Hewitt Alpine review

Wonderfully quick audax machine

Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
£2,295.00 RRP

Our review

Top-notch custom-made machine for fast audaxes
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Custom-built for Audax riding, the Hewitt Alpine does the job perfectly. A quick, responsive compromise-free machine that demands to be ridden fast.

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If speed’s your thing this is a great choice, and it can also be geared to your own needs.

Ride & handling: perfect for fast days in the saddle

The Alpine’s ride is just about perfect for fast audax and sportive riding.

The immediate impression on riding it is how racy and sporty it feels.

The sub-20lb weight makes for fast, responsive handling that makes you want to just blast along. Very inspiring.

One of our testers knocked five minutes off his regular 65-minute commute, usually done on a light tourer, without even noticing.

Yes, it comes with clearance for mudguards, but its all-up weight is still 20lb and it flies along beautifully.

Frame: custom Italian steel

The Alpine is custom hand-made in the UK from high-end Italian steel and finished to a very high standard. The frame combines elegantly with the carbon fork.

Interestingly – and suggestive of this bike’s fast audax role – the frame doesn’t have mounts for a rear rack. It certainly coped with a full seatpost-mounted bag, but the absence of rack mounts does limit the versatility a little.

This particular machine was fully custom built after measuring on Hewitt’s frame-fitting jig, and was geared specifically for fast sportive-type riding.

The Niobium tubing is a high-end steel alloyed with manganese, chromium, nickel, molybdenum and, yes, niobium. The result is a material claimed to have a ‘higher resistance to environmental effects than conventional carbon steels’.

For fans of the physics, its ultimate tensile strength is around 1000-1150 megaPascals, about the same as that of Reynolds 725.

Equipment: SRAM shifters Rival their opposition

SRAM’s Rival groupset proves a match for Campagnolo and Shimano. The levers, which combine up and down shifts, are simple and elegant: the brake levers take care of stopping you, the inner levers handle both up and downshifts.

Typically of a Hewitt bike, the Alpine comes with very well coordinated kit, but the SRAM Rival groupset at its heart proved an interesting choice. This is SRAM’s second-string groupset, aimed against the likes of Ultegra, and it proved a worthwhile alternative.

It does take a while to get used to the Double Tap shifting, especially if you’re used to Shimano and Campagnolo, as it includes elements of both companies’ systems. But it’s also a very neat and elegant solution to shifting. The brake levers take care of stopping, with a single inner responsible for all gear changing duties. To change up (to a smaller sprocket) you tap the lever (twice if you want to shift two gears); to change down (to a bigger sprocket) you push the lever.

Once we stopped trying to shift Campag-like with a thumb lever that wasn’t there, these were a treat to use.

Better than the opposition’s offerings? Not really, but it’s certainly their equal.

The brakes themselves are from Shimano – these worked excellently, offering powerful and controlled stopping.

Wheels: light, quick &inspiring

The PMP hubs are a surprisingly flashy touch for a Hewitt bike, and when added to Mavic’s Open Pro rims and Hewitt’s top-notch wheelbuilding, makes a high quality wheelset.

Whereas Hewitt tends to stick with Shimano hubs on his touring bikes, the Alpine has the somewhat pimpier PMP hubs. Here they’re paired with Mavic Open Pro rims for a race-ready set of hoops. Build quality is second to none, and these ran as smoothly and as quickly as you’d expect.

The tyres are Continentals, and the frame’s high-end theme is continued here, as they proudly proclaim ‘handmade in Germany’. That’s not going to keep costs down, but with many cyclists fans of Conti’s product range this is certainly going to inspire confidence.

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These were the lightest wheels of any of the four bikes, and as it’s rotating weight this is the best area to trim those grams. True to form, the wheel and tyre combo performed perfectly on long distance canal towpath commutes and fast road riding alike. As inspiring as the frame.

Product Specifications

Product

Name Alpine
Brand Hewitt Cycles

Brakes BR-R660 long reach
Seatpost PMP carbon, 27.2mm dia, 275mm length
Year 2008
Rear Tyre Size 700x23C
Front Tyre Size 700x23C
Available Sizes Custom
Wheelbase (cm) 102
Top Tube (cm) 56
Standover Height (cm) 82.5
Seat Tube (cm) 53
Chainstays (cm) 42.5
Bottom Bracket Height (cm) 28
Weight (kg) 8.96
Stem FSA OS 150 forged alloy, 4-bolt o/s bar clamp with 2-bolt 1 1/8in steerer
Shifters Rival Double Tap
Seat Angle 73
Cassette Shimano Ultegra 12-27
Saddle Fizik Arione, Ti rails
Rims Mavic Open Pro
Rear Wheel Weight 1494
Rear Derailleur SRAM Rival short cage f/r
Head Angle 72
Handlebar Omega alloy shallow drop anatomic 42cm c-c
Front Wheel Weight 1068
Front Derailleur front braze-on type with separate 31.8mm clamp
Frame Weight 1837
Frame Material Columbus Life Niobium butted tubeset; tig-welded and brazed with vertical dropouts.
Fork Weight 625
Fork Carbon blades with 1 1/8in alloy steerer, crown and dropouts
Cranks SRAM Rival, forged alloy 2-piece type, compact twin alloy chainrings, 110 bcd, 170mm arm length
Chainring Size (No of Teeth) 36 50