Friday, July 22, 2011

Lapierre Audacio 400 DB review

Lapierre has been a common sight under French pro teams for a while and this carbon-influenced alloy all-rounder deserves to be a success on the tarmac too. With its smoothed welds, curved, hydraulically shaped tubes and internal cable routing, the Audacio looks like carbon fibre from a distance and it’s competitive on weight with cheaper carbon frames too.

It’s the performance effect of the tube tweaking that matters, though, not the cosmetics, and having ridden some horribly blunt and heavy carbon lookalike bikes, we were slightly concerned. The combination of curved and flattened top-tube and skinny seatstays and the big down-tube and stout keyhole arranged chainstays is excellent though.

Cruising comfort is much better than most alloy bikes and while there’s still some rumble and chatter, it’s never enough to knock you out of your rhythm or make you grit your teeth on rougher roads. While it’s not light, the carbon bladed fork takes a lot of sting out of acne asphalt without wandering about when you start working the bike hard.

In fact, it’s the overall precision and tight feel of the bike when the hammer goes down that most impresses. While our small frame size came with a suitably narrow bar, there’s a real feel of stiffness and direct power injection from your shoulders and shoes all the way through to the wheel. That gives it a noticeable acceleration snap and surge.

Handling is equally precise and dynamic through the short stem, and the more we pushed the Lapierre through corners or up short climbs, the more we liked it – particularly as we weren’t being punished as much by bad surfaces or bold cornering speeds as we were expecting from an aluminium bike.

While you can certainly find better equipped bikes for the money, we have no major complaints about the kit on the Audacio. Tiagra means proper STI shifters, with a compact chainset keeping it hilly-ride-friendly. Ritchey kit caused no comfort grumbles from our test team, and the Shimano wheels are a decent durable set too. Our only real gripe was the worrying lack of braking power on steeper, faster descents, but switching the all-rubber pads for a set of metal backed cartridge pads will add the extra bite you need very cost effectively.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine.



Credit: BikeRadar.com Road Bikes & Gear

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