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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.

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