Classic roadsters have lugged-steel frames; swept-back “North Road” handlebars; one-speed hubs or 3-speed internal-gear hubs; steel cranks with single chainrings; fully-enclosed chaincases and steel fenders; 28″ (700B) wheels with steel rims; and sometimes, dynamo hubs with integrated lights. Traditionally, roadsters came equipped with rod brakes, but modern roadsters more commonly use cable-actuated drum or caliper brakes. Roadsters are built to withstand the rigors of daily use on rough roads, and as such are quite heavy. They are anything but performance bikes, but they make wonderful daily workhorses for running errands and hauling loads from the grocery store, library, or hardware store.
Very few true roadsters are still being manufactured today. More common in this country are what are called “Dutch” bikes (so-called Dutch bikes are closely related to roadsters but differ slightly in their ergonomics and frame geometry). In other parts of the world, roadsters are still widely used as utility bikes. The Chinese Flying Pigeon brand roadster is closely associated with the communist era during which it became the single most popular mechanized vehicle in the world. It is estimated there are still 500 million on the road today, with many handed down from one generation to the next. All modern-day roadsters are based upon the English roadsters of the 1930s, with the archetype being the Raleigh 3-speed.
Pashley calls their roadster a “whale amongst minnows”; I feel the above photo accurately captures the personality of this imposing bicycle.