Lapierre X_Lite 200

Lapierre is a French bicycle company that is best known to American cyclists as the bike sponsor of the French Protour team Francaise des Jeux. Lapierre has been building bikes in Dijon, France, since 1946, but it wasn’t until 2005 that Lapierre became available in America. Over the years Francaise des Jeux riders Philippe Gilbert, Bradley McGee and Sandy Casar have racked up several impressive victories aboard Lapierres. Through their partnership with the Francaise des Jeux team, Lapierre developed and tested the X-Lite 200.

The Lapierre X-Lite 200 is the lowest-priced carbon fiber bicycle in Lapierre’s competition series, and it shares the same frame as the elite-level X-Lite 400. The first thing one notices about the X-Lite 200 is the translucent blue paint with subtle, stylish graphics. Everything on the frame, from the understated graphics to the clean, purposeful tube designs, are classic examples of modern European styling. The subdued graphics are a stark contrast to most bikes on the market and do well to give the X-Lite 200 a high-end look that separates it from other offerings in its price range.

For $2200, the X-Lite 200 offers a hint of French racing history and a versatile, all-day in the saddle bike.
THE FRAME
 Designed for racing, the X-Lite 200 is constructed with slightly less technical carbon material compared to the ‘high-modulus’ stuff of the Lapierre’s pro-racing Team Issue models, yet its frame geometry is the same. Frame construction on the X-Lite 200 is first-rate, and it is designed with elegant and purposeful lines. At first, the X-Lite 200 frame appears to have round tubes, but a closer inspection reveals that each member is carefully shaped to maximize the properties of the carbon fiber. One example of this is the chainstays, which are ovalized vertically and then horizontally along their length to increase lateral stiffness, yet offer a degree of vertical compliance. In the front, an Easton EC 70 carbon fork smooths out the ride, while an integrated headset keeps the frame looking clean. Instead of mounting two separate cable stops on the downtube, Lapierre developed a small ‘bridge’ that mounts to the underside of the tube and holds the cables and housings away from the frame. This nice touch is less intrusive to the design and minimizes cable rub on the carbon frame.

THE PARTS
The Lapierre X-Lite 200 comes with Shimano Ultegra shifters and derailleurs, a 105-level 12 to 27 cogset, and non-series Shimano crankset (a Dura-Ace lookalike from ten feet) and brakes. Mavic Aksium Race wheels fitted with Michelin Lithion tires keep the X-Lite 200 rolling smoothly, and a San Marco Ponza saddle and a Ritchey Logic seatpost, stem and handlebar highlight the rider’s compartment.

THE NUMBERS
Our 55-centimeter X-Lite 200 has 73-degree head and 72.5-degree seat tube angles, and a long, 57 centimeter top tube. Its 41.2 centimeter chainstay length and 27.3 centimeter bottom bracket height were both standard race dimensions, and the wheelbase measured out to 98.5 centimeters. Our 55-centimeter model weighed 18.6 pounds. Lapierre offers the X-Lite-200 in 46, 49, 52, 55 and 58 centimeters frame sizes.

Clean and purposeful lines grace the X-Lite 200.
THE RIDE
With the long top tube and ten-centimeter stem, the Lapierre puts the rider in a low, stretched-out position that underscores the racing heritage of the bike. The first few pedal strokes give the impression of a smooth, all-day-in-the-saddle bike. The San Marco Ponza saddle is comfortable, and encourages the rider to get settled in for extended road time, and the X-Lite 200’s mix of established and non-series components performed well-often better than we expected. The combination of mechanical harmony and an efficient, comfortable ride fades when it’s time to jump on the pedals and lay down some watts. During sprints or hard, out-of-the-saddle efforts, the supple-riding frame feels flexible at the bottom bracket area. Ironically, the Lapierre was a great descender in spite of this extra measure of flexibility. The Lapierre’s handling feels spot-on, and its ability to absorb road shock, encouraged fearless descending and daredevil cornering. On flat roads, the Lapierre is smooth and forgiving, which allows the rider to focus on the miles ahead. On the climbs, however, the Lapierre struggles to match other bikes. Some of this has to do with the weight of the bike, although larger, more powerful test riders wished for a stiffer bottom bracket and wheel set.

THE VERDICT
The Lapierre X-lite 200 sends mixed signals. It has the look and rider position of a racer, but the ride and feel of an all-day cruiser. The X-Lite 200 would be a good choice for those entering the world of carbon bikes on a budget or looking for a quality frame with the aim of upgrading parts down the road. The frame is the X-Lite 200’s major asset, and this makes the Lapierre worth upgrading in the future. As spec’d, the X-Lite 200 is very affordable and should be a good starting point for a beginner racer, for riding centuries, or for anyone looking to do long miles in comfort-with a bit of European style.

Price: $2200
Weight: 18.6 pounds
Info: www.lapierrebikes.com