Pearson Compass Touring £1299

Silky long distance ride

BikeRadar score 4.5/5

Brilliantly versatile, the Pearson Compass is a fastish tourer capable of carrying heavy loads, but also well suited for day rides and weekends away. Unloaded it feels nothing like its weight and could easily double up as a bike for training and audaxes. Nothing fazes this bike. Just point it where you want to go, turn the pedals and enjoy the thrum of the wheels on tarmac. Mile after mile, day after day.

  • Frame and fork: Designed in the UK, made in Taiwan, very well finished in Britain. And absolutely ideal for 700C touring.
  • Handling: The impeccable ride quality of a classy steel tourer: neutral, smooth, comfortable.
  • Equipment: Solid, reliable Campagnolo Centaur kit and decent quality Pearson-branded components; elegant and durable.
  • Wheels: Classic 36-spoked Mavic rims and sealed Ambrosio hubs make a great team for smoothly pounding out the miles.

Modern take on traditional tourer

Pearson Cycles’ Compass initially looks like a solidly traditional touring bike. Steel frame? Check. Drop bars? Check. 700C wheels? Yep. But while it may resemble the Dawes Galaxy of old, and similar all-steel British tourers, this is a more modern, multinational machine.

Pearson describes the Compass as a bike “designed for the long distance cyclist... offering versatility and durability”. So, are the London-based company’s claims true? Weeks of riding over Christmas and the New Year period convinced us that indeed no porkies were being told.

The frame is very well-finished in Britain

As with other Pearson bikes we’ve tested, it’s a well coordinated bike with a sensible spec. We went for mid-range Campagnolo, but Shimano builds are an option. If you’re planning on taking this well off the beaten track, where Campagnolo gear might not be so readily available – we’re thinking the Third World, not Norfolk – Shimano might be the better option.

That said, the Campagnolo setup did work faultlessly. It’s perhaps not as smooth a performer as similarly priced Shimano kit, but the gear changes from the Ergolevers are solid and totally convincing.

Everything about the bike inspires confidence for long distance riding. Unloaded it has quite a racy feel, but throw a week’s shopping into the panniers or loads of camping gear and the handling isn’t in any way compromised. Sure, you’re going to be riding uphill more slowly, but that comforting stability is exactly what you want when descending a mountain col or even the steep hills around Bath.

Frame: gently-sloping steel with high quality finish

Always good to see a pump mount!

The frame has a gently sloping top-tube, more semi-compact than compact. It’s made in Taiwan, but like similar bikes from Paul Hewitt, is finished in the UK to a very high standard. This takes advantage of Taiwan’s high quality bike manufacturing skills, while balancing this with the greater range of custom paint finishes available at home.

In contrast to earlier generations of steel touring bikes which would usually have been lugged, the Compass is TIG-welded. And typically, being made in Taiwan, this is all very neatly done.

The material is Reynolds 631; this replaced 531 in Reynolds’ line-up because of the inability to TIG-weld 531.

Equipment: smooth wheels, comfortable set-up

Quality Pearson-branded components

The wheel and tyre combo is smooth running and comfortable and at the front the oversized handlebars are a very good call, keeping road buzz down to a minimum.

The advantage with the drop bars, whether you’re touring or doing any other long rides, is that you have a greater variety of hand positions, which should reduce tiredness and discomfort.

Do we have to give it back?

Perhaps the greatest reflection of how much we like a bike is the reaction when they have to go back to the suppliers, and the Pearson will be badly missed by a fair few members of the team.

In short, it’s a good quality and versatile bike. Sensible rather than glamorous, but that’s what any endurance riding – touring, audax, sportive, whatever – is all about.

North, south, east or west, point the Compass any way you want and you’ll find it a very enjoyable ride. And when you’re not traversing continents, the Compass will make a more than adequate bike for just about all your cycling needs. Plus, as it’s made of steel it should last as long as you, provided you look after it.

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