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Lapierre Xelius SL 8.0 first ride review

17 Dec 2021
Verdict:

Early impressions from the launch of the Lapierre Xelius SL 8.0 are overwhelmingly favourable

Price: 
£5,399

Lapierre officially announced its latest generation Xelius SL3 this morning, with a new carbon lay-up and improvements to aerodynamics, stiffness and weight.

Fortunately, just before Omicron halted travel, Cyclist was invited to Vence in the Maritime Alps for the launch of the new range and I pounced on the opportunity quicker than you could say 'triple triangle'.

There are six new Xelius SL models numbered from 5.0 to 9.0 with only a few spec changes between them, mainly groupsets – all of which are Shimano – but also wheels, tyres and saddle.

Over the two days, which featured a couple of very long climbs but mostly stuck to lower gradients, I was riding the Lapierre Xelius SL 8.0, which is priced at £5,399 with the Ultegra R8100 Di2 groupset, new Lapierre Road Disc 38 wheels, Continental Grand Prix 5000 tyres and Fizik Argo Vento R5 saddle.

Lapierre Xelius SL 8.0 details

The now signature triple triangle design made famous by GT remains, though with more compact geometry and an emphasis on sharper angles. You'll notice a slight change aesthetically since the previous generation that gives the seatpost a little more breathing room for soaking up vibrations.

There's a new stem with a -5.7° angle that helps aerodynamically by housing the newly integrated cables and hoses – for mechanical groupsets it's semi-integrated.

Although the Xelius SL is seen as a climber's bike and used as such by Groupama-FDJ and FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope, it's also the go-to for rougher surfaces and cobbled classics with a bit more flex and several vibration damping features. That's why there's now clearance for 32mm tyres, though we rode on 25s.

Lapierre Xelius SL 8.0 first ride review

From the first few pedal strokes, the signs are encouraging. Its new lighter weight, more compact geometry and stiff lay-up – riding a size L meant the construction of this frame is slightly stiffer than the smaller versions – brings a good balance of stability and agility on flatter sections.

Of course, given its design and purpose it comes as no surprise that the Xelius is comfortable. The very few imperfect roads on offer provoked but a slight rumble through the frame.

Once the roads hit the mountains it cameinto its own, whether putting the power down or easing my way up, though it really shone when out of the saddle.

It's clearly not the stiffest bike around and deliberately so, when standing on the pedals it blends comfort and stiffness at exactly the level I'd want it, not putting up a fight but keeping all momentum in the right direction.

It descends confidently too with the new aerodynamic improvements – and the big bloke on the saddle – helping to gather speed nicely without too much push.

Even in the wet, sweeping bends were super easy and that's something that doesn't come naturally to me after previous incidents hitting the deck, so for most riders it's probably about as free flowing as you'd like.

While we wait to see what the full verdict on the new Lapierre Xelius SL range is in the new year when we get one for a full test in Cyclist magazine, it's clear the time and effort put into this generation has paid off.

Between conversations with Lapierre's professional partners and feedback from both previous Xelius models and the aero-focussed Aircode bikes, it's been refined into a super versatile racer.

To be the machine for both Paris-Roubaix and Mont Ventoux is pretty special, if even if FDJ riders didn't necessarily excel in those races. For us regular cyclists having one that can do both well is a blessing. Where are your genres now, cycling industry?

When Thibaut Pinot flies to victory up Alpe d'Huez on Bastille Day next year – albeit on a higher specced model – we'll see how good it really is.

Image credits: Lapierre

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