The Cheviot SE has been a mainstay of Hewitt Cycles' range for quite a while now but if you're looking for a classic tourer it should be on your shortlist.
The Cheviot SE is a step up from the basic Cheviot frame, being built from Reyolds 725 rather than 631. Although the frame is off-the-peg you can customise pretty much everything about the build, which is one of the joys of getting a bike from Hewitt. The build we've got is pretty much standard but with a few extras: an upgraded paint job; better rear rack; and a lowrider front carrier (not included as standard) that bump the price up from £1600 to £1800.
The heart of the SE is a beautifully finished Reynolds 725 frame. I made a bit of a mistake in my Just In piece when I said that it was fillet brazed, it isn't, but in my defence I wrote that piece with the bike stood in front of me and the welding where the head tube and top tube meet is very, very smooth.
The paint job (enamelled by Autostrada Engineering) is really rather splendid. The white panels (optional extra, £40 per panel) make it look very smart indeed and the gleaming stainless steel drop outs are the sparkly cherry on the top.
As you'd expect, the frame has a plethora of braze-ons: three sets of bottle bosses; pump peg; dynamo boss on the fork and cable guides to protect the head tube. It's a semi-compact design, giving a little extra clearance on the standover height and a longer seat post.
Hewitt sell the SE as suitable for men or women. As Paul explained when I went up to Leyland, it's a case of making the bike fit the rider, not just sticking on some parts with pink trim and a women's saddle.
Fettled out with full touring rig the SE weighs in at 14kg on the Road.cc Scales of Truth - that's 300g lighter than the Super Galaxy I tested a few years ago, which had a 631 frame and no front rack. Mind you, there isn't much point fretting about weight when you're carrying a bike's worth of camping kit, beans and clean pants.
The drivetrain is Shimano Deore XT operated with Dura-Ace bar end shifters. Mountain bike components open up wider gearing options and the 22/32/44 chainset, mated to an 11-34 cassette, gives a bottom gear of just 17.5in. That's really tiny, even by comparison with other touring bikes I've tried. Cassette and even chainrings can easily be swapped out to suit, but it's good to see that the SE comes with knee-friendly ratios as standard.
I'm a big fan of bar-end shifters and the Dura-Ace shifters on the SE performed flawlessly. They're a joy to use, with a lovely positive clunk on the (indexed) rear shifter. You can use them to shift up through multiple gears, so panicky monster-hill-round-a-blind-bend downshifts are easily accommodated. You can also switch them to friction shifting, so even if your indexing goes a bit off you can still change gear effectively.
Touring bikes are versatile beasts and I doubt there are many that don't find themselves pressed into service as commuters or on the shopping run. The SE is no exception, you could use it for almost anything, but Paul Hewitt was at some pains to ask that we consider it as a tourer.
With that in mind I borrowed some front panniers and loaded the bike up for a journey across Dartmoor. Unlike the Tout Terrain I tested (and hated) a few years ago the SE is a nice bike to ride unloaded, but it's when you pile on the luggage that it really comes into its own. With four panniers on board the handling was excellent. The long wheelbase keeps things stable and after a while it's easy to forget that you're riding a fully loaded touring bike, even on fast and twisty descents. It certainly doesn't feel like a heavy goods vehicle.
It climbs well too, so long as you just stick it in a low gear and push against the weight. I found that the bike was impressively stable even riding up some of Dartmoors more challenging 25% gradients, without the vague wandering you sometimes get when spinning a tiny gear uphill.
The wheels are handbuilt by Hewitt - Deore XT hubs laced to Ryde Sputnik rims and wearing 32c Continental Touring Plus Reflex tyres. It's a strong wheelset, as you'd expect, and well suited for touring duties. I've always got on well with Conti touring tyres, they roll surprisingly well considering how sturdy they are, but for everyday use I'd be tempted to swap them for something a little faster, Gatorskins perhaps, saving the Touring Plus for big rides.
Braking comes courtesy of Tektro 720 cantis. At first I was impressed, they bit well and stopped smartly. After a while however the pads seemed to go a bit wooden. I've said this before about the brakes on test bikes - the standard blocks are often a bit dead and hard. It's not a big deal, but I'd be thinking about changing them for something a bit stickier, especially if I was hauling big loads on a regular basis.
The one thing I would change was the saddle. The San Marco Rolls is a tourist favourite and although it was comfy it quickly made my bits go numb. Standing up provided almost instant relief, but as I wasn't getting out of the saddle very often, using the gear range to climb rather than honking, I'd probably swap it for my usual Rivet or Brooks. As we all know saddles are very much a personal choice, so the usual caveats apply.
You could easily find a touring bike for less money, but you'd be hard pushed to find one with the same class and quality as the Cheviot SE.
Classy classic tourer, in its element laden for the long haul, but versatile too
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Hewitt Cycles Cheviot SE
Size tested: n/a
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame Reynolds 725, fork Reynolds 531
Hewitt Cheviot SE, Medium
Manufacturer : Hewitt
Model : Cheviot SE
Size : Medium (54 cm equivalent) 4 sizes available.
Colour : Anquetil Blue with White panels on Seat tube & down tube (Upgrade-see below), black Hewitt decals
Description, Hewitt Cheviot SE Frame, Reynolds 725 tubing, with polished Stainless steel drop-outs.
Stack : 535mm
Effective seat tube : 540mm ctr-top
Head tube : 1 1/8' Non-Integrated
Actual seat tube C-T : 480mm (6cm slope on M & L, 9cm on the S and 3cm on the XL)
Seat angle : 74 degrees
Effective TT C-C : 545mm
Full geometry can be found here - http://www.hewittcycles.co.uk/hewitt-cheviot-se-geometry
Other technical information
Bottom bracket type : Threaded English 1.370 x 24
Front mech required : 28.6mm Band fit
Seat post size : 27.2mm
Rear drop-out width : 135mm
Brake drop : Cantilever will accommodate up to 42mm tyres & mudguards.
Fork column diameter : 1 1/8'
Frame : Hewitt Cheviot SE in Reynolds 725.
Forks : Hewitt Cheviot SE Reynolds 531
Headset : Cane Creek EC 34 1 1/8' Silver
Front Mech : Shimano Deore XT 9sp
Rear Mech : Shimano Deore XT 9sp
Chainset : Shimano Deore M590 170mm 22/32/44
Bottom Bracket : Shimano Deore English threaded
Shift Levers : Shimano Dura Ace 7700 9sp Bar end
Brakes : Tektro CR 720 Cantilever
Wheel front : Shimano Deore XT / Ryde Sputnik Black / DT PG spokes
Wheel rear : Shimano Deore XT / Ryde Sputnik Black / DT DB & Sapim Strong spokes.
Cassette : Shimano Deore SLX 9sp 11-34t
Chain : KMC X9-93
Tyres : Continental Touring Plus Reflex 32mm
Tubes : Schwalbe Presta valve
Rim Tapes : Velox cloth
Handlebars : Deda RHM 01 Compact 42cm Ctr-Ctr, Straight, Vario or Butterfly bars could also be used.
Stem : Deda 01 110mm
Bar Tape : Cork Gel Black
Saddle : San Marco Rolls Black
Seat Post : System EX Alloy 27.2mm
Pedals : Not included
Bottle Cage : Elite Ciussi Silver x 1
Mudguards : SKS p-45 Silver
Carrier Rear : Tubus Logo Evo Silver.(Upgrade)
Carrier Front : Tubus Ergo Lowrider (addition)
The Cheviot SE bike supplied as above is standard apart from the following.
White panels on the seat tube and down tube. Upgrade cost £80.00 (£40.00 per panel). The standard price includes a full choice of single colour finish and choice of transfers.
Tubus Logo rear carrier. Upgrade cost £56.00, a Blackburn EX-2 is fitted as standard.
Tubus Ergo Lowrider front carrier. This would be an additional £70.00, a front carrier is not included in the standard specification.
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?
Although the Cheviot SE is the kind of versatile bike that you can use for almost anything, Paul was at some pains to point out that it's a touring bike and should be considered as such.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Beautifully finished, with a full complement of useful braze-ons, including cable-guides. Stainless steel drop-outs, quality paint job and white panels look good. Fork and rear triangle have clearance for 42mm tyres.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Classic combination of Reynolds 725 for the frame and 531 for the fork.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
I was slightly surprised by how low the front end was. Similar bikes I've tested in the past (Dawes Galaxy, Raleigh Sojourn, Kona Dew Drop) have been much more upright. However, it was very comfortable and I wouldn't be inclined to change it.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Very comfy - a long wheelbase and fat tyres will always give a plush ride. I can only assume that the fit also helps - it may not be a bespoke bike, but it fits just as well as one.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Fully loaded (back and front panniers) there was no flex or wiggling about.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
Given the long wheelbase there was a surprising amount of toe overlap, but only at extreme steering angles and I never had a problem with it. The front mudguard was set a long way back, presumably to accommodate fatter tyres, so a small adjustment would easily fix this.
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Stable, as you'd expect from a touring bike, but not dull.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Long wheelbase (2.5" longer hub to hub than my Dawes Century SE, 3" longer than my old GT Rave steel roadie) means that the handling is very stable. With a full touring load it was very good - I soon forgot that I had four panniers on board, apart from the obvious slowness uphill.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The contact points were mostly very good although I might be tempted to swap the saddle for my regular Rivet or Brooks. The long wheelbase and fat tyres make for a very comfy ride overall.
Not really something to be bothered about on a touring bike
Feels very stable, even with a full load on board
Touring bike = huge gear range.
All good parts and bar end shifters work superbly
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
It's a well tested mix and match of road and mountain bike parts. I loved the bar end shifters.
Wheels and tyres
Wheel weight isn't really an issue for a touring bike.
Tell us some more about the wheels and tyres.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels or tyres? If so, what for?
For everyday use I might be tempted to swap the tyres for faster rolling Gatorskins, saving the Touring Plus for actual touring or rides where puncture protection is a higher priority.
Bar end shifters are bombproof and so easy to use. Cane Creek lever hoods are comfy.
Simplicity means there's less to go wrong.
Cane Creek brake hoods are a comfy place to rest your hands.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
Everything worked well for me, especially the bar end shifters, but you could easily change things when you go to Hewitt's for your bike fit.
Anything else you want to say about the componentry? Comment on any other components (good or bad)
The brake blocks felt a bit wooden, but that's hardly a major problem.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes.
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?
You'll pay more for an SE than you would for something like a Dawes Galaxy, but it's a classier bike and the detailed fitting process means it's *your* bike in a way that something completely off the peg will never be.
About the tester
Age: 42 Height: 5' 8 Weight: er....85kg
I usually ride: Kona Dew Drop, Dawes Century SE, Carlton Corsa My best bike is: Guess SC1 scandium
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, Audax and long distance solo rides