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by James Huang
September 28, 2020
Photography by Lapierre
We first spotted Lapierre’s next-generation Aircode aero road racer back in March, and the company has now finally spilled the beans on the new Aircode DRS. As expected, it’s claimed to be more aerodynamic, stiffer, and lighter than before, but — in yet another sign of how advanced higher-end road bikes have become — it’s also supposedly more comfortable, too.
Lapierre builds the Aircode DRS’s carbon fiber frame with a blend of truncated NACA airfoil cross-sections that the company says is “13% faster” in a straight headwind relative to the previous Aircode SL, as well as “5% faster” at a 10° yaw angle (although what exactly those figures refer to is a bit unclear at this point). While those sorts of gains are to be expected with any new iteration of an aero road bike, it’s worth noting that these improvements compare the newly disc-only Aircode DRS with the rim-brake Aircode SL.
Granted, part of that improvement is undoubtedly due to the Aircode DRS’s fully hidden cable routing up front, with the lines running through the two-piece handlebar and stem before snaking their way into the frame. In a sign of how Lapierre is anticipating buyers in this category will use their Aircode DRS machines, upper-end models have aero-profile carbon fiber handlebars with fittings for aero extensions that bolt directly to the tops.
Between the refined frame shaping and the newly concealed cabling, Lapierre claims that the new Aircode DRS is more aerodynamic than the old Aircode SL, despite the switch from rim brakes to disc brakes.
Interestingly, Lapierre hasn’t just made the new bike more aerodynamic; the modified frame geometry places the rider in a more aerodynamic position as well, which will likely have an even bigger impact than the improvements to the bike itself. As compared to the outgoing Aircode SL, the Aircode DRS sports a slightly steeper seat tube angle and a longer reach, both of which are intended to rotate the rider further forward — and ideally, slightly lower up front. Larger frame sizes also get narrower handlebars to help further reduce the rider’s frontal area.
Despite a supposed increase in chassis stiffness, frame weight has dropped a bit thanks to new construction methods that now incorporate internal semi-rigid mandrels that boost fiber compaction and yield better internal finishes. Lapierre claims an 80-gram reduction relative to the Aircode SL, bringing the Aircode DRS closer to the 900-gram figure. That said, as mentioned earlier, the new Aircode DRS is now disc-only, and while Lapierre acknowledges that complete bikes will be heavier than they were before for comparable builds, they’re said to “feel lighter” than the previous rim-brake models.
The two-tone paint accentuates the shaping in this area.
Lapierre claims a 12% bump in compliance out back as compared to the Aircode SL thanks to a reshaped seat cluster with stays that bypass the seat tube completely to allow for more flex. If you want a bit more cush, you can also officially run tires up to 28 mm-wide in place of the stock 25 mm ones.
Prices start at £2,700 / €3,000 for the Aircode DRS 5.0 with Shimano 105 (8.68 kg claimed weight), while the Aircode DRS 6.0 bumps up to Shimano Ultegra mechanical for £3,600 / €4,000 (8.10 kg).
The Aircode DRS 7.0 switches to Ultegra Di2 for £4,500 / €5,000 (8.00 kg), and finally, the top-end Aircode 8.0 includes an upgrade to DT Swiss ARC 1100 DB deep-section carbon clinchers for £6,300 / €7,000 (7.76 kg).
Prices for other regions are to be confirmed.
More information can be found at www.lapierrebikes.com.
1.5-inch headset bearings are used top and bottom to provide room for the internally routed wires and hoses.
The two upper-end Aircode DRS models feature fittings on the drop bars for bolt-on aero extensions, which will be a convenient feature for riders looking to use the same bike for both general road riding and the occasional triathlon.
Moving the seatstay attachment point ahead of the seat tube supposedly allows for more seat tube flex under load to provide a smoother ride as compared to a more conventionally shaped seat cluster.