Pearson HammerAndTongs  £2500.00

7/10

Great handling and superbly finished road bike from the longest running bike shop in the world

Weight 7400g   Contact  www.pearsoncycles.co.uk

by David Arthur   October 21, 2012  

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.

Verdict

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

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
7/10

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.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
6/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
7/10

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
8/10

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels and tyres for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for weight:
 
7/10

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
7/10

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes.

Would you consider buying the bike? Yes.

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes.

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
6/10

Overall rating: 7/10

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,

 

15 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

genuine question, is this a generic chinese frame with a flash paint job or has this been designed / built by the company?

posted by russyparkin [579 posts]
21st October 2012 - 21:34

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Who actually makes the frames?

Sean

posted by seanieh66 [193 posts]
22nd October 2012 - 2:07

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the frame is almost definitely made in china/taiwan, but whether its Pearson's design or a catalogue frame is another question.

posted by mhtt [42 posts]
22nd October 2012 - 21:46

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Well yeah the frame is almost definitely made in Taiwan or China cos that's where the vast majority of the world's carbon frames come from - with the exception of Look, Time, Cyfac, De Rosa and some of the other Italian boutique brans, Parlee, and the very top end Treks. Last time I checked Storck didn't make their frames in Taiwan or China, but that's cos they have their own factory in Indonesia.

I'd have to say that being made in Taiwan or China - particularly the former, but increasingly the latter too is pretty much a nailed on badge of quality. The Taiwanese have very much moved in to high end manufacture - they make a lot of bikes and the do it well too, which is why they continue to get the business.

You can have a bike made in the Far East to your design with your mould or you can buy a generic open mould and have your decals put on it - both approaches will give you a good bike if you know what you're doing. The halfway house - which is what Pearson and a lot of other smaller, medium sized… and yes even large brands do is to go open mould but spec what you want - there are a LOT of moulds to choose from - that way you get much more control over things like geometry and sizing - even tube profiles etc.

A skillful bike designer can put together a really good distinctive bike with specific handling traits and ride qualities which is what Pearson have tried to do here and from what Dave has said they've succeeded too.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4134 posts]
22nd October 2012 - 22:37

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thats more what i meant, of course i expected it to be made there. open mould was the term i should have used. its a bit naughty but i suppose very enterprising. buy a generic carbon frame, £200 ish, get a paint job designed and painted £100 ish. sell it for £1500.

i dont mind it from planet x and Ribble at least they give you a full bike for it.

hmmm

posted by russyparkin [579 posts]
23rd October 2012 - 21:01

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oh and just to be clear i have no objection to china/taiwan frames. i would argue they have more frame building experience than anyone these days.

i object to pop-up 'british brands' taking the pi$$

posted by russyparkin [579 posts]
23rd October 2012 - 21:03

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Pearson are hardly "pop-up". They, along with many other brands in the steel frame days ha their spec sent over to steel frame builders for their brand of bikes. Those builders used to be in the uk but are mostly gone now. Where else can you get a bike frame from other than the Far East? Would you rather Pearson shut up shop because there's no one building carbon frames in the uk?

posted by Nick T [779 posts]
24th October 2012 - 21:43

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Also, that matching Sportful Bodyfit short and sock combo is a winner. What shoes are they?

posted by Nick T [779 posts]
24th October 2012 - 22:00

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i have said there i have no objection to where the frame is made.

its the whole open mould thing i dont like. essentially you could buy any frame and get it sprayed up and call it NickT Bikes.

its just very naughty / clever i suppose.

posted by russyparkin [579 posts]
24th October 2012 - 22:07

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Then why would Pearson being a "British brand" be an issue? When you bought a Pearson or a Falcon or whatever in days of yore it wasn't made in the back of the shop, but in a bloke's shed in Barnsley, using tubing he bought from Reynolds or Columbus or somewhere like that. The bike game has moved on though, and if you want a carbon frame that doesn't cost over 2 and a half grand you need to pool together the design costs and choose a shape that's been proven to work. That open mould can still be filled with your own choice of carbon, 60 Ton, Toray, volcanic ash infused or whatever, in any layup you ask for. The paint job doesn't show you how many layers are underneath and what directions each of them face - probably having a bigger effect on the ride than the shape of the frame to be honest.

posted by Nick T [779 posts]
24th October 2012 - 22:22

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Nick T wrote:
What shoes are they?

Suplest I think. Evans has them.

Noli porcum linguere

captain_slog's picture

posted by captain_slog [267 posts]
24th October 2012 - 22:37

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Nick T wrote:
Also, that matching Sportful Bodyfit short and sock combo is a winner. What shoes are they?

They're these bad boys, Nick T...

http://road.cc/content/review/60464-suplest-streetracing-carbon-road-shoe

posted by Mat Brett [1854 posts]
24th October 2012 - 22:40

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Nice one, cheers guys.

posted by Nick T [779 posts]
25th October 2012 - 10:50

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Shallow I may be but Love the "Pearson" typescript, the name, and the 150 year label.

Build it with Di2 and it's on the short list.

cheers m'dears

2011 Rose Pro-SL 3000 Road
2006 Lemond Alpe d'Huez Broken
1997 Marin Sausaulito Urban bimbling/shopper
1980 Orbea project

daviddb's picture

posted by daviddb [120 posts]
25th October 2012 - 11:31

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This gets a really good review, but only 3.5 stars. What would you improve if you could David?

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3073 posts]
14th December 2012 - 11:22

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