Pashley-Moulton TSR8 Impressions

Background
Alex Moulton saw drawbacks in the traditional diamond frame bicycle and decided he could improve upon it. He started experimenting with new designs in the 1950s and after a number of years of development the first Moulton was released in 1962. It incorporated a number of radical innovations for its time including the use of small wheels, front and rear suspension, and a low step-over “unisex” frame layout. The original Moulton design was quite successful, but for various reasons (related mostly to poor business decisions and plain bad luck) the company has gone through a number of ups-and-downs over the years.


From 1992 to 2005, through a licensing deal with Moulton, Pashey manufactured an economical version of the prohibitively expensive Alex Moulton AM called the Pashley-Moulton APB (for all-purpose bicycle). The APB was a success, but in 2005, after a 14-year run, it was redesigned and updated to be lighter and more performance oriented, the result being the Pashley-Moulton TSR.

The TSR line includes four models: the TSR 30 based upon a 10-speed Campagnolo triple drivetrain; the TSR 27 based upon a SRAM DualDrive 3×9 drivetrain; the TSR 9 based upon a SRAM 9-speed derailleur drivetrain (with a single front chainring); and the TSR8 based upon an 8-speed Sturmey-Archer internal gear hub drivetrain. The different TSR models all share the same frame; the differences lie in the component details only. [Correction: There are two subtly different versions of the frame; one accepts caliper brakes, the other accepts linear-pull brakes. -ed.]


Impressions
I am by no means an expert on Moultons, and I’ve only ridden a handful of small-wheeled bikes, so instead of attempting a full-fledged review I’ll simply provide a few impressions and observations.

Like all Moultons, the TSR is a visual treat with its space-frame design. The clean brazing and beautiful gloss blue powder-coat can be clearly seen in the zoomed photos. The overall workmanship is excellent.


The components are a mid-level mix from Sunrace/Sturmey-Archer, Alex, and Tektro. The standout is the SA 8-speed rear hub. It is smooth, quiet, and trouble-free. Like many internal gear hubs it shifts best when under little to no load, though it does shift reasonably well under a moderate load. With only a single chainring, the gearing is somewhat limited; I’d recommend one of the TSR derailleur models for touring. For commuting and around town riding the 8-speed gear range is sufficient, with the simplicity and cleanliness of the gear hub being a real plus in all-weather conditions.


The ride is amazingly smooth for a small wheeled bike with high-pressure Stelvio tires. When I first got on the TSR, I actually stopped twice to check the tire pressure; the ride was so silky smooth I thought I might have a flat tire. It is far more smooth and comfortable than my S-Series Brompton. The suspension does tend to bob just a bit when climbing out of the saddle, but it was something I became accustomed to in short order.

As my loaner TSR was set-up, the ride position was just a bit more cramped than a traditional diamond-frame bike. With some minor adjustments it could undoubtedly be made to fit like a standard road bike.

The steering is quick—typical for a small wheeled bike—but not as quick as some folding bikes with smaller 16″ wheels.

The TSR is NOT a folding bike and is more accurately classified as a “separable”. Breaking it in half requires disconnecting the rear brake and shifter cables, removing a kingpin bolt, and unthreading a locknut. With a little practice a person should be able to get through the procedure in less than two minutes. What you’re left with are two, fairly clumsy bike halves. This feature would be useful for someone wanting to carry the bike in an automobile trunk or box it for shipping, but don’t mistake the TSR for a folding bike for multi-modal commuting.

Summary
The TSR is a unique design that is beautifully executed. I see it as a replacement for a traditional club racer, but with the added bonus of breaking down for storage or transport inside a small vehicle. With the addition of racks it could be used as a commuter, but because it doesn’t break down small enough to take on a city bus and the wheels are too small to fit most transit bus racks, it’s limited to point-to-point commutes. It’s such a beautiful, delicate bike, I can’t imagine locking it up outside or dragging it through a bustling train station anyway.

More Information

Many thanks to Rick Steele of Gold Country Cyclery in Shingle Springs, CA for providing the Pashley-Moulton TSR8 used for this report.

20 Responses to “Pashley-Moulton TSR8 Impressions”

  • andy parmentier says:

    moulton was not a fan of mountain bikes or recumbents. he preferred to walk trails rather than to ride them. i am a fan of moulton bikes! i almost pursued one in my milwaukee days.

  • andy parmentier says:

    i am in 2 pieces myself. larry holmes and don king were interviewed..why did i bring that up? heavyweight champion, i feel like a heavyweight on my bike, even 1380 lbs. or so.

  • EcoVelo » Pashley-Moulton TSR8 Impressions » Moulton Buzz says:

    [...] EcoVelo » Blog Archive » Pashley-Moulton TSR8 Impressions The TSR is a unique design that is beautifully executed. I see it as a replacement for a traditional club racer, but with the added bonus of breaking down for storage or transport inside a small vehicle. With the addition of racks it could be used as a commuter, but because it doesn’t break down small enough to take on a city bus and the wheels are too small to fit most transit bus racks, it’s limited to point-to-point commutes. It’s such a beautiful, delicate bike, I can’t imagine locking it up outside or dragging it through a bustling train station anyway. [...]

  • Rick says:

    Why didn’t they just make this a folder? It seems like it would be the exact same design, except you would have the couplers instead of the current attatchment, or am I missing something?

  • Rick says:

    Durp! Not couplers, but a hinge! Sorry ’bout that…

  • Jerry Somdahl says:

    The TSR’s older brother is the APB which is essentially the same bike with some minor differences. I’ve been riding one of these for about ten years. Mine is much modified and is a road bike. Everyone seems to think of the bike as a folding bike. It is separable but it is a pain to separate it. I rarely separate it. I do carry it in the back seat of my van as it is much shorter that a 700c tired bike. I’ve done about 5 centuries on this bike and about a thousand miles a year on it. With front and rear racks these bikes will carry a lot of stuff. These are terrific bikes.
    Jerry Somdahl
    Thousand Oaks, California

  • Croupier says:

    So, it’s kind of like a miniature Ritchey Breakaway?

  • Alan says:

    “So, it’s kind of like a miniature Ritchey Breakaway?”

    Sure. Or a Co-Motion Co-Pilot, or any coupled bike for that matter..

  • Vik says:

    I’ve had a couple Moulton crushes which both ended when I got to the point of pricing out the bikes I wanted. They are very interesting bikes and perhaps they are worth every penny, but given the total lack of any test riding it’s really hard to fork over that kind of $$$ given the other alternatives that are available.

    Having said all that if a Moulton crossed my path at a reasonable price I’d be hard pressed not to buy it. It definitely appeals to the engineering/bike geek in me.

    =-)

    Vik

  • Alan says:

    @Vik

    I’ve admired Moultons for years, but like you, I always blinked when it came to actually writing the check. The Pashley-Moultons are far more economical than “real” Alex Moultons, but at over $2000 for the low-end model, they’re still up there. Of course, for us Americans, the current value of the dollar doesn’t help matters.

    On a related note, a friend recently picked up an old AM Speed in perfect condition for a good price. I’m told they’re in high demand in Japan and going for upwards of $5-6K.

    Alan

  • Roland Smith says:

    Although the unisex space-frame looks cool, the design is showing its age. The frame is probably quite expensive to make, with lots of parts to be made and fitted and brazed.

    A single fat tube is a lot easier and cheaper to make these days. Look e.g. at bromptons. They’re lighter and cheaper.

    Also the springer front-end is quite old-fashioned. I suspect a modern front fork will be lighter and cheaper as well.

    It does look nice, though. :-)

  • Gero says:

    There’s one little thing I’d like to correct in the review. Actually, the TSR comes in two different frame variants, not one as stated above. One variant allows fitting caliper (race) brakes whereas the other one takes cantilever(V-) brakes. The latter welcomes a wider range of tyres thanks to a larger clearance between rim and frame. As you can see from the nice detailed pictures the TSR-8 is the one with caliper brakes. The TSR-30 shares the same frame. TSR-9 and TSR-27 are equipped with Avid V-brakes.

  • Alan says:

    @Gero

    Thanks..

  • Kevin Saunders - KGS Bikes says:

    I liken this bike to a Shelby Mustang. It represents a quantum leap at the time but structural design went the other way. I thought about getting one for the studio but it’s not my direction. I so appreciate the design.

    BTW, I had a few RIGI frames which had a unique design. They had dual seat tubes which amounted to two rear triangles joined by a bottom bracket and a seatpost cluster. They had 78 degree head and seat angles.

    I may have to dig some of those pictures out for the blog. Thanks for sharing.

  • Erik Sandblom says:

    I just tried one. It felt very solid, probably because of the suspension. Generally I don’t like suspension but this was great, it was smooth and really gripped the ground. It had drop bars, not straight/flat bars and that gave it a nice feel too.

  • Chris Mahon says:

    The “springer front end” is FAR superior to your typical MTB suspension fork on normal roads. I too have wondered if my front tyre is flat, so sensitive is the (hardly primitive) leading link suspension. Moulton’s more advanced ‘Flexitor’ suspension on the super pricey New Series models is also old I guess, being derived from a 1950s design for and off-road vehicle.

    The x-frame with small tubes (geodesic) is done that way for strength and high rigidity with lightness. But I agree that time has moved on and modern composites should be considered.

  • EcoVelo » Pashley-Moulton TSR8 Impressions « Moulton Buzz says:

    [...] » Pashley-Moulton TSR8 Impressions EcoVelo » Blog Archive » Pashley-Moulton TSR8 Impressions The TSR is a unique design that is beautifully executed. I see it as a replacement for a [...]

  • Kim Martin says:

    Compared to a conventional diamond frame they are more comfortable, have better roadholding, accelerate faster for a given input and carry luggage low down on the centreline resulting in better handling under load. Yes they cost a bit more but you get what you pay for.

    They were never designed city folders. They dismantle as a conventional bike would with S&S couplings. Don’t think of them as designed for city use. They have toured the world and competed successfully in RAAM (Race Across Amarica).

    Modern composites don’t last long, these bikes are designed for the long haul.

  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » Alex Moulton from Bristol to Bradford-on-Avon says:

    [...] had a Pashley-Moulton here for a brief time a couple of years ago. It was a lovely [...]

  • Simon in Easton says:

    Nice review – lovely photos! I’ve got a TSR 27, and so I can agree with the folks who say that a lot of this bike’s design features look back to well-established technology (the space frame, the leading link fork, the rubber ball rear suspension). Dr. Moulton’s strong point (some would say ‘genius’…) is that he takes established ideas & refines them, working on them over and over again till they work really well – if they don’t, he rejects them and starts again.
    In an earlier comment, Chris M noted that the New Series suspension is developed from an existing design for an off-road 4 wheeler – some of its origins are even older than that – check out the links on the front suspension of pre-war motor bikes like the Chater-Lea or the Velocette!

 
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