The X-Control, an iconic mountain bike from the French brand, gets a new look for 2015.
It was way back in 2001 when the X-Control first graced the trails. It kicked off an ongoing evolution that’s seen the bike undergo 14 iterations from pure-bred XC machine to a bike that puts trail riding pleasure as its number one goal. Now it seems, the performance XC baton has been passed to the XR 29 as the X-Control gets more versatile.
Carbon meets aluminium
The big change for the X-Control in 2015 is the frame. Lapierre have introduced a carbon front triangle on the 527 and 727 models, whilst the rear triangle remains aluminium. Unveiled at the 2014 Roc d’Azur, the new carbon chassis is identical in geometry to the full aluminium version.
The FPS suspension system has also been upgraded for 2015. It’s now called FPS+ and is still based on a virtual pivot multi-link setup, but makes full use of the 100 mm travel and eliminates pedal bob even better than before. The result is a comfortable ride with the suspension working hard to track the ground and smooth out all but the roughest trails. This means you can stay in the saddle for longer and save valuable energy. Hit the brakes and the FPS+ continues to work to maintain traction giving you predictive handling as you scrub off speed.
Rather than opt for the raw efficiency of 29 inches, Lapierre has equipped the whole X-Control range with 650b wheels. This combined with a generous 68 degree head angle, a sensible 70 mm stem and 720 mm bars, plus the 120 mm of travel up front make this bike nice and nimble and fun to ride on twisty trails.
Built for comfort
The default riding position is very upright and a long way from the bike’s competitive XC origins. But that makes this bike suitable for a wide range of trails and it means it’s a comfortable ride with less stress on the lumber than a traditional XC bent over position.
A pedalling machine
The stand out quality of the X-Control is how easy the bike pedals. It rolls really well and the anti-bob suspension does a great job of keeping the back tyre tacked to the ground. You can confidently leave the rear suspension in its open position and pedal with a minimum of feedback even over smooth ground.
It’s only when the climbing gets seriously steep that the X-Control shows its limits. When you stand up on the pedals and put the power down you can feel the bike kick back underneath you. You really need to spin out the climbs rather than attack them out of the saddle. Interestingly, this pedal feedback feels like it does you a favour on technical climbs where it can give you a gentle boost to propel you over tricky sections.
Pure fun downhill
It’s when the trail points downhill that the X-Control comes into its own. Over rough ground the bike seems to have more travel than its 120/100 mm. The bike feels stable at speed but sprightly enough to be playful as well.
Just missing some decent rubber and a telescopic post
Grip, courtesy of Schwalbe Rocket Rons, is great on dry French trails, but you can feel the front wheel want to skate away from you as soon as there’s any moisture on the ground. For most of the UK, you’ll probably want to upgrade your rubber.
Lapierre have missed a trick with the seatpost spec. The 327 comes with a bolted seat clamp, so if you want to drop your saddle you have to get the tools out. A QR clamp on this type of bike is a bare necessity and wouldn’t cost much to add. The top of the range 727 could easily have had a telescopic seatpost fitted given the rest of the componentry and the fact that the frame is designed to take one.
Lapierre X-Control Geometry
The X-Control performs well over a huge variety of terrain from rough and ready natural singletrack to smooth trailcentre tracks, and as long as you don’t exceed its design limitations, it’s a trail bike that delivers an immensely fun riding experience.
With the X-Control, the Zesty Trail and the Zesty AM, Lapierre have a solid trail / all-mountain offering. Over to you to choose the bike that suits you best.