Back in 2010, we caught some backroom photos of Louis Garneau’s Steeple-X Cyclocross Bike. Why was it hidden? The model was ready to be sold in the far reaches of the world, from Canada to its large popularity in Japan, but it wasn’t ready to be unleashed to the American public.
Many consumers in the United States likely have some familiarity of the Louis Garneau brand name, although most will think of clothing rather than cyclocross bikes.
At last year’s Interbike, Louis Garneau finally unveiled its plans to re-release cyclocross bikes in the United States, and we got a first look at both aluminum and carbon fiber models.
Lyne Bessette rode aluminum Louis Garneau cyclocross bikes for a large part of her cyclocross career, including her partnership with the Cyclocrossworld-Louis Garneau team, and every once in a while you’ll see one from this era on sale. Now, ten years later, we take a look at the company’s Louis Garneau’s Steeple Xc-Elite bike ready to land on American soil.
Its Elite model is not unlike the company’s clothing in appearance, a bold, well-defined layering of black and white mixed with accents of red. It likely will suit the palate of many, but if not, Louis Garneau offers a DreamFactory custom paint job on its carbon fiber cyclocross models, ranging anywhere from $375 to $650 depending on how detailed you want to get, with the upper end of that price range even allowing you to combine gloss and matte finishes.
It’s not uncommon for a few brands to share the same mold and frame, and we’ve seen it with companies like Fuji and Bianchi. The Louis Garneau looks remarkably similar to another brand’s frame we’ve tested in the past, and like that frame, it boasts a BB86 bottom bracket and best-in-class mud/tire clearance out back. We’ve put narrow (1.9″) 29er tires out back. Up front, Louis Garneau told us that a 40c tire would fit its fork and still provide 4mm of clearance for the truly muddy days.
Because of the similarities to a previous review bike, we checked with Louis Garneau to verify if this was an open mold frame. Unlike its Gennix R1 road frame, which is built by the same supplier, they do share the tooling with one other (a European company) for its cyclocross model. Despite the fact that the same frame exists under another name, Louis Garneau reported to have had input in the frame geometry, including wanting relatively short chainstays and a 66mm bottom bracket drop.
When we first built up the bike, we noticed that the 160mm rotor was incredibly close to the chainstay (be sure to see the photo in the slider below). Louis Garneau said that the “future version of the frame will have greater clearance for disc and wider range of adjustment for front derailleur.”
The Steeple Xc-Elite comes with a build complete with 3T components, Shimano ST-RS685 shifters and hydraulic brakes, and narrow Vittoria XG tires, which are not the TNT tubeless version, but come on Alex tubeless-ready wheels that Louis Garneau says will work well with a tubeless rim strip (not included). With our “Dispelling Tubeless Myths” article at our disposal, you can be sure we will test this out in our review.
The build, priced at $3,299.99, is topped off with a few finishing touches, including a chain watcher for the front derailleur.
See the slider for more details, as well as the spec guide for the Steeple Xc-Elite, and be sure to stay tuned for a full review. More Info: louisgarneau.com