When Lapierre invited us down to Fréjus in southern France last summer, I left a little disappointed that I’d not had a chance to get aboard a disc-equipped version of the new Pulsium. I did take the rim brake Pulsium for a jaunt around the Côte d’Azur but the disc-specific model was still a work in progress. Thankfully, that’s now about to be remedied.
You see, while rim brake bikes aren’t disappearing any time soon, it’s been clear for some time that disc brake bikes – especially in the endurance sector – are the future. In fact, for many brands it’s the here and now, with the likes of Specialized and Cannondale committing 100 per cent to disc brake frame designs for the Roubaix and Synapse respectively.
So, to the Pulsium Disc, and the first thing we should talk about is that stunning paintjob on this, the 900 FDJ version. A chromed blue in the front half, with white and a semi-fluro red colour scheme is an obvious nod to the tricolor and French heritage of the brand, while there’s a little FDJ branding on the stays and toptube to hint towards the pro bike standard of the frame and build.
"While almost every brand's flagship frame will be lighter than more affordable options found further down the range, this ‘Ultimate’ chassis is actually a little heavier than the standard model"
While almost every brand's flagship frame will be lighter than more affordable options found further down the range, this ‘Ultimate’ chassis is actually a little heavier than the standard model, found on the opening two machines in the four-bike Pulsium line-up. The exact claimed weights have never been something Lapierre has been too bothered about sharing, but what we do know is that this bike, in a large size (56cm) comes in at 7.48kg.
Given there’s a full Shimano Dura-Ace R9170 Di2 groupset and Mavic Ksyrium Pro Carbon SL hoops on show here, along with Zipp SL carbon seatpost, stem and handlebar, and even a carbon-railed Fizik Aliante R1 saddle to perch on, you might be slightly disappointed that it doesn’t challenge the UCI weight limit of 6.8kg. But then again, the frame itself was never designed to be the lightest around, with Remi Gribaudo and his team of engineers apparently prioritising stiffness to better emulate the popular Xelius race bike. In fact, ensuring the Pulsium offers pro-worthy stiffness is the exact reason why the Ultimate frame gains a few grammes.
"In fact, ensuring the Pulsium offers pro-worthy stiffness is the exact reason why the Ultimate frame gains a few grammes"
Anyway, the numbers quoted by Gribaudo at the launch were a huge 40 per cent improvement in the bottom bracket area alone over the previous generation Pulsium, 25 per cent improvement in the chainstays and 20 per cent in the headtube. Otherwise, the frame retains the Shock Absorption Technology elastomer insert in the sweep of the toptube, although it’s been simplified this time around into a one-piece system – said to give slightly improved absorption.
This range-topping, Di2-equipped bike will set you back €7,599 but there are three other Pulsium Disc bikes to choose from, one based around the same Ultimate frame and with Shimano Ultegra Di2 for €3,999, and two using the second-tier frame with Shimano Ultegra (€3,999) and Shimano 105 (€2,899).
As you’d expect for an endurance bike, the Pulsium has a reasonably relaxed position. Our large sample has a 565mm toptube and 185mm headtube, with 72- and 73-degree head and seattube angles respectively.
I’ve already taken the Pulsium 900 FDJ Disc Ultimate out for a 120km ride earlier this week, and initial impressions are much as they were back in Fréjus aboard the rim brake version (with similar spec build) – an endurance-oriented frame, but with a seriously stiff, sharp and addictive edge that reminds me of the Xelius and Aircode bikes, with the latter still fairly fresh in the mind after October’s review. Bring on the next ride.
Website: Lapierre Bikes
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