Speed freak Andrew Hill’s Lapierre XR 729
Hailing from Hillcrest in KZN, Andrew Hill is a familiar face on the national mountain-bike scene, racing professionally for Team TIB Insurance. The 34- year-old racer specialises in marathon and stage races, so his 9.9kg Lapierre XR 729 is built for speed, efficiency and durability.
Frame and Fork French connection
At 1.85m tall, Hill races aboard a large XR 729 frame, which offers 100mm of travel. For 2017, Lapierre’s engineers reduced the XR 729’s chainstays by 5mm and lengthened the front triangle, increasing reach by 20mm to give racers like Hill snappy handling without compromising stability and control.
The XR 729 comes specced with Lapierre’s proprietary ‘ EI’ electronic suspension system, which automates the rear shock’s lock- out. However, Hill has opted for a traditional rear shock – a RockShox Delux RL, with manual lock- out – saying that as a weightconscious racer, he finds the EI system’s 350g weight penalty too high a price to pay.
Up front, a 100mm RockShox SID RL cuts through the bumps, with lock- out actuated by a handlebar-mounted lever.
Wheels and tyres Light/ Strong
This season, Hill has laced a pair of cSixx XCO 9series carbon rims to a pair of e* thirteen boost hubs using DT Swiss Revolution spokes, all of which translates into a super- light 1 450g wheelset. Hill raves about the cSixx rim’s quality, particularly praising the strength- to- weight ratio. The Cape Town- based company also offers custom decal kits, meaning Hill’s rims perfectly match his frame.
Specialized tyres are fitted front and rear, with a 29x2.2” Fast Track and 29x2.1” Renegade respectively taking care of business. Showing acute attention to detail, Hill explains that his ideal tyre pressures are 1.5 bar up front and 1.8 bar at the rear. Stan’s No Tubes sealant is Hill’s choice when it comes to mitigating punctures.
Groupset Old School
Despite the predominance of 12- speed Eagle drivetrains on today’s high- end race bikes, Hill’s XR 729 is equipped with ‘old- school’ 11- speed, with a 34T direct- mount cSixx chainring twinned with a 10- 42T SRAM XG-1195 cassette.
This is because the powerhouse would need a 36T chainring when paired with a 10- 50T Eagle cassette – something the current XR 729’s chainstays don’t accommodate, as the clearance is too small (though Hill does mention that 2018’s XR 729 will get a new link- arm that can accommodate a 36T chainring).
Hill relies on a pair of Shimano XTR M9000 brakes, which he describes as “bulletproof, while providing the perfect balance between weight and stopping power”.
Parts Weight Weenie
Up front, a 110mm, -15° Syntace Force F109 stem is bolted to a Tune flat bar that’s only 710mm wide, to avoid contact when racing in bunches. ESI foam grips provide a comfy grip, while a Garmin 810 records and displays ride metrics from a Stages Carbon GXP power meter.
A 31.6mm Tune Starkes carbon seatpost requires no setback, as the XR 729’s lengthened top tube keeps Hill in the ideal racing position.
A Selle Italia SLR Kit Carbonio Flow saddle points ever-soslightly downwards for maximum power transfer, while Hill clips into a set of Crank Bothers Eggbeater 11 pedals and stows his waterbottle in an Elite cage.
As every gram must be accounted for, a Relic Classic Ti bolt set saves Hill roughly 23g on the XR 729’s overall weight.