Lapierre Factory - the Land of the Fait Main

Apr 12, 2013 at 17:09
by Colin Meagher  
FACTORY TOUR
Cycles Lapierre
WORDS & PHOTOS: Colin Meagher

Far from Pinkbike’s World Headquarters, lies Dijon, France. To the general public, Dijon is the home of the famous Dijon mustard. To the culinary elite, Dijon lies in the heart of the Burgundy wine region—acclaimed globally for it’s rich red wine and classic French cuisine. But to bike enthusiasts around the globe, Dijon is also the home of Cycles Lapierre. 'Lapierre Bikes,' as they are more commonly referred to, has been in business for sixty five years. They are France’s largest premium bicycle producer and they sponsor race teams and individuals who participate in all forms of competitive cycling; from the Tour de France, with the FDJ team, to the UCI Downhill World Cup with its Lapierre Factory Team featuring Sam Blenkinsop, 2012 Junior World Champ Loic Bruni, and two-time World Champ Emmeline Ragot), as well as Enduro, with the indomitable Nicolas Vouilloz.

Lapierre is located on the outskirts of Dijon--a mere ten minute pedal from vinyards that produce some of the most expensive wine in the World. These vinyards and the forests that surround them are laced with trails--the same trails that Gilles Lapierre first tried mountain biking on.
  Lapierre is located on the outskirts of Dijon, a ten-minute pedal from vineyards that produce some of the most expensive wine in the World. These vineyards and the forests that surround them are laced with trails, the same trails where Gilles Lapierre first tried mountain biking.

Lapierre is best known in mountain biking is for their innovative full suspension mountain bike designs. They first made the legendary X-Control - a single pivot design - in 2001. Jerome Chiotti raced that bike to a French National Championship title at a time when almost everyone else was unwilling to race a full-suspension bike. X-Control still exists in a modern version, but today Lapierre is better known for their OST+ suspension - a patented four-bar system utilized on their longer-travel trail and freeride bikes, and for their proprietary Pendbox linkage design that is found on both their DH bike and the X-Flow trail bike). More recently, Lapierre created waves with the advent of their e.i.shock concept.

Heritage. Gilles Lapierre and his father Jacky looking over DH frames in the Lapierre factory. Jacky may have handed the reins to his son in 96 but his influence is still visible on the production floor as Jacky strode through the facility with Gilles he was greeted by name and a handshake by nearly every worker on the floor--never mind it s been over a decade and a half since Jacky s been the managing director at Lapierre
  Heritage. Gilles Lapierre and his father, Jacky, looking over DH frames in the Lapierre factory. Jacky may have handed the reins to his son in '96, but his influence is still visible on the production floor. As Jacky strode through the facility with Gilles, he was greeted by name and a handshake by nearly every worker on the floor - never mind that it's been over a decade and a half since Jacky's been the managing director at Lapierre.

bigquotesMy dad did with me what his dad did with him. He made me work in the factory, so as to experience all the stages of production. And I can only thank him for that... I did everything: built wheels, spoke lacing, and even welding, since at that time we were also manufacturing frames. So every time I was on holiday or around, I was given the opportunity to take part in all the stages of the production. - Gilles Lapierre

It was Gilles who was responsible for Lapierre’s move into mountain bikes. On a trip to Taiwan in 1987, he had his first exposure to mountain bikes. Samples were ordered, the local trails in Dijon were explored, and Gilles was hooked. “When I tried [mountain biking] for the first time, I was immediately convinced that it was [going to be] amazing and saw huge opportunities right away,” recalls Gilles. “I was used to riding enduro motorcycles in the woods near Dijon with my friends every Sunday morning. I already knew very nice trails and I asked my friends to test the three samples I brought back from Taiwan… We were all on the same page; that this was going to be the start of something amazing.”

Like most bicycle companies, Lapierre’s manufacturing has been in Taiwan since the early '90s when aluminum became the predominant frame-building material, but unlike many other bicycle manufacturers, Lapierre bucked economic trends by maintaining their bike assembly in Dijon (they do maintain some full time engineers and QC personnel in Asia as well). This was done for two reasons: a strong sense of tradition, backed up by business sensibilities.

At Lapierre they do not do an assembly line rather the components are pre-assembled cockpits wheels etc but the actual bicycle assembly is done by the most senior of the mechanics at Lapierre many with over 30 years of bike assembly experience. Here we see Jose Moreira a 19 year facory veteran assembling cockpits for the senior mechanics to use on the current build cycle.
  At Lapierre they do not use an assembly line. Rather, the components are pre-assembled and grouped (cockpits, wheels, etc), and the actual bicycle assembly is done by the most senior of the mechanics at Lapierre - many with over 30 years of experience. Here we see Jose Moreira, a 19-year factory veteran, assembling cockpits that the senior mechanics will use on the current build cycle.

Wrenching at Lapierre is definitely not a standard blue collar gig. Many of the lead mechanics have been here for over three decades. Only the most deft of these mechanics are allowed to do the final assemblies. It's a task that requires speed, attention to detail, and precision. These 'ace' Lapierre men are capable of taking the exactingly pre-assembled components, and building a bike that is quite literally "good to go" in roughly twelve minutes. Nor is this assembly something that needs to be double checked, as is all to often the case with other pre-assembled brands, everything - literally every assembly step - is double-checked and torqued to spec.

“Having bikes assembled here is tradition,” Gilles states in a matter-of-fact tone. After some thought, he then clarifies with, “Very frequently, my father and I discussed that we must always have a part of our production close to our R&D department…it helps us to keep a constant control of the different processes, including assembly.”

Wrenching at Lapierre is definitely not a standard blue collar gig. Many of the lead mechanics have been here for over 3 decades. Only the most deft of these mechanics are allowed to do the final assemblies. It s a task that requires speed attention to detail and precision. These ace Lapierre men are capable of taking the exactingly pre-assembled components and building a bike that is quite literally good to go in roughly twelve minutes. Nor is this assembly something that needs to be double checked as is all to often the case with other pre-assembled brands everything--literally every assembly step--is torqued to spec. Top left clockwise the badge of honor--a Lapierre Work shirt Victor Fernandes working over a bike in the assembly area The factory--all things considered--is spotless... Roger Pascal sweeping up at the end of shift work orders stamped as done at day s end senior mechanic Philippe Prandi working over a bike build--Prandi has been working in the factory for Lapierre for over 35 years Roger Pascal checking shifting on a bike build.
   (Clockwise) The badge of honor - a Lapierre Work shirt. Victor Fernandes working over a bike in the assembly area. The factory, all things considered, is spotless. Roger Pascal sweeping up at the end of shift, Work orders stamped as 'done' at day's end. Senior mechanic Philippe Prandi working over a bike build - Prandi has been working in the factory for over 35 years, Roger Pascal checking shifting on a bike build.

This theme of tradition, mixed with business savvy, continues to be the backbone of Lapierre. The Lapierre factory employs roughly 60 people on a full-time basis to drive the front end of the business, push the R&D, manage customer service, and to assemble bikes and some components (wheels) in their Dijon factory. It is perhaps best to think of Lapierre as a body: Gilles is the head, and takes an active part in day-to-day affairs. The engineering department, composed of seven full-time employees, drives the innovation as well as the look of Lapierre’s bikes. And the core is the skilled labor force who build the bikes in their 3400 square meter Dijon facility.

It all boils down to precision. Nearly every worker has a torque wrench close at hand. Nothing is done without being measured to an exacting standard of precision. And that attention to detail shows in every single frame that bears the name Lapierre . Top left clockwise The torque wrenches that litter the factory work stations all bear a patina of age. They see regular use Main image frames racked up awaiting final assembly. Gilles Lapierre beside a rack of frames. Pre-assembled cockpits. Matthieu Juaneda and another worker doing pre-assembly on a media bike Matthieu Juaneda tightening a bolt on a crankset Philippe Prandi using a drill to tighten a seatpost collar Center image Roger Pascal chasing the threads of a derailleur hanger before the final assembly.
  It all boils down to precision. Nearly every worker has a torque wrench close at hand. Nothing is done without being measured to an exacting standard of precision. And that attention to detail shows in every single frame that bears the name 'Lapierre.' (Clockwise) The torque wrenches that litter the factory work stations all bear a patina of age and regular use. Main image - frames racked up, awaiting final assembly. Gilles Lapierre beside a rack of frames. Pre-assembled cockpits. Matthieu Juaneda and another worker doing pre-assembly on a media bike. Matthieu Juaneda tightening a bolt on a crankset. Philippe Prandi using a drill to tighten a seatpost collar. Center image - Roger Pascal chasing the threads of a derailleur hanger before the final assembly.

bigquotesWe are a part of a big group, but still driven like a family company. That is the secret I think. When you come here, you feel this company spirit, and we are talking about ONE team. I am used to saying that I pay much more attention to the quality rather than to the quantity. - Gilles Lapierre

While Lapierre is always quick to explore new technology (like their cutting edge e-shock system), Lapierre’s investment in its workforce is a huge part of what makes the brand what it is. Some of the Lapierre employees have been working there for over three decades. It may be 'blue collar,' but working at Lapierre is a widely respected career job in Dijon. Factory workers are valued as a component, and not one that is easily replaced.


Building Wheels

Lapierre uses pre-made wheelsets from the likes of Mavic for some models, but most of their wheels are made here in the factory, The build is divided into both hand and mechanical stages to speed the process along, but final tensioning and truing is done by hand. The process gives Lapierre more build options to customize its wheels for various models and a greater level of control over the quality of the finished product.

It s a mix of by hand and by machine for the wheels--spokes to hub are by hand hub to a couple of different wheel building machines for lacing and tensioning to a final handbuilt assembly. As always completed with a torque wrench.
  Building wheels at Lapierre is accomplished by a mixture of hand and machine labor - spokes-to-hub by hand, filled hubs and rims go to one of two wheel-building machines for lacing and pre-tensioning, and the final truing and spoke tension is completed by hand. As always, a torque wrench is at the ready.


Sebastien Candat doing final wheel assembly in the factory cassette disc brake rotor and tire mounting.
  Sebastien Candat doing final wheel assembly in the factory: cassette, disc brake rotor, and tire mounting.


Laboratory Testing and International Standards

Every company that manufactures bikes or bike components has a slew of medieval torture devices on hand to make certain that each item that bears the company name meets or exceeds international standards for strength, durability, and safety. Liliana Morgado, head of Lapierre's safety testing, was happy to show off the crowning glory of the factory's medieval bike testing devices.

Every company that manufactures bikes or bike components has a slew of medieval torture devices on hand to make certain that each item that bears the company name meets or exceeds international standards of strength durability and safety. Liliana Morgado head of Lapierre s safety testing showing off the crowning glory of Lapierre s medieval bike testing devices. This machine has no name really. It s sole job is to test a frame for strength and durability up to and then beyond the international standards--essentially testing to what is considered safe for the public and then to failure to see how much margin of safety there is. Frames are selected at random from each batch to arrive from Lapierre s over seas production facilities and then put to the test on this rack. The test Slamming a measured force against the frame in imitation of the load a rider would put on thef frame. Rinse and repeat.
  Frames are selected at random from each batch to arrive from Lapierre's overseas production facilities and then put to the test on this rack. The test? Slamming a measured force against the frame in an imitation of the load a rider would subject it to in a worse-case scenario: Rinse and repeat.

The machine, shrouded in a green safety enclosure, has no name, really. It's sole job is to test a frame for strength and durability up to and then beyond the international standards by slamming it up and down repeatedly with massive weights attached to key parts of the frame. Frames are tested to what is considered "safe" for the public - and then to failure - in order to gauge how much margin of safety there is left.The green machine is not the only device that Lapierre relies on for testing their products. A number of other machines stress the frames and components in a manner designed to determine if the product meets international safety standards. Once those safety standards have been met, the item being tested is again, taken to its failure point.

Testing...testing...testing... The green machine is not the only machine Lapierre relies on for testing their products. A number of other machines stress the frames and components in a manner designed to determine if the product meets international safety standards. Once those safety standards have been met the item being tested is then taken to the failure point. Top left clockwise Liliana Morgado testing lateral flex on a Zesty frame. Taken to failure the amount of force required for this crack to appear far exceeds what a cyclist can apply in normal riding conditions. Testing the rear swing arm of an XR29er. Testing a set of handlebars.
  Clockwise) Liliana Morgado testing lateral flex on a Zesty frame. Taken to failure: the amount of force required for this crack to appear far exceeds what a cyclist can apply in normal riding conditions. Testing the swingarm of an XR29er. Testing a set of handlebars.


Racing and R&D

Lapierre’s skilled labor force is one component, but equally important is the R&D department. If you want to make the best, so the saying goes, you need to work with the best. Since 2001, Lapierre has worked with the professional road cycling team of FDJ. That means hammering the road bikes in the crucible of the European spring classics and the grand tours. For mountain bikes, that means working directly with the legendary Nicolas Vouilloz—the ten time DH World Champion who officially “retired” in 2002. But that doesn’t mean Nico’s lost much, if anything:

Around the world the Lapierre prestige is held up by the creme de la creme of the bicycling world. In road racing it s FDJ a division one pro road racing team think NHL Hocky or Premiere League Football only on road bikes . But what concerns Pinkbike s readership more is the product testing undertaken by their World Cup race team and Nico Vouilloz on the Eduro Circuit. It s their feedback that makes Lapierre bikes some of the best in the world. Images clockwise from top left Jack--Blenki s mechanic pulling a celebratory beer following a solid performance at the Champery World Champs in 11 single track--the essence of mountain biking Nico Vouilloz testing a 2012 Spicy at Whistler Bike Park Loic Bruni assuming the Junior World Cup overall jersey in 2012 Blenki in Fort William 2012 Blenki goofing off on the track walk at Fort William in 2012.
  (Clockwise) Jack, Blenki's mechanic pulling a celebratory beer following a solid performance at the Champery World Champs in '11. Single track - the essence of mountain biking. Nico Vouilloz testing a 2012 Spicy at Whistler Bike Park. Loic Bruni assuming the Junior World Cup overall jersey in 2012. Blenki in Fort William 2012. Blenki goofing off on the track walk at Fort William in 2012.

bigquotesNico could easily be a top ten or top five rider if he were still racing. I mean, this is one of his test tracks, so he really knows it, but still, there are two sections where he just drops me, and I have no idea how he's doing that. - Sam Blenkinsop during suspension testing outside of Nice

Nico works directly with Remi Gribaudo and Herve Layes, the two lead suspension engineers at Lapierre. They take his input and use it to tweak their two main suspension designs - OST+ and Pendbox - in order to maximize performance for the various bike models they produce. Nico, in turn, takes the test 'mules' out to his various test tracks and Enduro racing events to push the bikes to their limits. Once his input has been added, the Factory Team then puts the bikes through their paces.

At Lapierre it s not all bicycle assembly. There s a hell of a lot of R amp D. Remi Gribaudo shows off the prototype E-shock system mated to prototype 2013 Zesty carbon frame.
  At Lapierre, it's not all bicycle assembly. There's a hell of a lot of R&D. Remi Gribaudo shows off the prototype e-shock system mated to prototype 2013 Zesty carbon frame.

A lot of the prototype testing for Lapierre is done by Nicolas Vouilloz. But a fair amount of testing is also done by the engineers on lunch rides on the trails that surround the local vinyards. Here we see Herve Layes an engineer at Lapierre with a Harley Davidson habit putting the 2013 E-shock equipped Zesty Mule through it s paces.
  A lot of the prototype testing for Lapierre is done by Nicolas Vouilloz, but a fair amount of testing is also done by the engineers on 'lunch' rides on the trails that surround the local vineyards. Here we see Herve Layes, an engineer at Lapierre with a Harley Davidson habit, putting the 2013 e-shock equipped Zesty Mule through it's paces.

Pinkbike's thoughts:
bigquotesEmploying both engineers and professional athletes to develop and test new designs is similar to the methods that world's best brands operate, however, being able to tap into Nico's expertise, as well as the exhaustive product testing that the factory team has done, has been a huge plus in getting Lapierre's mountain bike range ready to take the next big step - the North American Market. That's right - Lapierre mountain bikes will soon be available in the US and Canada. I've had a Lapierre Spicy addiction going on 4 years now, and I, for one, can't wait to see more of their line of bikes available here in North America. - Colin Meagher



90 Comments

  • + 21
 A few weeks ago I was at the Taiwanese factory where Lappierres are made, this explains why I didn't see any of their frames in the assembly section. I bet this drastically cuts down on mistakes or damage related to packing and shipping, as well as maintaining more of the business's original French heritage.
  • + 7
 You bet... In France Lapierre FS frames such have a big reputation for cracking that it's almost become a joke... their rigid frames seem OK though
  • + 2
 * have such
  • + 8
 The French heritage has been sold to a Dutch company (www.Accell-group.com) a long time ago. Other brands from Accell group are Redline, Raleigh, Haibike, Nishiki, Ghost and Diamondback.
  • + 5
 Hmmmm I ruined a Spicy 316 frame due to heavy handedness, continual riding and lack of maintenance a few weeks ago. Frame was binned, but thankfully a new one has arrived, half price because of warranty! It rode so well when i had it and to be honest i have never seen a cracked lapierre frame with my two eyes, nor have i ever heard anyone i know who mountain bikes saying that Lapierres crack all the time. I think they're a great brand and the bikes ride fantastically. Salute
  • - 6
flag Spicy-Mike (Apr 15, 2013 at 4:17) (Below Threshold)
 I haven't ridden their DH model yet, so I can't say much, but, It doesn't take a genius to look at a frame and see how long it's really gonna last (new DH frame). Lots of thin tubing/sections and a few key weak spots are pushing durability to uncomfortable limits. At the same time I can appreciate the "French Design" that goes into it, that sleek performance driven design..but no one wants to replace/warranty a bike to begin with, or rather, invest in a bike with their hard-earned money then worry if they're pushing their bike too hard and hold back...

Performance is hard to get from any bike company. But getting Performance AND Durability is where you really separate the best from the good.
  • + 11
 I'm a 15 stone x motox DH freerider and haven't had any issues at with my 2012 (new in Dec 2011) 720dh, it's so easy to start the weak frame rumor mill. I remember when I was Kona's turn to have the "they just snap" sticker when the fact of the matter was they sold so fecking many the numbers just stacked up. I love my Lappy.
  • + 4
 i cracked my dh 920 rear swing arm around the carbon arch. and also cracked my x-flow 912 twice...
  • + 3
 The Accell Group purchased Lapierre in 1996. However, the day to day operations, etc are directed to this day by Gilles Lapierre.
  • - 9
flag wakaba (Apr 15, 2013 at 10:37) (Below Threshold)
 Accell-group. Lapierre is just a label for generic Taiwanese frames. FS are known as flexy, then they break. @PB: Faux News leaves a bad aftertaste. Fake products faked by a small multi - marketin disaster...
  • + 12
 You got some sour grapes, Wakaba, or what? Scott bikes, Santa Cruz, GT, Trek (except their high end road bikes and DH bikes), Giant, Raleigh, Specialized, Cannondale... all these bikes are designed in house and then manufactured in Taiwan. As is Lapierre. And they do build their bikes in France.

How is that faux news?

As to their being flexy--if it's your personal experience, that's a shame as I've had nothing but tons of fun on the Lapierre bikes that I have ridden.
  • + 3
 Being made in Taiwan if anything is a good thing. Dedicated working and experienced people who have built/designed/welded frames their whole life. Their CQ is amazing (for the right amount of money of course) and in the end allow companies to spend a bit more into their bikes again. Sounds funny, but from the latest trend of things, I would prefer if frames were built in Taiwan vs. America just cause of the problems that seem to come with US production.

But remember, in the end, it's not who makes it per se, it's who designed it and how much time/effort they invested into it. You could get the best builders, here, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Taiwan, etc, but if the submitted design is absolutely crap, the bike will be crap, no matter what.
  • - 1
 Lapierre frames are renowned for cracking, luckily they have a good warranty but it's definitely not a good advert. I know of 5 different lapierre dh frames that have cracked in the local area, 3 old style dh920s/720s and 2 new style dh 920s that's within a 30 mile radius and riders of varying abilities.
  • + 0
 ^ That's crazy...I know with the new design, there's that big chunk of material gone on DT. That cannot be good at all in the grand scheme of things. People said nay, but next day a pic came out of the frame snapping clean at that exact same spot lol.
  • + 1
 Yeah, that's a pretty crazy statistic! I hear that the DH bike can be a bit flexy, but that some people like that aspect of it--kind of like the way skis or a snowboard have camber to them. However, I've never ridden one. I have put a fair amount of saddle time in a couple Spicys (I spent a week on one during Crankworx Whistler last summer and put in 4 Top of the World Laps) and recently spent an after noon on a Zesty and they were plenty stiff.
  • + 1
 Don't get me wrong, certain types of flex and compliance is a fundamental in any kind of application, or things would feel way to rigid/uncomfortable or not handle a certain way.
  • + 18
 My spicy 516 is quite possibly the best do it all bike there is. I have ridden a lot of bikes but nothing comes close. It surprises me each and every time I ride it. Hats off to lapierre. They have made a truly amazing machine. I ride it like a dh bike and it hasn't missed a beat or threatened to crack
  • + 3
 You must be the lucky one? My chainstay is cracked and still waiting for replacement 6 weeks on!
  • + 1
 yeah? I've given it a hard time, although its only a couple of months old, where abouts did it crack?
  • + 1
 Cracked on the drive side weld on the back side where the tube is welded to the machined pivot arm and front mech cable guide boss.
If you know what I mean? Wink
  • + 1
 cheers bren, I'll be watching mine!
  • + 8
 It's a shame to see that french people are the firsts to blame a french company.

Lapierre is doing really good bikes. I was (was because it was stolen) the happy owner of a Lapierre Zesty: a great bike. Never had a single problem, no failure, no cracking, nothing. And I've always been riding roughly!

To clarify two points:
In the past, some LP frames had failure, but it's past. Nothing is perfect. Why would they do poor quality frames? And some "awesome" brands have the same probleme sometime!

"Fait-main" (handmade) may not be litteraly true, but they are using the legal sense of the term. They are allowed to say so, because the bikes are assembled in France.

Deal with it, haters!
  • - 7
flag EuanBisset145 (Apr 15, 2013 at 14:19) (Below Threshold)
 Glad to hear you like your 'snapierre' Razz
  • + 3
 JedNirvana, what are you talking about? It's not a shame, it's pretty awesome to have the courage and honesty to criticize the company for making weak frames instead of pretending they were bombproof just because they are french and you would want them to be, when they are evidentially not.

I know lots of french people who think that way you are describing and I have to give them right. I have had a cracked Spicy (bottom bracket) and DH920 (steertube) in my family myself, so I have any right to say that. But on the other hand both frames got replaced on warranty, and even though it took several months, I still love my old style DH920 because it's still the best performing DH bike for my riding style that I've ever ridden. I'm lucky to have gotten one of the last old-style warranty frames ever built, it seems to have had some special attention on the weaknesses and is still in best shape.
You have to admit though... you won't find a Santa Cruz Nomad or a Specialized Enduro having the troubles Lapierre Trailbikes have.

So take note Lapierre: Just do it right the first time, then you won't have to replace a gazillion frames within warranty and you won't disappoint all their owners, either.
It's as simple as that.

That those problems are still not solved as you are claiming in your national pride, was shown, when one of the newest '2013' DH bikes broke on one of the big jumps in Leogang(?) last World Cup Season and the riders had to take the chickenline from that on which was a big time penalty comparing to the other riders.

How about you just grow up and don't blame everybody with a well-founded opinion to be a 'hater' just because YOU think different.
  • + 3
 I broke 2 alu zesty frames both cracked from just riding, I have a carbon zesty at the moment and it is holding up fine, it's just over a year and a half old, the other 2 lasted less than a year before cracks started to show.
  • + 3
 Ok, I don't know how weird the French patent system is, but unless its like the USA system where anyone can get a patent for an already publically known design invented already elsewhere, even in the same field, if you lie to the patent office in your application...exactly how is the OST+ patented ?
  • + 5
 OST+ is a proprietary suspension system. The lower chainstay linkage utilizes a Horst link, but the upper linkage is proprietary and is protected by patents. I'm not an engineer, but according to the people at LP, the kinematics are similar in performance to a VPP type of system with chain growth working to combat pedal induced bob.

However, this article is about the factory in France. If you want to argue patents, feel free to take it up with Lapierre directly.
  • + 1
 How is the upper link patent protected? Jamis was using a swing link 4-bar horst dropout design for all intents and purposes identical to this ten years ago. Fuji still uses such a design on their bikes. All this time i thought stealing ideas and inventions of others to file for patents was strictly a USA thing but apparently the practice is alive and well in france. If you are going to do a factory tour PR review and they brag about their patented designs, it helps to know something about bike designs that others have done already.
  • + 2
 @ deeeight - It's usually not difficult to see what patents a company owns. Just go to USPTO.gov or search the European patent register (likely where you will most easily find Lapierre patents) using "Lapierre" as the name of the owner. If you want to know what their patents cover, look near the end of the patent at the patent claims. The claims define the scope of a patent. And until you know what they've patented, it's a little premature to offer blanket criticism.
  • + 4
 Yes i know how patent searches work. I am one of the folks who has been looking forward to the end of the horst link patent next week. I also know how little patent examiners actually investigate claims in applications before granting patents which are a revenue source for their respective government agencies.
  • + 1
 Like I said above; I'm not an engineer or a patent lawyer. Certain elements of their design at first glance may seem similar to other designs; however, in emails exchanged with the engineers and the marketing dept, it was made clear that the suspension system as a whole has been recognized and patented in Europe and elsewhere.

I do know that I got sidetracked while writing this piece up into talking about their suspension designs, and then pulled all that out on my initial edit as it was irrelevant to the purposes of the article; this article is a simple factory tour, not an in depth suspension design 101. Suffice to say it's patented and let the lawyers sort it out, is my recommendation.
  • + 3
 Don't assume that a European patent bars US manufacturers from using the innovation. The European patent system and the US system are separate entities. If you file for a patent in the US, it will not extend to any other geographical area except the US. A US inventor would have to file another application in the European patent system to get patent protection in Europe and vice versa. Also, in both systems, lying on a patent application in order to get around some 'prior art' would not be a good thing to do and could render the patent unenforceable and powerless. Moreover, a patent will only issue for new innovations. No patent will issue if there is 'prior art' out there that makes the technology not new. So something about this OST patent must have been found new when the patent was examined by the European patent office. From the looks of it, this OST+ patent seems to be a design patent rather than a utility patent which is almost a different ballgame. Design patents are based on the ornamentality and appearance of an item rather than functionality or some specific tangible innovation. So some unique ornamental and appearance aspect of the OST design may be the entire reason it is patented rather than a patent on the suspension setup as a whole. Patent stuff is complicated and fun. I would like to find this specific patent # and look it up to see what the intricacies are with the patent and whether it is a design type of patent.
  • + 2
 Apple lied about prior art on patents they've used to try and sue Samsung over cell phone features, and a judge recently ruled that the patents are now invalid as a result yes but it took Apple suing Samsung to get the patents actually re-examined. Specialized has lied to the US patent office a number of times including about how "big" an entity they were when it came to the fees they had to pay to maintain the patents they owned. Its not very easy (ie, it costs a lot) to get patents re-examined by outside parties unless they get sued by a patent holder first though. Don Richardson (the guy who actually invented and patented inertia-valve shock technology) keeps shopping his design around to bike brands hoping they'll license it, and then specialize will sue them so he can force a cheap patent examination before a judge. Specialized KNEW about Don's prior art when they and the dufuses at Fox filed for patents on the brain shock and terralogic forks BECAUSE Specialized was already in patent licensing talks with Don for his design. They of course, neglected to list this known prior art on their patent applications.
  • + 5
 Look deeight, my article is about touring Lapierre's production facility in France. It has nothing--other than making a passing mention to suspension platforms for which Lapierre is currently known--to do with suspension, patents, patent infringements, Don Richardson, or anyone else other than the people who punch a clock every day in Dijon, France. It's just a factory tour of a place that is passionate about making bikes. Really, really fun bikes. But still, it's about the factory and the people who work there. Nothing more, nothing less.

So why the drive to discuss patents, etc when they don't really relate (other than tangentially) to the article?

PB still posts user generated content. If you want to make a point about patents, etc, why don't you you write up an article about that? You obviously know a fair bit more about patent law, etc than I do, and I'm genuinely curious to know more about this topic.
  • + 3
 Amazing company. Jumped on board straight when they heard about our plans of starting a gravity enduro series in South Australia. Had the first round on Sunday and it was amazing. Some lucky racer is going to take away a Spicy just for entering at the end of the series. www.gravityendurosa.com.au.
  • + 3
 Not being funny but I have had my 2009-10 zesty for a few years now and its had some hammer and its fine. The new ones may snap and crack but no problems here. In the lasy few months I ave been running a 160 talas fork on it two with no problems and made the bike the best bike I have ever had.
  • + 3
 Dear Lepierre producers, why are you wrapping handlebars with a foil under the stem? It's the most annoying thing for me, when I have to unpack a bike... ;D
  • + 1
 As a professional bike mechanic with over 5 years experience working in a bike workshop i can catergorically state that no human can build a bike to and sort of high standard in twelve minutes as this article states. if i am wrong then prove it with a video. also the uk distributer of Lapierre do not carry spare 12mm rear through axel bolts which are a specific size for Lapierre, and if the suppliers cant back up the riders then why would you buy one of your bikes.
  • + 1
 Good article, awesome to see a company loyal to its heritage, people, country and employees "Respect" great team of people by the looks, I like my own ride but Ive always liked LPs for some reason, Ive test ridden both Zesty's and Spicy's and really enjoyed riding them, real nice bikes, awesome WC DH team too!
  • + 5
 Nice article ! Always good to see something different.
  • + 1
 Mine cracked, they're nice bikes when they work and my crack didn't stop it being ridden but its still not on. They also have a reputation for selling bikes in CRC private sales at below what it costs dealers to buy them, so dealers are refusing to stock them.
  • + 4
 The next big step? Lapierre bikes have have been available in Canada for a few years now!
  • + 1
 True; LP was available in Canada; but hard to come by. That will shortly soon change as LP is re-tooling distribution in Canada and is about to step into the US market as well.
  • + 1
 Yes, because the horst link patent is about to expire.
  • + 3
 Actually no. I initially thought it was the Horst link patent as well. But the Horst link patent never held them back--they would have had to pay a licensing fee for each bike frame brought into the USA, but that's it. In conversation with LP representatives, though, it turns out that what had held them back was finding the right partner to distribute their bikes properly. They now have that partnership in place.
  • + 1
 IF Specialized would have granted them a license, which they could have chosen not to, as they've done with many other brands.
  • + 2
 As I understand it, deeeight, that would not have been a problem for LP. Moot point, though. But if you'd like to continue flogging this dead horse, lone gun man suspension patent thread, feel free. Personally, I'm kinda over it.
  • + 2
 Mate snapped 3 2010 zesty 714s in 3 months on trail centres. Shop refunded him as not fit for purpose. He's got a remedy now.
  • + 3
 The Lapierre group do some lovely designs but I would like that Zesty frame in nude carbon Smile
  • + 1
 I bought my first full suss mountain bike yesterday, went for a Zesty 214. Its beautiful and on its maiden voyage didnt disappoint. Cant wait to get stuck in.
  • + 1
 Tengo la suerte de ser propietario de una LP puede que la mia no sea la mejor pero con la caña que le meto me aguanta muy bien. Genial
  • + 1
 I have my DH720 for the second season now and I can`t complain about a thing. It is the best DH bike I have riden. Cheers to Lapierre. Wink
  • + 3
 "Fait Main"
Because in Taiwan it's done with feet ?
  • + 1
 Clearly you have never been inside a Taiwanese factory have you?
  • + 3
 I think I misunderstood you. Correct, bikes in Taiwan are made by hand as well.
  • + 1
 hahaha
  • + 1
 With those testing machines surely they know that their DH frames flex like crazy! The bike has the sickest features but the flex is what put me off buying one
  • + 1
 It's designed to have flex. Some riders like it, some don't.
  • + 1
 9a se lache dans les commentaires là les frenchy! On vous vois moins dans les news sur les shop anglais Wink
  • + 1
 Really nice product, and only brand using in my rental shop
aixlesbains.takamaka.fr
  • + 1
 a verry stable machine in all stapes of riding dont need a lot reparation try it and enjoy it
  • + 1
 I'm pretty sure of the fact that they only assemble the top of the range models in France, not all the models...
  • + 2
 I saw all models on the racks, KRVZ. I chose to focus on the mountain bikes.
  • + 1
 Glad to read that !
  • + 2
 POsitive prop this or else!
  • + 2
 Too bad FS frames from Lapierre are disposable...
  • + 1
 I don't think my bikes' ever seen a torque wrench
  • + 0
 I wonder how many failed frames we will ve warranting this year. shame as they look and ride well, till they brake.
  • + 1
 i feel proud to have a lappierre now =)
  • + 2
 650b zesty plz :-)
  • + 1
 I love these articals. They make me realise how shit my own job is.
  • + 1
 Could make a really good time lapse build video!
  • + 0
 and, where is the factory?? i only see the assembly line...maybe in Taiwan??
  • + 2
 The frames are manufactured in Taiwan. The bikes are assembled in Dijon. This is explained in the article.
  • + 0
 I couldn't be arsed to read it all either, just looked at the pics mostly, my apathy is....meh..
  • + 0
 Why does the shock have that ugly black part on it ? It's like the shock don't fit eye to eye so why not move the mounts ?
  • + 1
 The front triangle of the Zesty is shared by the Spicy. Carbon molds are incredibly expensive to produce. By using the same front triangle, LP was able to save a substantial amount of money in their initial production. That shock link allows them to use that same front triangle for both models, but to use a shock that is optimized for the rear travel and leverage ratios of the two different models.
  • + 1
 Great seeing what work went into my Spicy. Awesome bike.
  • + 1
 They are simply sexy. LPs are just good looking and good bikes. Period.
  • + 1
 I would really wanna ride a zesty somedayBig Grin
  • + 0
 Great photos!!! But for the title, it will be "Fait à la main"
  • + 0
 I want more short suspension slopestyle bikes pls Frown
  • - 1
 French or Italian?
  • + 1
 French
  • + 1
 One drives Tanks backwards, the other a surrender monkey.
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