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