When it arrived, the general consensus in the office was that the Pearson HammerAndTongs offered all the ingredients for a fast and comfortable sportive bike.
Well, I've been riding the HammerAndTongs for a while now and can report that this is indeed the case. It's fast and flighty, comfortable over longer distances and the geometry is well tuned to the sportive rider.
Head tubes are getting taller on bikes aimed at sportive afficionados and Pearson have followed the rule book. A 19.5cm head tube on the 54cm sample is about on par, if a little taller, than head tubes on bikes from mainstream manufacturers like Specialized and Giant. There's a healthy stack of spacers on top of the head tube for further customisation, but I'd suggest getting the steerer tube trimmed once you've settled on your desired handlebar height.
Pearson may not be the most familiar name when it comes to choosing a bike but there's a really nice story behind the brand. And we do like a good story here at road.cc. Pearson is actually the longest running bike shop in the world, having been around for over 150 years, and in fact they're still operating from the same premises in Sutton, south London. It's still a family owned and run business, with Guy and Will in charge of the daily running of the shop.
About a year ago they opened their second bike shop in Sheen, west London and at about the same time they refreshed their range of bikes with quite an overhaul. Like the HammerAndTongs, they all have odd names like Goes Like Stink, and A Cunning Plan. Makes a change from being named after a mountain, or French or Italian words.
And boy, does the bike live up to its name. You really can go hammer and tongs on the HammerAndTongs. It laps it up. The frame, made from uni-directional carbon fibre with a carbon fork, is responsive and the all-up weight of 7.4kg – impressive for the price – really lets you attack the hills and push on into a strong head wind with gusto.
It's a responsive bike with a stiff front end and intuitive handling when throwing it around fast corners. The frame offers reasonable comfort though it's far from the most forgiving frame I've ever ridden. But it still looks after you on the longer rides - you know you've done 140km but you're not completely beaten up. A good measure of the bike's performance in my book. I can see it being the ideal companion for an attack on the sportive calendar next year.
Understated this frame isn't. From the loud decals on the down tube to the massively oversized tubes, it's one well built frame. There's some impressive shaping and sculpting of the various tubes, with a radically arched top tube that flares into the seat tube junction to reinforce this part of the frame. The long head tube does contribute to the stiff front end, with the fork managing to delay some of the vibrations that tend to work their way towards the handlebars.
The seat and chain stays are oversized in sections but both stays are very slender as they approach the rear axle which gives the rear triangle a little bit of compliance to smooth out the harsher bumps and holes in the road. But there's enough stiffness for impressive power transfer when you snap the pedals around and attack the hills and sprint finishes.
Cable routing has been kept simple, guided externally with the gear cables located under the down tube and the rear brake cable passing along the left side of the top tube. There's a regular bottom bracket threaded into the BB shell.
Pearson's geometry is a little different, low and long. I usually ride a 56cm bike but the 54cm HammerAndTongs has a very arched 56.6cm effective top tube (54.4 actual) paired with a slacker 72 degree seat tube to give a good reach to the bars. The head tube angle is a standard 73. Pearson alter the angle of the seat tube corresponding to the size, so the 57 has an even slacker seat tube while the smaller size has a steeper angled one. This geometry is Pearson's trademark - they've used it on their bikes for around 40 years in various different frame materials through steel, aluminium and now carbon - it's designed to get you up and down the Surrey Hills. The slack seat angle effectively moves the bottom bracket a touch forward and also has the effect of slightly lengthening the wheelbase - this is a bike made for attacking short sharp hills over rought roads - and Surrey doesn't have a monopoly of those in the UK.
Pearson like around 90 per cent of the world's bike brands don't make the frames themselves - the HammerAndTongs is made in Taiwan - which is about as good a badge of build quality as your going to get in a carbon bike. The two piece monocoque certainly look to be a top drawer piece of kit.
The result of the geometry and the tall head tube is that it places the handlebars very high. Which is great if you're looking for a bike with high bars that won't require you to have the flexibility of a yoga teacher. An upshot of the tall head tube is that the drops are more accessible. We don't see enough riders making use of the drops, perhaps because they're too much of a reach. Not a problem on the Pearson, because the drops are within easy reach.
As such I found myself using the drops far more, and once in this position it's a very fast yet comfortable bike to ride. On the hoods for cruising and climbing it's very manageable and handling is neutral. It's harder to really throw the bike around with verve riding on the hoods, simply because of their height. It gives the bike something of a split personality, as it rides quite differently depending on where you place your hands.
You can buy the frame on its own for £1,399 or a complete bike like the one pictured for £2,500. That gets you a full Shimano Ultegra 6700 groupset with a compact chainset and Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels and Continental Ultra Sport tyres. A full Ultegra groupset is an impressive thing, with extremely good shifting and braking performance that is every bit as good as Dura-Ace. No complaints there. The wheels too are a highlight of the build, with a good balance of weight and stiffness that nicely complements the frame.
The aluminium handlebars, stem and carbon seatpost are Pearson branded items and are made to a high standard. The stem in particular is profiled with a neat four-bolt faceplate. Topping it all off is a fi'zi:k Arione CX saddle, one of the most comfortable saddles available.
To sum up then, the Pearson is a stunning looking bike with a bold decorated finish that will certainly stand out from the crowd on the club run. It offers a decent ride that is a rival for many other bikes at this price and comes from the longest running bike shop in the world.
Great handling and superbly finished road bike from the longest running bike shop in the world.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Pearson HammerAndTongs
Size tested: 54
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Built for speed and precision with UDHD carbon; an oversize headset and reinforced bottom bracket ensure strength and durablity and added lateral stiffness offers maximum efficiency needed for the perfect sprint finish. The Hammer comes equipped with a full Shimano 6700 Ultegra transmission for seamless shifting, Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels are taught, lightweight and efficient. Pearson finishing kit with a fi'zi:k Arione CX saddle finish off this highly versatile steed.
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Ride. Suffer. Reward. The bike for those who go at it "hammers and tongs" cranking through the pain for nothing else but the love of it. The ultimate all-rounder for the ultimate all-rounder.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Uni-directional carbon fibre frame and fork.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Pearson's geometry is a little different, low and long. I usually ride a 56cm bike but the 54cm HammerAndTongs has a very arched 56.6cm effective top tube (54.4 actual) paired with a slacker 72 degree seat tube to give a good reach to the bars. The head tube angle is a standard 73. Pearson alter the angle of the seat tube corresponding to the size, so the 57 has a slacker still seat tube while the smaller size has a steeper angled seat tube.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
A 19.5cm head tube places the bars high and there's a generous stack of spacers as well.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
It's a responsive bike with a stiff front end and intuitive handling when throwing it around fast corners. The frame offers reasonable comfort though it's far from the most forgiving frame I've ever ridden. But it still looks after you on the longer rides, you know you've down a 140km but you're not completely beaten up. A good measure of the bike's performance in my books. I can see it being the ideal companion for an attack on the sportive calendar next year.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Handling is a little slower riding on the hoods but transfer to the drops and it's fast and engaging.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
A full Shimano Ultegra groupset is nice. The Mavic wheels are a highlight.
Wheels and tyres
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes.
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.