Hewitt Alpine Carbon £1950

Custom build all-rounder

BikeRadar score 4.5/5

Bike magazines and manufacturers like to put labels on bikes, whether it’s road bike, light tourer, audax, sportive bike or whatever. But there are times when it’s difficult to pigeonhole a bike precisely, and Hewitt’s Alpine Carbon is an example of that. Even when we asked Paul Hewitt himself, he couldn’t come up with a description for it. So we’ll try out ‘all-rounder’ for now.

We tested a steel Alpine back in 2008, when it came with a Reynolds 725 frame and was made in the UK. But this is a different beast. Steel has made way for a carbon fibre frame made in the Far East, and there’s a full complement of mounts at the rear (absent in 2008).

But some things stay the same. Lancashire-based Hewitt consistently makes good-looking performance machines with very good wheels, and the Carbon Alpine is no exception. It also still comes with mudguards, in this case Raceline’s DLX Reflex with reflective 3M strips.

The way the seat tube changes profile from round to teardrop shape won’t appeal to everyone – though had it been teardrop shaped for its whole length fitting mudguards might have been a little bit of a squeeze. But other than that there’s not too much going on, which isn’t always the case with some carbon fibre frames.

When it comes to wheels there’s not much that Paul Hewitt doesn’t know, and he’s gone for some classic handmade hoops here: Mavic Open Pro rims, Miche Primato hubs, 32 DT Swiss spokes built in a three-cross pattern.

Given our previous experience of Hewitt wheels they’re likely to last, and last, and last … (Cycling Plus product editor Simon Withers has been riding some for the best part of a decade without them requiring any attention). And being handmade, if they ever get knocked out of true they should be pretty straightforward to service yourself – no esoteric parts or tools necessary.

As to what it’s actually for … well the mudguards make it suitable for year-round use whether commuting or riding for pleasure, the 9.3kg (20.5lb) weight makes it light enough for fast sportives and the rear rack mounts mean you could take it for a spot of light touring. But whatever you decide to use it for, you’ll find it a very comfortable ride.

It handles quickly and reliably, bombs along on the flat and tackles hills comfortably, aided by its compact chainset and 11-speed cassette, while the Campagnolo Athena transmission purrs silkily.

Athena may be fourth in Campag’s hierarchy – and the cheapest of the Italian company’s 11-speed setups – but it works faultlessly, and we especially like the shape of the lever hoods, which are comfortable to ride on. The only deviations from the Athena groupset are the Shimano deep drop brakes, which worked well with the Campag levers.

This is a bike that’s plush enough for cycling on all day, faultlessly doing everything you ask of it. Long distance commute? Definitely. Sportives? Yep. Light touring? Just fit a rack and panniers and pedal off into the sunset, or maybe sunrise.

Ultimately it was hard to find fault with this bike at all. Even the saddle – a Fizik Pave CX – proved popular. We wouldn’t like to say this is the perfect all-rounder – nothing’s perfect in this world – but it’s a damn good attempt at it.

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