A Look Back at Our Pashleys

Pashleys
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These Pashleys were the first bikes we purchased when making the transition from recumbents back to upright bikes in the spring of 2008. As we imagine a lot of people are who buy classic roadsters, we were drawn to their good looks and comfortable riding positions, as well as the promise of maintenance-free performance that comes with hub brakes, internal gear hubs, and full chain cases. For the most part the bikes delivered what they promised, though they eventually fell short of meeting our needs as we drove less and used our bikes for longer trips and more serious cargo hauling.

The Pashleys were perhaps the ultimate coffee shop bikes; they nearly always started a conversation and drew in both bicyclists and non-bicyclists alike. We found them perfectly comfortable for short trips in town, but with their 5-speed internal gear hubs and 50 lb. weight, anything beyond about 5-10 miles was a bit of a slog.

For as heavy as they were, you’d expect them to be stiff as a board and able to carry a major load. While they served perfectly well as grocery haulers for up to 30-40 lbs, beyond that the frames flexed fairly dramatically. This didn’t keep us from using them for cargo hauling, but it did make us acutely aware of the fact that stiff chromoly racks and frames are more appropriate for true utility riding (assuming a person has the need to move heavy stuff on their bike).

We can’t say we regret having owned the Pashleys. They were super fun and comfortable for toodling around town. They were nearly the best conversation starters we’ve ridden, surpassed only by recumbent trikes. Would we purchase similar bikes in the future? Probably not, but only because we now have other bikes that serve our practical needs more efficiently and effectively. So while our more modern bikes get the job done with less effort, Pashleys are still wonderful machines for a leisurely Sunday picnic ride or a trip to the local coffee house.

16 Responses to “A Look Back at Our Pashleys”

  • Eric Jenkins says:

    Wow, you are brave in posting this. In my experience, bringing up this point with Pashley owners is akin to:
    Telling VW Van (Type II!) that a Dodge Caravan is a more practical idea,

    Telling Grateful Dead fans they should just listen to ZZ Top,

    Telling Mac users to get over it and buy a cheap Dell!

    You are a brave one, my friend!

  • Alan says:

    @Eric

    Naw, Pashley owners are super; we corresponded with a number of them when we had ours. And as I said, they’re wonderful bikes for what they are. Horses for courses, as they say… :-)

  • Adrienne says:

    Nope. Not going Dell over Mac. Nope. : )

    I have had the opposite experience with my Batavus. It has way more than 5 speeds (27) and weighs more than 50 lbs with all of its stuff, but the more I ride it, the more I love it. i have yet to find a utility use for it that it has not been able to handle. I have carried 50 lb kid plus stuff, taken it 45 miles with friends through Marin, put it on bus racks, commuted in the rain, ridden it to 4 star restaurants and the theater, towed a trailer…. It has been the most versatile bicycle I have had in years. I never get tired of riding it!

  • Roland Tanglao says:

    adrienne stop tormenting us with your tales of batavus. jealous! definitely want one! since i am lucky enough to live and work in the city of vancouver, the hills are doable with a 50 pound bike. Not so in the suburbs of Vancouver.

  • dreamlet says:

    Interesting timing for this post. I’ve been riding my new Pashley for a few weeks now and already I understand its limitations. This doesn’t take away from the bike’s beauty and my enjoyment in riding it. I just understand that I’m not going to take it out on a 20 mile day or a ride that’s very hilly. Luckily for me I have read a lot of blogs and done a lot of reading up and I kind of knew this going in. It’s my short haul bike. I have a vintage mixte restoration project that I’m working on that will be my “light weight” bike for longer rides and/or faster rides.

  • Ira Kinro says:

    I’m riding a Pashley right now. It’s for sale for some of the reasons you mentioned. It’s beautiful. People smile everywhere I go – at least when I’m riding the Pashley. :) But, it does not suit my needs as well as I thought it would. I need a for real utility/cargo/transpo bike that can handle hills…or maybe I’m the one the needs to handle the hills. hmm.

  • arevee says:

    I purchase a Workcycles Opa and could not agree with you summary more ‘perfect bike for a short ride to the coffee shop’. It did have all the benefits of built in wheel lock, chain case, etc. but it was not good for hills or any kind of distance. Perhaps nice for some styles of riding, though not good for what I routinely do. The Yuba Mundo is a mild steel bike and probable no heavier than those mild steel Dutch Bikes, but it isn’t ‘flexy’ and will carry a heck of a big load. Of course, there is the form factor factor. That bike takes up a lot of space.

  • Micheal Blue says:

    Thanks, Alan, for this post. As I’m doing a research into what the best bike would be for my use, this is very helpful.

  • somervillebikes says:

    I had a bloated, 48lb vintage Dutch bike with a Sturmey Archer 3-speed. The way I see it, those bikes are nearly perfectly evolved for their native habitat: Holland, with it’s nearly flat landscape, the only short climbs being over the canal bridges. Outside of a flat environment, they simply aren’t well suited. I tried to like mine, but in the end, I passed it on to someone else, in favor of a bike more evolved to my cycling environment.

  • Rob Halligan says:

    Thanks for the valuable compare/contrast, and one of the great things about Eco Velo is the quality comments – that usually actually add to the story. I’m finding that less these days. Thanks for creating and contributing to that environment.

    I managed to find a 70’s vintage upright internally geared bike with all the granny bike accessories for tooling around DC that only weighs 30 pounds. Yes, I wouldn’t want to go over 15 miles on it and boy am I glad I don’t have to haul 50 pounds up and down stairs. (http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php/691113-Re-building-Bertha-DC-rehab-project-detailed).

    I’d also find it interesting Eco Velo also compared/contrasted bikes that cost around $1000 (that seem to be the majority of its coverage) to bikes built on handmade frames that can easily run $3000.

  • Tom says:

    OMG-this is THE Pashley we should be talking about:
    http://www.pashley.co.uk/products/clubman-country.html
    Alan, this has to be on your bike radar at some point, I’d love to hear your review on this one. Certainly a dream bike for me.

  • Doug ratliff says:

    I still own a beautiful Sovereign and my wonderful three speed Guvn’or. I like’m enough to keep them!

  • Loring says:

    @Tom – I am having one built for Alan to review if he want’s to, he requested the 23.5″ that I do not have yet. I am happy that the Pashley Roadster Sovereign was able to get Alan sitting upright again on a bike and transitioned him from the ‘bents he was riding.

    I think that the Clubman is much more his style now.

    Loring
    Belmont Distribution
    US Distributor of Pashley Cycles and Moulton Bicycle Company

  • Alan says:

    @Loring

    Can’t wait! Looks like a great bike…

    Alan

  • Amy says:

    It’s interesting how everyone who rides/has ridden a Pashley has different opinions of it’s capabilities. I’ve been riding mine for about a month now, in the souther Appalachians. To me, it’s actually quite good at climbing hills. It doesn’t do it quickly, but it gets there. Eventually. Now, maybe I find it perfectly adequate for getting around in a mountainous, rural area b/c I rode a heavy 40 year old English 3 speed around before the Pashley and probably have massive thigh muscles from that now. I admit though, I do also have an aluminum 10 speed mixte, which is MUCH lighter and faster, but less comfortable, and I ride that on really hot days so that I can catch at least a little breeze. :)

  • Molly says:

    This is a great post that is very timely for me, and was wondering if you might be able to provide some extra advice…I am riding my Dutch bike right now which I LOVE but have been in the market recently for something like your Civia Bryant or possibly a Surly Cross Check. Riding my slug of a bike to work every day with all my stuff on board has been a great workout, but it makes it so sometimes when I am in more of a hurry, I ditch the bike for the car just so I can make a quicker trip. I’ve read your reviews of the Civia and it seems like a perfect bike for the job. But what do you think of the Civia Bryant vs. Surly Cross Check?

 
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