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From the pages of Velo: Stiff & Stones

  • By Nick Legan and Caley Fretz
  • Published Jun. 27, 2012
  • Updated Jul. 22, 2013 at 10:21 AM EDT
VeloNews June 2011. Photos by Brad Kaminski and Casey B. Gibson

Lapierre Sensium 300

By Nick Legan

French bikes used to dominate the peloton. My first racing bike was Peugeot and to this day I have a fondness for Gallic bicycles. When the Lapierre arrived at the VN offices I was keen to get on it, just as soon as I finished my baguette with Camembert…

Scientific Testing: 18 of 30 Points
Rating fourth in stiffness and third best in our vibration test puts the Sensium a bit behind the other bikes. But it’s worth delving into these results, especially those from the vibration tests.

The Lapierre was the best bike in our test on smaller bumps. And this was backed by my impressions out on the road. It is silky smooth over chip-seal roads and small seams. This performance could be attibuted to the elastomer insert just above the rear brake bridge.

But the French bike lagged significantly on the bigger bump test, and this was experienced in the real world, too. Ben Delaney rode the Lapierre at the Roubaix cyclosportif and felt that “it wasn’t the right tool for the job.”

Subjective Ride Quality: 23 of 30 Points
From the first ride on the Sensium I was contemplating buying one. I loved how effectively, even with stock tires, it and its elastomer insert smoothed out seams in the road and absorbed road buzz on chip-seal surfaces. On that first outing I rode with Delaney up a local canyon into a headwind. We really slogged our way up the climb, but with the compact crank I was able to maintain the higher cadence that my stick legs prefer.

Once at the top we flipped it and headed back down. The Sensium loved the flowing turns of the canyon road. The stability of the bike won me over. With subtle input the Lapierre would happily turn in. At the same time, putting on a vest while rolling downhill was not a worry.

Make no mistake, like all the bikes in this test, the Lapierre is no criterium machine. You have to coax the Sensium through tight corners, but through high speed turns it is rock steady, never flinching even over rough surfaces.

Acceleration is the only place where I felt the Lapierre lagged behind, and the torsional stiffness test results confirmed this impression. The Sensium smoothed out imperfections of the road, but it also mellowed my jump. Part of that could be due to the fairly heavy wheels and tires.

User Friendliness: 14 of 15 Points
I’m a huge fan of “normal” bikes. By this I mean bikes that don’t require brand-specific seatposts, stems, headsets, etc. While designing a bike as an integrated system and not the sum of readily available parts may result in slightly increased performance, it doesn’t help most riders when it comes time for service. With a 27.2mm seatpost and a normal English threaded bottom bracket, the Lapierre is “normal” in the best sense of the word. (Listen up, industry! We’ve had it with new bottom bracket “standards.” Enough already.) The internal cable routing worked well, even if it did rattle a bit over the cobbles. No complaints during build or subsequent adjustments.

Value: 18 of 20 Points
For a carbon frame bicycle with Ultegra components, Mavic Aksium wheels and a sensible cockpit, the Lapierre justifies its $3,000 price tag. It rides and looks beautifully, with nice touches like white cable housing.

Weight: 2 of 5 Points
As the least expensive in the test it isn’t surprising that the Sensium is the heaviest at 17.45 pounds. And really, 17.5 pounds isn’t heavy.

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