Get a new bike for Christmas?
We did. Well, sort of. Lapierre’s new Xelius EFI 600 crossed the threshold of RCUK Towers shortly before December 25, raising further questions in our mind about the validity of the man in a red suit and white beard.
No matter. The bike looks like a fine steed, and is one on which we have something of an inside track. Our visit last June to Lapierre’s Dijon HQ saw us sit down with chief designer, Remi Gribaudo, who had recently finished work on the new Xelius bikes, designed with feedback from a trio of FDJ riders from cycling’s elite UCI WorldTour. Yoann Offredo, Jérémy Roy, and Sandy Casar gave their thoughts on the range-topping Ultimate, but our test bike differs only in the carbon lay-up.
Subtle indications of the Xelius EFI 600’s racy persona can be found in its geometry, which is shared with the machine deployed by FDJ. The parallel 73-degree head angle and seat-tube angle are married to stack and reach dimensions of 551mm and 382mm respectively on our medium sized (52cm) test bike.
While time in the wind tunnel justifies the tag ‘aero bike’, the tube profiles of the Xelius EFI 600 are subtly shaped, rather than heavily sculpted. The top tube arcs gently, and broadens and flattens en route from seat-tube to head-tube. The downtube is sizable but not self-consciously oversized in the mode of many of its competitors. Girth is deployed here in a bid to defeat flex and we’ll report on its success or otherwise in our subsequent review. It’s augmented with a detachable plate that can be removed to allow access to the internally-routed cables.
The down-tube terminates in a large and elegantly profiled bottom bracket shell, home to a Shimano press-fit BB, which leaves the seat-tube (52cm on our medium test bike, and home to the Di2 battery) with the appearance of a ship’s mast. The 408mm seat-stays are an encouraging sign of a machine able to sprint and climb with eagerness, and combine with the 73 degree seat-tube angle to create a tight rear triangle.
Turning our attention to the fork, we find a full carbon unit with a steerer tube that tapers from a 1-1/4” lower bearing – a reduction from the 1.5” bearing of its Easton-supplied predecessor. The smaller bearing was chosen to reduce frontal area and increase the aero efficiency of the Ultimate: a diminution that reduced weight without increasing flex, according to Gribaudo. We’re keen to see how it performs here.
The specification of the Xelius EFI 600 is complete, which is perhaps the least you should expect from a machine of this value. Kudos to Lapierre, however, for refusing to cut corners: a temptation that some of its competitors find unable to resist.
The centre-piece of the spec is the new 6870 iteration of Shimano’s second-from-top electronic groupset. You can read more about its various developments here, but an edited list of highlights might include an increase to 11 speeds, programmable shifting, reduced bulk in the mechs and STI levers, and a sleek, four-arm chainset – all trickle down developments from Shimano’s range-topping Dura-Ace collection. Lapierre offer the choice of classic (53-39) or compact (50-34) chainsets with each model in the Xelius range. Our test bike is supplied with the latter.
Venerable French wheelsmiths, Mavic, supply the hoops: the functional Ksyrium Equipe S aluminium clincher. Modest they may be when compared to the cutting edge technology deployed in the groupset, but we’re expecting nothing less than the highest standard of construction and robustness from these wheels, given Mavic’s superb reputation. The Annecy firm claims 1690g for the Ksyrium Equipe S, a wheel equipped with an aluminium rim 24mm deep and laced with 20 straight-pull, steel spokes front and rear. They’re shod with Mavic’s Yksion Comp tyres, constructed with a single compound cover and 120 TPI cotton casing.
The finishing kit deployed by Lapierre on the Xelius EFI 600 is another area in which quality abounds. The respected Ritchey supplies the Pro carbon seatpost, and, more impressively, the 103g, WCS C260 stem, one fashioned from 7050 aluminium and equipped with four Torx bolts at the faceplate and three at the steerer. It holds a Ritchey PRO Evo curve handlebar: 42cm wide on our size small test bike and with a shallow 128mm drop. Seating arrangements and handlebar tape come from Fizik: a manganese-railed Antares in the first instance, and a wrap of Microtex tape.
Taken together, the Xelius EFI 600 represents an impressive package. We’ll be testing in the weeks ahead, so check back soon for a full review.