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    Which Pashley? A women's guide to choosing a Pashley Bicycle.

    Which Pashley? A women's guide to choosing a Pashley Bicycle.

    Welcome to the wonderful world of Pashley cycling! Much of the Pashley women's range is designed around a single iconic Pashley loop frame with slight differences depending on the model. The differences usually take the form of colour, gears, handlebar shape and optional extras such as locks, lights and pannier racks. Although the Pashley website is beautifully set out it can be difficult to get a grasp of the differences these subtle changes can make to your riding experience.

    We're keen Pashley cyclists, we're women and we regularly chat with others about their experience with the brand, so we thought we'd pass on our wisdom in the form of an impartial guide to choosing a Pashley bicycle. We'll also talk about the weight of the frames as this may be on your mind and it's not easily found info.

    Before we go into detail about the specific models it's important to emphasise that certain characteristics are present throughout the range. For example:

    Ground surface - all the Pashley bikes that we'll be discussing (except the Penny) are suited to leisure and commuting cycling, ideally on a smooth hard surface - a road or a cycle path. The tyres and the bikes themselves are certainly tough enough to withstand bumpy tracks or loose gravel but the riding position is pretty loose and doesn't offer great control on unpredictable ground.

    Weight - weight does vary throughout the range but Pashley bikes are not considered light. The lightest Pashley we'll be discussing is the Poppy which weighs approx 17kg. Whilst it makes owning one in a flat a little tricky it does mean you have an amazingly smooth ride that flies along very happily at speed.

    Posture - Once again with exception of the Penny, all the Pashley models are upright and can be adjusted to suit your posture. The aim is for all your weight to travel through your bottom onto the bouncy Brooks saddle and for there to be no tension in your arms, back or wrists. Fantastic for anyone who experiences any problems in those areas.

    Maintenance -  Gears and brakes are safely tucked away into the hubs on the front and rear wheel. This means that the parts are protected against the elements and very unlikely to ever go wrong. Everything else from the tyres to the chain is carefully chosen to be of the highest quality and unlikely to perish.

    OK, let's get started!

    The Pashley Princess Classic/Sovereign

    The Princess is the infamous Pashley model that has changed very little in appearance since the 1950's. Its austere elegance and historical references is a definite pull for those interested in classic design and vintage bikes. The Princess uses the one frame design and is painted in black or British racing green. It's available in three different levels:

    pashley princess classic vintage womens bike

    1. The Princess Classic £595 18kg - this is the most basic, stripped back version with a simple three speed Sturmey Archer hub (gears), pump and basket. 

    pashley princess sovereign classic womens vintage bike review

    Pashley princess sovereign new vintage womens bike

    2. The Princess Sovereign (5 speed) £695 20kg

    The Sovereign has been kitted out with extras such as a wheel lock, pannier rack, dynamo lights and 5 speed hub. These two extra gears do make a difference when going faster along flat ground but not hugely when attempting a hill. This is because while you're gaining two extra gears you are also gaining two extra kg in weight due to the lock and pannier rack. So it's worth bearing in mind when comparing the Princess Classic and Sovereign that while you gain a lot of add ons with the Sovereign it is a heavy bike and will not work if you need to carry it up any steps, lift it into a car or live in a hilly area. 

    pashley princess sovereign classic womens vintage bike review


    pashley princess sovereign 8 speed classic vintage womens bike

    3. The Princess Sovereign (8 speed) £775 20kg

    The extra gears on this are now really making a difference and although the weight is still the same as the Sovereign 5 speed, getting up hills is noticeably easier and you can pick up plenty of speed on the flat. If you live in a hilly area and can stretch to the higher price tag we would certainly recommend going for this over the 5 speed. 

    The Pashley Sonnet Pure £575 18kg

    pashley sonnet pure classic womens vintage bike review

    pashley sonnet pure classic vintage womens bike review

    This is identical to the Princess Classic but uses different colour ways.

    The Pashley Sonnet Bliss £675 20kg

    pashley sonnet pure classic womens vintage bike review

    Again the same as the Princess Sovereign, just using different colour ways.

    The Pashley Britannia £675 - £755

    pashley britannia classic womens vintage bike pashley  review

    pashley britannia classic womens vintage bike review

    This has been a favourite at Bell's for some time. Again it features the same classic Pashley loop frame but they have managed to add some amazing extras whilst keeping the weight to a minimum. It has 5 gears, an integrated dynamo hub which produces a strong light and the softest leather hand grips which are handmade locally to Stratford on Avon. It's still by no means a light bike but at 18kg it you can happily manage medium hills and lift it up a few steps if you had to. While the tyres can handle rough tracks pretty well the Pashley Britannia is at it's best on more stable surfaces due to the steering position.

    It is also available with an 8 speed hub which suddenly takes this bike to the next level. It's now a versatile bike that can manage most hills with relative ease and is great for longer distances too.

    The Pashley Poppy £495 17 kg

    pashley poppy classic womens vintage bike review

    The Poppy is the lightest in the range and with exception to the Penny the most sporty. It has straighter handlebars which allow for a stronger more responsive reaction and the frame has been stripped back of any extras to allow for an unencumbered nippy ride.

    pashley poppy classic womens vintage bike review

    pashley poppy classic vintage womens bike review

    This would be a great option if you wanted to commute on a Pashley as it would be able to navigate traffic well, you could carry it up a few steps if you needed to. It's also more affordable than some of the other models so perhaps less precious for everyday riding. It has three gears only so it wouldn't be great for hill dwellers but perfect otherwise.

    The Pashley Penny £575 17kg

    pashley penny classic vintage womens bike review

    pashley penny classic vintage womens bike review

    Suddenly we see a breakaway from the Classic Pashley frame. While using many of the same parts we now how a really versatile hybrid which can handle your daily commute but also pretty rough ground. The position is less upright and the handlebars are straighter which result in a stronger position.

    pashley penny classic vintage womens bike review

    It has five gears so it can handle hills pretty well and is a fantastic alternative to a dull hybrid. The only down side again is that at 18kg this isn't an ideal bike if you want a light weight city bike.

    And there we have it. Although we are big Pashley fans I hope we've been able to give you an impartial honest starting point when looking for a Pashley. We are always happy to go into more detail if you have any questions. Just give us a call on 01424 716 541 or send us an email to hello@bellsbicycles.co.uk

    Happy cycling!






    The rebirth of the Raleigh All Steel - vintage bike restoration at Bell's

    The rebirth of the Raleigh All Steel - vintage bike restoration at Bell's

    Classic bike restoration is a big part of what we do at Bell's and it has grown organically since we opened our doors in 2008. We find the process of taking a bike destined for the scrap heap and returning it to "new" pretty extraordinary and the results still amaze us every time. 
    So, we thought it was time we should share one of our restoration stories and give you an insight into how the process is achieved.
    This is the story of a 1957 Raleigh All Steel which was brought into us in the Autumn of 2016 and is just being finished now in February 2017 (it's not a particularly fast process) The bike had been stored in a shed for the last twenty years unused and rusting away, but it belonged to the late father of our customer so when it was discovered he chose to restore it back to shop floor condition. That's where we come into the story.
    The bike was in Southampton and we are in Hastings so we arranged for the bike to be collected by our specialist couriers and brought to our workshop. When the bike arrived it was quickly evident that to return it to "new" would require the full works. Quite often parts can be cleaned and polished back to their original condition but this was not the case in the restoration of the Raleigh All Steel. Here is a rough break down of everything that was required:
    Chrome parts - all needed to be stripped, nickle plated and re chromed. This applied to everything except for the rear wheel rim which had disintegrated beyond repair and needed to be replaced with "new" old stock. 
    vintage bike restoration at bells bicycles
    Mudguards - were beyond repair too so we used a new pair of Pashley mudguards that were a perfect match.
    vintage bike restoration at bells bicycles
    Frame and forks - were sent to a local powder coating company  to be stripped and then repainted.  
    vintage bike restoration at bells bicycles
    Lights - The front light was chromed and then hand painted. The lens and internals all had to be replaced. There was no rear light so we supplied one from the right period and hand painted it. 
    vintage raleigh bike restoration bells bicycles
    Wheels - Both wheels had to be stripped and then rebuilt using new spokes around the Sturmey Archer hub and rim.
    vintage bike restoration at bells bicycles
    Rod brakes - some rods were rusted through and beyond repair. We replaced certain sections and kept as much for the original set up as possible. We supplied new rod brake blocks.
    vintage raleigh bike restoration bells bicycles
    Decals - We replicated all original signage and lettering. Some were hand painted, others were decals, all depending on what was there originally. We then hand painted the red coach lines onto the mudguard and frame.
    vintage bike restoration at bells bicycles
    We undertake every level of restoration at Bell's from a thorough clean, polish and service to a complete A1 restoration as seen here with the Raleigh All Steel. Typically we restore 20th century vintage and classic bikes but we also work with museums to preserve antique 19th bicycles, penny farthings and tandems. 
    If you have a similar project in mind then we'd love to hear from you. We'll happily talk through the process in more detail and if you provide us with some detailed photos of your bike then we'll get you an estimate.

    The Basket Room - bike baskets that do good.

    The Basket Room - bike baskets that do good.

    On Friday we received our first delivery of bike baskets from The Basket Room and I can't remember when we were last so happy to see the delivery guy at Bell's.

    the basket room african ethical bike baskets

    Designed in London/Oxford by the super talented Holly and Camilla and hand woven by the weaving collectives of Northern Ghana, each basket produced is a step towards a more stable life for the members of the collective. Most members are farmers who face difficult times when the weather is poor. They rely on the alternative income raised through weaving during the dry seasons for basic living costs. sustainable ethical bike baskets from Ghana africa the basket room

    We think it's a winning team! With Holly and Camilla creating bold colour combinations teamed with the skill and care of the weavers, the result is a beautiful product that makes a real difference to the lives of Ghanaian farmers.

    sustainable ethical bike baskets from Ghana africa the basket room

    Creating each basket is quite a process and can take up to three days to complete. Each bike basket is handwoven from a wild grass, locally known as Elephant Grass and naturally dyed using extracts from tree bark and vegetables. The grass is split and rolled by hand, then dyed by boiling it in water with the natural dye materials. 

    sustainable ethical bike baskets from Ghana africa the basket room

    "We started as a small group but now we've grown not just in numbers, but also as individuals. Our members are able to support their families and supplement the income they get from farming. To everyone that buys these baskets, we say Asante sana sana (Thank you so so much)." - Madam Dorcas Chairlady

    sustainable ethical bike baskets from Ghana africa the basket room

    This is a high quality product. The baskets themselves are strong and tightly woven. They are secured to a bike using thick leather straps and they can resist British weather conditions. Each basket is supple which will lead to less breakages or fraying (a common problem when wicker baskets get knocked or crushed in bike parks) If you think you'll use the basket for heavier loads, we would recommend using it with a basket support. 

    We are thrilled to be stocking The Basket Room baskets at Bell's and wish this fantastic company every success in 2017. 

    How good for you is cycling really?

    How good for you is cycling really?

    The benefits of cycling to the mind, body and environment are endless so we've put together a bite sized shortlist showing the positive effects that cycling can have on your life.

    1. You'll look younger

    It's true! The effect of riding up that hill to work increases your circulation and delivers nutrients and oxygen to skin cells. It also acts as a detox to the cells and flushes away harmful toxins. Leaving you with rejuvenated, plumper skin.


    1. You'll feel lighter

    It obviously depends on the intensity of your ride but to give you an idea; if you go on a 30 minute ride and reach your destination out of breath and a little sweaty then you've burnt off approximately 350 calories. Your average daily ride is unlikely to build loads of muscle tissue, instead it's likely that your thighs, bum and waist will all slim down and tone up.


    1. You'll have better joints

    Patients in the UK who are suffering from joint related problems are regularly prescribed cycling 4 times a week as a way to head off the onset of arthritis and the need for hip replacements. Hip hip horray (sorry)


    1. You'll have less sick days

    This counts for all moderate exercise but a 20 minute cycle ride (try and get a hill or two if you feel up to it) makes immune cells more active so they’re primed to act fast when an infection does come along.

    is cycling good for you. cycle health benefits


    1. You'll feel sexier

    Physical activity = improved vascular health which has the happy knock on effect of improving your sex drive.

    "Studies in the US concluded that male athletes have the sexual prowess of men two to five years younger, with physically fit females delaying the menopause by a similar amount of time".*

    "Meanwhile, research carried out at Harvard University found that men aged over 50 who cycle for at least three hours a week have a 30 percent lower risk of impotence than those who do little exercise".

    * http://www.bikeradar.com/road/gear/article/30-reasons-to-take-up-cycling-23965/

    1. You'll have a peachy bum

    Whether it's the gluteus maximus, minimus or medius, they are all activated while cycling.

    The gluteus maximus, the largest butt muscle you have, helps to extend the hip as you pedal. As a contributing muscle, the gluteus maximus gets quite the workout when you cycle while the other two are involved in lateral movement.

    So while the gluteus maximus provides the bulk of the power, the two smaller muscles provide stability. An excellent all round workout for your bum.