First Ride: Pearson Carbon Pro Race£4,499.99

Carbon exotica

BikeRadar score4/5

Some bikes look fast even before you ride them – the new Carbon Pro Race from Pearson Cycles is one such steed. With its deep-section carbon wheels, lustrous white frame and colour-matched components, it shouts ‘ride hard!’ at the top of its lungs.

It needs to be as quick as it looks to justify the price tag – a cool £4,499.99. The kit list goes a long way to justifying that wallet-wilting figure, especially Campagnolo’s Super Record groupset. Also present is a Pro Stealth Evo one-piece carbon bar and stem that costs around £300 on its own, and Mavic Cosmic Carbone SL wheels that retail for up to £850. Your bank balance may take a hit, but no corners have been cut.

You'll be carving corners out on the road, though. The monocoque carbon frame and full carbon fork deliver alert, precise handling. Think where you want to go and that’s the path the Carbon Pro follows. Stomp on the pedals and you’ll need the quads of Mark Cavendish to get the bottom bracket flexing. What you put in, you get back.

The Mavic wheels are as stiff and taut as the frame. Sprint out of the saddle and there’s no brake rub, even with the blocks set a hair’s width from the rim. It’s not the lightest wheelset, though. Top-end aluminium clinchers typically weigh 200g less. You can feel the extra mass when accelerating from low speed or winching up a really steep climb and here the bike doesn’t feel as lively as expected.

Their stiffness is a mixed blessing, too. Combined with a rock-solid frame, the ride over rough roads is unyielding to say the least, but on the other hand any racer wanting to move up a category by the end of the season will love the Mavics. Wind the bike up to speed and their aerodynamic benefits become apparent. We lost count of the times we looked down at the bike computer to find we were travelling faster than anticipated.

Mavic's wheelset isn't the lightest but is easily one of the most stiff available: mavic's wheelset isn't the lightest but is easily one of the most stiff available

When you want to shed that speed, the Carbone SL’s aluminium rim surface delivers more consistent braking than full carbon wheels, especially in the wet. Those Super Record callipers play their part here. Squeeze the lever hard and the stopping power is exceptional. What’s just as impressive is how small changes in pressure translate precisely to the rate at which you lose speed.

The levers themselves are extremely comfortable to hold too. The shift action is noticeably lighter than the old Record 10-speed shifters, without losing that satisfying Campag click. We’re sure the pros and cons of going to 11 cogs will continue to be debated, but we enjoyed having a close spread of ratios without losing the 25-tooth bottom gear for climbing. Besides, one of the advantages of buying from a specialist such as Pearson Cycles is that the spec can be adjusted to suit the buyer, so SRAM and Shimano fans can be catered for.

Saddle, bars and so on can also be swapped, depending on taste and budget, using the £1299.99 frame and forks as a starting point, so with some more sober spec choices you could build up a cracking race bike for a lot less than £4,500. We’d be tempted to keep the Pro Stealth Evo bars, though – their shallow drop encourages you to get into a low, aerodynamic position at every opportunity. The Fizik Arione saddle is another familiar favourite that we can see no reason to change.

Whatever kit you choose, if you can live with its uncompromising ride, this bike is ready to go as fast as you can pedal. Weight is 16¼lb.

The carbon pro has a classic perch: fizik’s arione: the carbon pro has a classic perch: fizik’s arione

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