Field testing: Lapierre XRM 8.9 – Air France
Lapierre XRM 8.9.5 Update
Matt Beer’s words. Photography by Tom Richards
Although there are two frames in the Lapierre cross-country stable that share the same shape, the XRM build is slightly different from the XR model’s “Team” carbon package. If you’re up for a short cross-country race, you can opt for the XR series, which uses only 80mm of rear-wheel travel, while for marathon events, the 110mm XRM travel is more appropriate.
• Travel: 110mm rear / 120mm fork
• Carbon structure
Head angle 66 degrees
• Reach: 440 mm
• Seat tube angle 74.5º
• 435 mm chain mounts
• Sizes: S, M (tested), L, XL
• Weight: 12.0 kg / 26.5 lbs
• Price: 5199 euros
In 2022, the redesigned frame drives the 55mm two-stroke shock via a seat tube-mounted rocker and the famous “flex stability” approach near the dropout in order to reduce weight. Lapierre approached designing the suspension with parameters to suit the needs of riders who generate high wattage and BPM. The curve of the discursive lever starts very firmly and eases towards the sag point, ramping up again at the end of the stroke, ideally.
If that platform isn’t tight enough for you, those extra cables protruding from the handlebar tie into locks in both the Fox 34 StepCast fork with Fit4 damper and Float DPS rear shock to eliminate any movement from the suspension. I wouldn’t say they’re well arranged, though, because the thumb-operated thumb lever above the dropper all caught us once or twice when we tried to unlock the suspension, but instead raised the post.
An inspection of the caramel-colored carbon frame-mounted components shows a splash of Shimano XT parts throughout the building. We’re used to finding four-piston brakes on enduro bikes, but Lapierre chose to downsize to two-piston XT brakes and 160/140mm rotors. Interestingly enough, the overall weight of the bike isn’t quite as light as we expected. The styling is more of a workhorse than authentic because a closer look at the specs reveals DT Swiss XM 1700 wheels and Race Face handlebars.
Price-wise, the XMR 8.9 isn’t as shocking as other boutique light weights we’ve tested and their cordless gadgets. You can jump on the XRM 8.9 for €5,199 by visiting Lapierre’s online store or visiting one of its dealers in Europe. On either side of the 8.9 is the XRM 6.9 with SRAM’s primarily base-level components and fixed seats for €4,099, and a Lapierre 75th Anniversary Special Edition littered with Shimano XTR carbon parts, Race Face, and Golden Fox suspension that rings in at €8,699.
As mentioned, the overall ride feel of the XRM is compact, mainly due to the extremely low stack height and short top tube. We rode medium, and while I can accept that the front weight bias proves to be a more effective climb than the comfort bias, overall the fit was on the smaller side. My sitting and standing positions felt a touch cramped because the reach is only 440mm. That matches well with the front and rear balance as the chainstays are measured at 435mm. These are the same across the sizing chart, so this should be taken into account for taller riders looking at very large or very large tires.
I appreciated that the 60mm stem specs on the mid-size XRM didn’t fit anymore and felt it was a perfect fit for target bikes and the 66-degree tube head angle. On paper, this number is deceptively lax, as we’ll discuss in the descending portion of the review.
Trailforks areas we tested
Lapierre XRM 8.9 has been tested mainly on landscape The episode of Nelson Nord in Vallée-Bras-du-Nord and around the extensive network of trails of Mont-Sainte-Anne. The Nelson Nord Ring is located in a valley between monolithic massif and traces along the edge of the Nelson River over the bedrock of the Canadian Shield and navigates one track.
We put the XRM through some challenging rock gardens, rooted turns, and smooth singletrack throughout the test to cover all bases. There was no shortage of variety in terms of track conditions, but we never threw an XRM after our XC marathon race intentions.
Swing a leg over the XCM 8.9 and you’ll realize this bike doesn’t want to sit while it travels. “compliant” might be the last word I use to describe a comment, even in heights. We often look down and double-check to see if the rear shock is locked or not, only to be reminded of what the XRM was geared toward: transferring all the power to the rear wheel.
If you hit a smooth section of a dual track or tarmac, locking the switch engages the XRM’s full running potential—you might feel overwhelmed by needing a solid tail. The low stack and short reach gives the maximum impact to the top of the bike and really lets you feel like you can rip the handlebars off the stem while driving down the cranks.
Swinging through the tight bounces was like steering a smart car across a slalom track. It turned a dime-a-dozen and the front wheel didn’t want to lift. I like to point a finger at the smaller geometric numbers, like reach, stack and wheelbase, for this reason. Just like the BMC Fourstroke LT, you have to be at your game – body position is set high above the bike and any tilt or grimace can change your line of attack very quickly, for better or worse. When the track turns technical, navigating steep corners and unstable rocks gets very little attention because the riding position is very compact and heavily weighted forward.
All I can imagine when riding an XRM on an incline is a big cartoon of myself leaning road Above the front of this bike, sending pearly whites straight to the ground. I’ve never felt this exposed on any bike. Once you get to grips with the fact that you basically ride a hard train and you shouldn’t expect this bike to save you any “Oh crap!” Moments, you can find a little rhythm.
That stiff rear suspension makes it easy to try to keep its track on rough terrain—getting into a ride is really effortless and not comfortable, there isn’t a lot of traction when the bike isn’t too heavy, and standing above the rolling mark—that’s when the suspension goes from retrograde to progressive. There is good support and bottom resistance, it just takes a good hit to get into a crush. Is this all worth a few fractions of pedaling efficiency? Well, check out the aptitude test for these results. I would say, in a realistic riding scenario, on the road, the suspension theory backfires and makes the steering less compliant by not keeping the wheel on the ground.
The front riding position is exacerbated by the aggressive rear shock dropout and Fox Fit4 damper. The fork does well on small chatter and shocks, but it doesn’t hold up well enough in the travel when you’re faced with descents like “La Beatrice,” at Mont St. Anne for the XC World Cup.
The saving grace here is that the bike is short enough to move your body position back and forth to balance out the center of gravity. There are old school photos of me hanging on the back of a bike when getting off, but at least there’s a dropper on board this time.
Due to the short length of the bike, there isn’t a lot of wheelbase below you to play with traction through corners either.
On the plus side, the XRM was the quietest bike in our test, thanks to the cable running in the rear, and rubber chain slap protection in all the right places. In terms of components, the DT Swiss wheel set was great, with no issues.
The same cannot be said for the downtube framework though. Levi was able to spit a rock into the front tire and punch a hole in the carbon down tube, just above the bottom bracket. This could be seen as user error, or just part of the game in the XC world, where adding more weight in favor of protection is frowned upon.
Overall, it didn’t look like comfort was high on Lapierre’s list of priorities when they set out to build the cross-country marathon tool. You have to be sharp to keep this out of harm’s way.
#Field #testing #Lapierre #XRM #Air #France