At A Glance
Lapierre have been in the e-bike game for a while, and under the guidance of legendary rider, Nico Vouilloz have created some interesting models under the Overvolt name. For 2018 Lapierre have gone all-out to take the e-bike market by storm. A complete redesign sees the Overvolt available in both Bosch and Shimano motor, and working with two different frames to give a vast choice of pedal-assist bikes.Buy Electric Bikes on
Here we have the Overvolt AM 700I, which uses the Bosch motor, Shimano motor models won't be available until next year. Within the Bosch range, there are 5 'AM' models and 5 'XC' models as well as a bunch of hardtails making just over 20 bikes. The funky low-slung battery frame is still available, but what is most exciting is the new Powertube, which allows the battery to be better incorporated into the frame, improving looks and reducing the rattle.
The 700I is nearly the top model in the range and as an 'AM' model has 150mm of travel front and rear. The Bosch motor has a 500Wh battery and has a neat anti chain suck device to avoid the chain getting stuck around the chainring. Other than aesthetic changes, the motor still pumps out the same power as previous models although there is the new eMTB mode, which varies power input to match the pedal power.
Based around 650b plus wheels, the Overvolt has embraced e-bike specific technology in the components. SRAM's GXe is designed to only allow one shift at a time to prevent cross loading of the chain and reducing the risk of breakages under power. Braking is again e-bike specific with the SRAM Guide RE brakes, which use a downhill calliper with the Guide lever to create a huge stopping power.
The suspension is handled by Rockshox with a Pike up front and a Monarch rear shock. Wheels are Lapierre own brand, which we haven’t tested before, but they feature wide rims to match with the 2.8 Maxxis tyres for maximum grip. Further own brand products can be found on the seatpost, which offers 150mm of drop through a cable activated lever system.
The cockpit sees a slightly narrow 760mm bar with a 45mm stem with Lapierre's own grips, stem and seat finishing everything off nicely.
The frame geometry is some way away from modern trail bike trends, with reach numbers of 444mm in the large and 466mm on my XL test bike. The head angle at 66 looks good, and the adjustable rear end sees chainstays moveable from 460mm to 470mm.
The frame employs a Horst link suspension design and leaves space for a water bottle if needed. Elsewhere on the frame, rubber frame protectors have been added on the chainstays to prevent heal rub and chain wear.
On The Trail
I was excited to get testing the new wave of e-bikes this year. The better incorporation of batteries has given many bikes a sleeker and less clunky look. This is especially true of the Overvolt, which hides its e-bike characteristics well.
With a Bosch motor, you really know you've got a lot of power. There is no messing about, as soon as you pedal there is a surge of acceleration regardless of power mode. Switching between modes is simple with the left-hand controller, which sits nicely in reach of your thumb and doesn't interfere with the dropper post lever.
The main display unit is central, and I question the necessity of this, as Bosch does make a small all-in-one unit that is neater, requires fewer cables and is less vulnerable to damage. Whatever the reason, the main display gives all the information required clearly and provides extra security as once removed the power won't work.
Sat on the Overvolt, the sizing is apparent, and though the short stem is great for handling, I found the overall sizing to be a little too short for my liking. At 6 foot 4, this is pretty common, and those of more normal sizing will no doubt find a size that suits them more easily. This is not a long reach bike. The long back end helps to balance the bike out and gives stability from this rather than a longer front.
As mentioned, power output is not shy, and the bike will surge forward at the slightest hint of pedalling. The position for general trail riding is comfortable and central, though I slid the saddle forward to get more over the front for technical climbing.
Getting up steep and rough climbs is what e-bikes are all about for me, and the Overvolt did a great job of scrambling up all but the steepest and loosest of trails. I found the Rekon rear tyre to lack some bite, and I wonder why a more grippy rear tyre hasn't been used as all that power needs somewhere to go!
When descending, the stability is pretty good with the added weight and the long rear end. The 66 head angle works great to plough into obstacles, but the shortness of the front fails to give the confidence to really let the bike fly. Playing to the strengths of a shorter bike, trail centres and bike park trails gave huge amounts of fun, turning uphill corners into exciting and speedy challenges and allowing speed to be created in every direction.
This has been the first e-bike that actually felt playful, and although it may not be a super stable enduro machine, it certainly has been a singletrack trail performer. The huge amounts of grip are great, and for the first time I was hitting jumps and feeling balanced and comfortable in the air.
The range was good but needed to be used on eco to get maximum distance, as one would expect. I managed a good 50km and 1200m of ascent averaging 20km an hour, which is impressive, but I always want more!
Getting used to the GXe took a while, with only one shift at a time, but this just takes a bit of readjustment before it becomes natural and the benefits are obvious. The new eMTB mode on the controls takes the place of 'Sport' mode and attempts to match appropriate power output with your pedalling.
The tyres on e-bikes are always tricky to get right, and I enjoy the traction on offer, but the sidewalls on 2.8 tyres are generally very thin. As such the Rekon took a hole in the sidewall quickly and on fast bermed trails the tyres squirm under pressure. E-bike specific tyres with heavy-duty sidewall would be a winner in my book.
The brakes are very impressive, with great lever feel and what feels like infinite levels of power. A great choice for a fast bike. The dropper post has a good lever, and in the period of the test has given no problems whatsoever. Add to this a cable that clamps at the lever end, installation and service are really simple.
Charging is easy, the Powertube comes off with a secure metal tool-less fixing and is charged off the bike. Once back on, there is no rattle and no noise!
A fine looking e-bike which shows Lapierre are serious about electric mountain bikes. Wise choice of equipment and a great motor system combine to give a fantastic ride that is both playful and confidence inspiring. The geometry holds the Overvolt back from truly performing as well as it could, but smaller riders can take advantage of the more compact sizing. A well thought out and quality e-bike.
This review was in Issue 50 of IMB.For more information visit Lapierre Bicycles
By Ewen TurnerEwen Turner is a self-confessed bike geek from Kendal in the Lake District of England. He runs a coaching and guiding business up there and has a plethora of knowledge about bikes with an analytical approach to testing. His passion for bicycles is infectious, and he’s a ripper on the trails who prefers to fit his working life around his time on the bike.