The unmistakably French Lapierre ProRace SAT is a completely new hard tail design that follows pretty much the same styling cues as the XR dual suspension. Here’s why you need one…
Words By Andrew Hill // Photographs By @VisualOutdoor
It’s not unheard of these days to get on a new bike a few days before a race and have to ride it flat out that weekend as if it was the bike you’d been training and racing on for months. The advent of highly precise bike fitting systems definitely helps the cause but fundamentally it shouldn’t be that easy in the mountain biking world. This however was not quite the case with the new Lapierre ProraceSAT I got onto three days before a two day stage race in the Drakensberg this past weekend and felt like a bike I’d been riding all year.
The ProRace SAT is a completely new hard tail design from the French company and follows the same aesthetics as the XR dual suspension released in 2017. The lines are clearly French and catch the eye of even the most uninformed non-cyclists, as I found out. The striking colours and intermeshed matte-gloss frame – bona fide eye-candy that continually turns heads before and after races… Even when it’s dirty!
On a performance side the 100mm travel XC race bike is not your average hard tail as I quickly noticed, the carefully tuned carbonfibre frame has an elastomer bumper which on the seat stay top tube junction point. Apart from the racing looks and cool conversation point this small piece of French ingenuity provided a super compliant ride over a the rough Sani Spoors trails.
The Lapierre designers say “the new ProraceSAT gives 5-6mm of vertical movement at the rear wheel and just softens up the trail vibration even when you pushing hard on the pedals or standing”. I’m always a sceptic when it comes to the marketing fluff bike manufacturers throw around the boardroom but I’d been riding the old Prorace 729 hard tail for a year and it was therefore great to make a direct comparison between the two bikes on the exact same trails in very similar conditions. This for me was the best way to compare the bike and see what the hype was all about, even if it was only in three days before the race. My first impression was the length of the top tube and how similarly stable the bike felt to my Lapierre XR dual suspension. The angle on the head tube is 69.5-degrees and rear seat stay is 73-degrees and, when combined with the super short 428mm chainstays, make the bike appreciably fun to ride on flowing trails and up steep XCO-type climbs.
My personal bike is fitted with new Carbon Cure wheels laced by the master wheel builder Craig Paul and provide the power transfer point for the new frame with the trail exceptionally well. I noticed a striking performance difference between the old and new straight away, the latest carbon layup in the 2018 frame technology is something we as the consumer often overlook but Yoh… I could feel the direct power transfer and acceleration from the first pedal stroke.
Back to the ride quality… I noticed the bike’s true capabilities when I had to climb with maximal effort in the stage race. The short kicker-type loose rocky climbs we encounter during races aren’t friends to most hardtails but the Prorace SAT just stuck and never struggled for traction even with my light racing tyres. The comfort of the ride was even more noticeable when we were bumping along a grassy section of track that was recently mowed. My old hard tail would have bucked and bounced along the track but comfortingly my new SAT frame was steady and held its own among the full-suspension bikes of the other racers. Notably the race was predominantly trails and animal track but when the race ramped up on the climbs I could feel the weight advantage of the Prorace SAT.
The Prorace is never going to be a dual suspension bike so don’t expect 100mm of rear travel to materialise out of the elastomer at the back of the frame but for a no-mess no-fuss do-it-all bike the new French machine was unbelievable in the trails and tracks. I think a lot of people are moving away from hardtails because of the racing in SA being particularly long but the comfort and fun I had on the bike over the weekend put some serious grins on my face as I raced to an overall race win riding what has quickly become my favourite bike.
The two models coming into SA:
ProraceSAT 729 R52 500
ProraceSAT 629 R38 500
Frame: ProRace Sat 29 ultimate carbon frame, with tooled boost 148mm rear
Fork: Rockshox SID RL 29, with tooled boost 110mm fitting, Oneloc remote lock-out, 100mm travel
Wheels: Cure 28h carbon 29 Boost fitting, XD driver, torque caps on front hub
Tyres: New renegade 2.1 front and back
Chainset: SRAM X1 carbon cranks with Csixx 36t oval narrow/wide chainring
Power Meter: Stages carbon GXP
Rear Mech: SRAM X01 Eagle carbon, 12spd
Shifters: SRAM XO1, 12-Speed Cassette //SRAM X01, 11-50t
Brakes: SRAM Level TL, 180mm front & 160mm rear, both post-mount fitting
Stem: Race Face LP. 100mm
Bars: Race Face next carbon, 720mm
Grips: ESI silicone grip
Seatpost: Tune carbon, 27.2mm diameter
Saddle: Selle Italia