The Lapierre Pulsium SL 500 Disc is an absolute mile-muncher thanks to a great combination of comfort and speed. The elastomer above the seatstay/seat tube junction isn't just a gimmick, it really works, and when you add in a full Shimano 105 groupset and hydraulic discs it makes for quite a package.
- Pros: Beautiful relaxed ride for covering huge distances
- Cons: It really deserves some lighter wheels
The Pulsium range is the flagship of Lapierre's endurance lineup, designed for long days in the saddle, and the inclusion of the small elastomer in that triple triangle area of the extended seatstays means it doesn't matter whether you are on the smoothest of tarmac or rough farm tracks.
Throughout its design, the geometry is pretty relaxed. On this large model we have a 560mm effective top tube with a rather tall 185mm head tube for a more upright position. The head angle is pretty slack at 72 degrees which, when paired with a lengthy wheelbase incorporating 412mm chainstays, makes the Pulsium a stable, surefooted machine.
It's a very easy bike to ride. The planted feel means you can really push on regardless of the terrain – it just takes everything in its stride. The steering is slower than a more aggressive race bike, but that is exactly what you want from a bike like this.
This might all make the Pulsium sound a little boring, but it's far from it.
This bike is fast. After my first ride on it I was massively impressed when I glanced down at the computer and saw my speed – it certainly didn't feel like a ride where I'd been averaging over 20mph, but the screen doesn't lie.
Comfort is the main reason; the frame does an excellent job of taming road imperfections without muting any of the feedback of the surface coming through from the tyres. It's a very good balance.
Should you need a bit of extra speed, the Pulsium is responsive enough to deliver acceleration and stiffness for climbing when out of the saddle. That's not its forte, though, and although a quick burst of effort is beneficial, I found that you get more out of the bike by staying in the saddle and putting the power down smoothly.
When descending, the Lapierre responds best if you keep things smooth. With your body weight stretched out over the bike, the Pulsium carves a controlled line through the bends, and thanks to that planted feel it'll flatter even the most nervous of descenders.
It isn't quite as nimble in the technical stuff as some, but not so much that I ever found it an issue, especially with the controlled, powerful braking from the hydraulic discs, as you can soon slow yourself down before you end up in trouble.
Taking to hardpacked gravel byways or broken back lanes, this stability is just what you want as the loose surface moves around beneath you. It's no gravel or cyclo-cross bike but it is surprisingly capable, even with the standard 28mm road tyres fitted.
Frame and fork
The full carbon fibre frame follows the common theme of larger profile tubes towards the lower half of the frame for power delivery, with the top offering something a little more slender for shock absorbance.
The head tube is tapered so you have a larger diameter 1 1/4in bearing at the bottom compared to the 1 1/8in at the top.
The down tube is a chunky looking affair, which leads to a large press-fit bottom bracket junction and oversized chainstays.
Stiffness through this network of tubes is pretty impressive, with flex barely detectable.
The fork does a good job of matching this, offering plenty of stiffness under cornering loads and those of the disc braking, while still absorbing much of the road chatter.
Curved tube profiles are one way of controlling some flex in certain parts of the frame, as well as changing the overall size, so it's no surprise to see a bit of everything going on with the Pulsium's top tube. It's wider and deeper at the head tube end but slims down as it swoops towards the seat tube junction.
As you can see there is a lot going on here, with the seatstays continuing past the seat tube and joining the top tube to create that extra triangle.
The seatstays are slim and bowed down to the rear dropouts to allow movement for comfort, helped by the small elastomer positioned above the junction with the seatstays, seat tube and top tube.
How much it actually brings to the ride is hard to say – you'd need an identical frame without one fitted to ride side by side – but I will say that the Pulsium has a very comfortable and pliant rear end. Even under hard efforts the elastomer doesn't seem to be overly soft, so there is no lag, with little to none of your power going into compressing it rather than turning the rear wheel.
As for the finish of the frame, it is a very well made and completed bike. You get full internal cable and hose routing for a clean look, and the whole frame is finished with a deep and shiny paint job.
You get the usual twin cage mounts for your water bottles, and in keeping with most of the latest disc-equipped bikes the Pulsium is running 12mm thru-axles both front and rear.
Groupset and finishing kit
The SL 500 Disc comes with Shimano's newest 105 groupset and it is a good one – as you can discover by reading Dave's glowing review of it here.
The gearing Lapierre has selected matches the intended use of the Pulsium: a 50/34 chainset up front and a wide ranging – for a road bike anyway – 11-34 cassette. It gave me more gears than I really needed at the lower end, but it's always nice to have a bailout gear or two should you need them.
Suffice to say, the shifting both front and rear is seamless and effortless, and even changing gear under load can't unsettle what is pretty much the best bang for buck groupset on the market.
Being disc braked equipped, the SL 500 uses the new 105-specific R7020 hydraulic brake levers and shifter setup. They are a massive improvement over the non-series models used on previous 105-equipped bikes in both shifting performance, braking power and shape.
The ergonomics are virtually identical to the higher tier Ultegra models, so are much more comfortable to use and spend time on.
Lapierre has gone with 140mm rotors front and rear, which on a road bike in the UK I have always found to offer more than enough stopping power.
This combination of levers, callipers and rotors works exceptionally well, and I always love the progressive nature of Shimano's braking power. They are really easy to control and balance, and locking up the rear wheel is very rare.
The Pulsium is adorned with own brand finishing kit which is commonplace on many bikes. A carbon fibre seatpost in a 27.2mm diameter adds to the compliance of the rear end, while up front you get an aluminium alloy stem and handlebar setup.
Lapierre changes the length of the stem depending on frame size, and this large gets a 110mm option plus a 42cm wide handlebar.
It's all decent enough kit and doesn't detract from the frameset as a whole.
Fizik's Aliante is a saddle that I always find comfortable so it's great to see the RS model being specced here as standard.
Straight out of the box, the kit here works well and I'd be in no hurry to upgrade anything soon.
Wheels and tyres
When it comes to the wheels, though, I would make some changes. There isn't anything wrong with the Mavic Aksium Disc wheelset – it's a solid option if you do tackle rough roads on a regular basis and they roll smoothly – it's just that they carry a fair amount of weight and a bike of this calibre is screaming out for something lighter.
I was testing the new circa-1,500g Edco Brocon full carbon wheels at the same time as the Lapierre, and with those fitted the Pulsium became much more responsive and nimble pretty much everywhere.
The tyres fitted to the Mavics are Continental's Ultra Sport models and again they do a pretty decent job of being good all-rounders. They offer plenty of grip in the wet and dry, and the rolling resistance isn't too bad either, plus durability is quite high on the list.
Being 28mm in width, they can be run at lower pressures should you want to give the Pulsium even more comfort.
This SL 500 Disc model comes in at £2,199, which looks quite pricey for a bike wearing a mid-range Shimano groupset and Aksium wheels, though it's less than the Specialized Tarmac Disc Sport at £2,350, which offers a nearly identical build.
You can go cheaper though: a similar build on a Canyon Endurace CF SL 7.0 will only set you back £1,699 plus delivery, or the CF SL 8.0 for £2,249 with Shimano Ultegra.
Even if the value isn't as impressive as some, what you are getting with the Pulsium is a very, very good frame. It is one of the most comfortable bikes I've ridden that doesn't sacrifice that bit of stiffness and firmness I like mixed in – and that is what you are paying for.
An incredibly comfortable endurance style bike with a racy edge to its persona
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Lapierre Pulsium SL 500 Disc
Size tested: Large
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame PULSIUM SAT CARBON DISC THRU AXLE
Fork PULSIUM 100% CARBON DISC THRU AXLE
Headset FSA 1"1/8 - 1"1/4 ORBIT C-33 44E
Bottom bracket SHIMANO PRESSFIT SMBB7141B
Crankset SHIMANO 105 FC-R7000, 50X34T 170mm(XS,S) 172.5mm(M), 175mm(L,XL)
Stem LAPIERRE ALLOY -7° 31,8mm 90mm(XS,S) 100mm(M) 110mm(L) 120mm(XL)
Seatpost LAPIERRE CARBON 27,2*350mm
Handlebar LAPIERRE ALLOY 40cm(XS,S) 42cm(M,L) 44cm(XL)
Front derailleur SHIMANO 105 FD-R7000FL
Rear derailleur SHIMANO 105 RD-R7000GS, 11s
Brakes SHIMANO SMRT70SS 140mm CENTERLOCK
Shifters SHIMANO 105 KR7020 2x11s
Saddle FIZIK ALIANTE R5
Wheel MAVIC AKSIUM DISC 12x100/ 12x142
Sprocket SHIMANO 105 HG700 11s 11-34T
Tires CONTINENTAL Ultra Sport 2 SL 700X28
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?
Lapierre says, "The flagship of our endurance road line. Outfitted for long days spent on the saddle, its 100% carbon, lightweight and agile frame will work with you during climbs while its integrated elastomer will ensure outstanding comfort on all surfaces. The Pulsium is a fast, versatile and extremely comfortable road bike, just as easy to operate on asphalt as on slippery stones. For this reason, it perfectly meets the expectations of today?s cyclists. Its patented Shock Absorption technology, through use of an elastomer, better absorbs shocks and dampens vibrations caused by the road to the relief of the rider, now able to put forth a more consistent effort over a longer period. The Pulsium SL 500 DISC has been equipped with the Powerbox technology for optimal transmission of pedaling power, as well as with a lightweight carbon frame for faster and longer rides. To complete this assembly dedicated to endurance and performance, the 500 Disc version offers a 11-speed Shimano 105 transmission with an 11-34 cassette and a compact 50/34 crankset for cycling anywhere, in addition to 140-mm disc brakes to preserve total control, even when the weather turns inclement.˜ The MAVIC AKSIUM DISC wheels, mounted with 28-mm Continental Ultra Sport tires, provide safety and braking stability, even over the most demanding courses."
This is a very good endurance bike thanks to sorted geometry and a very comfortable ride.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
The SL 500 is the entry level to Pulsium Disc ownership but there are two more expensive models, the Ultegra equipped SL 600 and the Ultegra Di2 shod SL 700.
The Pulsium is also available as a rim brake option.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
A lovely frameset that is very well made and finished.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Carbon fibre is used throughout the frame and fork construction.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Pretty relaxed for a road bike with slacker angles and an extended wheelbase for stability.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Our large model has a stack of 583mm and a reach of 387mm, right on the nose for this endurance style machine.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes. The most impressive thing about the Pulsium is its ride quality.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Stiffness is good in the areas of the bike that need it.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Very impressed in the power delivery for this style of bike.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? Neutral.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The Pulsium is a very easy bike to ride, with well-balanced handling. Ideal for when you are tired during a long ride.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The elastomer in the frame smooths things out nicely.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
All the components worked well together in terms of stiffness alongside the comfort of the frame.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
A wide ranging cassette allows you to spend more time in the saddle when in the hills.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
The latest version of Shimano 105 is brilliant, and the hydraulic brakes better than ever.
Wheels and tyres
Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so what for?
The Aksiums are a good workhorse set of wheels, bringing plenty of strength and durability to the mix, but the Pulsium is begging for something lighter.
Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so what for?
Just like the wheels, the Continentals are decent, durable performers but something lighter and grippier would suit the Lapierre.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
Decent own branded stuff paired with a very nice saddle. Nothing to dislike here.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
For a Shimano 105-equipped bike it's nudging the ceiling on price, but it isn't the most expensive out there.
Use this box to explain your overall score
An excellent frameset at its heart with a decent build, although I'd give it a few tweaks to really unleash the performance of the frame.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!