Tag Archives: bikes

Bike review: Lapierre Spicy 916

This post comes from my brother Chris Philipson. I am always keen to keep abreast of mountain biking, although I sold off my own 26″ hardtail in 2011-12 to replace it with a with a multipurpose Kinesis winter road / cyclocross bike. The spirit of that purchase is evident in Chris’ own do-it-all mountain bike, albeit he has gone for the best kit he could get his hands on.

Hasn’t everyone always wanted to build their dream bike? Since I was about 15, I certainly have. Well last winter, I broke my back (for the second time!) in a skiing accident, and I split up with my girlfriend – so I had a bit of time on my hands. I also had a refund from my season ski pass, and felt like I a project.

The build has some DH bits, and some more all-mountain bits. It’s a “quiver killer” designed as a do-it-all mountain bike covering both XC and DH bases, specifically for the alps.

This is not a complete custom build though. I bought a 2012 Lappiere Spicy 916 from Flying Fox. In 2012 you could not buy a frame-only from Lapierre. If you could have – I would have done just that.

I’d been riding a Transition Covert in the Swiss Alps for a couple of years. The Covert is perfect, in almost every way – but with the Hammerschmidt build I had, she was a touch hefty for long alpine ascents.

I guess normally, I wouldn’t change bits on a bike when I bought it – because it would get in the way of riding time. This time, though, it would be a few months before I could ride it. So I decided to sell some of the bits (Swiss prices! 😉 ) and replace them with my preferred choices.

Size and geometry

The stem on this bike is 35mm! Normally the shortest you’d go with is 50mm. This is the shortest available apart from a Mondraker style bike, that comes with a 5mm “on top” stem. They make their top tube longer to account for this – and with this medium size bike, that’s effectively what I’ve done.

Mondraker developed a completely new geometry where they extended their top tube lengths, but made an almost zero length stem. The short stem gives really fast, controllable steering.

And I have ended up with a medium size frame – instead of a small that I have ridden in the past. The small was a bit short, but this years medium was long, which suited me better as someone with short legs and a long body.

The longer top tube still gives you cross-country style climbability with you stability as well as more weight directly over the front wheel.

Groupset / drivetrain

I’ve gone for the 2×10 Shimano XTR the bike was specced with. If I was in the UK I’d go for a 1x set up, but over here in Europe, a 2x works a treat because there is more climbing.

Unfortunately there was a design fault on the mech hanger on previous Spicys – they only had one bolt. My first day riding it in Zermatt, and I hit the rear mech on a rock, damaging the frame. Thankfully Flying Fox (and Steve at Hotlines) were legends with the warranty, and sorted me out with a 2012 rear end to tide me over, and then a 2013 frame. Lappy have now sorted it, and changed the hanger to a more standard 2 bolt design (like everyone else!).

Lapierre Spicy 916 build
With the XTR shadow rear mech, its arguable whether a chain device is even needed. I was used to having everything locked in place with the Hammerschimdt gearbox on my Covert, so I decided to add a CGuide from Bionicon. A legendary bit of kit that matches perfectly with the shadow rear mech. The only problem then was protecting the chainrings (and the XTR ones aren’t cheap to replace!)

Lapierre Spicy 916 build
I went for a carbon bash guard from Carbocage. It was designed to pair up with their single ring guide – but they were happy to sell it on its own. It required a fair bit of filing to get it flush enough with the frame for the 2x set up, but that combined with a couple plastic washers (from an e-13 bottom bracket and crankset), and it fitted a treat. I couldn’t really find many bash guards that would fit with the XTR 2x set up. If their Saint one comes out I might try that too. The Carbocage one does slide over rocks nicely though.


The Spicy came with Formula The One discs. I’d had them on my Covert before, and I’m pretty happy with them. They are nice and light, but a touch on the flimsy side. My biggest gripe is the cost of spare parts. If I had to replace them I’d perhaps go for Hope M4’s for their sturdiness and more sensibly priced spares. I upgraded the discs to floating rotors because the heat dissipation helps a lot on long alpine descents. They were silly priced though – and I used Hope titanium bolts instead of the formula ones because they were about half the price – you cant have rusty bits on a bike this bling! 😉

Lapierre Spicy 916 build

I had been pondering a Whyte 146, so I couldn’t help reading about the carbon Haven wheels. Silly price though, so I couldn’t allow it. That was until I spotted a set massively reduced, and I realized selling the new aluminum set would get close to paying for them.

Marsh Guard is such an easy and light solution to mud in the face I thought I’d give it a try. I accidently ended up with two, so I thought I’d try one on the back and see if my riding pack ends up any less wet. It’s probably not worth having on the back though.

Finishing kit

The specced 711mm Easton carbon Haven bar was changed to a 750mm Easton Carbon Havoc bar – that was a no brainer.

The 70mm Haven stem was ditched for a 35mm Havoc. This was a tricky one, I was trying to make the the length as similar as possible to my Covert – and I do like a short stem, but I was worried that this was perhaps a bit too short.


Seatpost – I couldn’t resist making use of the stealth cable routing on the 2013 Spicy frame. The stealth reverb adjustable seatpost comes in a 150mm extension model – which measured up exactly right for me and on a 160mm travel bike it makes sooo much difference. You can pedal uphill with full leg stretch then slam it down into downhill mode easily. 

The internal cable routing of the Spicy is just perfect. The frame came with a cable run through to make the reverb routing easy. The little plastic clips that you get with the reverb were perfect for making the front end super neat.

Contact points – pedals, saddle and grips

My previous pedals had died, so I couldn’t resist going for the Hope F20’s. I’ve left the centre to pin spots free, to give them a touch of a concave feel. The hope grip doctors pair up nicely with the ESI silicone grips and help protect the carbon bars.

Lapierre Spicy 916 build

The ESI Silicon grips are not lock ons. They are super grippy and more shock absorbing, but also way lighter than lock ons. This enabled me to add Hope end plugs.

So far I’m pretty happy with the Fizik Gobi saddle – and I’m resisting the carbon model!


I do like the compression adjust on the Fox 36 Floats, compared to the previous oil bath model I had. Had I been choosing I’d be giving the Boss deville forks a closer look mind!

Easton have just announced a free upgrade to new bearings and spacer kit – which should eliminate problems with the bearings wearing out due to the Preload adjuster either unthreading or being set slightly wrong. I’m looking forward to fitting mine as I already have a slight play in my bearings. No- I don’t have an excuse to rebuild the Haven’s with gunsomoke Hope Pro2’s though! ☹


She’s come in at bang on 12.6 Kilos (27 pounds). OK, I’ll admit it, I’m a weight weeny, and many may say that I’d get more advantage by loosing some weight myself. It’s true, but I did loose the same amount as the difference between my Covert/Hammerschmidt build at 15.5kgs.

All the hardware I could possibly change is Ti!

She was named after the Malaysian for chilli sauce – Sambal. Spicy – gettit?

Lapierre Spicy 916 build


Bike ‘review’: Felt AR5

I got a loan of this from my mate Pedro at Flying Fox Bikes in Alva. The Felt AR5, or ‘felt arse’ as it has affectionately come to be known locally, is an aerodynamic road bike designed to slice through the wind.

I’m no product tester, having only ever ridden a carbon bike once before, ‘d hesitate to venture into the subjective area of equipment reviews. But it’d be a shame to have tried a machine such as the AR5 without giving it a mention on the blog, so here goes.

Felt AR5

Felt AR5










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New Orange Five in Stirling

MTBcut, an online mountain bike TV producer, have created a video exclusive showcasing the new Orange Five.

The vid features MBR’s Alan Muldoon talking things over, trials superstar Danny Macaskill hill climbing, and DH ripper Joe Barnes cutting through the rocks.

Apart from the fact that the Five is adored by a lot of mountain bikers I know, this vid also piqued my interest because it features one of my local trails, Dumyat, a hill in Stirling. The way Danny Mcaskill gobbles up the big rocky steps is awesome to behold, but it’s good to see he’s human as he loses the back wheel on the dry, gravelly descent.

The testers also make short work of Glentress’ swoopy berms, but it was the display of skills on the natural trail that really impressed me in this video.

Thanks to Stu Thomson of MTBcut for the video. It’s running a bit slow on this blog- please allow it a few moments to load up- worth the wait- or try going to the 2011 Orange Five sneak peek on the Orange website, or the MTBcut facebook page.

Changing the bars on my city bike

I’d like to change the bars on my hybrid bike to make the position more upright. The reasons are to make it easier to see around me, to have a higher point of view and to make it more comfortable for cruising around at a lowish speed.

Ridgeback Meteor front end

I’d like to have bars like this:

Mini Brolley

Or maybe this:

Bike and Stuff

Velo Orange seem to be the place to go but are the parts ‘too nice’ for what I am wanting. Tried the local bike re-use centre but they didn’t have anything. There’s the Left Bank bar, “a bit wild” at a full 49cm wide.

Or the Montmartre bar, a narrow, 42cm center-to-center item.

Any thoughts on this? Compatibility is the main issue I’m concerned about. I’m a bit of a need to get calipers to actually measure the bars maybe.

Genesis Croix de Fer: a multipurpose machine

The Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative‘s winter catalogue popped through the door last week and I enjoyed thumbing through it, as I have done ever since I was into cycling. Alas, in these tough times there is more to covet than to earmark in the catalogue, despite the best efforts of EBC- the catalogue is supplied with a set of stickers to highlight desirable Christmas items.

The one item that stood out to me was the Genesis Croix de Fer- a cyclocross bike with disc brakes.

The thing about the Croix de Fer is that it manages to be several different bikes all in one. Everyday commuter, weekend road bike, winter trainer, summer tourer; on and off road – put simply, the Genesis ‘Iron Cross’ ticks more boxes than any other bike I know of. …I’d seriously recommend to anyone who could really do with five bikes but only has room for 1 or 2.

At the moment I have four bikes: a summer road/race bike, a winter road/commuting bike, a city/hybrid and a hardtail MTB. Despite the Two Johns’ mantra: you can never have too many bikes in the garage, my shed is full.

With a set of mudguards, the Croix de Fer would replace my winter road/commuter my the city/hybrid bikes, and give me the option of racing cyclocross on a fit-for-purpose machine. Which might help my performance.

In the tradition of the Velocast, this is my pick of the week. Now, where did I put that spare £999.99 that was lying around?