It must have been the new year's resolution of lots of different bike companies to send us their latest models to test, because they're coming thick and fast at road.cc towers right now. That's one of those good problems though.
Latest to land is one of Lapierre's new bikes for 2013, the Sensium 200. Lapierre haven't ever had a huge presence in the UK but they've been bubbling under with some very nice bikes, and if they're good enough for the Francaise des Jeux team then they must be doing something right. The last one we tested on road.cc was the pro-level Xelius 900 back in 2009, upon which tester Stu heaped plenty of praise; "An exceptional piece of design and engineering" was his verdict.
The Sensium 200 is from much lower down the range. Sitting above the Sensium 100 it's their second cheapest Carbon road bike this year, coming in at a respectable £1,299.99. It's built around a frame that's brand new for 2013, which Lapierre have developed in association with Koga. There's actually two Sensium frames; the more expensive bikes (300 and up) have an elastomer insert in the seatstay wishbone that Lapierre claim dampens vibration 25% more than their Xelius frame without sacrificing any stiffness. That's a long winded way of saying it's laterally stiff and vertically compliant. So we're on familiar ground here.
The lower-spec Sensium frame doesn't have the bumper so it's a fairly standard monocoque with an asymmetric head tube (inch and an eighth to inch and a quarter) and a press-fit bottom bracket, The top tube is slightly convex along its length with a flat top surface as is the current style. Cable routing is internal with the derailleur run popping out of the rear of the dropout, and it's Di2-ready with a battery mount under the non-drive-side chainstay. The matching fork is a full Carbon affair with a straight blade; there's no mudguard or rack mounts on the Sensium. The overall look of the bike, with its matt finish and all-black-and-white colour scheme, is pretty classy. I think so, anyway.
Geometry-wise we're nearer the racier end of sportive territory. Or the sportive end of road bikes. Our XL bike (58cm seat tube) has a 58.5cm effective top tube and a 20cm head tube. The head angle's a bit steeper than average at 73.5° although it slackens a fair bit across the sizes to 71.5° in the extra small. Conversely the seat tube – 72° on our big bike – steepens up considerably; it's 74.5° on the smallest frame. The bike we have is a touch longer and lower than a comparably-sized Specialized Roubaix or Trek Domane.
Shimano 105 is one of our favourite groupsets round here: lots of trickle-down from Dura-Ace and Ultegra but a lot less cash. Lever routing is all under the bar tape so things look nice and tidy, and the levers on the Sensium come with colour coded white hoods, although we're a bit worried that they'll be colour coded to the road grime and slurry of the Bath lanes before too long. Mechs are both 105 as well, while the chainset and brakes are both non-series to save a bit of cash. The CP in the title refers to the compact chainset; you can also have the Sensium 200 with a triple if you prefer.
The wheels are Shimano's R500s which are a very common sight on bikes around this price, especially Carbon ones. They're very dependable but not especially light or stiff; looking at the full spec they're the obvious first upgrade which is often the case. The R500s are shod with Michelin Dynamic Sport 23mm rubber, which is a tyre I haven't tried before.
Bars, stem and seatpost are all Ritchey alloy units and as such are likely to be dependable; the Comp Logic Curve bar is a particular favourite of mine. That just leaves the Selle Italia X1 saddle and some leather-look perforated white bar tape and we're done. All-in the bike weighs 8.4kg (18.6lb) without pedals. It looks to be a very nice package for the money, so we can't wait to give it a rant round Somerset and Wiltshire to find out whether it lives up to the promise. Stay tuned for a review soon.
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