First Look: Lapierre Ups the Ante with Electronic Intelligence Shock-Equipped Bikes

27.5 All Mountain Trail Pro Reviews

Lapierre‘s entry to the US market is sure to turn heads as it updates an already strong lineup of bikes with electronically-controlled e:i shocks developed jointly by the French bike-maker and Rock Shox. We’ll give you our impressions after testing the 2014 Lapierre Spicy 527 as part of our forthcoming All-Mountain Shootout. For now, here’s a first look at our test rig.

‏The Lapierre Spicy 527 boasts 150mm of rear travel with 160 up front and mixes mid-level SRAM (X7) and Shimano (STX, XT) drivetrain parts with Avid Elixer 7 brakes. For suspension, a Rock Shox’ Monarch RT3 Relay electronically-controlled shock is paired with a Fox 34 Float CTD fork. Also spec’d: a Rock Shox Reverb Stealth adjustable seatpost, Easton 27.5-inch Vice XLT tubeless wheels, Schwalbe Hans Dampf 2.35-inch tires, and Race Face crankset, bars and stem.

‏The Relay servo motor is mounted on the Rock Shox Monarch RT3 shock and can react to bumps and pedaling inputs in less than a tenth-of-a-second, and change damping 20-30 times per minute. Try doing that by hand.

‏The e:i rechargeable lithium-ion battery mounts to the downtube and looks similar to electronic shifting batteries. Run times vary, but Lapierre gives a safe estimate of 24 riding hours and say they’ve built in ample reserve power beyond that. Even without power, the shock continues to work and damping can be manually adjusted.

‏French downhill legend Nicolas Vouilloz helped design and refine Lapierre’s mountain bikes, including suggesting the rear brake mount position that cleanly tucks inside the seat stay.

‏While we’re hopeful of an amazing ride experience, the tangle of cables and wires at the Spicy’s head tube is a bit much.

‏The Spicy includes a sag setting guide on the non-drive seat stay that corresponds with a bolt on indicator on the seat tube. The shock also sports sag-setting marks.

Sans pedals, the Spicy tips the scales at a shade under 31 pounds. Between the Horst link-like suspension design and i:e system, we’re hoping it pedals lighter.

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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  • Richard Head says:

    Not liking it. Electronically controlled shocks is just going overboard.

  • Dave says:

    Ancient news! This has been around for what, a year and half?

  • RanDog 1951 says:

    Bicycles have followed the automotive, & motorcycle technological improvements as they become available, improvement’s in performance, safety & fun factor are the ultimate result.
    Almost every part on a modern MTB has been changed & updated since the early days off-road specific cycling, no one in their right mind would even use a 5 year old bike if they could ride a new one!

  • Stavros says:

    We had to suffer the 29er era the last years.
    Now we have to face the “fake” suspension ?

    Let us ride freely. We need no more technology. Bikes are already twice more expensive than a car.

    You industries destroy the bike market, don’t u get it ? If u want us to ride a motocross, then it’s simple, just tell us.

  • chasejj says:

    Combine this with e.XTR and I am seeing the possible benefits. It would free up the linkages to bring back other designs that have been dismissed due to poor kinematics under load. Sophisticated controls from electronics could make a previously dismissed design return for good reasons.
    If I am carrying a battery , I want push button shifting as well.
    I hate the whole 27.5 thing, but this is actually positive progress if done properly.

  • GN says:

    Rode one of these in Europe last summer and it blew my mind, but I guess LP couldn’t bring MTB’s into the US until the Specialzed patent expired. The higher end all carbon 26″ bike I rode was something around 26lbs with higher end parts, and a AL Bronson or Yeti with lower end parts are around 30lbs too I believe.

    I came away from riding it thinking the servo is basically just flipping a CTD shock switch between modes, but its doing it using cadence and iPhone sensors mounted to the fork to figure out if your pedaling or not and if the front fork is hitting bumps hundreds of times a minute. Its very clever IMHO and will probably not be for everyone, but seems especially applicable for racing or people concerned with pedaling efficiency, but still want small bump sensitivity. Probably like electronic shifting on road bikes, I’m also not sure if a lot of people will want to charge a battery unit all the time. I didn’t really think it was comparable to a inertia valve shock, because my experience with those is that bumps under a certain size the shock just stays locked. On IE, if your not pedaling it rides like your shock in descend mode.

  • Canyonman says:

    I like simplicity….I rode a single pivot 29 xc model at InterBike and it was amazing. Was only set up for the rear and it just made the manuel platform
    For the fork seem outdated. It worked well on a short travel xc bike.

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