Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The Better Wheel

Now I know there is no such thing as magic, it’s all misdirection and sleight of hand, camera tricks and show biz. I do, however know a magician; a real life, down-to-earth magic man. He can take a jumble of wire rods, aluminium hoops, and machined metal, then - in what seems like no time at all - make a structure of engineering magnificence. This seemingly simple thing, that we are so used to we have given up looking at or understanding, is arguably man’s greatest invention - The Wheel.

hand-built excellence

As is the way of these things, clever men in factories throughout the world are making "the better wheel" at an alarming rate; so why would you let some gifted cycling mystic build you a pair of "old fashioned", "out-of-date" wheels by hand…?

In short, it’s because the master wheel builder has a gift. When he does his best nothing will make your bike feel more alive, more organic, than the efforts of his labours.

Before we go further, it is worth understanding that all ‘factory builds’ go through the hands of a trained technician before they go in the box. It is this human intervention that ensures your prospective new wheels are true and evenly tensioned. The machine that does it all is a myth; at some point in the life of all bicycle wheels a pair of hands has graced those spokes and used years of skill to finalise the build. You can’t teach a machine to feel, well not yet!

So what is the big deal, what really is the difference between “factory” and “hand”, is it just the feel, and if so what is that? Documenting ride feel is difficult, many have tried and, as far as I know none have managed it; the problem always being subjectivity. Although the majority of us share a common goal in the ride, my expectations are not yours and your experiences of the road are a world away from mine. So how do you put in to words what you expect from a bicycle? How can you convey what you want to feel on the road in the last miles of a nine hour ride?

Chris King R45

We all want speed, acceleration, and comfort for mile after mile; as if that wasn’t enough, we crave ethereal weight and space-age imagery. Perhaps it is these expectations that have spawned ‘the better wheel’ but I want more than that. I want to feel the road beneath my wheels, I want to lean into a corner and feel my tire bite into the road surface. I want the reassurance that the hands that built my wheels were guided by skill, honed over hours of labour and practice.

Some factory wheels are brilliant. They’re things of technical wizardry; a daunting collection of a few components and little weight, the sort of creation that, not so long ago, would have been an impossibility. Yet it’s in this reliance on technology and the wonder of modern materials rests the problem. Forget the lack of charisma, the loss of glamour, the mass-production aesthetic or the relentless whir of flat dull carbon spokes; it’s the material genius of the ‘better wheel’ that lets it down.

Break a spoke on a hand-built wheel (it can happen to the best and most expensive), clatter a rim down a drain at 30mph, or wear through it after thousands of miles on wet roads, and you can go and see the magician who built your wheel and he can repair it. Try that with the über-techno wheel in your new ultra-light creation, seriously try it some time; I dare you! Any good, hand-built wheel can be repaired any where in the world and by almost anyone with a basic knowledge of wheel building.

Hand-built at Pearson

But this is to miss the point; the ease of repair and service with the hand-built wheel is the icing on the cake, the guts of it is the ride! More bike races have been won on hand built wheels than on the new ultra-tech creations of the factory wheel. And I mean BIKE RACES; the Tour, the Giro, the Classic’s (hand built wheels rule the cobbles of Northern France and Belgium to this day) and countless local fish and chippers all over the globe have been won on the wonder hoop.

It is the compliance of the traditional box section aluminium rim and the give, inherent in all those steel spokes, that along with the skilled fingers that laced and trued and fettled them, create a thing that is so much greater than the sum of its parts. Watch the slow motion footage of a hand-built wheel crashing across the cobbles of Roubaix and marvel at the distortion of the rim as it hits cobble after cobble. I defy anyone not to be amazed that the wheel does not shatter into a hundred pieces.

“What does this have to do with me?” you ask. Well, what does this have to do with you? You may never ride over such punishing surface… except when you ride down Box Hill road, or Leith Hill, or the Upper Richmond Road, or any high street throughout the land!

In short, the ride of a well built wheel brings out the magic of the fingers that built it, the passion of the builder to give you the best in comfort and performance.

There will always be those that refuse to believe in magic; this will always put technology before craft and artifice. Those that believe there is no soul in a well built, lovingly constructed thing, let them miss the point, and let them be the ones that know better. Rise above the retail value and embrace the truth. I know a magician and he builds The Better Wheel.

Like what you see? The Ambrosio Nemesis wheel is the Paris-Roubaix rider's choice.

Further, we're expecting our first shipment of Chris King goodies in just before Christmas and will be offering custom wheel-builds for true ride quality. Contact Pearson Performance for more details.

Paris Roubaix Footage: vprohollandsport

Friday, 2 December 2011

Noah FAST FB & Christmas Evening

Heard about the new Ridley Noah FB FAST? Intrigued to see how its integrated brakes (yes, integrated - they're part of the fork at the front, part of the frame at the rear) reduce drag, and combine with other Ridley FAST technologies to save you watts and make you faster? Never heard of it before but you're now salivating at the prospect and want to know more?

Ridley FB

Well, Pearson Performance in Sheen are holding an open evening on Thursday 8th December to show it off! The bike will be here for all to see from 4pm until we close at 8pm - pop down, have a look, ask about it, stroke it even... ok, maybe no stroking...

Along with this fantastic Ridley showcase there's also our new CycleFit facility to whet your appetite - take a look at our SiCi SizeCycle, and talk to us about your fitting options. You can even book your fitting with us on the night, or buy a CycleFit voucher for a special Christmas gift.

We're also here to help you give the loved ones in your life gift ideas for you for Christmas, as well as to help you get your bike ready for it's new lease of life once the winter is behind us! The kind of goodies we have on offer at the moment include:

So, see you in Pearson Performance in Sheen on Thursday December 9th from 8:30am until 8:00pm! It's a special late opening in Sheen so other shops in the High Street will be open too - a good opportunity to sneak in some Christmas shopping, and with a genuine excuse!

Just to remind you, the address is: 232 Upper Richmond Road West, East Sheen, London SW14 8AG. Find us on Google Maps.

We hope to see you there.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

The Pink Ladies

Last weekend the Pearson Pink Ladies treated themselves to a two day training camp hosted by the lovely Tanja Slater. The pro tri-athlete and cyclist, having placed 8th in the European Championships and signing a contract with team Raleigh-Lifeforce, now offers her consultation and training to develop other budding female athletes.

coffee consultation

Over the course of the weekend the Pink Ladies cruised around the roads of East Sheen, Richmond Park and the leafy Surrey lanes, learning new riding skills and techniques, while also doing some good, old-fashioned training. In-between they received in-depth advice and guidance from Tanja at our Pearson Performance, warming their hands with Mike’s expertly brewed Big Maggy’s coffee.

‘What was this all in aid of?’ You ask?. Well, the Pearson girls are forming a race team which will attend some of the top events around the country next year so keep your eyes peeled. They’ll be wearing the new Pearson ladies team kit which, if you’ve seen our bikes, won’t be hard to pick out from the pack.

The Green Stripe

For a firsthand account of the weekend, have a read of the club news.

Words - Guy

Monday, 31 October 2011

Winter Treads

The Green Stripe

Yes, that’s treads, not threads – this ain’t no fashion blog, and you’d all look stupid having me advise you on what to wear this winter… *ahem*, where was I?…

Winter tyres – what are the options then, now that we’re heading for that time of year? Here’s my take…

It will surprise… well, probably very few of you that my winter tyre of choice is the Vittoria Pavé – I love Vittoria tyres and run Open Corsa CXs (much to the dislike of a few of my riding buddies) most of the time on my Baum. When it turns to winter it seems logical to continue my allegiance and run the Pavé, and in recent years that’s exactly what I’ve done. I like the extra volume (I run the 24c version, although there is a 27c too), low weight and the compound is nice and tacky so there’s grip a-plenty, regardless of conditions.

That’s not to say they’re perfect though I have to say. When they’re new they’re great and resist punctures perfectly well. But that tacky compound equates to a fast wear rate, and when the tread gets low they become quite puncture-prone. Being Vittoria means they’re not cheap by comparison either.

4 Season

The fall back for me, and many a roadie’s winter favourite is the Continental GP 4Season. And rightly so. Available in 23 and 25c – the latter of which offers a sofa-like ride – these aren’t far off bombproof for a lighter weight tyre. They’re plenty grippy enough and wear much better than the Pavés… except they’re not as pretty…

Sticking with Conti, there’s also the Gatorskins – not a tyre I’ve personally used, but I know many a rider who uses these for their commute. Slightly heavier, but also offer an extra bit of protection even compared to the 4Seasons.


Schwalbe offer their Ultremo now in a ‘DD’ version. Stop sniggering you filth-mongers – it means ‘Double Defence’, and refers to the extra puncture protection on offer. It uses the same compound as the normal Ultremo so it should still be nice and grippy, and despite the extra protection there’s not a significant weight penalty. There’s also the Ultremo Aqua, designed purely for extra grip in wet weather. I’m told the compound is so sticky you can hear it sticking if you use them in the dry!

Of course the likes of Hutchinson, Michelin and others all offer alternatives worth seeking out too.

But do you really need to switch to an all-out winter tyre? I’d argue not. Sure, you might not be running tyres that are necessarily designed for winter, but on that basis and when you think about the UK weather, shouldn’t we all be running year-round tyres with extra puncture protection anyway?

Last winter myself and a couple of other ride buddies ran Conti’s GP24s – the same tyre we’d been running all season. It’s a slightly bigger volume tyre and so offers an extra level of cushioning and comfort, whilst not compromising on grip and offering only a small penalty on weight (over the GP4000S at least). They’ve proved to be pretty resilient too – I’ve recently been commuting on the very same set that I spent most of 2010 on, and I’ve just put that same set on my winter bike.

So there it is. Want the best and not worried about the need to replace them a bit sooner than others (not to mention the pose-factor of that lairy green stripe), then go for the Pavés. Something more resilient and a little heavier, then Conti offer a number of options. Light weight with extra defense or extra tacky and Scwalbe might be worth a look. But don’t rule out continuing to run your normal treads and saving yourself the need to switch.

I have a set of Pavés sat in the wings that are vying for attention – do I fit them, or stick with the GP24s?…

words: Rich

Friday, 14 October 2011



So as luck would have it I seem to have blagged a ride on one of the latest Fizik 'Kurve' saddles - they're of a curious form and design, the basis of which can be seen in this video.

There's also a lot of detail about the construction of the saddles here on the Extra website.

What is it like to actually use though?

Testing the 'Bull' version - with the basis of its design coming from their Aliante - I was both curious and skeptical... except it was instantly one of the most comfortable saddles I've parked my backside on.

Anyone who has followed my 'Saddle Experiment' blogs in the past will know there's not many high-end saddles I haven't yet tested, and despite suffering quite a lot from a certain kind of numbness I've even reverted to saddles without cutouts in an attempt to find something that works. More recently, saddles with a kind of curvy hammock shape to them have offered a level of comfort that has pleasantly surprised me. The Bull version of the Kurve range is designed along these lines - it was this more than the Fizik theory behind their saddle shapes that made me go for it (I can touch my toes quite readily so in theory I should actually use the 'Snake' / Arione shape, and I've been running an Antares on and off for a while now).

Of course it helps for someone as fussy as me that I also consider the Bull to be the best looking of the Kurve saddles - this, despite the fact that I find the Aliante by far the ugliest of the standard Fizik range! I do still wish the new 'Mobius' aluminium rails on it were black though...

Anyway, back to the saddle-tush interface, what we have here is a perch that feels like it moves with the backside and seems to soak up the last of the road buzz making a ride on my already very comfortable steel bike feel like a magic carpet ride with extra cushions thrown in for good measure. I've been skeptical about the Fizik 'thigh glides' in the past, but on this saddle they do actually seem to work and make the saddle feel narrower than it's looks would indicate. Probably worth noting at this point that I'm running it on it's 'soft' setting, but to be honest I'm not sure I'll bother changing that.

One point to note is that it's quite a 'deep' saddle from top to rail so those with integrated seatposts might need to keep an eye on their saddle height - I'm yet to try it to check, but on my own ISP I'm pretty sure I'd need to trim it to get this saddle to fit at my normal saddle height.

So far so good then, although as yet I've only covered around 30km on it so I can't yet confirm the longer term affect on my regular numbness. I hope to get a decent length ride in on it later this week and I should have covered a couple of hundred kilometers on it by the time the week is out so I will feed back more then.

Given the comfort it's offered so far though I can see me handing over the readies necessary to add it to my collection...

Fancy trying out a Kurve saddle? You can try one of our test saddles at Pearson Performance, Sheen or buy one here.

Words: Rich

Thursday, 6 October 2011

The Fix

In the past few years, cycling (and fashion) has seen a massive rise in the popularity of fixies, or fixed wheel bikes for those of you who don’t know. I first encountered such steeds in my BMX days, when I was living in Vancouver back in 2007. Frequently when weaving through the human traffic of East Hastings, barrages of twenty-something year olds would steam past me, scabbed legs spinning smoothly along the asphalt. Fast forward four years and fixies are every where, but more often than not, they’ve been confused as some sort of fashion statement; the new, must have accessory for the Mark Ronson, electro fan in their studio flat on the fringes of Hoxton.

This may be a half truth; however, fixies are also an excellent tool for training…

Long before my knowledge of their existence or my existence what so ever, fixed wheels have been the tool of many enthusiasts to improve almost every aspect of their riding; pedal stroke, strength, efficiency etc. Ridding yourself of a generous cassette and freewheel puts you in a new state of control, a state of unity in fact, with your bicycle. Granted it takes some getting used to – particularly if you’re clipped in - but riding fixed brings an exciting edge, not just to training, but to cycling in general.

My first long bout of fixed riding came this winter past, as I found myself on the cold commute, a bit bored and continuously caked in grease from the inevitable on going cleaning process.. Not one for aluminium, I decided to do the ‘pop’ thing and convert a vintage racer, in this case a Raleigh Record Ace (bought at Pearsons in the dark ages) with Pista hubs and a rather proud Miche Primato track chainset. It certainly isn’t the prettiest steed on the road but boy, does it fly… Following my fixed winter, I’m feeling as strong as a mule after some of the most intense climbing I’ve ever experienced; down hill isn’t too much of a picnic either, balancing cadence rather than coasting is just as tough but it definitely makes you a smoother rider. I would warn you when you’re starting out to approach steep descents with a bit of caution, as if you go jetting down you’re likely to tear your legs off as quickly as a well cooked lamb shank.

It’s not just I who have felt the benefits; I frequently saw Pearson brain box, Alex about Epsom Downs on his Touché, training for his recent cycle tour of Vietnam. Also, Luke after recently inheriting a Hanzo, has been riding to and from his various climbing centres and he’s now fighting fit for the Pearson 150 and Ride For Life (Saver) this month - admittedly we won’t be doing either of these events on a fixie, although it could be a challenge for the future.

Even if you’re not an avid racer, constant spinning adds an element of excitement to rolling into work every morning; as time goes on you can judge the viability of gaps in the traffic, think ahead to possibly precarious situations and master the art of track-stands/standing starts at traffic lights and junctions. Consequently, even riding fixed for your daily commute will make you a safer, more efficient cyclist.

So what are you waiting for? No matter what discipline you follow, what circumference of wheel you subscribe to, sort yourself out a fixed wheel soon. It doesn’t have to be pretty, it doesn’t have to look like it’s just come out of a cereal box and you don’t have to be sporting a moustache to ride one… Just make sure you’re committed, because once you’ve got your fix, you’ll never go back.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Cycle Show 2011 - Aftermath

Bicycles, sunshine, fresh coffee and the occasional tipple; they’re all traits of a long and difficult weekend at the Cycle Show. As usual there was an impressive array of bicycles and gear on offer, from the simple and beautifully crafted to those at the forefront of engineering in our sport.

It was a weekend of excitement in the land of blighty; soaring temperatures, success for our rugby boys and most important of all, the unveiling of the 2012 Pearson range. Those lucky enough to attend the Cycle Show could see the zesty fleet with their very own eyes as well as test ride a few selections on the Cycle Show Test Track. Those of you who missed the show, you can visit either Sutton or Sheen for your first look at the machines; those who are just too giddy with anticipation need only look below.


As I mentioned last week, we’ve had a bit of a facelift; trading-in the traditional Pearson logo for a touch of flamboyance and eccentricity that we feel better represents the heart and soul of this company – from our staff to our customers. Following on from the weekend, we’ve already had some positive feedback from London Cycle Sport, Bike Radar and finally, up and coming clothing company and bloggers, Vulpine who gave us Bike of the Show award as well as the From Ming to Bling award – I’m not quite sure how to take the last one, but thanks very much Nick.

You may have heard of our recent venture with bicycle tailoring experts, Cycefit. Well, we felt that the show would be a perfectly good opportunity to exhibit our latest toy for use at our own Cyclefit studios at Pearson Performance, Sheen. We didn’t quite expect the wave interest it received and after a weekend of one on ones turned group demonstrations, bookings are coming in thick and fast so call in and enquire soon.

Thank you to all who came up to see us, we hope you had as great a weekender as we did.

Photo credits: London Cycle Sport, Vulpine

Friday, 23 September 2011

Cycle Show 2011

Following a fantastic show last year and an exceptionally eventful 2011, what better way to continue than to pack our trunks and rally up to Birmingham for this year’s Cycle Show at the NEC. Despite Guy’s enthusiasm to cycle, we thought we would trade in the vélo for a van… Yes, that’s right, next week we are no longer MAMILs… We’re 'men in ven'.

From the 29th September to the 2nd October, Pearson will be at stand F51 displaying the eagerly anticipated Ridley FAST concept bike; beautiful, racing machines from Serotta and Guru as well as the brand new 2012 Pearson range – I’m warning you, it's had quite the face lift.

Sneak Peek

If that wasn’t enough to whet your appetite, we will be running CycleFit demonstrations with a preview of our new SiCi jig. We know that the options at the show can be overwhelming at times and that often you’re left giddy with excitement, like a little boy in a scooter shop. So if you miss the demonstrations, bookings can be made at the show for a classic Cyclefit (on the jig) or for a Cyclefit on your own bike These will take place in our new Sheen Cyclefit studios.

If you too are going to the Cycle Show, why not come and visit us to see what we've been getting up to and more importantly, what we will be getting up to for the new trade year.

If you need more convincing, you can pick up a discounted ticket on the Cycle Show website; just enter the discount code, EXH66 and you’ll get your tickets for just £11 each!

Another Peek

Join us at the 2011 Cycle show, stand F51.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Pearson Performance

News from Sheen…

Pearson Performance is open now.

We've actually been open for just under two weeks and we’re very much enjoying the Sheen flavour; the myriad of sandwich shops, the fresh, steaming coffee and the prevalent hum of cassettes spinning down the high street. Thus, it seems that after a long summer’s slogging away at an empty shell, the Pearson team have emerged from the completed work, riddled with knots, peppered with brick dust and with smiles from ear to ear.

Pearson Performance

The day of the opening was my first proper visit to Pearson Performance and even after 8 hours of being there I hadn’t completely drank it in. It was only after a day of what can only be described as a real-life enactment of 60-Minute Makeovers, that I realised just how exciting the space is. From the beautifully-engineered speed machines that adorn its floors and walls to the all-day coffee bar, where the Pearson community can enjoy the same scintillating conversation in Sheen, as well as Sutton - except this one has more of a retro feel.

The Café

An elevated clothing area, sporting a subtle Union Jack, offers clothing from Endura, Castelli and luxury, merino wool undergarments from Icebreaker. Take a fix from heat-moulded Fi’zi:k and Lake shoes while you're there. Further, don’t forget that the new Pearson Performance winter clothing range is set to land shortly.

The Clothing Stand

On Friday 2nd September, the friends & family opening was graciously attended by cycling legend Sean Kelly and his counterpart David Harmon. The crowd was a true representation of the amount of work, passion and creativity that have been poured into the new shop and the sense of pride was evident within everyone. The festivities may have carried on a little later than we had anticipated and with normal opening hours commencing on the Saturday, some of us were shaking off the cobwebs come morning-time.

The friends & family opening

So drop by soon to see the shop that everybody is talking about; have a coffee, a chat and browse our ever growing range of exciting, individual products from international brands; Serotta, Guru, Ridley, Brompton and of course Pearson.

The official opening of Pearson Performance is Friday 23rd September - come one, come all from 17:30 onwards.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

The newest bike shop in the world...

Sheen is a leafy suburb in the London borough of Richmond, teeming with lawn tennis clubs, delicatessens and gastro pubs; your typical West London town, right? Well, upon its door step, behind the large, cast-iron gates lies the magnificent Richmond Park – West London’s cycling mecca. Basically, Sheen is a really great place to live, work and ride. But where is this going? Why am I singing the praises of a relatively small, sleepy town, and what’s more, why should you visit it? Allow me to explain:

Those lucky enough to inhabit Sheen may have noticed a rather dishevelled looking building upon the high street gradually becoming less so, as the summer months pass by. Preceding occupants' shop banners being gradually peeled away to reveal something paler and ‘pinker’ (Guy Pearson estimated that at least 90% of previous occupants were women’s clothing stores).

Moving Forward

At this point, you may be asking yourselves; "what wonders will fill this empty space?” Your puzzled thoughts can stop here, for we are happy to announce that Pearson Performance will be opening at 232 Upper Richmond Road West this autumn. After celebrating our 150th anniversary, Pearson has decided to bring something a little different to Sheen's cycling population.

Those acquainted with the shop will know that Pearson of Sutton has always been known for its friendly atmosphere, with many customers and staff becoming dear friends over the years having spent countless days chatting rubbish, guffawing and sipping novelty drinks. ‘How can we carry this jolly ambiance across’, we asked ourselves - quite simply, build a coffee bar in-house. Consequently, Pearson Performance won’t just be a shop, it will be a space for friends – old and new – and what we hope to be a pillar in the local cycling community.

Guy Takes the Reigns

We will, as always, be supplying you with some of the swiftest and most beautiful bicycles available on the market; however, you will also find some of the most exclusive international brands, from Ridley to Serotta. Flying the flag for Britain will be Pearson bikes. Come September, we will be releasing our new, 2012 collection of fine quality frames - designed by the Pearson brothers - with graphics fashioned by fashion moguls Timothy Everest and Tim Vogel-Downing. On our first floor, fully furnished Cyclefit studios and sports therapy rooms will provide you with completely tailored solutions for sports injuries; from finding and correcting your cycle position, to the treatment of any aches and pains suffered from any sport.

We will also carry a range of Brompton bicycles for those commuting/in need of a bicycle they can tuck under their bar stool; further demonstrating our dedication to this fabulous, British, folding bicycle.

Mamils Ahoy

Pearson looks to provide you with some spectacular, technical attire too. What more fitting for your custom Pearson than fine threads baring the Pearson name and designed by Mr Everest and Mr Vogel-Downing. Yes, that’s right; the beautiful new Pearson kit is set to drop shortly after the store opening.

Fear not dwellers of Sutton, you are not forgotten; 126 is still standing proud following last week’s shenanigans and will continue to provide and develop upon the 151 years’ worth famous service and character that has allowed us to bring you Pearson Performance.

Coming Soon

Written by Cameron

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Our Brompton Infatuation

After the success of our Brompton Bike Library scheme – as featured on BBC news - we’re hooked on these little, fold-away beauties. Shannon, our resident Rhodesian, has been so taken by them that he has decided to convert part of the shop into what seems to be a Brompton ‘public library’.

The Bushman’s love affair with the folding bicycle last came to a climax when he placed seventh in the Brompton World Championship on his very own, custom single speed. Thus, the intentions behind this venture remain somewhat unclear. Could this be a celebration of another traditional, British bike company with undertones of self-praise?

Regardless of the motives behind this recent development, Bromptons are fantastic. Whether you're trying to tailor the perfect commute or need something to tear it up between work and your regular watering hole, this is the choice for you. One wonders how many people were sitting at Victoria or Waterloo yesterday evening, wishing for an escape plan. In a local context; commuters who had their dreams of a traffic free trip to Worcester Park station dashed to pieces by the six month gas work project, now have a solution. Folding bikes are the only vehicle allowed on the train during the AM, peak-time slog, whilst also offering a fall-back plan in case you get caught out by subsidence or any other mild, natural disaster.

Workshop deputy and handyman extraordinaire, Trevor, has been working like a hound this week. After stripping down the BMX display that has being standing proud for the past decade, the inglorious slat-wall was next. Behind said objects we found a beautiful, century-old window with which also came a plethora of deceased spiders, dust and a few stale cigarette butts.

The display is almost complete and will encompass various Brompton models, accessories and a comfy stool and desk so you may rest your weary legs whilst filling out your Brompton order form. All of the Pearson staff will be able to demonstrate the speedy unfolding capabilities of the bikes as well as the glut of options and customisations available to you.

Drop by 126 High Street, Sutton to witness first-hand, the team's hard work.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Fast Freddy's New Bike

In the 70’s and early 80’s there was a Belgium rider that even the great Merkcx was scared of; known for his lightning fast sprint and all round class Freddy Maertens was The Man. Freddy won - or was close - in all the big races from the Classics through to the Grand Tours and he loved his bikes.

Credit: Velorunner

If Maertens was racing now, he would be riding a Ridley, and his bike would be the 2012 Noah FAST concept (Future Aero Speed Technology.). You see, Ridley and Maertens have the same philosophy when it comes to bikes, they want to go as fast as possible; once they’ve achieved that, they want to go even faster.

FAST CONCEPT TEASER from ridley-bikes on Vimeo.

Ridley is the quintessential Belgian bike company, but far from resting on all the tradition and lore of the pave, they are at the cutting edge of our sport, pushing the limits of what is possible. The Noah FAST is the cobble eating, game changing love child of the road going Ridley Noah and the TT crushing Dean.

The bike has been designed to be as aerodynamic as possible using F-Splitfork technology on the forks and the seat stays, this guides the airflow away from the wheels and reduces drag, making you faster. Then there is the ground breaking new Carbon F-Brake which integrates the brake directly into the fork and seat stays, reducing drag, making you faster. According to extensive wind tunnel and road tests, the Carbon F-Brake saves 20 Watt compared with competitors’ bikes as well as reducing heart rate by 4%.

Finally, Ridley has conceived the F-Surface, a textured finish which disturbs airflow. This new surface reduces drag at an average of over 4%, allowing the frame to slip through the air like a hot sword into a well-greased scabbard, thus making you… faster.

Put it this way, if Fast Freddy doesn’t pick up his - can I have it please?

You better believe that Pearson will be the first dealer in the UK to have one of these bikes, but you better keep your eyes peeled as it will go out the door faster than it comes in; it is that FAST.

To pre-order yours, click here...

Written by Stuart

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Barking Mad Cycle Ride

Last year on the island of Jamaica, Gordon and Al Barnes organised and completed the gargantuan challenge of riding 400 miles in 32 hours 44 minutes. In order to prepare for such a feat, Gordon Barnes thought it would be suitable training to cycle around Richmond Park 37 times overnight. For those of you who don’t know Richmond Park, a full circuit is over 6 miles, thus bringing Gordon to a total of approximately 252miles – all of this in just 18 hours.

Our reaction upon hearing about this was that it sounded incredibly valiant but also particularly unpleasant; when we found out that Gordon would be doing it again, it made us question his sanity. Ultimately though, it was the sheer nonchalance in his attitude towards it that makes it obvious that the man is clearly mad:

‘Last year it was great fun, I had company throughout and several people did some big mileage with me – Barry tucked his children into bed, jumped on his bike and joined me for 125 miles, Whisk went to the cinema and then out for a meal and came in at about midnight for 100 miles! Statue was at a gig until about 1am and then popped in at about 2am for 5 laps.’Gordon Barnes

It all became clear upon finding out that last year the Barnes brothers raised £32,352 For Chain of Hope, a charity dedicated to raising funds for sustainable, clinical and research cardiac centres for children with heart diseases, in less economically developed countries; their particular cause is the Bustamante Children’s Hospital in Kingston. This year, despite being unable to make it to Jamaica to join his brother, Gordon will be repeating his efforts on the 15th/16th July. So far they have raised £17,577 – an outstanding effort – but one that doesn’t meet the high benchmark set last year. For such an intense challenge, not to mention its worthy cause, Pearson is backing Gordon all the way; who knows, some of us may even make it down for a late night lap or five.

To support Mr Barnes and Bustamante Children’s Hospital visit the Just Giving page, or maybe join him for the ride…

Friday, 10 June 2011

You Never Forget Your First Bonk

The Pearson 150 introduced me to my first Sportif. A world of pain.

I turned up at the Royal Marsden at 0630, shortly after the biggest downpour of rain we had seen this year. The air was fresh and there were plenty of people preparing to do the sportif, even at the crack of dawn. I was envious as I was only marshalling the event in Smallfield, where the 150km and 75km divided. Shannon - my manager at Pearson Cycles - mentioned to me the day before that we should follow the route to Brighton and catch the train home depending on the weather. This was stuck in the back of my mind as we followed the route to Smallfield.

As we began our ride, the weight of what I had taken on began to dawn upon me… The sun was out in full force but the wind, which was fairly moderate to begin with, was now seriously strong! The longest ride I had ever done was Sutton to Boxhill and back; I had passed the point of safe return 20km ago and the only way home was catching the train from Brighton. “Oh it’s gonna be so sweet riding home the other way!” Shannon wailed with childlike excitement. I smiled nervously, not even giving the slightest hint that I bought a one way ticket.

Traffic Jame

Everything from then on was “just around the corner' or ‘just over that hill!” Turns out this ‘hill’ was Turners Hill - what a stonking hill! I did enjoy the downhill after it however, my heavy legs hung flaccid as I coasted whilst my wind beaten ears revelled to the sound of my hope freewheel. My joys were soon cut short; “NO”’ Shannon cried, “POWER, POWER, POWER! Keep pushing, you’ve got to get up the other hill!” I didn’t understand what on earth that Zimbabwean bush man was talking about, with that funny accent and a southern wind blowing in my face I just carried on coasting until being slapped in the face by another evil ascent! In hindsight, I now understand the term 'pedalling squares', a term Shannon explained to me at the top; the route was great for laying down the hammer on the downhill in order to fly up the ascent. This tortuous cycle went on for a while and my back was really aching - the fact that I had a backpack on with a lunch box and my rock climbing gear probably didn’t help either.

Tired Luke

Time went on and I could only imagine jumping into the cool sea and having some fish and chips or a pie, when I spotted another cruel, cruel mountain in the distance. ‘Yeah, that Ditchling... We are going through it, not over it.’ my tormentor reassured me. I knew that punk was lying, but some part of me really wanted to believe that crazy bushman as his ass danced in front of me.

We reached Ditchling and she was massive; I wanted more gears, I wanted a GoCycle, I wanted to DIE. Ditching is so steep, every corner looked like the top but there was always another corner. However, with Shannon’s hand firmly pressed on my lower back, I found myself effortlessly gliding up this unfriendly gradient. I was slowly catching the back end of the 150 sportive. Shannon sprinted up the hill to take a picture of my pain at the summit (summit? It’s a hill not a mountain). All I could think of was dismounting but I was told just to spin it out, it was down hill from there.

Ditchling Beacon

Brighton, the land of milk, honey and all things flamboyant. I walked the famous beachfront cycle lane; my ass had never felt as good off the saddle in more than one way as I had some a few double takes from the locals... We set anchor at the Regency just opposite the old burnt down West Pier where we were sheltered from the gale force winds; for a moment I could have been on a desert island with Shannon feeding me fruit of the gods and massaging my feet. All this excitement upset my tummy and I found myself visiting the gentlemen’s more than once before and after my fabulous spag bol.


We were well rested and I was assured the ride back would be amazing and as flat as Shannon’s stomach - the ride out of Brighton was a bitch and I felt hideously fatigued. Dyke road just dragged on and on until we went over the motor way and were exposed to a horrendous cross-wind, I found myself actually leaning to the left to compensate and keep my balance, but as soon as we turned down into the country lanes the promise of a tail wind was fulfilled. The lanes were beautiful but if only that beauty could have offered some respite from the pain I was in. My back was splitting in two, the wafer thin chamois was allowing the saddle cut deep into my perineum. and I found myself standing up and wiggling into the saddle to find the perfect fit. We cycled on pushing through the lanes until we hit the A24 and I was confronted by the North Downs, Box Hill and the Zig Zag – a private road that winds slowly up the downs. I had only previously gone up her two weeks before which was part of the longest ride I had completed to date. I was not in the correct frame of mind and I was beaten before the climb had even begun; I was quite literally ‘pedalling squares’. Shannon gave me a push and shouted ‘find a rhythm!’ the pain in my face would have made any small girl cry and given a small boy nightmares. I cried out in agony as cramp was only a crank away, but I managed to keep it at bay by spinning as fast as my heavy legs would carry me. I came out from under the cover of trees and was greeted by the fresh smell of coffee and cake. I had made it! I knew the ride down the A217 back into Sutton wasn’t that long, so we sat down and ate some cake; it was almost a whole cake but even at that price, I refused to buy any more.

Box Hill

My legs felt annihilated when we set off again and it was now 18:00 and Shannon left me to finish the last leg at my own pace; I watched him as he danced on his bike into the horizon.

Sutton. Descending down Brighton Road into Sutton I told myself, I am Luke Conibear and I own you London-Brighton-London

Lessons I learned the hard way:

  • Wear sunglasses, unless you enjoy dirt and sun in your eyes.

  • Wear cycling shorts with a decent chamois in them (old school bib shorts are a definite NO)

  • Don't bring a huge rucksack with rock climbing equipment in it

  • If it's hot, take the fleece off

  • Alter hand position regularly to increase enjoyment

  • It's probably best to train at least once without fainting before trying a 100 mile ride.

  • Leave the road bike at home and ride the GoCycle

Friday, 27 May 2011

Pearson 150

We have all just about recovered from the annual Pearson 150, which took place last Sunday. We hope you all had it in you to pull your achy frames from your beds on Monday morning as well.

As the event approached, it was dubious as to whether the glorious sunshine would make a come back for a second year running - riding conditions were particularly challenging. Entrants were subjected to a pretty decent wind bashing and I can't imagine such blustery conditions facilitated the 150km for those with aero wheels. Despite the slightly lack lustre weather, the ride was a success with 620 people signed up and and no spills en route.

Despite my tardy ways, the Pearson team was out in full force; some of us marshalling, some of us riding and the most fortunate of us were sitting in deck chairs at the feed stops. There, we sipped on hot tea and sampled the delights from SIS, Infinity Foods, Eat Natural, Diva Smoothies & Doves Farm Ltd… The nutrition and treats were plentiful. I must hand it to Guy Pearson, who, upon rolling in managed to consume three bags of assorted nuts, an energy bar and an entire fruit cake before setting off again with William.

Pearson would like to thank all of you who participated on the Pearson, for your donations, your time and your sweat to the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. A special thank you as well, to the boys at Puncheur for their hard work and collaboration in organising what - we hope - was a fun and rewarding ride for every one who participated.

You can access the sortable time sheet here, thank you to Matt Bee for these. Further, if you are interested in getting your mitts on some snaps from the day; visit Sportive Photo for a plethora of quality prints.

Donations continue to roll in, if you would like to make a donation, please visit us on the Pearson 150 Just Giving page.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Wouter Weylandt

Yesterday, cycling lost a young hero in a descending crash of the Giro D’Italia’s Stage 3 from Reggio Emilia to Rapallo. Wouter Weylandt, 26 and already a seasoned, Belgian, pack rider lost his way, descending from the main climb of the day. The accident led to a head injury which resulted in such a loss of blood that emergency medics - despite their efforts - could not resuscitate him.

Deaths within the professional circuit are infrequent, Weylandt was wearing a helmet and despite its technicality, the descent from Passo Del Bocco was not an extreme challenge. Road rash is commonplace, but fatalities in professional cycling are extremely rare; thus, it is the sheer nature of this accident that brings home the risks that professional cyclists undertake willingly, and the skills they possess to stay out of harms way. Unfortunately, even the greatest of cyclists can be put in adverse, potentially life-threatening situations in a moment of misjudgement or by a simple mechanical failure.

The weight of this tragic occurrence is sure to cast a shadow over this years Giro as well as our entire sport, and with today’s race neutralised we can reflect on the life, career and courage of Wouter Weylandt with the upmost admiration and respect. RIP.

Photo - Road Bike Review

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Guy Pearson & The Paris Roubaix: Part Deux

To take part in the first edition of the Paris - Roubaix sportive event was definitely one for the experienced cyclist. Steeped in history, the race réal has defied belief by its voyeurs for over a hundred years and is considered the hardest race in the pro's calendar. Politely named the 'Queen of the classics', its organisers let mere mortals like us ride the course on the preceding day (we had to pay, bien sûr).

We were very lucky to have dry, sunny weather on the day as things would have been very different in the wet. Us cyclo-tourists could do a 140km section of the 260km course, taking in 28 pavé secteurs, including some of the most difficult like Carrefour de l'Arbre on which, incedently, we finished our ride... The pros don't call it L'Enfer du Nord (The Hell of the North) for nothing.

The approach to the first section of the day was filled with trepidation, my riding partner Riggy hadn't done any cobbles before and there was nothing I could say that could possibly lessen the impact that was about to hit him. To say he was a little surprised would be an understatement; even I had forgotten how bumpy they were, despite having done the summer Roubaix five times previously.

We soldiered on moving from group to group - sometimes 200 strong - and as the day went on we shared the road with just ones and twos.
Riggy and I finished the course in just over 4 hours, then made our way up to Roubaix vélodrome for a welcomed wash at the famous Roubaix showers, where each cubicle is named after a winner - I chose Sean Kelly's.

It's always a very levelling moment when you watch the pros the next day tearing along at breakneck speed across the pavé, going as fast at the end of 260kms as they were at the beginning, it’s just so impressive. All it did was make me want to do it all over again next year!

Guy Pearson

Friday, 22 April 2011

Staff Rides: Jim's Golden Crosstrail

Most of you will know Jim as the charming red haired gentleman in the front shop. Those lucky enough to become acquainted with him may have been fortunate enough to hear a story or two about his years as a courier in the Big Smoke.

I remember he would ride these beaten-up looking beauties; his favourites being a classic Pearson steel mummified by inner tubes, and an Ambrosio covered in stickers. It seems as though his years riding these dirty rags have taken there toll on our Jim; his unhealthy obsession with the Specialized Crosstrail has led to the creation – with the aid of Michael – of this rather ‘gangster’ looking bicycle:

Name - Jim

Perceived age - 28

Real age - 43 (cycling keeps you youthful)

Best thing about Pearson’s?

Fresh blood to listen to my endless catalogue of exciting stories.

Worst thing about Pearson's?

Having your work mates ask you every second: ‘Did you used to be a courier?’.

What about making the tea?

I don’t make tea so it doesn’t matter.

Is it really true that you were a London courier?


What were your call signs?

It was P65, then P40 and then Wee Jimmy Krankie!

Can you tell me one of your famous stories?

Had a job to do, an urgent Friday double rush – good money – from the West End all the way down to Wapping. It was the end of the day and I wasn’t too pleased about it; the package I was asked to deliver was a film contract along with a small bag full of snowdrops.

Got to the property and knocked on the door as you do, and out comes Dame Helen Mirren; so I handed her these crushed up flowers and say ‘here ya’ar love’. She took it like a champ. When returning to the West End, I told my boss about it and he asked me what she looked like. Well, I said she was alright for an old bird - and she was.

Once when delivering jewellery to Christina Aguilera at the Mandarin Hotel…

Enough now. What’s cycling for you?

Adrenaline. Action. Buzz… Survival (laughs).

Why did you cover your Ambrosio in stickers?

I didn’t want people to think I was sponsored by a rice pudding company.

Why a gold Crosstrail?

Why not? It looks like my old favourite Scalextric, The John Player Edition.

Frame – Specialized Crosstrail M4
Fork – Locked Out NRX
Bar – Truvatic Stylo WC
Bar ends – KCNU (gold)
Grips – ODI LO (gold)
Stem – Hope (gold)
Headset – Cane Creek
Wheels – Velocity Aero rims in gold laced onto gold Hope Pro II hubs.
Tyres – Specialized All Condition Armadillo x2
Brakes – Avid Elixir 5’s
Shifters – Sram X-7
Front Mech – Shimano LX
Rear Mech – Sram X-9 w/ gold jockey wheels!
Chainset – Gold bolted shimano.
Pedals – Specialized Magnisium… Gold
Saddle – Charge Spoon
Post – Pearson carbon