Lapierre chose the previously unheard-of French mountain town of Valberg to launch its two new e-bike platforms in. Unheard of, that is, until the Enduro World Series showed up last year. The area is also no stranger to the Trans Provence too. It’s also the home of Lapierre’s mountain R&D base and very close to where brand ambassador (and now R&D Project Leader, no less) Nico Vouilloz spends a lot of time riding.
The two bike platforms being launched were quite different – in componentry, wheel size and release date, but it made sense to try them both back to back while the chance was there. One bike is a Shimano-motored 29er (or 27.5+) and the other is a Bosch-motored 27.5+ (or 29in…) bike. Both, though, have new, integrated batteries and a far more integrated look than Lapierre’s previous Overvolt models. For these are the Lapierre Overvolt Integrated models.
Let’s see what’s new:
Lapierre Overvolt Integrated Bosch
First off, and first to market in around October time, is the Bosch-motored model. The big change is obviously the integrated Bosch battery in the downtube, which can be charged on or off the bike and which allows a waterbottle cage to be fitted too.
Thanks to some clever dropouts and a lot of mud room, the bikes will take a plethora of wheel sizes. Though, while there is a stock 120mm 29er version available ‘for XC riders’ the main focus seems to be on this, the 150mm 27.5+ model.
The new Overvolt represents a lot of new developments – not just in e-bike technology, but also in events. Races like e-bike enduros are now starting to see some serious numbers and the longer events allow for a (single) battery change midway through the event. This has inspired Lapierre to include the biggest integral 500Wh battery in this bike – as well has engineering a quick-release for the battery bay, which forms much of the down tube. A battery-swap takes under a minute and you can be on your way again with a fully charged bike. Or non-racers can simply keep a battery charging to make sure they always have juice available.
The Overvolt Bosch has 15mm shorter chainstays than the popular Overvolt Carbon launched last year to great acclaim. Lapierre has achieved this by angling the motor down so that there’s more room out back for big rubber.
Another clever thing that Lapierre has done is to persuade SRAM to rejig its 11 speed shifter to only allow one gear at a time shifting in either direction. It was finding a lot of broken chains were happening when riders panic-shifted four gears at a time while under pressure. The extra torque of the motor simply blew the chains apart, so limiting shifts to a single gear per thumb press makes a lot of sense here.
Lapierre is a master at rubber and plastic mouldings and it has made its own range of rubber protective covers for the head unit on the Bosch system.
There will be four specs of the 27.5 Plus x 150mm travel Bosch bike, with an additional single 29in ‘cross country’ version. Bikes should start appearing around October time.
Lapierre Overvolt Integrated Shimano
An even bigger departure for Lapierre comes with the new Overvolt Integrated Shimano. It uses a Shimano Steps 8000 motor that was introduced to the world last year, but which is still in pretty short supply. This new motor system allowed Lapierre to redesign the suspension system to take into account the shorter chainstays available with the Shimano motor. The shock has been lowered in the frame, compared to the Bosch version, keeping the weight low and centred – something that has been previously praised with the Overvolt carbon.
The new bike has a very pleasing silhouette, aided by some clever silver and black graphics that help lighten the visual impact of the motor and the big downtube. And perhaps now is a good time to talk about Lapierre’s Snake Power Technology – while it might sound a little bit odd, it makes sense once you see the battery arrangement.
The battery system for the Shimano motor is actually Lapierre’s own (which no doubt involved some negotiating with Shimano…) which features a flexible chain of smaller battery units, linked together. This lets them feed into a small hole in the extruded downtube, keeping the downtube much stronger than if half of it was cut away to allow a bolt-on battery pack. While the battery might resemble a snake (or a bandolier of grenades) it’s easier to think of it as a small train of railway carriages – such is the way that they head into the downtube – and come out again. This needn’t be done every time you need to charge it – it can easily be charged with the battery in-situ, but if you’re doing one of those e-bike enduros… it means you can swap batteries mid-race.
Due to the fact that manufacturers have been clamouring to get Shimano’s new system for a year, the development of the Shimano bike is later than the Bosch bike, which is nearly ready to be assembled (in Europe, by the way…) – the Shimano bike is likely to be a spring release, but Lapierre felt it important enough to show to the world now.
We don’t have any UK prices yet, but being nicely specced e-bikes with the latest motors and batteries, don’t expect budget machines. However, there’s a lot of tech development that’s gone into these bikes and we hope that that will start trickling down the bike ranges.
(Thanks to Lapierre and UK distributors Raleigh UK, who paid for flights and accommodation on this trip.)