Pearson Cartouche £1649.99

Full carbon fixie

BikeRadar score 4/5

If you want a fixie that handles like a high-quality road bike, look no further. This beautifully-finished carbon machine is surprisingly heavy, though.

Ride & handling: road-like balance & comfort

Of the fixies we’ve tested recently, the Pearson Cartouche is probably the one that will feel most like your summer perch. The geometry is very road-oriented, so much so that it’s quite easy to forget at first that the bike doesn’t have any gears – don’t be surprised to find yourself pushing the levers in vain on your first couple of climbs.

The ride from the excellent frame is firm but not harsh, the handling is spot on, and the riding position is comfortable and not over-long. This is a bike designed for the road, not the track, and has a familiar feel right from the off.

One road bike trait that you don’t want to see replicated in a singlespeed or fixed machine is weight. Pearson claims that the Cartouche weighs in at 16lb for a 56cm. Our frame was bigger but it was nowhere near that light, tipping the scales at a very disappointing 18.3lb without pedals.

There are plenty of 18lb fully-geared carbon bikes around for this kind of money so unless you’ve got a big wad of cash and an already pretty full stable, buying a Cartouche doesn’t seem especially sensible.

That said, maybe it’s aimed at precisely those riders who would reply: “What’s sensible got to do with it?” Those who already have a carbon road bike, some spare cash, and a heart-rules-head attitude to bike buying.

As a posturing tool it probably has few rivals – it’s a very exclusive ride, and a good one to boot.

Without the weight saving that goes with losing your gears, however, the other reasons for stripping them out suddenly seem a lot less compelling.

Frame: great looks with handy details

The Pearson Cartouche is a fine looking beast. The 3K weave carbon frame – handmade in Italy, no less – is certainly a beauty, with some pleasant idiosyncrasies (such as the odd hole in the seatstay bridge) that give it an individual feel.

Pearson has mated the black carbon with high-visibility white decals.

The whole package looks great, but there are some good utilitarian touches too – you get mudguard clearance and rack mounts, as well as bottle bosses, meaning you could easily press the Pearson into service as a (costly) winter workhorse, although you’d probably be loath to subject it to this abuse.

Equipment: good stuff

There’s some good looking finishing kit here: Halo’s budget priced Aerorage wheels (with a flipflop rear), good quality FSA bar, stem and seatpost and a comfy Fizik Arione saddle.

Wheels: on the fhefty side

The Cartouche’s lithe frame and race oriented geometry deserves a svelte lightweight wheelset.

Unfortunately the Aerorage’s are not really that lightweight wheelset – at 980g for the front and 1045g for the rear they are sturdy and strong, and when we tested them back in issue 211 they scored top marks.

That’s because they look great, are brilliantly put together and represent excellent value (£152 a pair).

The hubs in particular are amongst the best we’ve seen for outdoor use, as most track hubs aren’t well sealed enough for the wet and grime of daily use. But these dependable, workhorse-like hoops don’t match the Cartouche.

Our recommendation, then, would be to marry the excellent hubs to a lightweight rim and spokes to create a wheelset that will get the best out of the high-end carbon frame.

The Halo Aerorage hoops are a match for colour and excellent quality, but they are built for strength and longevity not speed – this frame deserves lighter rolling stock

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