Before racing was cut short, FDJ riders have been spotted racing new prototype Lapierre Aircode Disc DRS aero road & Lapierre Aerostorm Disc DRS time trial bikes at Paris-Nice. French pro team Groupama-FDJ & their French-made bike sponsor have both been long holdouts in the use of rim brakes for professional road racing, only having raced the lightweight Xelius SL with discs last season. That looks set to change this season, with a few FDJ riders now rocking disc brakes.
Lapierre Aircode Disc DRS prototype aero road bike
Lapierre & FDJ have an almost two decade partnership that the French bikemaker says culminated over the last five years to unprecedented collaboration between R&D and the pro riders. After having already developed the lightweight Xelius target towards climber Thibault Pinot, it was time the all-rounder rouleurs & sprinters got a new aero road bike. The new Aircode DRS finally leaves rim brakes behind, with aerodynamics and modern road standards in mind.
Lapierre remains short on the technical details, promising more data on “geometry, aerodynamic gains, stiffness, etc.” later this spring, towards the beginning of summer when the Aircode gets its official launch.
Lapierre has confirmed that the new Aircode is a more aerodynamic frame than before, even using a new UD carbon manufacturing process. A new one-piece monocoque has apparently given Lapierre more control over frame weight. And while they don’t say it is lighter than before, they talk about finding a better weight balance.
The new aero bike is now optimized for comfort, not just speed, and gets “completely redesigned geometry”. That new geo is said to be “more aggressive” with a shorter rear end and re-optimized stack:reach ratios across the full size range.
Beyond that, for now we can pick up on a number of other new changes…
Aircode DRS prototype – Tech details
The name is the first thing, the old rim brake Aircode got an SL (super light) designation, but this new disc brake model goes DRS. That’s Lapierre code for Drag Reduction System, their combination of CFD-designed, then wind tunnel-tested airfoil tube shaping throughout, and fully integrated cockpits.
Of course the name doesn’t include Disc like all prior Lapierre disc brake equipped road bikes did, confirming the switch to “the new standard within the professional peloton now adopted by the Groupama-FDJ riders”.
Stefan Küng who raced the unmarked white prototype at Paris-Nice spoke of the noticeably improved aerodynamics, saying “I even feel like it’s pushing me to go faster and faster. It’s also a more comfortable bike than the previous, especially on bad roads. It’s the perfect combination to approach the Classics with performance.” Now, with many of the Classics on-hold or being rescheduled, we’ll have to wait until he gets a chance to put it to the cobbled test.
Talk of cobble racing also suggests more tire clearance & comfort. The bike we have detail photos of is running 25mm Conti Competition Pro Ltd tubulars. But while there is not a ton of extra space in the frame or fork, 28mm tires will surely fit, and probably 30s too.
As for comfort, it sticks with a conventional clamp for the aero section seatpost, although it is recessed to be flush with the toptube.
But then, the seatstays bypass the seattube like the Xelius SL to allow for more vertical flex.
The bike does feature fully internal cable routing, with a custom 3D-printed spacer above the internal headset guiding cables from the more conventional PRO cockpits on the team bikes. The new Aircode DRS does appear to use a pressfit bottom bracket, flat mount disc brakes & 12mm thru-axles (with QR axles for the team.)
As for more than that, we’ll have to wait a few months until Lapierre is willing to share more. But there’s plenty more new aero bike tech to see…
Lapierre Aerostorm Disc DRS prototype time trial bike
Concrete details are even thinner on the prototype Lapierre Aerostorm Disc DRS time trial bike. While at least three rides raced at Paris-Nice on the new Aircode DRS, only Stefan Küng & Thibaut Pinot rode the TT prototype. The rest were on the current rim brake Aerostorm DRS FDJ. These gloss black Aerostorm Disc DRS prototypes though show several significant changes besides the direct move to disc brakes…
While the forthcoming bike shares the same basic profile of the current model, the rear end is all new. From the back of the same aero seatpost (the only element that retains the current Lapierre logos), the new disc brake bike drops the sharp rear edge, in favor of a chopped Kamm tail-like seattube profile. The small winglet that smooths air spinning off the rear wheel remains, but now it is a part of the whole frame, instead of a bolt-on brake cover. the new bike also now includes a port for the Di2 controller, just above the mount for the aero bottle cage.
Up front, the profile looks familiar, but the new Aerostorm Disc DRS gets rid of the external headtube/brake cover that Lapierre previously employed to get around the old UCI 3:1 regulations. Now the headtube is much deeper in section, allowing for smoothed airflow from the cockpit & fork.
The FDJ bikes are also set up with a Lapierre DRS aero base bar and what are likely prototype PRO aero bars that mold armrests directly into the vertical supports, and get apparent fixed extensions.
The new bikes’ seatstays themselves are all together reshaped, using a deeper airfoil profile that smoothly transitions into a dropped, horizontal meeting at the deeper seattube. With the move to thru-axles, the dropout gets wider & more curvaceous, also moving to a direct-mount hanger for the teams’ Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 derailleurs.
Now we wait and see when Lapierre will give us more info on this prototype, and maybe Shimano more on their prototype TT cockpit!