Lapierre’s X-Control range is down to three bikes for 2012, filling in an entry-level role beneath the new X-Flow bikes that occupy higher pricepoints. The 310 is the top model. On the face of it, it’s a slightly peculiar proposition, with travel, cockpit and geometry numbers that look like they belong to two or three different bikes. But everything comes together on the trail.

Ride handling: Agile and lively but slacker angles would make it even more fun

On paper the X-Control looks pretty racy (although it’s on the heavy side for a cross-country bike) but on the trails it’s very capable. It has 20mm more travel up front than at the rear and this makes a difference, allowing you to weight the fork and not worry too much about what the back end’s doing. The combination of generous cockpit length, short stem and trail-friendly 680mm wide handlebar makes an attacking, fork-first riding style feel like a very natural approach.

With 100mm of rear travel, setup compromises have to be made – you can have small-bump plushness but take some bottoming out, or tune for the big stuff and accept a stiffer, less absorbent feel out back. Lapierre’s shock forces further constraints – it’s not bad, but lacks the control and poise of, say, a Fox unit. We found that a stiffer setup worked best, reducing mid-stroke wallow and bottoming, but giving a less supple action over smaller bumps.

A firmer setup makes it livelier under power. There’s not much pedal feedback, and that works both ways – with nothing except the shock to hold the bike up under hard efforts, a softer setup can make it a bit mushy out of corners. A few more psi in the shock and the 310 becomes quite a ripper. It’s a steep-angled bike, but the mix of accurate steering, sorted weight distribution and suspension lets it cope with a range of trails. 

Frame equipment: Shock limits performance; good kit for the money

The Lapierre comes with a 120mm fork to go with its 100mm of rear travel, which although not a unique setup, is fairly unusual. Rear travel comes from a short-link back end and an own-brand shock that sits vertically in the frame. Up front is a RockShox Recon Gold fork. 

The head tube may be conventional, but there’s a press-fit bottom bracket to bring things up to date. A wider bottom bracket shell gives scope for a wider down tube, and Lapierre have used a flared tube that’s flat on top and pointed underneath, like a boat hull.

Component spec is good for the money, with a 3×10 Shimano Deore/SLX transmission mix at the heart. The Formula RX brakes impress – the feel is quite firm but there’s plenty of power and they’re compact and light. Finishing kit is mostly Lapierre-branded. The X-Control comes in at 13.3kg (29.3lb), which is a very good weight for a £1,500 full-suspension bike.

article was originally published in What
Mountain Bike
magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.