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by David Arthur
March 4, 2020
Photography by David Arthur
The spring classics are often happy hunting grounds for scooping new bikes and equipment during the final testing phase before being released to the world, and in Belgium, for the first cobbled races of the spring, a prototype Lapierre aero bike was hiding in plain sight atop the Groupama-FDJ team car, draped in a conspicuous all-white paint finish with UCI decals simply stuck to the frame and fork.
We can reasonably expect this to be a new version of the company’s Aircode aero road bike, likely to be released in the next few months as a 2021 model. The sleek new shape looks much more modern than the outgoing version, with wide Kammtail-like profiles throughout that suggest a more nuanced blend of low weight and aerodynamic efficiency similar to the current Specialized Tarmac and Scott Addict RC — and with the increased tire clearances all of these bikes now offer (at least in disc-brake form), there’s a good chance we’ll see this in use at the upcoming cobbled classics, too.
Bucking the current trend for dropped seatstays, Lapierre has adapted a design from its Pulsum endurance bike, with the seatstays bypassing the seat tube completely and connecting directly to the top tube. It’s a strategy also employed by GT on its Grade gravel bike, with likely the same desired outcome of more seat tube flex and improved rider comfort on bigger impacts.
Lapierre is using an interesting treatment for the thru-axle inserts at the fork. Also visible is a PF86 press-fit bottom bracket shell. Note how the seatstays connect to the top tube, too, completely bypassing the seat tube.
Integration is another key design element. Although the team bike was fitted with a sponsor-correct PRO stem, the aero headset spacers clearly suggest that Lapierre has developed its own stem or one-piece cockpit. But even with the standard stem, the cables and hoses are neatly routed from the handlebar into the front of the head tube, closely hugging the underside of the stem to help minimise disruption to air flow.
Given how the head tube is extended to the front of the frame, it seems likely that Lapierrre has stuck to a conventional round-profile steerer tube, with the lines routed similar to Cannondale’s SystemSix aero road bike.
Up front, the shape of the head tube suggests that the lines run down in front of the steerer tube. An integrated stem and/or one-piece bar-and-stem is sure to be included on production bikes given the shape of the headset spacers.
We’ve contacted Lapierre for comment and we’ll update this article as soon as we get a reply, but for now, we’ll continue to keep our eyes (and ears) open for more.