The Xelius frameset is the top race model in the Lapierre line-up, with a naturally aggressive ride and the position to match. You’re paying for the frame quality in the componentry though, which makes it slightly heavy and leaden for the price.
Ride & handling: Aggressive race position offset by high weight
While most big manufacturers position their 55cm size in the middle of their range, our 55cm Xelius sample counts as the large out of the three size options. This means a 570mm top tube that stretches reach out further than you’ll find on other bikes.
The narrow 400mm bars also give it a thin shouldered feel that’s definitely oriented towards the tucked elbow race crowd, not relaxed cruising. It certainly feels the part with your head down and heart rate up, showing no signs of suffering any loss of power delivery from having a conventional bottom bracket and spindle size rather than a BB30 setup.
The alloy bar and stem might add weight, but they give a firm setup for stomping a gear round when you’re out of the saddle. The same can be said of the Mavic Aksium/Aksion wheel/tyre combo, which are stiff and anchored under power but relatively heavy.
Mavic’s black-valved wheel and tyre combo look slick but they’re a weak link
There’s no doubting the extra componentry weight does sap some of the potential get-up-and-go from the frame though, with the Xelius surging forward rather than snapping into life as you apply the pressure.
The narrow bars and slightly high bottom bracket also mean a firmer hand is needed to tip the bike into corners and then hold it there if the radius or road conditions change. The Aksion tyres and alloy seatpost also give a harsher top note to the ride on rougher sections compared to the suppler tyres and more compliant carbon equipment on some similarly priced bikes.
Thankfully, Lapierre haven’t just laid up the carbon for giving you and the opposition a battering though. While it’s got a precise and obedient feel to it when heading into corners and a strong sense of purpose underfoot, the Xelius isn’t remotely punishing.
Even with the stock tyres there’s a definite sense of glide and float over even the worst road surfaces. Spending some of the test on an upgrade Zipp wheel and Schwalbe tyre set really confirmed in our minds just how much potential the Xelius has as a great base to upgrade from, as well as its suitability for aero bars and deep-section wheels.
You can’t ignore the fact that in its stock shop floor format it’s noticeably off the pace compared to other lightweight bikes. It’s disappointing because the frame is well worth the money but the kit is well off the mark.
Frame & equipment: Pro level frameset with weighty extras
The Xelius frame is a full carbon monocoque with tapering triangular top tube and angular down tube running smoothly back from the tapered head tube. The curved aero blade fork also gets a carbon steerer to keep weight under 400g.
The bottom bracket is a conventional external screw-in design stiffened up by flared ends to both the down tube and seat tube. Multi-shape chainstays swing right in alongside the tyre before curving back out, while the straight seatstays blend into a narrow wishbone above the rear brake.
Gear cabling is internal, but the rubber shrouds constantly loosened and fell out. The full length outer brake cabling through the top tube also adds a few needless grams.
Despite being significantly larger in overall dimensions than most 55cm frames, our sample frame still just ducked under the magic one-kilo frame weight barrier. There are only three frame size options available too, so if you’re particularly tall or small then you’ll have to forget about the Xelius.
The Xelius is definitely a race bike when it comes to ride position
Buyers using a Top Trumps style shopping technique are going to be disappointed with the Lapierre, as the high quality frame has obviously eaten into the complete bike budget. We’ve no complaints about the smooth, functional Ultegra stop-go gear, but the Tiagra cassette they’ve tried to sneak through is significantly heavier than Ultegra.
More significantly, while the Aksium wheels are solid and dependable performers, they’re heavier and less responsive than some.
The black-stemmed inner tubes and matching logos of the Mavic tyres are a nice aesthetic touch. The actual ride is noticeably wooden, and the alloy bars and seatpost aren’t light either, all of which leaves the Xelius relatively heavy.