Pearson Forge road bike review: A bike driven by data, made for everyday cyclists

The British brand aims to create a more comfortable ride for its customers without compromising on performance. So, does it live up to its claims?

In today’s world, customers expect a lot. Fast delivery, the crème de la crème of products, exceptional customer service, personalisation, availability, and a freebie if it is on offer, even if it is just a free coffee. We expect a lot and expect the retailers and manufacturers to live up to and fulfil all these expectations. Gone are the days when a good price and a quality product sufficed; now, everyone seeks that extra touch.

And this is the same for those looking to purchase a new bike. We want it to be fast, aerodynamic, comfortable, sleek, high-performing, lightweight, and in a range of sizes, and that will make us ride like a WorldTour pro – in the hopes of looking like a WorldTour pro. However, the abundance of options can make purchasing a bike overwhelming, especially with many premium retailers operating solely online. Is this the right bike for me? How can I be sure this is the right size? Is there anywhere I can see it in person and talk to someone? These are the questions that arise, debating whether to commit or mull over it for a few more days. 

Pearson Cycles prides itself on its service, aiming to go above and beyond for its customers, and has done since its inception all the way back in 1860. But today, it goes one step further for its customers than just repairing penny farthings back in the 19th century or simply handing them the bike (unless that is what they want), each customer gets fitted to their bike of choice, so when they receive it, it is set up precisely for them, ready to ride. 

Over the past 13 years, Pearson has been including this precision fit for each and every bike purchase, and as a result, the London-based brand has a rich pool of data with more than 2,000 bike fits to learn from. Seeing an opportunity to not only use this data but help riders be more comfortable  – a factor often sacrificed in the need for speed according to the brand – Pearson has developed its latest model, the Forge, a carbon data-led road bike that sits somewhere between an aero and endurance bike, thanks to the frame’s unique geometry. 

To understand how Pearson’s Forge bike is fitted to each individual and what it is actually to ride, Rouleur took a trip to the Pearson shop in South West London before taking it for a few test rides to see whether it really did provide a more comfortable ride in comparison to other bikes on the market. 

Precision fit and sizing 

Unlike Pearson’s other bikes and what is more commonly seen in the bike market, the Forge doesn’t use the small, medium, or large sizing system, instead, Pearson has developed its own one, two, three, four, and five-sized frames, titled the O-Series or Optimised Series. Pearson opted to create this new sizing using that data it had collected from 2,000-plus bike fits over 13 years. It enabled them to see how to create a bike frame that would optimally fit a much broader range of cyclists. 

According to its website, these bike sizes will cover 85% of the market from a recreational rider all the way up to a WorldTour pro. But what if you fall into the 15%? Pearson has stated that its Shift (or S-Series) aero road bike, designed with more aggressive geometry, will be better suited. By creating these size frames, Pearson says that this allows people to optimally fit the bike without the need for multiple spacers or other components which limit a rider from maximising efficiency and control, as it found that 55% of cyclists using out-of-the-box race bikes start riding with less than optimum geometry or component sizes  – having been designed originally for those in the pro peloton.

From the data, Pearson found that most cyclists fit their “mid-sizes” – 2, 3, and 4 – therefore, these sizes have quite a lot of overlap in terms of geometry. But Pearson stated that this allowed it to push the small size 1 and larger size 5 to its limit, ensuring it optimally covers those riders who find it difficult to find the correct fit. 

A precision fit comes as standard on purchasing a Pearson bike, whether you opt for the Forge model or not, but this time with the in-house experts does allow you to fully customise the bike to the build you want, and need, for the most optimised ride. For example, during my two-hour precision fit session, it became clear that I needed smaller cranks in order for me to achieve maximum comfort and performance as well as prevent the hip pain I was experiencing previously and had expressed at the start of the precision fit. I was also able to try different handlebar widths, finding the best position for me and my riding style. 

The meticulous attention to detail in the precision fit process underscores Pearson's commitment to ensuring customers derive maximum satisfaction from their bikes. It fosters a sense of involvement in the bike-buying journey, akin to acquiring a bespoke bike but at a more accessible price point. However, this experience is only accessible to those who can visit their store in Sheen, potentially excluding those unable to make the trip.

Frameset and set-up

The Pearson Forge boasts a sleek design characterised by slender tubes and an aerodynamic profile reminiscent of a pure racing bike. However, it distinguishes itself by prioritising rider comfort, achieved through a shorter reach and a taller stack height. The top tube elegantly sweeps up at the front to accommodate this more comfortable riding position without compromising the bike's racing aesthetics. A cut-away seat tube neatly tucks the rear wheel into the frame, while internal cabling enhances the bike's clean, minimalist design.

Designed to handle various terrains, the Forge offers generous tyre clearances of up to 700 x 35mm, making it versatile for different riding conditions. Additionally, subtle mudguard eyes and three bottle mounts are seamlessly integrated into the frame, adding to the bike's practicality for your everyday rider. 

Crafted from Toray carbon, the Forge's frame is lightweight, tipping the scales at just 890g in a size 3 model. Pearson offers flexibility in customisation, allowing riders to choose from a range of groupsets, including Shimano 105 Di2, Shimano Ultegra Di2, or Shimano Dura-Ace Di2. Furthermore, riders can select their preferred wheelset from options such as Pearson's DCR 30mm Deep Alloy (disc brake), Hoopdrive Cut and Thrust (38/50mm carbon disc brake), or Hoopdriver Tooth and Nail (50mm carbon disc brake).

The Forge is available in two colourways – hammer black and signature blue – with prices starting from £4,649. The Forge model I reviewed showcased Pearson's signature blue hue, equipped with a 105 Di2 groupset, Cut and Thrust carbon wheels, and a Fizik Argo R1 saddle, all fitted on a size 1 frame.

Ride verdict 

Learning about the Forge, it became evident that Pearson prioritised rider comfort, a characteristic I experienced firsthand during my rides on this road bike. Thanks to the extensive bike fitting session and the bike's unique geometry, I felt an immediate connection with the bike from my very first ride. The Forge seemed to fit me perfectly, eliminating the need for any adjustments to saddle height or regrets about my chosen set-up. Whether embarking on short jaunts or long-distance rides, I found my riding position exceptionally comfortable. I experienced no discomfort in my shoulders from prolonged leaning over the handlebars, nor did I encounter any issues with my hips, even with the shorter cranks.

While comfort was paramount, Pearson also aimed to infuse the Forge with speed – a quality that became evident as the bike effortlessly accelerated when I tested it on flat terrain. Its responsiveness on smooth roads and winding country lanes translated my efforts into impressive speed. Despite not being the lightest frame on the market at 980g (size 3), the Forge felt agile on climbs, handling the undulating terrain of Hertfordshire with ease. It occupies a niche between an aero-road racing bike and an endurance bike, offering a blend of speed and versatility.

Overall, my experience with the Forge was highly enjoyable. It made cycling, regardless of distance, a pleasurable endeavour. The bike felt fast and nimble while remaining extremely comfortable to ride – perfect for all-day rides without discomfort. This aspect particularly appealed to me as someone who enjoys leisurely café rides while still liking the thrill of going fast.

However, as someone who is not a competitive racer, I wondered whether the Forge's less aggressive geometry would suit riders seeking a more race-oriented bike, especially considering the abundance of high-performing road bikes on the market at a similar price point. Nevertheless, for the everyday rider, it's challenging to find fault with the Forge.

Learn more about the Forge on the Pearson website

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