We test the new Lapierre XR 9.9: a new XC ready to win
The third generation of the Lapierre XR and XRM has been presented in 2022. A bike with plenty of arguments to be one of the major players in the XCO world. In fact, in 2023 we will see it on the World Cup circuits.
Lapierre XR: a renovation towards excellence
When a company like Lapierre renews its Cross Country range, you have to pay attention. They revolutionised the sector back in 2001 with their legendary X-Control and a trend-setting suspension system, and in 2013 they launched the first XR, looking for a competitive and lightweight XCO.
Under the same premise, Lapierre have developed the new XR. A renovation with four pillars: lightness, kinematics, geometry and design.
Weight has been one of the main challenges of this new version and with the aim of reducing it to under 1800g, they have chosen a monopivot system without a rear articulation point, the lightest and most widely used system in XC today.
But stiffness has not been neglected, and it is something that can be seen in certain areas, such as the oversized chainstays that gain stiffness with their structural design. On the other hand, the stays have a flat area to favour controlled vertical flexion. Vertical flex only, as the generous width ensures lateral stiffness at the rear.
In order to optimise the kinematics, the engineers decided that the flex rest position offered by the rear triangle due to its carbon structure and construction is right at the SAG position. This means that when the rider is on the bike, the fibres of the swingarm are at rest.
The position of the shock is now as close as possible to the top tube, even the tube has been shaped so that it is practically integrated in the same line. This allows two bottle cages to be carried and the shock to be in an area of low mechanical stress and with a simple and short locking cable routing.
Regarding the material chosen for the manufacture of the frame, the top of the range models, such as this XR 9.9, use UD SLI Team fibres, Lapierre's best carbon. A frame that is made up of more than 300 pieces and in which they have achieved a greater compression of the layers in the mould. The result is a saving of more than 300 g compared to the previous version of the XR, leaving it at 1,772 g. If we add the shock and screws, the saving is almost 400g, bringing the total weight to 2,038g.
Among the finishes of the new Lapierre XR are the fully internal cable routing, the top tube protector to shield it from possible impacts with the levers or handlebars. The use of the Sram UDH derailleur hanger has also been chosen to guarantee, among other things, future compatibility.
This new version of the Lapierre XR has a new geometry in line with the current trends and circuits of the modality, where versatility and greater downhill capacity are key.
Focusing on our test model, the XR version with 100mm of travel, we have a steering angle of 67° and a down tube angle of 75.5°. The reach in size M measures 450mm. The chainstays measure 435mm (8mm shorter than the previous version).
The bottom bracket has a 48mm drop, enhancing the bike's stability. And another detail to take into account is the reduced head tube height of 90mm in size M, allowing a very racing position on the bike.
Testing the Lapierre XR 9.9
In our test we were able to ride the top of the range model and, of course, the components are hard to beat. But we have to say that they have managed to make a great selection to contain the price of the bike.
A great set-up
In the suspension we find the best of Rock Shox. The SID SL Ultimate fork with Race Day cartridge and remote lockout, and the Rock Shox SIDLuxe Ultimate remote shock.
The drivetrain is provided by Sram with a very effective combination of XX1 Eagle rear derailleur with XO1 Eagle cassette, chain and shifter and X1 Carbon crankset. They have opted for the 10/52 cassette, which we like less than Sram's 10/50 option for this type of bike, as it has a very pronounced last gear leap. The chainring is 34 teeth, in accordance with the use that is supposed to be made of a racing bike like this one.
The brakes are also provided by Sram with Level TLMs and 180 and 160mm Centerline discs.
The wheels are made by Lapierre and have a very good finish with asymmetric carbon rims with 27 mm internal width and flat spokes with straight pull. The tyres chosen are Maxxis Rekon Race with EXO casing in size 2.35".
The rest of the components, with the exception of the Fizik Taiga saddle and the carbon Progress handlebar, are made by the brand itself and feature an excellent finish, especially the carbon seatpost.
First impressions and weight of Lapierre XR 9.9
When we first saw the Lapierre XR 9.9 we were struck by the level of integration of certain parts, such as the shock or the linkage area, where the bolts are hidden.
It is not a groundbreaking or visually revolutionary bike, but Lapierre has decided to promote what has been proven to work and is effective.
Taking a look at the rear triangle, we find one of the most oversized asymmetric chainstays we've ever seen on an XC bike. There is no doubt that its structure will favor stiffness in the area. The seat stays, as we have already mentioned, are flat and wide when viewed from above, but thin when viewed from the side. A design that allows the triangle to flex and accompanies the suspension system.
As always, before putting it on the pedals, we placed it on our scales, where it came out at 10.45 kg. A figure that seems excellent to us, considering that its price is not exorbitant, like that of other top of the range of the competition.
The last adjustment before pedalling was the tyre and suspension pressures, where we took into account that Lapierre recommends a shock SAG of around 26%, the theoretical rest position of the stays.
The first impression we got was that this is a bike with a clear objective, maximum performance, and a clear sign of this is the posture we adopted. Although the posture is not too forced in terms of length, as it compensates for the long reach of the frame with a very short stem (60mm in size M), we did find the handlebars in a very low position, due to its short head tube.
This allows us to apply power to the pedals in a very direct way and reveals that the Lapierre XR 9.9 will find its most favourable terrain on uphills.
XC to excel in competition
From the very first day, the XR 9.9 gave us a very racing feeling. We rode the first few kilometres on tarmac and very favourable tracks, so we tested the bike's effectiveness with the lockout activated. This lockout is total and this, together with the lightness of the Lapierre and the "attack" position we adopt on it, means that we can accelerate with lightning speed.
Pedalling while standing you can clearly feel your energy being harnessed without wasting any of it on unnecessary bending.
Once we got on the track we tested the effectiveness of its suspension in open position. It must be said that this model has only two adjustment positions: open and closed. And they are controlled from its Rock Shox OneLock remote control, which we have to say that we like better than the TwistLock, although visually it is not so integrated.
When open, the shock is very sensitive in the first few millimetres and any irregularities, no matter how small, are filtered out by the suspension. We didn't notice a big contamination due to pedalling but we did notice some oscillation and, in some cases, we missed an intermediate position for those tracks with a favourable surface, but not so much as to be comfortable with the lockout activated. This feature seems to us to fit, once again, in XCO competition, where the simplest thing, like this "all or nothing" is sometimes the most effective.
On steep climbs, where we put a lot of force on the larger sprockets, we noticed that the oscillation is almost completely reduced with the rear open and we found that there is a good balance between pedalling efficiency and capacity to absorb irregularities. In these situations the suspension doesn't draw the terrain as with other more complex systems, but the monopivot is perfectly adequate and offers other advantages, such as simplicity and lightness.
In fact, the Lapierre goes uphill very well. The position on it, with its 75.5º on the down tube and rather low handlebars, together with its lightness, makes us instinctively push on every uphill and we always end up with our heart rate through the roof due to the addictive sensation of effectiveness it offers.
When pedalling on flatter areas it's a pleasure to reach and maintain the high cruising speed that the Lapierre allows us. The stability it offers us is very high with its 67º steering and its generous length and, when it comes to those corners in fast areas, we ride with amazing safety.
We also made some incursions into more or less difficult trail areas, to see how far we can go with the XR 9.9. The test was passed with high marks, as expected considering its modern geometry, and despite being a model with 100 mm of travel on both wheels, it gave us a lot of security in all kinds of situations, although we really missed a dropper seatpost, which we are already very familiar with and we thought it would give the Lapierre XR 9.9 that polyvalence and versatility that it has for geometry and behaviour.
During our tests, and after a few days of use, some slight noises appeared in the frame, which came from the connecting rods. Something that we solved by disassembling them and applying some grease in the contact areas. With this operation the noises disappeared completely.
The performance of the components is brilliant and the choice for this model seems to us to be excellent. The price-performance ratio is one of the best on the market.
The wheels have been stiff and responsive at all times, and their 27mm width gives the 2.35" Maxxis Rekon Race tyres enough stability to ride at low pressures, offering very good traction and grip.
Transmission operation is simply flawless, without the glamour of electronics, but with all-round performance.
The Sram Level TLM brakes have also shown more than enough power for this type of bike, and with a very good and quite direct feel that Sram has improved in its brakes for some time now.
The carbon components, signed by Lapierre, are up to the category of this bike, and since it doesn't have a standard dropper seatpost, at least we have a carbon seatpost of very good quality.
As we've already mentioned, the Lapierre XR 9.9 seems destined either to carry a bib or for those rides where you're going full throttle from start to finish.
It's a bike that's ready to deliver in the World Cup, but it's priced a little more affordably than its rivals, making it ideal for those regular race fans who have to pay for their own equipment.
Likewise, for any rider who likes an efficient and fast bike, even if not in competition, the Lapierre XR 9.9 is a candidate to consider.
Within Lapierre's full suspension Cross Country range we have the XR models, which are the ones with 100mm of travel on both wheels. This range consists of three models, all carbon, with an entry price of €3799, up to the €6899 of our test model.
For those looking for a little more comfort or versatility there is the XR M range, with 110mm of travel at the rear and 110 or 120mm at the front and with a dropper seatpost as standard. There are also three models and they range from €4099 to the top of the range €8699.
Lapierre XR 9.9: specifications, weight and price
- Frame: New XR Full Carbon 100mm, Team layup
- Fork: Rock Shox SID SL Ultimate, Race Day Charger
- Shock: Rock Shox SIDLuxe Ultimate
- Rear derailleur: Sram XX1 Eagle
- Cassette: Sram XO1 10-52T
- Chain: Sram XO1 Eagle
- Cranks: Sram X1 Carbon, 34T
- Brakes: Sram Level TLM, Centerline CLX 180/160mm
- Wheels: Lapierre Carbon XC SL
- Tyres: Maxxis Rekon Race EXO TR 29x2,35”
- Handlebar: Progress Carbon
- Seat post: Lapierre Carbon light, 31,6mm
- Saddle: Fizik Taiga
- Weight: 10,45kg
- Price: 6.899€
You can find the rest of the models and set-ups of the range on Lapierre's official website.