The Lapierre Zesty was one of the early all mountain bikes to show where you could go on a mountain bike. Ben has been testing the latest iteration to see if it’s still the case.
Mid-range Lapierre Zestys used to be all the rage and the frame has certainly proven itself over the years underneath Nico Vouilloz and Adrien Dailly. What does Ben make of the mid-level French 150mm travel whip though?
Photos by Dave Price.
- 150mm front and rear travel
- Full carbon frame
- 27.5″ (650b) wheels
- Rockshox Revelation RC fork and Deluxe RT shock.
- SRAM Descendant carbon cranks.
- SRAM GX Eagle groupset
- £3599 RRP
The iconic Lapierre Zesty has been around for years and this latest iteration sticks to its roots, with a light weight build and lively ride characteristics. At 150mm of travel front and rear it sits in the long travel trail bike category, rather than the enduro bike category, partly due to its geometry and partly due to its build kit and suspension.
A lightweight carbon frame cuts a distinctive shape with the shock nestled under the top tube and the kinked downtube leaving loads of space for a water bottle. The finish and paint both seemed good with no signs of wear or major scratches after a few months of use.
One thing that really lets the frame down and the bike as a whole is the internal cable routing which is pretty awful. Just loose cables rattling around in the downtube and nothing to secure or control them. It makes for a noisy and distracting ride and makes the bike feel cheap.
The frame is sprung on Rock Shox suspension, with a Revelation RC fork and Deluxe RT shock. The Revelation is a great performer for the money and gives a composed ride over all but the most chattery of trails or biggest of hits. It is easy to set up and I ran it at 25% sag throughout the test with no need to add volume spacers or to tinker too much.
The rear suspension felt quite different to a lot of other 150mm bikes I have ridden. It feels like a shorter travel bike with a firm mid-travel to push against and pump the bike. If I were to compare it to another bike, I would say it feels more like the 29er, 130mm travel Intense Primer than other bikes with 150mm travel. You would never describe the rear of the bike as plush, but it isn’t harsh either. Just firm and supportive, even with 30% sag and my tendency to bottom bikes out regularly.
The Zesty Ultimate is most at home on flowing singletrack and trail centre loops rather than shuttling laps and sending gaps where the build kit makes it feel a little flexy and vague. This is not helped by the long 55mm stem with a very narrow clamp being mated to a 760mm bar.
The bar and stem were flexy and didn’t inspire much confidence in the rough stuff. For a future review I fitted a new 780mm Enve carbon bar with 50mm stem and the front of the bike was immediately improved on every trail I rode.
The other component that really holds this bike back out of the box is the cheap Maxxis High Roller II tyres that are very hard compound and that offer very little grip in wet UK conditions. When I went to set the bike up tubeless I was disappointed to find the rims had some cheap plastic rim strips instead of being taped and ready for tubeless.
When you pay over £3500 for a bike and it comes with rim strips from the 90’s it is pretty disappointing when nearly every other bike comes with taped rims that are tubeless ready.
After a series of problems with SRAM Eagle groupsets over the past year or so I was pleased to have a really good experience with the GX groupset fitted here. It just worked smoothly the whole time without dramas or any maintenance.
It was a shame to only get a 32 tooth chainring when the point of Eagle is to get a wide range of gears, not just a really low gear. I would fit a 34 tooth to get a higher gear for fire roads and DH sections.
All of the other components performed well with the Lapierre own brand dropper giving 150mm of travel and a nice lever feel. The SRAM Guide R brakes were faultless and had a nice consistent lever feel over every run of every ride.
Out on the trails the Zesty does not feel like a 150mm travel bike. It feels more like a 130mm trail bike with a bit of extra travel to get you out of trouble. It is best when ridden with some sympathy, picking lines into turns and hopping the roots rather than ploughing through stuff.
Its cornering style is pretty neutral and easy to figure out which makes it an easy bike to ride from the first run. It encourages you to be dynamic with your body positions, especially as the light build and flexy bar/stem combo mean you can sometimes get knocked off line in rocks and roots.
Weighing in at 12.8kg without pedals it is pretty light, which when paired with the firm rear suspension means it climbs well despite its slightly slack seat angle of 74.5 degrees. It is a good technical climber, allowing you to put down some decent power and it rewards aggressive standing efforts as long as the cheap rear tyre can maintain traction.
In general this bike is a bit conservative and a little bit ‘vanilla’ for my particular tastes, but that does not make it a bad bike. It is very easy to just get on it and ride pretty quick, but it just doesn’t have the outright descending capability of more aggressive bikes, but they they will also weigh a couple of kilos more.
- Low weight.
- Solid climber.
- Pedaling efficiency.
Could do better:
- Hard compound Maxxis tyres.
- Flexy bar/stem combo.
What do we think?
For the right rider I think the Zesty would be a rad bike. If you enjoy big rides across Wales or the Lakes then you’ll enjoy its light weight, solid climbing and neutral handling. For the trail centre warriors it is more than capable enough of banging out hot laps whilst having a great time. If uplifts and steep tech are more your bag then the Spicy might be the better bike for you.
Overall I was not too sure about the Zesty Ultimate at first, but once I accepted what it is and what it is really for, I actually quite enjoyed razzing it around my local woods.