If you're looking for a bike perfect for long rides or sportive competition but don't want to be compromised on componentry by opting for a carbon framed bike at the same price, the aluminium Lapierre Audacio 700 could be just the ticket.
- Highs: The Audacio's mix of gearing enables a great hillclimbing range, while the Mavic wheel and tyre combination works well
- Lows: At this price it's well into carbon fibre territory and some will feel shortchanged by the aluminium frame
- Buy if: You don't believe a carbon frame is the only choice for a racer
The Audacio 700 aims to be a performance bike with an emphasis on comfort, with a riding position on the more relaxed side and long-ride-friendly components. So, the choice of a double-butted aluminium frame – a material usually reserved for more solid, race-focused rides – had us wondering. However, the ride is impressively smooth.
Slim stays keep road vibration to a minimum, and a great carbon fork nulls road buzz through the hands. It also tracks perfectly, keeping the handling positive and quick enough without becoming too aggressive. This is no criterium style bullet, but we never found it wanting or tracking wide in fast corners or twisty descents.
The Audacio takes the geometry of the pro-level Xelius and lengthens the rear triangle through the chainstays to give a longer wheelbase, while the head tube is raised by 5mm and the top tube shortened by 5mm. Small tweaks but they put you in a slightly more upright position, relieving strain on the lower back and helping to keep aches at bay after four or five hours in the saddle.
When you need to get into a wind-beating tuck, though, the Ritchey Logic Curve bar's shallower drop makes it easy. The saddle is a well chosen Selle Italia X1 with a slim race shape but a channelled cover that's plushly padded.
For 2012 Mavic's good mid-level Aksiums have been incorporated into their 'wheel-tyre-system' programme and come fitted with Mavic's 23mm Aksion tyres. These have quite a slim contact patch but a very supple carcass and excellent grip.
Shimano's Ultegra is about as good a groupset as any of us will ever need, and with the 700 that's what you get for the most part; the front mech is 105, but aside from the few extra grams you won't notice any difference in performance.
The change to a Tiagra cassette might seem more of a downgrade, but it means you can fit a 28-tooth sprocket which, combined with the Ultegra compact, gives you a col-conquering 34x28 bottom gear. When you consider that, it seems more a clever choice than a cost-cutting measure.
This bike was tested as part ofCycling Plusmagazine's 2012 Bike Of The Year feature – read the full results in issue 260, on sale Friday 2 March.