The Shand Leveret is a beautiful handbuilt steel frame drop-bar bike designed for commuting, touring and even a spot of light adventuring. It comes with the added bonus of a maintenance-free Shimano Alfine hub gear and Gates Carbon Drive belt drivetrain. But while it's a little faster than expected, it's also just a little firmer than anticipated, too.
On first, second and third viewing the Shand Leveret is a beauty. You could go around the bike with a magnifying glass and find no blip or disappointment; every detail is like the brushstroke of a larger masterpiece. However, the thing about testing bikes that look perfect is they raise your expectations perhaps too high. The real beauty of a bicycle has to show itself on the road, and this is where things can get a bit surprising.
Shands have been used to circumnavigate the world countless times by the brand's hardy and dynamic fanbase. With that and the Leveret's steel frame in mind, I was expecting a cosseting ride, but the Leveret is actually quite a firm old girl. Although we may be known as soft southerners here in Surrey, we actually have to put up with some pretty appalling road surfaces and the Leveret let me know all about them more than I expected. Potholes and broken roads are particularly clearly transmitted to the rider.
The flip side is that this stiffness also provides a fairly enthusiastic ride experience. Internal gears don't tend to lend themselves to exciting times, but here the Shimano Alfine hub doesn't drag on the Leveret's performance to any great degree. Sprinting is better than expected, and despite the slight penalties you face with the nature of the drivetrain, this is one of the better hub-geared bikes I've used on climbs. All that said, though, high-speed cruising on the flat is undoubtedly the Leveret's forté.
Overall control is impressively secure, too. The Leveret is not a super-fast, reactive bike, but handling is assured. For travelling at pace where you can plan your movements ahead of time, it's perfect. It's also particularly well planted when cornering and descending.
The riding position is good, with a relatively high front end giving a good view of the road ahead, and it means even those with the creakiest of backs should be able to get on the drops if they fancy it.
The Leveret is a limited edition model and looks stunning with the beautifully Tig-welded svelte and round-profile chromoly tubing used.
There is internal cable routing, the S-bend stays are delightful, and a modular rear hanger allows for a future upgrade to a thru-axle derailleur setup. In truth, it all gets a bit busy at the rear drops, but in amongst everything there are also mounts for racks and mudguards.
The fork is a full carbon offering rather than steel – which might explain at least the front end's less forgiving qualities – but it's also a high quality affair with tapered steerer, lowrider rack mounts and mudguard eyelets.
Everything is finished in a perfect coat of what Shand calls 'lightning metallic grey', which is a bit like a funky glam gunmetal.
How Shand can offer a fully built, handmade steel frame with Alfine hub gear for £2k might come as a mystery, but there's another detail that needs to be mentioned: the Leveret isn't made by Shand's bike builders in Scotland but constructed in Taiwan. That might take the lustre off the notion of this bike, but it shouldn't affect it in any practical way: Taiwanese bike builders are some of the best in the business.
In terms of fit, I tested a large model with a 576mm effective top tube length. That's normally bang on the money for me, but to get perfectly comfortable I had to swap out the 100mm stem for 120mm. So if you're between sizes, it's worth knowing the bikes comes up just a tad short in length.
Meanwhile, the all-up weight of almost 12kg sounds like plenty, although you do have to take into account the Alfine hub.
I mentioned high-speed cruising being the Leveret's strong suit and that's chiefly because the combination of Alfine hub gear, 22-tooth sprocket and 50-tooth Gates Carbon Drive belt crankset is quite highly geared. Personally, I'd prefer more options at the lower end of the range, whereas at the top end there's more than enough capacity.
As an indicator of what I mean, let's compare the Leveret's gearing with some 1x equivalent options. For example, The Light Blue Robinson V2 Rival 1X with its 42-tooth chainset and an 11-36t cassette – which Stu tested recently and said was fine if you live somewhere flat – has a lowest gear of 31.7 gear inches, compared to 32.5 on the Shand. And if you go for something more mainstream, such as a Specialized Diverge Comp E5 with its 1x system comprising a 40t chainset and 11-42t cassette, you get a full two ratios (at 25.9 and 29.4 gear inches) lower than anything on the Shand, and four ratios lower than the Shand's second lowest.
All of which is a long-winded way of saying: the gearing available with Shimano hub gears, along with the extra weight they introduce at the rear wheel, means they can feel a bit hard going in comparison to good 1x setups.
The Alfine hub itself is a marked step up on Shimano's cheaper Nexus model, though, and offers reliable swapping between ratios even under load and at a standstill – great for traffic light late-brakers. Shand has wisely opted to pair the hub with an old-school-style bar-end shifter, which I find is the best option for direct, trouble-free hub gear changes.
Braking is courtesy of TRP Hylex hydraulic discs. I'd opt for the equivalent Shimano discs instead if I could, as these feel just a little underwhelming, especially when trying to come down from great speed. They're not terrible, just not as good as Shimanos. The flat-bar version of the Leveret does come with Shimano RS600 levers and Tiagra-level callipers.
Did I say you could get a flat-bar version of the Leveret? Absolutely. Shand can knock you up one of those no problem. However, our test bike came fitted with a short reach alloy drop bar with a fun 12-degree flare. It offers plenty of good positions and comfort is further enhanced by very comfy bar tape with highly-noticeable reflective material visible through the holes.
As I said, I swapped out the supplied 100mm alloy stem for a slightly longer one, but that original item was a very standard bit of unbranded kit. And I'm also not a huge fan of the unbranded saddle, which didn't do much to promote comfort. Like the frame, it was a tad firm for my liking.
When it comes to the spec sheet, the Leveret's wheels are something of a treat. Built by the folk at Shand themselves, these feature tubeless-ready anodised alloy rims on the Alfine hub at the back and unbranded hub at the front. They're not super-light, but they do look tough and the thru-axle hubs mean everything stays nice and stiff.
The Schwalbe G-One Allround tyres are also excellent and come with tan sidewalls and Raceguard puncture protection and are tubeless ready, too. You might want to take advantage of that tubeless ability as removing the real wheel to fix a puncture at the roadside is a bit of a faff with the hub gear. Also, despite being 35mm, the Schwalbe's don't have as much success damping problems under tread as I'd expected. To be honest, if the bike was mine to keep, I'd be tempted to whack on a set of skinnier slicks just to see what the Leveret could do with the proverbial gloves off.
Finally, Shand supplies the Leveret with a smart set of aluminium SKS mudguards, which look great but didn't half rattle. In the end, I took them off so as to not distract me from the rest of the bike.
I mentioned The Light Blue Robinson V2 earlier, which matches the Shand in a number of ways, not least by having a steel frame – Reynolds 725 in this case – and comes with a SRAM Rival 1x11 drivetrain for £2,024.99. The Ribble CGR SRAM Apex 1x is another Reynolds 725 wonder with a 1x setup for £1,549.
If you'd like a Shand but don't think the Leveret is quite for you, you could always go for the legendary made-in-Scotland Stooshie, although it'll cost you north of £3,000.
And finally, while the Leveret seems good value in that company, it doesn't get close to touching my favourite handmade-in-Taiwan steel bike, the Goldhawk Rodax with 1x drivetrain – yours for £1,400.
I had hoped the Shand Leveret's ride would be as good as its looks, but in reality that was always going to be a big ask. It's a really beautiful bike and it's certainly not short of high-speed ability. But with comfort not being stellar, and weight and drivetrain not helping to maximise the frame's decent power delivery, it has to be classed as a fine ride, but not the finest.
Beautiful looking handbuilt steel frame with Alfine hub but a firmer ride than expected
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Shand Leveret
Size tested: 58cm
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame: Tig welded, custom-drawn, triple butted cro-moly main frame with internal cable routing, modular rear hangers and eyelets for bottle, mudguards and pannier rack
Fork: Full carbon and tapered steerer tube with internal cable routing, eyelets for mudguards and low mount rack and 12mm bolt-thru axle
Headset: FSA internal Cartridge Bearings 36/45
Bottom bracket: FSA MegaExo, BSA 68mm
Gearing: Shimano Alfine hub gear, 8spd
Sprocket: Gates CDX 22t Stainless Steel
Shifters: Microshift Barend
Belt: Gates Carbon Drive CDX Black.
Crankset: Gates S550 Forged 6061 CDX – EXP High Mileage 50t
Brakes: TRP Hylex Hydraulic with TRP centre lock rotors (flat bar model: Shimano RS-600 hydraulic levers and RS-405 calipers)
Wheels: Shand anodised tubeless ready 32h rims with Sapim black stainless steel spokes (hand built at Shand)
Tyres: Schwalbe G-One Allround 700 x 35c with Raceguard and TLE Tubeless ready
Stem: 3D forged alloy 6061 handlebar clamp size 31.8mm
Handlebar: Alloy double butted ergo short reach and 12 degree flared 31.8 with black reflective feature bar tape (flat bar model: 6061 alloy double butted 31.8mm with silicone grips)
Seatpost: 3D forged one-piece Alloy 6061 T6 27.2mm
Tell us what the bike is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Shand aims the bike at commuters and says: "Arrive fast. Arrive clean. Arrive safe. Arrive in style. Our very limited edition ready-to-ride commuter bike is available NOW! There's never been a better time to get on your bike. And, if you're on your way back to work, do it in style with our new Shand Leveret. We've taken the best bits of our bespoke adventure bikes and created our very own commuter which will get you to work in style and take you off-road when you want to discover some exciting new routes. And because it's already built and ready to go, the only decisions you need to make are your size and drop or flat handlebars. Then you can start planning the long way home after work..."
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
This is a standalone model but Shand offers a host of more exotic commuting and adventure cycling options, such as the Stoater (starting at £2,695) or the Stooshie (starting at £3,395).
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
This is an exquisitely built and finished bike.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The frame is made from Tig-welded, custom-drawn, triple butted chromoly while the fork is a full-carbon affair.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
The Leveret is a fairly conservative semi-compact frame with a relatively high head tube.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Height was good, reach – for me at least – was just a tad short.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Comfort is a mixed bag – position was excellent but road imperfections made their way through to me more than I expected.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Stiffness was better than expected.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Power transfer was good. Although hub gears tend to feel less dynamic than derailleur setups, this was impressively reactive.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? Neutral. Very accurate but not too lively – quite relaxing but assured.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Very well balanced generally. I even took it on some very easy trails and it coped quite happily. Best environment is on road at speed, though.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
Subjective, but I wasn't particularly impressed by the saddle – I'd whip that off first.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The wheels felt sturdy and strong – having bolt-thru axles helped.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
I'd swap in thinner slick tyres for a more efficient high-speed road experience.
Quite impressive – I was expecting it to be less efficient.
Again, still better than I expected.
Probably the Leveret's best quality.
Solid and stable.
Takes the line well, as long as you're able to plan ahead.
Very good for a hub gear bike.
The Alfine hub is a decent bit of kit although, personally, I'd still rather have a 1x setup for improved efficiency.
The combination of hub gear and Gates Carbon belt should last for a very, very long time!
This is not a light drivetrain on a £2k bike.
The Alfine is Shimano's top hub gear and Gates kit is well respected, but the pairing can still be found on cheaper bikes.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
I think a smaller chainring would have been helpful for more options at the lower end of the gear range.
Wheels and tyres
Nice 'n' stiff.
Early days, but handbuilt and hardy.
Not too light.
Stiffness and performance slightly ahead of comfort.
Handbuilt wheels on this bike seems like very good value.
Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so what for?
For dependable everyday use and efficient power transfer, these are very decent wheels.
Great grip on or off road.
Come with Raceguard puncture protection.
They didn't offer quite as much comfort as I was expecting, but still good.
Great quality tyres.
Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so what for?
Although the 35mm G-Ones are great tyres, I'd be really tempted to fit thinner slicks to see how good the Leveret would be as a road-only machine.
More than adequate performance – the drop handlebar is very good.
Simple alloy kit – should last.
Nothing more or less than expected.
Nice range of positions on flared drop bar and bar tape is very comfy.
Certainly no better than expected – in fact, you might expect more exciting kit on a bike at this price.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
Brakes are OK but not quite a match for Shimano hydraulic discs.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? No
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? No
How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Quite hard to judge, as there are few off-the-shelf steel drop-bar bikes with Alfine hubs. But, casting our net wider, The Light Blue Robinson V2 matches the Shand in a number of ways, not least by having a steel frame – Reynolds 725 in this case – but comes with a SRAM Rival 1x11 drivetrain and costs £2,024.99. The Ribble CGR SRAM Apex 1x is another Reynolds 725 bike with a 1x setup for £1,549. If you'd like a Shand but don't think the Leveret is quite for you, the legendary, made-in-Scotland Stooshie will cost you north of £3,000. The Goldhawk Rodax has a handbuilt-in-Taiwan Reynolds steel frame with 1x drivetrain and is yours for £1,400.
Use this box to explain your overall score
The Shand Leveret is a fantastic bike to look at and the quality of build and spec, on paper, is hard to fault. But despite being stable, assured and super-reliable, quite against expectations it's also a little firm to ride.
About the tester
I usually ride: Islabikes Beinn 29 My best bike is: 25-year-old Dawes Galaxy
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb, Leisure