REVIEW: LAPIERRE SPICY 516
August 26th, 2013
Lapierre have a long history dating back to 1946 and in recent years the French super-brand have beeped louder and louder on the mountain bike radar away from their native turf and done so with a little help from some of the finest racers there have ever been and some rather nice bikes. But it was back in 2003 when no less then Nico Vouilloz signed on the dotted line with Lapierre, and from that point things really got interesting for the gravity minded. Fast-forward to 2013 and what you have now is a Mega Avalanche podium ready bike developed with the great man himself. Needless to say this is going to bode well…
Now, cast your minds back to December when you were first introduced to Simone – my long-term partner in crime. If you can’t remember, Simone is my Lapierre Spicy 516. It’s a bit like the one Nico rides, except it’s not as factory and aluminium – well the colours are the same… Before Simone came into my life I was torn on my next ride until I had a good chat with Nico himself and with a rack of ’13 Spicy’s glistening on their Eurobike stand visible over his shoulder, the seeds of Simone had been sewn. No hard sell, just a nice guy and a bunch of bikes that riders rave about. Ding goes the till!
Being more a downhill type of chap and stepping away from racing for the first time in a few years, I wanted something that would tick all the boxes of the elusive ‘do it all’ bike. I needed to climb like a goat and descend like a stone; a big ask indeed and there was only one answer; a long travel aggressive “enduro” bike. While I had no plans to race the ‘e’ word, I had every intention to shred Simone like I was being chased by Nico himself and this is how I got on…
Out of the Box
Arriving part-built from Hotlines UK the task was upon me to assemble Simone. No big task at all and while my local bike shop usually handles such tasks, this time it was my turn to revel in it and with some borrowed worksop space at
What first struck me was the quality of the finish. The welds are seamless, the paint is flawless and by jove what a looker she is. Naturally, I knew the spec before the order was placed and that was part of my decision as part for part, penny for penny, you would struggle to find a better spec’d bike of this nature in 2013. With such a dialled spec there isn’t much that’s really worth changing, so out the box you have a potentially race winning machine with a pedigree to prove it. The only thing missing perhaps is a chain guide, which could wait as the Shimano clutch mech is so good and perhaps a few personal tweeks to make Simone feel that little bit more like my bike…
Ok, I just said there isn’t much worth changing, and yes there isn’t at all, but this is a long-term test bike and sometimes you’ve just got to throw some variety into the mix to see what happens. Weighing in at a respectable 31.01lbs out of the box, the Spicy is respectable for such a purposefully specced bike. Over the course of the year the following changes have been made, mostly for other reviews.
Olly insisted I try the Renthal Duo stem and FatBar Lite’s, which are awesome and after playing with a few different grips, settled on my trusted Odi x TLD’s off my old DH bike. Coming sans pedals, the Kore Torsions I reviewed earlier in the year are great and after some close shaves taking Simone on some wild descents, opted for a chain guide and what better guide could you get than a colour co-ordinated e*thirteen TRS+ (review on the way). Other than that, I finally made the switch and made full use of the Continental and stock Mavic’s tubeless capabilities as this puppy is tubeless ready: wheels, tires and valves all included. All out the box and no more expense apart from Continental Revo sealant, which was really simple to install. With those changes made [insert drum roll] she is now a slender 30.12lbs – not bad considering the addition of a chainguide!
Here’s the Spec:
|Frame||2013 Lapierre Spicy, Size Medium|
|Forks||FOX 34 Float 160 CTD Fit Performance|
|Shock||FOX Float CTD BV LV Performance|
|Headset||FSA Orbit Tapered 1 1/8-1.5’’|
|Stem||RENTHAL Duo 31.8x50mm|
|Bars||RENTHAL FatBar Lite 31.8x10x740mm|
|Brakes||FORMULA The One|
|Grips||ODI x Troy Lee Designs Lock-On|
|Saddle||FIZIK GOBI XM|
|Post||ROCKSHOX Reverb Stealth 31.6x355mm 100mm travel|
|Shifters||SHIMANO KSLM780 XT 2×10 speed|
|Rear Mech||SHIMANO RDM786DGSL New XT Shadow + 10 speed|
|Chain||SHIMANO 10 Speed|
|Cassette||SHIMANO HG62 11×36 10 speed|
|Chainset||RACE FACE Turbine 24×36 10 Speed|
|Chainring||RACE FACE 24 & 36T|
|Front Mech||SHIMANO KFDM675E26X New SLX 10 speed|
|Tyres||CONTINENTAL Rubber Queen 26×2.2 TS w/ Revo Sealant|
Out on the Trail
Let’s start with first impressions: Quick off the mark and itching to ride I was off to the local mini DH track on a wet day and while I perhaps should have set my eyes on a trail centre of something more similarly ‘trail’, the car park test was so inspiring I just wanted to see what she was capable off – if the bike descends like a dream, I can worry about how well she climbs after… How does it descend? Like a mini downhill bike! Admittedly the Fox 34’s were very sticky on the first few runs and the brakes were little to none, but after some muck they bedded in and before I knew it, my first outing on the ’13 Spicy turned out to be one of the best days on a bike I’d had in a long time.
The geo all adds up to (size small); 66º head angle, 565mm top tube, 430mm back end making this a very capable bike indeed. Sure the numbers read well, but bikes have ‘a feeling’ and the Lapierre certainly has ‘that’ feeling. Your position on the bike is very neutral, not to far back, not to far forward, almost a feeling of being ‘in the bike’. When things get tech and steep weight is easily transferred around to accommodate the situation and even with the straight top tube offering somewhat less stand over than some other bikes, the Spicy feels nimble and chuckable. Apprehensive about ‘sending’ the Spicy I was, but as soon as those Rubber Queens touched down at the other end all I can do is smile – and that’s exactly what I do every time I swing a leg over her.
In the corners the Lapierre is stiff and responsive as you would expect from the geometry, but there are lot of factors that come into play and how you spec a bike is a big one. The Mavic Crosstrail wheels are bang on for this type of bike – light and very strong, responding to pedal and cornering forces impeccably. The stiffness allows you to rail with confidence and the pick up on the freehub is rapid plus it makes a good noise too! Coupled with their tubeless compatibility and I really think Lapierre have hit gold in specifying these. A couple of ‘twangs’ have come from the rear when coming up a little short, but they are a true as the day they where fitted.
The rest adds up too. The Continental Rubber Queens, some of the finest rubber I’ve ridden and in all conditions too. Not clogging up in the wet, gripping in all conditions and never once flatting. The Shimano drivetrain – faultless. The new XT 10 speed clutch rear mech is outstanding and combined with the new XT shifter, well, you’re guaranteed positive and instant shifting every time and for quite a long time too. If I’m honest I was a little dubious of the Race Face cranks having never owned any, but their pedigree settled that. They did come loose once mid-year, but have not suffered anything else since. They work, they’re black and they look bad ass and in my eye, that’s all that is required of them…
Where do I start with the Reverb? Every bike should have one of these fitted and out of the box – be it top end or low end, this will change your ride. The Stealth version shipped with the Spicy was a little awkward to fit but once it’s on (and in!) you need not touch it again apart from maintain the air pressure and with the internal route all planned out for you within the frame, it’s a neat finish. Hearing mixed things on the frightfully expensive Formula The One S brakes I was pleasantly surprised with them. Lightweight and very powerful, but they are a trail brake and on long descents they did suffer marginally, still, well suited for the bike. They are in need on some new pads though, but they have been ridden in anger and in all conditions – a fair wear.
So, pedalling. The feared climbs. After the descending capabilities of the Spicy I feared the worst. Can one bike actually be all things to one man? Many claim it, not many do it and the Spicy actually does it and rather well for a bike that handles the fun stuff like it does. Hitting the XC loops in anger on what I first thought might be an over-geared downhill bike she popped up (the Reverb), I mounted her and smashed it in the granny (ring). Off I went like that goat I mentioned, but perhaps not quite like the G.O.A.T (Greatest-Of-All-Time) Nico himself, but one can dream…
Helping me ascend was the carefully selected gear ratio from Lapierre, which offers you a massive 11×36 out back coupled with a 24×36 up front. More than enough to get you up the steepest, most technical climbs. Also the new Fox CTD system – not without its critics, was actually what I was after. A simple set up after years of fettling a downhill rig. Climbing? Pop it in trail or lock it out for the smooth ones. Descending? Pop it in descend. This is my kind of suspension. Sure, it can be tuned to make it better, but out of the box it’s sublime, even without the Kashima coating.
Left in full descend mode there was minimal bobbing around on the back end and if anything this assisted on technical climbs as the wheels tracked the ground better. Your power is put down getting you to the next descent fast and efficiently. I have done some long days aboard the Spicy and each one has been a pleasure, only helped by the superbly spec’d Fizik Gobi saddle.
If you are a downhiller after that do-all bike and do more down than up, this is the one for you. If your a rider who want to explore, but not be held back when discover singletrack nirvana, then this is also for you. No word of lie, the Spicy is insane. One thing I did notice was how easy it was to clean. You can get your hands easily around the frame to get the muck out and there is plenty of clearance so you don’t carry too much round with you. The Spicy might not carry the coolness of other brands or feel ‘boutique’ enough for those craving a US brand (which is probably made in the same factory) and if that’s what you’re after, go buy it. But if you are in the market for a bike that works really well out of the box, that makes you smile and enjoy the reason why you started riding mountain bikes and disappearing into the hills every week end, you should buy this bike. At £3099.99 you will struggle to find a bike this well spec’d, rides like it does and looks like it does; it’s an easy decision.
Lapierre bicycles are distributed in the UK by the fine folk at Hotlines, so if you want some more info on the 516 or any Lapierre model, hit up the logo below and see the full 2013 range. See you on the trails, Nathan!