The Lapierre Sensium 100 is a highly upgradeable carbon-fibre road bike that provides a comfortable and really enjoyable ride.
Lapierre is based in Dijon, France and it’s the bike sponsor of the FDJ.fr professional cycling team, otherwise known as Française des Jeux. The 100 is the most affordable model in the brand’s Sensium range of endurance bikes, equipped with a Shimano Tiagra groupset and Shimano R501 wheels.
The 200 (£1,399.99) comes with a Shimano 105 groupset, the 300 (£1,699.99) is built up with 105 and Ultegra and Mavic Aksium WTS wheels, the 400 (£2,199.99) gets Shimano Ultegra, and the top-level 500 (£3199.99) has a Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset and Mavic Ksyrium Equipe WTS wheels. All of the bikes have internal cable routing and are compatible with electronic shifting.
Let’s look at the key qualities that might make you choose to buy the Sensium 100.
The Sensium’s carbon-fibre frame is built with a comfortable ‘endurance’ geometry. What does that mean? Essentially, Lapierre has lengthened the head tube compared to that of a standard road bike, and chopped the top tube down a bit. The result is a more relaxed riding position: the handlebars are a little higher and a little closer to you than they are on Lapierre’s Xelius EFI race bikes, for example, requiring less flex in your back.
That’s not to say that Lapierre has lobbed the idea of a low, aero ride position out the window. Although the setup is less aggressive than that of a traditional-style race bike, you’re far from completely upright.
For comparison, the 56cm version of Specialized’s Roubaix SL4 has a 565mm top tube, exactly the same as that of the 55cm Sensium 100 that we have in on test, but the Specialized has a head tube that’s 10mm taller (190mm against 180mm). The Specialized’s stack (the vertical distance from the middle of the bottom bracket to the top of the head tube) is 11mm higher. That might not sound like much but the long and the short of it is that you find yourself in a fairly relaxed riding position aboard the Sensium, but not so relaxed that you can’t get your head and upper body low when you need to buckle down and get the work done.
The Ritchey Logic Comp Curve double-butted alloy handlebar helps with comfort too. It’s shallow drop (128mm) and short reach (73mm) so getting down on the drops isn’t going to be too much of a struggle even if you lack suppleness. There’s a good amount of rearward extension on the bars too, so you don’t have to reach too far forward when you want to get on the drops. They’re great bars all round, not feeling too harsh at all, even over dodgy old Tarmac.
As we often point out, saddles are an individual preference but, for what it’s worth, I got on well with the Selle Italia X1. It’s slim with a middling amount of padding under the microfibre cover. If I have a criticism it’s that the shell bows a little in the middle for my taste, but I still found it comfortable enough when getting in the big miles.
Buzz from the road isn’t much of an issue here; most of the vibration is cancelled out by the frame and the full-carbon fork. The 25mm Michelin Dynamic Sport tyres certainly help on that score too, and the slim 27.2mm diameter seatpost doubtless plays its part as well. Whatever, the Sensium 100 delivers a pretty smooth ride. Even two or three hours in (or longer), you don’t feel at all rattled.
Despite that slightly relaxed geometry, the Sensium 100 feels like a lively race bike. Weighing in at 8.82kg (19.4lb), it’s not incredibly light (Lapierre give a frame weight of 1,180g and 360g for the fork with a 250mm steerer) but that’s about the going rate for a bike of this price and type. It responds keenly when you put in the extra effort and climbs well. It doesn’t pounce forward when it’s time to put in a burst like some of the superbikes we get to test around these parts, but it’s certainly up for the fight when you need to accelerate and get on someone else’s wheel.
It would feel even better if you upgraded the wheels at some point. There’s nothing wrong with the Shimano R501s fitted; they’re solid, reliable wheels with angular contact bearings that you can easily service and adjust. The drawback is that they’re pretty heavy at over 1,900g. When I swapped to a lighter wheelset for a couple of rides I could really feel the difference; the Sensium 100 was immediately more nippy off the mark.
Of course, that’s something you could say of most bikes: stick some better wheels on and it’ll ride better. The point is that it shows the upgrade potential for the Sensium 100. The frameset is well worthy of something more racy.
Gearing here comes from a compact Shimano Tiagra chainset (50/34-tooth chainrings) matched up with a 12-28-tooth cassette. The 34-28 combination should get you up most hills if you’re prepared to dig deep, and the Michelin Dynamic Sport tyres grip well even on steep, damp sections of road. The shifting was faultless throughout the testing period, as it usually is.
The Sensium 100, like the 200 and 300, is available with a triple chainset too. Rather than the 50/34 chainrings, you get 50/39/30 and an 11-25 cassette. It’s up to you, of course, but out of the box, the lowest gear is almost exactly the same as that of the compact. You aren’t going to get a tiny climbing gear unless you swap out the cassette, in which case you can go down to a 30-tooth big sprocket. Personally, I’d stick with the compact.
There are no problems at all with the Sensium’s stiffness. The carbon monocoque frame features wide, purposeful-looking tubes – that goes for the down tube especially – and a Shimano Pressfit BB86 bottom bracket that you’d do well to shift off line. I certainly didn’t encounter any noticeable flex through the centre of the bike even when out of the saddle and heaving the pedals around at the top of a tough climb.
The head tube isn’t as massively oversized as some you see these days although it is tapered: 1 1/8in at the top, 1 1/4in at the bottom. Along with the carbon fork, it delivers steering that feels sharp and direct. The bike is certainly manoeuvrable but it sits easily on the right side of twitchy.
As mentioned above, there’s nothing at all wrong with Shimano R501 wheels; they’re strong and Shimano’s bearings are well-sealed and serviceable. But they’re pretty heavy and that dulls the Sensium 100’s acceleration a touch. They’re ripe for an upgrade, and with careful selection of tyres, tubes and sprockets you could lop off the best part of kilogram.
Shimano’s 10-speed Tiagra groupset performs superbly, especially considering the reasonable price. But if we’re looking for negatives – and we are – the fact that the gear cables don’t run underneath the bar tape looks a bit dated. It wasn’t long ago that this was the norm, but now Dura-Ace, Ultegra and 105 all have internal cable routing. It’s certainly not a big point; I guess it depends what you’re used to.
The little gear indicators on the tops of the levers look a bit naff too, in my opinion, and I can’t say I ever got into the habit of actually using them. Still, they’re there if you want them. Again, it’s just a matter of personal preference; it’s not a biggie.
Like Shimano’s higher end brakes, the Tiagra callipers are dual pivot, but instead of separate brake shoes and pads, here you get all-in-one blocks. You know the sort: you have to replace the whole thing when it wears down. You can still toe them in easily enough and they actually work pretty well.
The Sensium 100 is an easy bike to get along with. It’s comfortable to ride for hours on end at the weekend or for an hour’s blast after work. It’s agile and fun when you want to mix it up in a group, and it’s solid and reliable enough to keep maintenance to a minimum. It doesn’t really have a notable weakness. Yes, I wish it had better wheels, but that is an option higher up the Sensium range.
As well as being a very good bike as it stands, the Sensium 100 would be well capable of handling considerable upgrades. If you want a bike that you can develop as time goes on and components wear out, this would be a great choice.
Comfortable, lively endurance road bike with plenty of upgrade potential.
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Make and model: Lapierre Sensium 100
Size tested: 55cm
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame: Sensium Carbon monocoque
Fork: Lapierre Carbon, carbon steerer
Headset: 1 1/8in 1 1/4in FSA Orbit C-33 44E
Bottom Bracket: Shimano SMBB7141B Press-Fit
Chainset: Shimano Tiagra FC4650CX04 50x34
Stem: Ritchey 4 Axis 6° Ø: 31.8mm
Seatpost: Ritchey 2 Bolt
Handlebar: Ritchey Comp Curve
Front derailleur: Shimano Tiagra FD4600BL 34.9mm
Rear derailleur: Shimano Tiagra RD4601SS 10-speed
Shifters: Shimano Tiagra ST4600L200ICX - ST4600RICX 2x10 speed
Brakes: Shimano Tiagra BR4600
Saddle: Selle Italia X1
Wheels: Shimano WHR 501
Sprocket: Shimano Tiagra CS460010228 10 SPEED 12-28T
Tyres: Michelin Dynamic Sport 700x25
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
It's a road bike in an endurance geometry - although not the most upright endurance geometry out there.
Lapierre says, "The favoured model of long distance cyclosportive fans, and a loyal partner throughout an epic ride. The now famous Lapierre Sensium, a perfect compromise between power and comfort, has evolved and reached even headier heights. The Sensium combines comfort, efficiency and reliability, so you can realise your potential. Endurance is no longer synonymous with boredom."
I never thought that endurance was synonymous with boredom, personally, but I agree that the Sensium combines comfort, efficiency and reliability.
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Very good finish all around.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
It's a large bike for a 55cm. I usually take a 57 or a 58cm frame, depending on the brand, so check the geometry tables carefully.
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
It's a very comfortable bike. That's one of its strongest features.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Yeah. The wheels aren't mega-stiff but the frame and fork don't flex in any noticeable way.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
Just a touch but not a problem.
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? A bit livelier than neutral.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes.
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes.
Age: 43 Height: 190cm Weight: 75kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.