At a glance
From the off the Zesty hints at finesse, the beautiful sweeping curves and excellent attention to detail leave you in no doubt that this is a high class piece of kit.Buy Trail Bikes on
The Zesty has 140mm travel front and back positioning it squarely in the centre of the long travel trail bike category which is set to become a hotly contest area of the mountain biking market.
So can the Zesty deliver the performance to go with its stunning good looks?
The front triangle of the 714 is made from 7005 series aluminium. The tubes are butted to save weight before being hydro formed. The head tube area is reinforced with semi integrated headset bearings to increase stiffness and keep the front end down. The bottom bracket is also oversized with integrated bearings and sports ISCG 05 Tabs should you wish to run a single or double ring setup with a chain guide, which points to the Zesty being far more than just a long travel trail bike.
The rear triangle of the 714 and the top end 914 are carbon. Not only does this save weight over the lower spec models with their alloy rear ends but it also offers more tyre clearance on the drivetrain side. A 2.3" is borderline on the 514 and 314 but the carbon rear can happily take a 2.4". The rear dropouts are standard quick release but there is no hint of a lack of stiffness due to the seat stays flaring massively at the bottom.
There is a rear pivot well below the rear axle line and a X shaped rocker link in front of the seat tube which is forged for extra stiffness and offers 140mm of travel. The suspension is similar in action to a typical four bar setup yet Lapierre’s OST virtual pivot design makes it a breeze on the ups.
There is a sag indicator on the seat tube which lines up with marks on the seat stays suggesting suitable sag levels for general XC use as well as a more downhill biased position. The seat angle comes up slacker than the manufacturers figure of 73º so the use of the Pro Pedal switch on the Fox RP2 rear shock is a useful feature on really steep climbs, propping the rear up and effectively keeping the nose down.
The forks are the excellent Fox 32 Float RLC with the new jointly Fox/Shimano designed QR15mm axle for additional stiffness over a conventional quick release. Like the rear, the forks have 140mm of travel with the benefit of adjustable low speed compression damping not found on the lesser models which allows you to run the forks softer but at the same time avoid too much brake dive. The head angle is quite slack at 68º which when coupled with the relatively long wheelbase, leads to excellent stability as speeds increase.
Kit choice is all top draw, the Shimano XTR chainset is about the best out there and is combined with a XTR rear mech, XT front and XT shifters. The wheelset is Shimano's M778 XT, 24 holes front and rear, tubeless compatible out of the box and only 1702g which is race light and you would have to spend a lot more to go lighter. Formula provides the Oro K24 brakes with staggering single finger stopping power. The Continental Race King tyres are light and roll obscenely fast but struggle for grip unless the trail is dry. Contact points are made up of 685mm wide Easton bars, Thomson 70mm stem and post and an own branded saddle.
Total weight for our medium without pedals is 26lbs.
On the trail
Once you swing your leg over the Zesty then the seduction is complete. The bike feels poised and your weight is positioned directly between the wheels giving you a sense of control and confidence which only increases as the speeds pick up and you start to realise that this is a wonderfully accurate speed demon that can take whatever you can throw at it.
An area where the Zesty is pleasantly surprising is when it comes to climbing, it literally bolts uphill like a short travel xc bike but benefits from added traction due to the sublime rear suspension.
This bike has been raced xc, done uplift days and been generally thrashed through anything and everything we could think of and it has come up smelling of roses.
Kit levels are high on the 714 and after some hard riding everything is still working flawlessly and the Fox Float FRLC 15QR up front has tracked true and performed in perfect unison with the RP23 out back.
A stiff light frame with smooth controlled suspension and fabulous geometry all add up. The Zesty is a stable fast rolling speed demon that handles sweetly and takes everything that you can throw at it in its stride.
Faster up hill than any other bike in its category yet faster downhill than any other bike in its category and lightening fast through point and shot singletrack the Zesty has impressed all that have had the pleasure of riding it.
There are a couple of spec choices that we have taken an issue with. Firstly, the tyres are fast but not really a match for a go anywhere do anything trail bike and we do not really understand what Lapierre were thinking when speccing them. Secondly, the saddle is not the most comfortable and a couple of the test group actually swapped it out for something more comfortable.
With regards to the bike itself the only thing that came to our intention is the low bottom bracket that whilst adding stability at speed does mean you will have multiple pedal strikes when pedalling through rough sections.
Flowing lines and high class finishing all backed up with a consummate performance means that in the 140mm travel class there is little that can compete with the Zesty and the 2010 bikes will raise the bar again with 2 full carbon models promising even greater stiffness and lighter weights.
The Zesty is a true thoroughbred and should be ridden accordingly, ride it slow and it will ride like a good bike but ride it hard and fast and it will ride like an awesome bike that will up your game and put you out front on every ride.
This French beauty really is truly magnifiqueBuy Trail Bikes on
This review was in Issue 1 of IMB.For more information visit Lapierre Bicycles
By Nigel GarroodNigel Garrood was one of the instigators of the IMB project and has been with us since the very beginning. This loveable rogue has more stories than the Bible and is known to enjoy a beer or two. On the bike, he’s fast and loose and often puts younger riders to shame. Equally he’s been known to suffer from the odd crash and carries the scars to prove it. He was once referred to as being a robot sent from the future to save us all!