Cool, a trail bike designed with DH legend Nico Vouilloz. It’s sexy, curvy, low slung and aggressive looking, with some rad features that put it in a class of its own. Check it out: a carbon rear mech guard, a shock sag meter, massively flared seatstays with a very elongated Horst Link, which gives a great rearward axle path, and Fox suspension at both ends. There is very tidy cable routing running along the side of the downtube, a tapered headtube, a swingarm-mounted front derailleur, honeycombed swing link and Fulcrum Red Metal wheelset. It also has ISCG tabs, yet just 140 mm of travel. Wicked!
The first thing I noticed when I rode the Zesty was how light and snappy it felt under pedalling. There was a very crisp feel to the back end, it had very little bob, and fantastic traction on the climbs. Descending, I discovered the curved seat tube positioned the saddle right out of the way for some serious maneuverability. I expected to get a little freaked out on high-speed downhill tracks by this light, twitchy, short-travel trail bike, but to be honest it made me feel right at home. The stiffness of the frame combined with a super plush rear shock stroke put a grin on my face straightaway. The Zesty has an amazing ability to soak up the bumps.
I was seriously expecting the 9mm QR dropouts on the Float 32 RL Open Bath fork to let me down, as I’m about 90 kg and I ride hard. But to my surprise there was no issue with torsional flex, until I hit some large tree roots at pace; then it started to annoy me. Lapierre may have dropped the ball a little on this one. If you’re dropping $5K on a bike, you probably wouldn’t mind adding another $100 to get a thru-axle, if only to stop your riding buddies calling your fork a wet noodle. For a bike of this ilk a 15QR model would suit its capabilities better. But it’s pretty hard to find fault with any 2011 Fox fork, and the Float 32 RL Open Bath was typically silky smooth—and I used all of its 140mm of travel.
Out back is a Fox Float R shock, and the higher spec’d models come with a Fox Float RP2. While these shocks do their job well, the extra adjustability of an RP23 would be welcomed too. Locking the fork out made for solid hill climbing out of the saddle, and with my body weight forward I hardly noticed any bob from the rear. In fact the low volume Float R rear shock worked so well on this frame that ultimately I’m not sure a ‘better’ shock would be totally necessary.
Before one of my test rides I dribbled a little air out of the forks and shock to give 30 percent sag and hello! Party time! The bike came to life and the ride was pretty darn good. I have to credit this to the rear shock having such a linear stroke.
The Zesty’s numbers all check out; 17.2 cm chainstays, 68/73 degree head and seat angles, a 145 mm headtube, and a 615 mm horizontal top tube giving a low standover height. As far as the component spec goes, Shimano’s SLX and XT bits are proven performers, the Formula RX brakes with 180 mm rotors were excellent, and the Fizik Gobi saddle is always a winner. Stem, seatpost and 680 mm wide handlebars are all housebranded and did their job.
The Fulcrum wheels are stiff and lightweight (a shade over 1800 grams) and feature 16 spokes on the drive side and eight on the other. The 20 mm inside rim width is a bit narrow for the 2.4 inch tyres, I reckon, but they’re made by Campagnolo, so they must be pretty good.
What would I change about the Zesty? There’s not too much to fault, but with 15QR dropouts, wider bars and a set of my favourite 2.25 inch tyres—then I’d have a weapon to slay the trails for sure. ROD BARDSLEY.