Pearson Pave£1,599.00

Sportive steed

BikeRadar score4/5

The name Pavé conjures images of ashen-faced pros battling cobbles in classic races such as Paris-Roubaix. It’s appropriate too, since this bike’s designed to take the rough with the smooth on sportives and long rides.

Frame & handling: Composed and capable; comfortable for fast, long-distance riding

Push hard for a gold medal time and the Pavé’s stiff frame makes the most of every pedal stroke, whether climbing out of the saddle or turning a big gear on the flat. Swing the bike from side to side out of the saddle and there’s very little flex from the wheels, which helps deliver precise and predictable handling.

The high handlebar position takes some weight off the front wheel, but cornering remains grippy and composed. The Pavé might not change direction quite as quickly as racier steeds, but it’s not far off.

In fact, you could take the Pavé to a road race and not be out of place. Although intended as a sportive bike, it’s lively and light enough for competition, but with a riding position that gives your lower back an easier time than a pure race bike would.

All-day comfort is important on a sportive bike, and to that end the Pavé has a taller head tube than Pearson’s racing bikes, helping to take the strain off the rider’s wrists and neck. We found our weight well balanced between the bar, pedals and saddle, and came home from long rides ache-free.

Unlike rival bikes, such as the Specialized Roubaix, the Pearson has no vibration damping inserts in the frame and the chainstays are on the chunky side. Even so, we have no complaints about its shock absorption. It may not smooth a rough road flat as well as some titanium frames, but it takes the edge off all but the sharpest bumps well.

Equipment:Mavic Aksium wheels and SRAM Apex, with a spot-on spread of gears

Pearson Cycles, based in Sutton in South London, sell the Pavé as a frame for £999.99 or as a complete bike with Shimano Tiagra and Shimano R500 wheels for £1,399.99. For an extra £200, though, customers can upgrade to the same spec as our test bike, with Mavic Aksium Race wheels and SRAM’s new Apex groupset, which has been specifically designed for the sportive market.

Similar to SRAM Rival in price and weight, Apex comes with a 50/34T compact chainset for more Alp-friendly gears than a racing double would allow. Our bike came with an 11-26T cassette, giving a high top gear for descending, but a bottom gear low enough to winch up all but the steepest hills. If a super-tough sportive such as the Marmotte is in your sights for 2011, the cassette can be swapped for an 11-32T to give an ultra-low, get-out-of-jail ratio.

Mavic Aksium Race wheels have become a popular choice on road bikes between £1,500 and £2,000, and it’s easy to see why. They feel lighter than they are and the cartridge bearings are buttery smooth. Bladed spokes help cut through the air and, just as importantly, look cool.

The components here are well chosen too. The 4ZA Sirrus saddle doesn’t offer the wide range of seating positions that you get with a longer perch but it’s very comfortable for an inexpensive saddle. The Belgian brand also supply the aluminium bar and stem. We found the curve of the bar comfy and were impressed by the stiffness of both components. This is race-ready kit.

Pearson pave: pearson pave

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