    The BB height seems too low at 12.25in. Can you confirm it?

  • Tad says:

    Do you not like the Fox 34 compared to say a Pike or is the Fox 34 just not a good match for the rear suspension on the Spicy?

  • GN says:

    Any company that doesn’t send its $8-$10k bike to be reviewed gets dinged for weight, yet I haven’t seen to many sub $5k 150mm bikes under 30lbs. Aluminum Bronson’s, SB66′s, etc with “low end” builds are all coming in around 30lbs and 80% of the weight difference is in the components, not the frames.

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