A properly versatile all-mountain rig with 160mm of incredibly well-controlled travel, the £4999.99 Lapierre Spicy 916 is one of the most capable bikes around, both up and down the mountain.The Lapierre Spicy 916, fresh from being raced in the Megavalanche. It excels at Alpine enduro riding, but is equally at home in a British trail centre.
Lapierre’s top-end carbon fibre 160mm all-mountain bike is one of the most capable bikes I’ve ridden in a very long time.
The frameAll-new carbon frame and revised suspension configuration
The £4999.99 Spicy 916 here is the top of the range model and the only carbon model in this range of three bikes. Suspension is updated to OST+ for 2012. An improved leverage ratio curve and new link and shock shuttle gives the 160mm suspension a more supple response to bumps, there’s better mid-stroke feel and greater big hit impact handling. It’s also a degree slacker (66 degrees) than previously, and a little lower and shorter in the chainstays.
One of the big changes to the the Spicy this year is an all-new carbon fibre front triangle (it’s actually the same as the 140mm Zesty) and carbon rear triangle. The head tube is now tapered and there’s a 12x142mm bolt-thru axle. There’s two aluminium frame models in the range too and they share the same important numbers as this carbon version.
Riding the Spicy reveals a bike that is truly and properly very capable. Out of the box, in stock build it’s nudging 27lb. This gives it the ability to scramble up climbs with amazing ease and speed, way faster than you’d expect any bike of this style to do. Despite the extra ‘bulk’ of the Spicy compared to the Zesty, it’s really giving away very little on the ascents.
It’s when you hurtle back down that the Spicy comes into its own. Flick the ProPedal lever to ‘open’ and the 160mm of travel is delivered with beautiful smoothness and control. Perhaps the best thing I can say about it is that you never really notice it working. But it is working, oh so very well.The Fox 36 FIT fork tracks incredibly well.
The Lapierrre Spicy soaks up big hits with a wonderful smoothness. Small ripples go unnoticed. Mid size bumps come and go without much interference to your speed. Diving fast into corners the suspension settles down into its mid stroke, it never gets bogged down and has a good deal of ‘pop’ out of corners.
With the slacker geometry and shorter chainstays it never gets out of its depth when it gets steep, technical and rocky. The Fox 36 fork is a great companion for the frame and with its 20mm bolt-through axle delivers stiffness to match the carbon frame and 12mm bolt-through rear end, it’s a very solid feeling bike.
I was blown away with how composed the Spicy was on all sorts of trails. The rougher and faster it got, the more the bike seemed to come alive. The suspension is so well controlled and the poise of the bike just right that you find yourself riding every trail with more speed, control and style than you ever have before. It’s not a skills compensator, it’s a skills booster.The Shimano XTR Shadow Plus mech keeps chain tension high and practically eliminates chain slap thanks to its switchable spring tension.
There’s no short cuts in the build on this model. A Shimano XTR double chainset and XTR Shadow Plus rear mech combine nicely for slick shifting and never once did the chain full off. The frame wears ISCG05 mounts if you want to add a chain device.
Dropper posts are essential kit on bikes like this and the KS post mostly worked without fuss. The cable needs regular servicing though as it can get gunged up at the top of the post, where it’s right in line of mud being sprayed up by the rear wheel.
The stock 711mm handlebars are too narrow to get the most out of the Spicy so I changed to an 800mm bar with a 50mm stem. That opened up the Spicy to a whole new level of riding ability. A 750mm bar would be the perfect compromise and certainly improve the bike’s handling.
The Lapierre Spicy 916 is the true essence of all-mountain riding. It climbs with impressive efficiency and is fast and fun on the way back down. It’s truly and properly capable, can handle a week in the Alps, shrugs its shoulders at the Megavalanche, and loves UK trails. If you use words like ‘hammering’, ‘aggressive’ and ‘dialled’ to describe your riding, the Spicy is for you.
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