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 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is the infamous Pashley model that has changed very little in appearance since the 1950's. Its austere elegance and historical references is a definite pull for those interested in classic design and vintage bikes.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:
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.
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.
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.
This is identical to the Princess Classic but uses different colour ways.
The Pashley Sonnet Bliss £675 20kg
Again the same as the Princess Sovereign, just using different colour ways.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org