Lapierre is a brand with a long history and, after a brief pause in Australian distribution, bikes from the French company are back in local shops. RIDE Media has a Xelius SL for a long-term review.
– Intro to a series of reviews and videos, by Rob Arnold
Lapierre’s first Australian agent was Brad McGee, one of a long list of Australian riders to have raced the bikes as part of what is an ongoing sponsorship with the team now known as Groupama-FDJ. In 2022, the Aussie recruit is last year’s King of the Mountains at La Vuelta a España, Michael Storer.
Of course, other Australian cycling stars were also racing Lapierre bikes in 2022, including national TT champion Grace Brown and the irrepressible Brodie Chapman.
That’s a little background on who rides Lapierre bikes in the pro peloton these days.
Even those who have come to cycling recently are likely to have seen bikes from this French brand in competition, but it’s understandable if you wondered why the brand no longer has the retail representation here that it once enjoyed.
Although there is a rich French heritage for the brand, Lapierre is now part of the Accell Group – a company that boasts a large collective of bike brands that also includes Raleigh, Koga, Ghost and Batavus.
After several years of distribution in Australia via Advance Traders (which is responsible for brands like BMC and Merida locally), the Lapierre brand was absent from the Australian market but that it is now back in the country.
The distributor for Lapierre in Australia in 2022 is SRS Agencies, owned and managed by a stalwart of the bike trade, Andrew Kuhl.
Based in Adelaide, Kuhl also has a strong association with Shimano and that is worth referencing early in what will be an ongoing review of a Lapierre Xelius SL. It has, after all, been four years since I rode a bike fitted with a Shimano Di2 groupset.* This means that this test will allow me to sample something entirely different to what’s on other bikes I’ve ridden recently.
In 2022 Lapierre celebrated its 75th anniversary, launching a limited-edition range of black bikes – both road and MTB. This release included the Xelius SL frame you see here, but with a predominantly black frame with gold highlights and a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset.
When RIDE Media began discussions about arranging a review bike Kuhl considered the anniversary edition bike, but his allocation of that limited release sold out quickly.
We agreed to wait for a Xelius SL frameset (which includes a rounded 27.2mm seatpost and proprietary carbon-fibre handlebars and stem) and to build it up with Shimano’s relatively new Ultegra Di2 12-speed groupset.
The supply of Lapierre to Australia isn’t enormous but bikes are filtering in to the country and it won’t be long before you’ll be able to find them in a shop near you.
(Note: in the introduction video for this review series, I reference a website address for SRS Agencies but that is in correct. Apologies for any confusion caused. Kuhl will soon be launching an Australian-specific Lapierre site but at the time of writing it is still under construction.)
Tyre selection in 2022 is considerable with a glut of sizing options and plenty of brands coming to market with great tubeless offerings. Goodyear Eagle F1 with a tan sidewall have been fitted to the hooked Ultegra C36 rims.
The tubeless Eagle F1 tyres also come with black sidewalls and the following sizing options: 25mm, 28mm, 30mm or 32mm. The current trend is for wider tyres so, for this review, we selected 32mm and there is no issue at all with clearance when fitted to the Xelius.
An ongoing review
Back in 2020, RIDE Media collaborated with PON Bike Australia with another frameset and customised spec shortly after the Cervélo Caledonia was launched. That review went on for months and allowed me to refine the build and also test different components on a versatile bike that saw plenty of action on roads and gravel.
The Lapierre Xelius SL will get a similar treatment (although it’s not likely to see a lot of gravel). The aim is to hold onto this bike for a while and, as different components arrive for review, I’ll swap things over on this test bike.
Another plan is to compare the Lapierre with my personal bike, a Focus Izalco Max from 2019, and others that come through the RIDE office, including the Trek Domane that I’ve been riding for the last few months.Expect to see a range of videos about the Lapierre Xelius SL that has recently been put together at Tune Cycles, in Sydney’s inner west. The owner of that mobile mechanic service (which also has an impressive workshop in Marrickville) is Hayden Nosatti. He did the build and offered plenty of commentary while preparing this Lapierre.
If you have any questions about this bike, don’t hesitate to send an email or leave a comment on any of RIDE’s social media pages.
The 883g Lapierre Xelius SL frame is now a complete bike. It weighs in at exactly 8.00kg (as you see it featured in the images here, complete with Ultegra pedals).
Be sure to subscribe to RIDE Media’s YouTube channel and get notifications when new videos are uploaded. I’ll soon share the workshop session and there’ll be plenty of stories of my rides featuring the Lapierre bike in the coming weeks and months.
– By Rob Arnold
- Retro – Mark Renshaw’s FDJeux.com team-issue Scandium Lapierre (2004)
- Cervélo Caledonia long-term review introduction (2020)
- Groupama-FDJ team bikes over the years
*RIDE Media enjoyed a long stint with Shimano as a supportive partner/client/advertiser. The company was one of our original advertising clients and Shimano featured on the back cover of a the quarterly magazine I published, RIDE Cycling Review, from 1998 through to 2013… but the relationship halted suddenly when a new marketing manager was appointed in Australia.
Although I was assured that it would be “business as usual” by the GM, it has been anything but normal.
Press releases continued to arrive in my in-box for a few years after Shimano stopped advertising, but since in 2016 RIDE Media hasn’t had any correspondence from Shimano –that relates to information about product launches.
Of course, RIDE Media has continued to report on Shimano’s activity in cycling – from the company’s arrival as a sponsor of the Tour de France in 2020, to bike build videos with Shimano groupsets, etc. But all that has been managed by RIDE Media without any support from the Australian office.