Lapierre officially unveils the new Xelius SL3

The new Xelius gets lighter, more aero, stiffer, and more aggressive geometry, but mostly on the frame-only option.

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We first spotted the new Lapierre Xelius SL3 way back in June at the Tour de France Grand Départ in Brest. A select few riders on both the FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope and Groupama-FDJ squads rolled out of Brest on the new bike. Then it all went quiet over at Lapierre HQ. So quiet that when Lapierre officially unveiled the SL3 today, I had a distinct feeling of deja-vu. Nevertheless, the bike is official now and it hides a raft of updates in a frame that retains the distinctively Xelius appearance of the outgoing SL2. 

The Xelius is Lapierre’s versatility machine blending lower weight with aero cues. The SL3 takes those characteristics and drops the weight a little further while improving the frame’s aerodynamics. While the internal cable routing is the most visible update, much of the update lies beneath the surface. 

Lapierre first developed a new carbon construction, UD Super Light Innovation (SLI), utilising a new lighter and stronger grade of Torayca carbon fibre for the new frame. With new carbon ticked off, Lapierre then set about improving frame production. The French brand turned to the rigid polypropylene mandrels first used in the Aircode DRS. These mandrels enhance stability in the layup phase for better compression of the carbon in the mold. Lapierre claims this improved compression results in less resin retained in the frame, helping decrease overall weight. 

Lastly, Lapierre has opted for three unique carbon layups, with the frame-only option getting special treatment, presumably at least partially dedicated to Lapierre’s WorldTour riders. Complete bikes feature a “standard” frame. The SL3 frame-only option gets a UD SLI “light” layup for sizes XS, S, and medium, while sizes L and XL feature a UD SLI “stiff” build. 

The new carbon and layups mean the new frame is lighter, although the exact weight will differ across the range. A medium “light” build will tip the scales at 725 g, with the “stiff” adding an extra 20 g. Frustratingly, these are unpainted weights. However, Lapierre has provided painted (893 g) and unpainted (845 g) weights for the standard frame, indicating what to expect when those frameset-only options get all shiny. The forks are also layup-specific, with the UD SLI forks weighing in at 352 g (unpainted and uncut), while the standard forks add 40 g. 

In good news for fans of adjustability, the Xelius SL3 features a two-piece cockpit despite the proprietary stem. A complete frame, fork, and LP bar and stem tips the scales at 2,168 g with a size medium UD SLI Light frame.

Lapierre has neatly hidden the cables and hose for aero gains without sacrificing adjustability.

Lower weight alone does not make a good bike. Lapierre claims the new Xelius SL3 is stiffer than the outgoing SL2 for a double-whammy stiffness-to-weight ratio improvement. A redesigned and larger down tube with sharp edges is said to provide improved torsional rigidity. The bottom bracket and headset have grown to help with power transfer at either end of that down tube and asymmetrical chainstays complete the package.

Somewhat confusingly, Lapierre claims the standard frame is as stiff as the outgoing SL2 at the bottom bracket but also notes the new frame is stiffer at the head tube and 5% softer at the bottom bracket for improved responsiveness. 

What’s a new bike, though, if it’s not more aero? To this end, Lapierre has hidden all the cables and hoses upfront for electronic builds (mechanical is said to be semi-integrated). Lapierre also improved the aero profile of the head tube and forks. Furthermore, the down tube, seat tube, and seatstays all feature NACA and Kammtail tube profiling.

The result is a bike Lapierre claims is, on average, 8.5% more aerodynamic than the Xelius SL2 measured at 0°, 10°, and 20° yaw angles and 40, 50, and 60 km/h. Delving a bit deeper, Lapierre claims a 1% saving at 40 km/h. The savings are much more remarkable at the higher speeds experienced on descents. At 50 km/h, the new Xelius offers a claimed 7.6% saving compared to the SL2 and 8.5% at 60 km/h.

Lapierre carried over some of the geometry tweaks from the new Aircode DRS. A slightly shorter top tube, longer reach, and a steeper seat tube angle help the rider adopt a more aggressive position.

The new frame will accept up to 32 mm of rubber in keeping with what we now expect from new road frames. Lastly, Lapierre has dropped the bottle cage mounts and Di2 battery placement lower on the frame to reduce the centre of gravity. Combined with that stiffer head tube, that should make for more precise handling on descents. 

Despite all these updates, the Xelius is still undeniably Xelius. Thanks largely to those unique seatstays mounted directly to the top tube. Lapierre says this seatpost-bypassing design disperses vibrations between the saddle and handlebars and lightens the bike using carbon in an area with low mechanical constraints. Perhaps most significantly, the design frees the seatpost to add some welcome flex and, combined with the 27.2 mm seat post, should provide a cushier ride. 

The Xelius SL3 is available now. The frame, fork, and cockpit option is priced at €3,299 with Ultra Purple and Team Groupama FDJ colourways. Complete bikes start at €2,799 for the Xelius SL 5.0 (Shimano 105), climbing to €7,399 for the Dura-Ace Di2-equipped SL 9.0. International pricing TBC.

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