Field Test: Lapierre XRM 8.9 – Firm French Flier

Field Test: Lapierre XRM 8.9 - Firm French Flier
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Lapierre XRM 8.9

Lyrics by Matt Beer; Photographer Tom Richards
Although you may be tired of hearing the term, Lapierre’s marketing team decided to go with the low country designation when describing the purpose of the XRM series of short travel bikes.

Although there are two frames in Lapierre’s stable that share the same shape, the XRM construction is slightly different from the XR’s “Team” carbon construction. If you’re going for a short-track cross-country race, you can opt for the XR series, which uses just 80mm of rear-wheel travel, while the 110mm-travel XRM is more suitable for marathon-style racing.

Lapierre XRM 8.9 Details

• Travel: 110mm rear / 120mm fork
• Carbon frame
• 66º head angle
• Reach: 440 mm
• 74.5º seat tube angle
• 435mm chainstays
• Sizes: S, M (tested), L, XL
• Weight: 12.0 kg / 26.5 lb
• Price: 5,199 EUR

Redesigned for 2022, the frame moves a 55mm shock through a seat tube-mounted rocker and the popular flex-stay approach near the release to reduce weight. Lapier approached the suspension design with parameters that eliminate the wattage and high BPM of the rider’s needs. A digressive leverage curve starts out very strong and softens towards the tipping point, ideally rising again at the end of the stroke.

If that platform isn’t locked down tight enough for you, additional cables from the handlebars lock into the Fox 34 StepCast fork with a Fit4 shock and Float DPS rear shock to really eliminate any movement in the suspension. I wouldn’t say they sorted well though, as the top-up, thumb-operated thumb lever for the drop caught us all a time or two trying to open the padlock, instead raising the post.

Checking out the components attached to the caramel colored carbon frame reveals a sprinkling of Shimano XT parts throughout the build. We’re used to finding their four-piston brakes on enduro bikes, but Lapierre opted to drop two-piston XT brakes and 160/140mm rotors. Interestingly, the overall weight of the bike is not as light as we would have guessed. The build is more performance than thoroughbred as a closer look at the specs reveals DT Swiss XM 1700 wheels and alloy Race Face handlebars.

For the price, the XMR 8.9 isn’t as shocking as the other boutique lightweights and their wireless gizmos in the test. You can get the XRM 8.9 for €5,199 by visiting Lapierre’s online store or one of their European dealers. The XRM 6.9, with mostly entry-level SRAM components on either side of the 8.9 and a fixed seatpost for €4,099, is Lapierre’s 75th anniversary special edition, complete with Shimano XTR, Race Face carbon parts and gold Fox suspension. expensive €8,699.

As mentioned, the overall feel of the XRM ride is compact, which is largely due to the uber-low stack height and short top tube. We went with a size medium, and while I can accept that the forward weight bias proved more effective climbing than comfortable, the overall fit was on the small side. Both the standing and seated riding positions are a touch tight, as the distance is only 440 mm. With the chainstays measuring in at 435mm, this worked out well for front-to-rear balance. While these are the same on the size chart, it’s something to consider for longer riders looking at large or extra-large frames.

I felt the XRM sized mid-sized 60mm stem was redundant and suited the bikes purpose and 66 degree head tube angle. On paper, this number is deceptively weak, as we’ll discuss in the descending part of the review.

The Trailforks Regions We Tested

Tests for the Lapierre XRM 8.9 were conducted mainly in scenic terrain Neilson Nord loop in Vallée-Bras-du-Nord and around the extensive trail network of Mont St. Mother. The Neilson Nord Loop is squeezed into a valley between a rock monolith and follows the edge of the Neilson River over the bedrock of the Canadian Shield and on navigable single track.

To cover all the bases, we took the XRM through some demanding rock gardens, root-infested turns and smooth singletrack throughout the test. There was a lack of variety in terms of trail conditions, but we never pushed the XRM beyond its marathon XC racing intentions.

VBN Secteur Shannahan mountain bike trails


Swing your leg over the XCM 8.9 and you’ll realize this bike doesn’t want to sit on its travel. “Compatible” might be the last word I would use to describe the suspension, even in the mountains. We often looked down to see if the rear shock was locked, but we wanted to remind ourselves what the XRM is all about: sending all the power to the rear wheel.

However, if you hit a smooth section of double track or tarmac, closing the lock-up switch unleashes the XRM’s full sprint potential – you may wonder why you ever need a hardtail. The low stack and short reach gives you maximum leverage at the top of the bike and allows you to really feel like you can rip the handlebars off the stem when going down the cranks.

Driving through tight junctions was like driving a Smart Car through a slalom course; turned on a dime and the front wheel never wanted to lift. I would point the finger at the smaller geometry numbers like reach, stack and wheelbase. Like the BMC Fourstroke LT, you have to be on your game—the body position is higher than the bike, and any lean or squint can change your line of attack very quickly, for better or worse. When the trail gets technical though, navigating the steep turns and treacherous rocks takes a bit of a toll, as the riding position is very compact and weighted towards the front.


All I can imagine driving the XRM downhill is a big-headed caricature of me leaning over. road In front of this bike, my pearly whites went straight to the ground. I have never felt this on any bike. Once you realize that you’re basically riding a hardtail, and you shouldn’t expect this bike to save you from any “Oh shit!” moments, you can find some rhythm.

That stiff rear suspension makes it a handful to try and maintain following it over rough terrain – it’s really laborious to travel and not comfortable, nor does the bike have much traction when it’s weightless, standing on top of a tipping mark. – then the termination changes from regressive to progressive. There’s good support and downward resistance, it just takes a good shot to get into the squish. Is all this worth a few fractions of pedaling efficiency? Well, check out the Efficiency Test for those results. I would say that in a real life riding scenario, on the trail, this suspension theory backfires and leads to a less responsive ride by not keeping the wheel on the ground.

The forward riding position is made worse by a firm break from the rear shock and Fox Fit4 shock. The fork works well on knocks and small bumps, but the Mont St. Anne’s World Cup XC course.

The saving grace here is that the bike is short enough to move your body position back and forth to balance your center of gravity. I have old school photos of me hanging on the back of the bike during the descent, but at least this time there’s a drop on deck.
Because of the bike’s short length, you don’t have a lot of wheelbase under you to play with traction in corners either.

On the plus side, the XRM was the quietest bike in our test, thanks to its cable-operated rear derailleur and rubber chainstay protection in all the right places. In terms of components, the DT Swiss wheelset was excellent with zero issues.

The same cannot be said for the frame’s downtube. Levy managed to spit on a rock with the front tire and punch a hole in the carbon drill pipe just above the bottom bracket. This could be considered user error or just part of the game in the XC world, where adding more weight in favor of protection is frowned upon.

All in all, when Lapierre set out to build this marathon cross-country tool, comfort wasn’t high on the list of priorities. You have to be sharp to keep it out of harm’s way.

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