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Pearson's On And On Carbon Aero Gravel Bike is the perfect machine for those whose gravel rides are on the faster side. It has all the characteristics of a race machine; it's lively, nimble and has a lightweight ride feel that belies the scales. Comfort levels are high too, which means it doesn't only go fast, it's capable of going far.
I find the majority of gravel bikes fit into one two categories: off-road road bikes that focus on performance, or adventure-focused machines which edge closer to mountain bikes with drop bars.
The On And On is very much in the first category, and probably one of the most 'race' gravel bikes I have ridden to date.
The geometry puts you in quite an aggressive position with a short head tube and a steep seat angle, and the Pearson feels shorter and more nimble than most – these combine to make me want to ride it harder and faster.
At 8.6kg the Pearson is as light as many road bikes, and off-road that makes a big difference. Hammering down chalk or mud trails the On And On can change direction very quickly and, thanks to that low weight, it's easy to bunnyhop over obstacles you can't go round. It's a bike I felt I could ride faster and with more commitment than many.
The head angle is typically gravel for a bike of this size (medium) at 71.5°, which allows quick steering without overstepping the mark into the twitchy side of things. Basically, the handling is quick enough to get you out of trouble, but not so quick it gets you into trouble in the first place.
On the descents the Pearson reacts smoothly to small inputs or shifts in bodyweight, which means that you feel part of the whole thing rather than just a rider on a bike. Feedback levels are great, even when you take into account the high volume tyres at lower pressures than you'd find on the road.
I knew exactly what the bike was up to the whole time thanks to all of the information coming up through to the saddle and handlebar, and that makes the whole ride experience very enjoyable. It's almost as if there are never any surprises. If the front or rear tyre slips even so much as half a millimetre you are going to know about before it all goes wrong.
Elsewhere – like on the climbs – the stiffness of the bottom bracket shell, chainstays and down tube means this is no slouch when you get out of the saddle. The whole rear end feels very tight indeed, and it's the same at the front. The tapered head tube and full carbon fork staunchly resist any braking or steering forces.
Despite that, Pearson has managed to deliver a comfortable ride. There was little in the way of high frequency vibration, even at those times I found myself heading onto the gravel with the tyres slightly too hard. This also means the On And On can be ridden for hours without inducing fatigue through battering.
The longest ride I managed on the Pearson was a little over four hours, all of it off-road bar the first and last two miles. I finished the ride feeling surprisingly fresh in my arms and upper body, despite the punishment the dry trails dished out.
Overall, the ride quality is excellent and the On And On balances performance and comfort extremely well.
Versatility is the watchword according to Pearson, which is why they have adorned the On And On with mounts for racks, mudguards, bottles and even a top tube 'bento box.'
You'll find mounts on the fork legs for carrying stuff as well, and if you did want to go down the 2x chainset route at a later date, there are bolt holes for a front mech.
All of these mounts means the On And On could be turned into a very capable all-terrain commuter or tourer.
Away from all of that though, the Pearson is a bike with aero tendencies. Aside from the tube and junction profiles there isn't a cable, wire or hose in sight; everything is hidden away inside the frame and fork.
Okay, if you're a bike mechanic you may be muttering about the pain of setting internal cabling up, but the result is a bike that looks smooth and uncomplicated. From a practical point of view, it also makes it easier to fit frame bags and things as there are no cables or hoses in the way.
Pearson says it's analysed the data from its gravel bike fitting sessions, and that has helped create the On And On – it gives, they say, the majority of riders the most efficient riding position. It's available in five sizes ranging from small to extra-large, with top tube lengths of 520mm to 583mm respectively.
This medium has a top tube of 552mm, a seat tube of 520mm and a head tube length of just 147mm. The head angle, as I previously mentioned, is 71.5°, while the seat angle is 73° and puts you forward into a powerful pedalling position.
The chainstays are 430mm across the board. The wheelbase of 1,021mm on this size frame is what gives it its nimble feeling. Stack and reach are 582mm and 380mm.
The overall quality of the frameset is impressive, and if you want something a little more moody in the paint department it's also available in black.
You can either have an On And On with a mechanical GRX groupset or – as we have here – a Di2 option. Both of them are 1x which works well for gravel riding although I must admit, I do prefer a 2x system if possible.
That aside, Shimano's GRX Di2 can't really be faulted. The electronic shifting is quick and crisp up or down the cassette, even under load, and even though it's electronic you still get a good feel through the buttons to let you know the shift has been made.
The shape of the hoods also gives an ideal platform for riding off road. The curve leading into the section where the hydraulic reservoir sits stops your hands sliding forward when braking hard on the descents (or just trying to keep hold of the front end when the terrain is rough).
Ratios wise you are getting a 42t chainring mated to an 11-42t 11spd cassette. That gives a 1:1 ratio gear for climbing, while the 11/42t highest gear shouldn't see you spin out too quickly on the downhills.
For braking duties, the pads of the GRX calipers clamp 160mm SM-RT800 Ice Tech rotors – and that's a very dependable set up. The GRX brakes offers plenty of power and loads of modulation, which is a bonus on loose surfaces.
The rest of the finishing kit (apart from the saddle) is Pearson branded. The stem takes cables down through into the head tube for a clean look, and the carbon fibre Pearson handlebar is a joy to use. The slight ovalising of the bar tops gives a large platform to rest your hands on, and the shallow drops are an easy reach for anyone. With 15° of flare, they give a wide stance for stability when descending, too.
The seatpost is also carbon fibre, and has a teardrop cross-section for a small amount of aeroness.
Atop it sits a Bontrager Verse. It's a saddle I hadn't used before, but I got on with it well. There is enough padding for a bit of comfort, while it's small and narrow enough to suit a racing position.
Pearson has its own range of wheels, and the On And On gets a set of Hoopdriver Rock and Rolls with 40mm deep carbon fibre rims and 24 spokes front and rear. It's a good set of wheels. I found them light enough to compliment the frame and fork, and they bring a little bit of an aero boost on faster sections or tarmac too. They stayed true throughout testing, and the bearings ran smoothly and quietly.
Fitted to them are a set of 40mm (35mm is also an option) Pirelli Cinturato Gravel H tyres which Jamie reviewed, and on the whole, I agree with his findings. They give decent rolling resistance and the grip on hardpacked or dry surfaces is impressive. You'll need something with deeper tread for softer ground.
The hedges are starting to be hacked about round here and I didn't have any issues with punctures from cuttings, and they took plenty of abuse from large stones and rocks.
At £5,500 this version of the On And On is well priced against the opposition considering the electronic groupset and the deep-section carbon wheels.
The Look 765 Gravel RS also comes with a Rival eTap AXS groupset for £5,499, but you're getting a set of Fulcrum Rapid Red 500 DB wheels there – quite a step down from the carbon offerings on the Pearson and Specialized.
The Canyon Grail is a bike that rides very similarly to the Pearson. It's got that same racy feel about it, and also likes to be ridden fast over all sorts of terrain.
The Hover bar is a bit Marmite (I personally love it), but if you don't mind it you can get a CF SLX 8 with a 2x Di2 gear system and DT Swiss carbon wheels for £4,949.
The On And On is the type of bike that makes gravel riding even more fun. It rides like a very light bike, and the amount of feedback allows you to really push it hard. Thanks to the levels of stiffness and comfort it's a bike you can ride all day long. It's hugely versatile, and very capable too.
Lovely-handling gravel machine that feels lively enough to race, yet comfortable enough to explore
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pearson On And On Carbon Aero Gravel Bike
Size tested: Medium, 55.2cm
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
* Frameset: Pearson On And On Carbon Aero Gravel Frameset
* Fork: Full carbon fibre with extra expedition bosses
* Shifters: Shimano GRX815 Di2 11-speed or GRX800 11-speed mechanical
* Chainset: Shimano GRX RX810 42t
* Cassette: Shimano CS-M7000 SLX 11-Speed Cassette 11-42
* Chain: Shimano Ultegra - XT CN-HG701 Chain
* Rear Derailleur: Shimano GRX815 Di2 11-speed or GRX RX810 11-speed mechanical
* Brakes: Shimano GRX RX810 hydraulic
* Rotors: Shimano SM-RT800 160mm Ice Tech centrelock disc rotor
* Handlebars: Pearson 15-degree carbon flare
* Stem: Pearson integrated carbon
* Saddle: Bontrager Verse
* Seatpost: Pearson carbon integrated teardrop aero
* Bar tape: Pearson Hold Tight 3mm gel comfort
* Tyres: Pirelli Cinturato Gravel H 700x35 OR 700x40
* Wheelset: DCR premium hand-built aluminium or Pearson Hoopdriver Carbon
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?
Pearson says, "The watchword here is 'versatility'. On and On comes with multiple rack mounts and bottle bosses, making it the perfect packhorse for long-haul touring. The pared-back styling is also suited to faster hacks when time is equally lean, the slick lines achieved by routing all cabling through the frame."
The On and On is a very versatile gravel bike, perfect for those fast blasts on the by-ways or twisty trails while still being comfortable enough for longer trips.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
There are six build options based around GRX mechanical and electronic groupsets, with either carbon or alloy wheels. The cheapest model comes with mechanical GRX and alloy wheels for £3,500. Our model sits at the top of the price range at £5,500.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
The build quality is very high, with an excellent finish throughout.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Pearson use carbon fibre for the manufacture of both the frame and the fork.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
The front end is typically 'gravel' with a 71.5 degree head tube just to slow the handling down a touch for loose surfaces, but other than that it is quite racey with a shortish head tube for a bike of this size, and the wheelbase that's relatively short. It gives the whole bike a nimble feel.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
The stack and reach figures mentioned in the review are fairly typical for a gravel bike of this size.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Comfort is impressive, especially considering how stiff the frame and fork feels.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Stiffness levels are ideal throughout, especially for the racy nature of the bike.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Due to the stiffness, power transfer is very good and efficient.
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? Lively without feeling twitchy.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The On and On is a fun bike to ride, with quick handling allowing you to push hard into the bends even on a loose surface. The frame and fork also passes loads of feedback through to the rider.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
I found the carbon fibre handlebar comfortable due to its shape and small amount of flex. There is enough give to take the edge off of the small vibrations, and the shallow drops with their 15 degree flare are great for descending.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The Hoopdriver Rock and Roll deep-section wheels offer loads of stiffness when getting out of the saddle or climbing.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
With a 42t chainring paired to an 11-42t cassette, this has a good spread of gears for both high speeds and those challenging climbs.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
The GRX Di2 groupset is a great piece of kit with crisps gear shifts and powerful braking. The hood shape lends itself well to supporting your hands on rough surfaces, esepcially on fast descents.
Wheels and tyres
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?
The wheels performed well throughout testing, standing up to plenty of abuse on the gravel while being light enough to feel lively on the road.
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?
The tyres work well on a range of surfaces, and roll quick enough on the road as well.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
All the components work well. The saddle is comfortable and I like the shape of the shallow bars with their 15 degree flare.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Look 765 Gravel Disc is the same money as the Pearson and comes with a Rival Wide eTap groupset, but relatively cheap alloy Fulcrum wheels. Speacialized's lightweight Crux range offers the Expert model for £5,800 with a Rival eTap groupset and carbon Roval wheels.
Use this box to explain your overall score
The On and On has excellent ride characteristics and brilliant feedback, which make it a lovely bike to ride fast and far. The price is competitive too.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!