2014 Bible of Bike Tests Roundtable Reels: Lapierre Zesty AM 527

An innovative, high-tech approach to the rear end, but the front comes up short

This bike caused a heated discussion among testers. Opinions on parts spec and the electronically controlled suspension were debated, but the crew all agreed that Lapierre offers a solid frame with excellent handling characteristics.

Price: $5,000
Contact: lapierrebicycles.com
Direct Link: lapierrebicycles.com/bikes-mountain-all-mountain-zesty-am-527

Final Take: An innovative, high-tech approach to the rear end, but the front comes up short.

Lapierre Zesty AM 527

Lapierre Zesty AM 527

This was one of the more controversial bikes we tested. On one hand you have a brilliant carbon chassis and on the other hand you have an inhibiting component spec and a love-it or-hate-it automated rear suspension.

Lapierre, in conjunction with RockShox, has created a technological tour de force with the E:i (Electronic Intelligence) shock system designed to automatically control the compression position of the rear shock. How it works is actually fairly straightforward. Think of it as the front fork giving the rear shock a heads up: "Hey, I just went over a giant rock, it's coming your way, get ready." This is done via the accelerometers on the fork lower and stem. Then there's also important info coming from the cranks via a cadence sensor: "We're really pedaling here, firm it up," or "Not pedaling now because we just flew off a 5-foot drop so open the hell up."

This happens quickly as the system can reportedly go from open to locked in one-tenth of a second. It works, but there was some resistance from our testers to relinquish control of the suspension to a computer. It can also be manually adjusted from the handlebar controller. We were also conflicted as to whether we really need that kind of technology on a bike, with one tester saying it represents what he is trying to escape when going for a ride.

The frame is the real gem here. Lapierre nailed the geometry; it's plenty stiff and responsive. The stout Horst link type suspension is spot on and pedaled great with the shock open. But there was a limiting factor to that great rear: the Fox 32 Evolution fork. Some of our testers felt that you could not push the bike hard enough to take advantage of the full 6 inches of rear travel. Lapierre also makes a Spicy 527 with a stouter fork and 160 millimeters of rear travel. –SS