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Lapierre Xelius SL 9.0 review

1 Jul 2022

The new Xelius is a distinctive take on the all-round race bike 

Cyclist Rating: 
Lively handling, Fast ride feel, Distinctive design, Comparatively good value
Weight, Not the most comfortable

The Lapierre Xelius SL 9.0 is the latest generation of the French brand’s all-round race bike.

It blends together an unusual geometry and an equally unusual frameset design to create a bike that stands out in both performance and looks from an increasingly homogenous crowd.

The Xelius SL 9.0 sits near the top of a six-bike Xelius SL range. It is well-specced with a mix of high-quality OEM components and own-brand parts. At £7,399, it compares favourably with several popular competitors.

Despite not being the most comfortable or lightest bike of its type on the market, it offers an enjoyable, lively ride that will endear itself to racers in particular.

For those riders looking for an aggressive, distinctive and comparatively good value bike the Lapierre Xelius SL 9.0 is a great option.

Lapierre Xelius SL 9.0 development

Lapierre is about as experienced as a bike brand gets, having been building framesets in every genre of the sport for over 75 years.

The French brand also has one of the longest partnerships at the top level of road cycling too, having sponsored the various incarnations of what now is Groupama-FDJ for 20 years.

For more than half that time, the Xelius has been the team’s chosen race bike, for it has been designed to fill the niche of lightweight all-rounder that attempts to do everything well.

Indeed, while Lapierre does offer the types of road bike that satisfy each of the three normal endurance/lightweight/aero pillars in most bike brand’s portfolios, its stance is more skewed than its competitors, in the sense that its endurance Pulsium and aero Aircode ranges occupy specialist niches, whereas the Xelius is the first port of call for most riding situations.

Lapierre Xelius SL 9.0 frameset

The latest Xelius is the third iteration of the bike and came to market with all the usual lighter/stiffer/faster claims. While its launch messaging was somewhat predictable thankfully it retains a frameset design that ensures it stand out from an increasingly homogenous crowd.

I’m referring to the feature Lapierre dubs its 3D Tubular design, whereby the seatstays fly past the seat tube and insert onto the underside of the top tube.

Lapierre says this predominantly helps with comfort, as the stays have a longer span in which to dissipate vibration and the seatpost is a freer to flex as it isn’t buttressed by the seatstays at its rear.

The latest update refines that design (and the frameset as a whole, for that matter) into a particularly sleek form, to the extent that Lapierre claims the new SL saves 7 watts at 40kmh over the old model.

Stiffness is said to be up for the most part too, thanks to the inclusion of things like 1.5” headset bearings that bulk out the head tube as well as provide space for full internal cable routing.

Despite that, weight is said to be lower overall because Lapierre says it now offers the Xelius in 3 different layups.

When bought as a frameset only, the Xelius is available in a light variation (in XS, S and M sizes) and a stiff variation (in L and XL sizes), while Xelius’ bought as complete bikes get a standard layup on all sizes.

The frame in the light variation, size medium, is claimed to weigh 725g, some 230g lighter than the previous Xelius frame.

A regular size medium (the size below the frame on test) is said to weigh 845g, making it competitive with frames like the Pinarello Dogma F and BMC Teammachine SLR01, although the Xelius’ competitors tend to use lighter frameset finishing components to help full bikes undercut the Xelius SL 9.0’s 7.4kg weight by some margin.

Lapierre Xelius SL 9.0 build

The Xelius SL 9.0 sits near the top of a six-bike range topped by the SL 75th, an no-expense spared build celebrating the brand’s 75th anniversary.

The SL 9.0 is still exceptionally well equipped and represents good value for money in comparison to many of its competitors.

Shimano’s Dura-Ace R9250 groupset offers flawless shifting performance and the Xelius’s 52/36t chainrings, 11-30t cassette setup offers enough range for any riding situation without sacrificing close gear steps.

Continental’s GP5000 tyres are an excellent all-round performer. While somewhat understandable given the bike’s racy credentials, I would have preferred to see 28mm tyres specced as standard instead of the 25mm tyres supplied, considering that wider tyres generally stand to benefit the ride experience of normal cyclists more often than not.

Barring the Fizik Tempo Argo R5 saddle, the wheels and the rest of finishing kit are all Lapierre-branded components.

The mid-depth carbon wheels acquit themselves well, performing predictably across a range of conditions even though their specs – 42mm deep, 21mm wide internally, 1,540g weight – aren't anything to write home about.

The Xelius’ stem is a chunky affair and offers a unique –5.7° rise, but its otherwise conventional design is easy to live with.

I can’t say the same for the bars though, whose tops have a gradual forward sweep towards the bend to the hoods that I found put my wrists in an uncomfortable position when I had my hands there, though this may just be a personal quirk.

The bars and stem work together to internally route cables down through the oversized upper headset bearing. It is a neat system, but worth considering that a compatible bar would need to be purchased in order to preserve the front end’s clean lines in the event of a change to that particular component.

Lapierre Xelius SL 9.0 geometry and sizing

It isn’t just the frameset’s construction that has been given a more aggressive flavour either, with the new Xelius’ geometry more heavily mirroring Lapierre’s Aircode DRS platform.

That means for a given size the frame’s reach is longer to the tune of around 10mm, which is significant.

The 405mm chainstays mean the Xelius’ back end is notably short and they are attached to a steep 73.5° seat tube.

The resultant ride position would tend toward being stretched out, with more weight further forward than normal.

It complements the bike’s other racy characteristics, such as a longer-than-usual 50mm fork offset which helps create a 52mm trail figure together with the 73° head tube and 25mm tyres. This is shorter than a lot of comparable bikes in the Xelius category.

Riding the Lapierre Xelius SL 9.0

All told, the geometry Lapierre has adopted in the Xelius is rather unusual but I think pays dividends out on the road.

The tight back end and steep seat tube makes the bike feel punchy and efficient when going uphill, while the long reach made me feel evenly poised across the bike, instilling a sense of confidence on fast descents.

That short trail figure means the bike’s handling is responsive, but that agility is tempered somewhat by a long overall wheelbase at 1,005mm. As the short chainstays don’t make up too much of that, the bike has a long front centre which affords stability on technical roads.

The bike’s PF86 bottom bracket and large headset bearings allow for oversize tube profiles in the spine of the bike, meaning the Xelius’ stiffness feels like it matches the bike’s handling nicely too, despite the overall weight meaning it doesn’t feel as lively as other all-round race bikes do under acceleration.

Lapierre Xelius SL 9.0 verdict

I can’t say I noticed too much of a sense of vibration mitigation from the unrestricted seat tube, but the Xelius does at least use a conventional 27.2mm round seatpost so a comfort-boosting aftermarket alternative could be swapped in should the user be looking to boost comfort in that area.

I’m not sure the type of customer this bike appeals to the will see any necessity to do that though.

The new Xelius SL3 is a fantastic example of an all-round race bike, and all-round bike racers will no doubt love it as is.

Now more than ever, the Xelius platform justifies Lapierre’s extensive experience in producing excellent road bikes.

Pick of the kit

Castelli A Blocco jersey, £95

Castelli’s sleek aero race jerseys or barely-there climber’s jersey may garner a lot of the attention in the brand’s summer collection but jerseys like the A Blocco show even the brand’s humbler options are no less proficient.

The cut is slim without being spray on and the ‘ProSecco Micromesh’ body fabric is comfortable and ventilates well.

I particularly like the jersey’s raw cut sleeves too, which stay in place despite gripping my arms lightly enough that they quickly slip from my attention. As a bonus the jersey comes in a wide array of colours too, from the demure to the lairy.

Lapierre Xelius SL 9.0 alternatives

Lapierre Xelius SL 8.0

The Xelius SL 8.0 is essentially the same bike as its bigger brother, using the same frameset and finishing components, but trades Dura-Ace in for Ultegra, dropping the price to £5,799 for no discernible decrease in performance.

Lapierre Aircode DRS 9.0

The Aircode DRS 9.0 is the Xelius SL 9.0’s burlier alternative. It is in the same price range at £7,699 but promises more speed and stiffness at the expense of comfort and weight thanks to a more aero-focussed frameset.

Lapierre Xelius SL 9.0 spec

Price £7,399
Brand Lapierre
Frame Lapierre Xelius SL Disc
Fork Lapierre Xelius SL Disc
Weight 7.4kg (large)
Sizes available XS, S, M, L
Headset Acros Integrated with Xelius Acros spacer
Levers Shimano Dura-Ace R9270
Brakes Shimano Dura-Ace R9270
Rear derailleur Shimano Dura-Ace R9250
Front derailleur Shimano Dura-Ace R9250
Chainset Shimano Dura-Ace R9200, 52/36
Bottom bracket Shimano PF86
Cassette Shimano Dura-Ace R9200, 11-30
Chain Shimano Dura-Ace R9200
Wheels Lapierre Road Disc 42
Tyres Continental GP5000 25mm
Bars Lapierre UD carbon
Stem Lapierre -5.7° alloy
Seatpost Lapierre carbon light
Saddle Fizik Tempo Argo R5

All reviews are fully independent and no payments have been made by companies featured in reviews


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