Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pashley, Speed, Hipster Bag

In my review of the Pashley Princess, I mentioned weight and lack of "agility" as counterpoints to her positive features. One thing I did not discuss was speed. Many assume that heavy "Dutch"-style bicycles cannot go fast and are not appropriate for long distance travel. I assumed this myself, and initially did not take Eustacia on super-long trail rides the way I did my roadbike Marianne.

But when put to the test, Eustacia came through with flying colours. We took the Pashleys on the Minuteman Trail, where we had previously only gone on our roadbikes. Pashleys are fast if you only give them a chance! They are slow to accelerate, but once they get going, they pick up speed better than I ever imagined, and roll oh so smoothly while doing it. We were absolutely flying on these bikes, and to our amazement, we made about the same time as on the roadbikes. I attribute this to the fact that going fast on the roadbike feels scary and dangerous, so I tend to self-regulate my speed, especially limiting it on downhills. The Princess, however, feels safe and stable even going downhill at 30mph, so I don't feel the need to slow down.

Gaining a better understanding of the gearing has also helped tremendously. And of course, a broken-in saddle plays a big role in comfort level (I know that Sigrid of My Hyggelig has reported pain from the rivets in her Pashley's saddle when riding long distance, but I have not had this problem). I am very happy with how this bicycle handles speed and distance, and have no hesitation taking Eustacia on half-day trail rides - basket and all. Longer rides than that I have not tried yet on any of my bikes.

The bag I am wearing... After Anna's post on Cyling is Good for You, I broke down and bought a Chrome for carrying my laptop. Given their hipster status, I think it's pretty funny to wear one of these bags while riding a heavy steel lady's bicycle with a coasterbrake. But I just don't feel comfortable keeping my laptop in a pannier and the Chrome provides the best support and the safest closure of all the bags I've tried. The one I bought is the Mini Metro, all-black. It fits my 15" MacBook Pro and anything else I might want to carry in it for the day. I am thinking of covering up the logo and maybe personalising it a bit.

26 comments:

  1. Thank you for your review on speed on the Pashley. I was wondering that and now I will have no worrys if I get one on going on day trips with the other half:) Thank you also for the mention of the Chrome bag as I've been looking for a good messenger bag for when I'm out. Does it stay put pretty good? I hate my shoulder bag but its constantly moving from my back to my side and I have to keep shifting it back.

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  2. Wow, great you are feeling better on your bikes. The heavier weight of the Dutch bikes probably only really make a big difference when going uphill a lot (well, that's what the Dutch don't have to do ;-)). Cool that you can ride so fast on them.
    Hope you like your new bag! I just find them so much more comfy compared to any other bag. Personalizing is surely possible, but one has to be careful to not damage the waterproof layer.

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  3. Fiona - The Chrome bag stays put and does not cut into my chest when I wear it; very comfortable.

    Anna - You're right about the waterproof layer; my customisations will probably involve adhesives of some sort. Maybe just a reflective sticker over the logo.

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  4. I feel the same way about heavier bikes like my Bat and Dottie's Oma. It's a little bit harder to pick up speed but once you do, the momentum carries you and there's no increased effort (at least, not compared to the Peugeot, which admittedly is not set up as a road bike).

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  5. I hope I'm not viewed as creepy, commenting on a woman's bike blog, but I'm absolutely loving your comments on the bikes you ride, and the widening experiences you are having. I am long term shopping for a bike for my wife, and though she would say "anything will do" I really would like to give her a jewel.

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  6. nice!!

    tell me again- you cannot put the pash on a bike rack is that right? I need a manageable bike. I own no bike that can be transported in a regular fashion!!! Sorte and xtra require pick up trucks.

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  7. Hi there, I'm the owner of Petunia, the Centurion Accordo mixte on the Mixte Gallery. I love your blog :-)). It's interesting what you say about the Pashley. Having got hooked again on riding I'm now looking to expand my 'stable' and get a Velorbis Victoria. I've heard similar comments from people that it's not a long distance ride, only suitable for short commutes etc, but talking to the distributors here in Australia people are using them for good-size commutes, ie 25km, 15 km each way. What's that in miles? Um, about 15 miles, 9 miles I think. I'm glad to hear the Pashley is good for longer rides and you're enjoying her so much. I'm envious :-). I'm saving my pennies for the Victoria.... subject to test ride in a couple of weeks when they have more in stock. The new stock will have 7 or 8 speed hub gears... yummy!

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  8. Hi Mama Vee - you can get 'add on racks' which attach from your seat post to your handlebar post. I put padding on the attachments and use that to transport my mixte bike on a bike rack. So far, no damage at all not a scratch.

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  9. Vee - I can put one Pashley on the rack, but two of them (mine, plus the husband's roadster) would be over the recommended weight limit, so we don't want to risk it. We have just a small rack that attaches to the back of the car. If you have a proper hitch-mounted rack, you can transport lots of Pashleys on it.

    David - That is so nice that you want to get a "jewel" of a bicycle for your wife. Cycling together with a spouse is wonderful. Keep in mind also, that if you plan to cycle together often, it's good to have bikes with similar capacities. It would be a nightmare to cycle together with me on my Pashley and him on his roadbike. So we both take Pashleys or both take the roadbikes, or both take the vintage 3-speeds whenever possible.

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  10. Carinthia - I remember Petunia; thanks for visiting! The Velorbis Victoria is shaped similarly to the Pashley Princess, but the construction is somewhat different - so I don't know whether they have the same speed/distance capacities. The farthest I have gone on the Pashley so far, is 25 miles. Felt great!

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  11. Thanks for honest first person reporting addressing the speed issue on 'a heavy steel lady's bicycle with a coasterbrake'...very nice.

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  12. The Velorbis has more chromoly in its construction than the Pashley; it's considerably lighter (ie 16 kg) and given I'm not as young and fit as you are it's my choice I think. I discovered the Pashley website last year and fell in love then discovered how much they weigh and that here in Oz they were (probably still are) only available with the 3 speed hub. I live in an area with quite a few hills - Sydney is a hilly place - so I'm thinking the Velorbis is the winner of a hard, hard decision for me. But that green Pashley of yours is a stunner. Hmm... I might have to test ride a Pashley too...just to see...!

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  13. @David don't feel creepy, it is perfectly acceptable. In fact I love the woman's point of view when it comes to cycling. As far as getting you bride a "jewel" of a bike, let her be the one to pick it out! I bought my wife a very nice GT Slipstream in 2000, she seldom rode it. Didn't like having to mess with the gears. In 2006 she "won" a 1972 Raleigh Colt at the ABCE in Minneapolis. It became her favorite bike. I would love to get her on one of the smaller wheeled dutch bikes.

    Commenting on the weight issue. Lightweight bikes are way overrated IMHO. The heavier bikes actually make riding shorter distances effortless in that they absorb more of the road irregularities and have the mass to carry through where lighter bikes jar and pitch.

    Aaron

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  14. Thanks! We do have a hitch rack on the back of a volvo. This past weeks vacation with me and my unwieldy Xtra has B thinking I *need* a new bike that can be transported without so many issues. Although I feel sure he would curse and bemoan me putting a pash on the bike. His bike is a hybrid light as a feather bike and then the other bikes are Girlpie's kids bike and a trail a bike. so we should be fine lbs wise... too bad I can't get him to ride a bike like mine. but at least he's getting on with me.

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  15. Carinthia - You are right, the Velorbis is a bit lighter than the Pashley. When not loaded, the Victoria is 17kg and the Princess is 20kg. Ironically, on both bicycles most of the weight is due to the components used and not to the steel frames; a pair of Marathon Plus tires weighs more than the frame! Regardless of which bicycle you get: If you are worried about hills and gearing, ask your shop if they can "lower the gears". This will make the bicycle more suitable for climbing.

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  16. Absolutely have the gears lowered by means of installing a bigger cog on the rear hub. I think our Princess has a 23 tooth cog. However, stock Pashleys come with a different hub from what we have, so best check with your LBS regarding the largest cog that would clear the plastic chaincase. Harris reworked the innards of our chaincase when they mounted the Shimano hub.

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  17. Oops - In my last comment, I meant to write that a pair of wheels (including the hubs and the Marathon Plus tires) weigh more than the frame, not that the tires alone do : )

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  18. Hee hee... I'm glad you corrected that! :-) The Velorbis guy said the new shipment will be a little lighter than 17kg - nearer 16kg. They have changed some of the components, apparently without sacrificing quality.

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  19. The total weight of a bicycle, at least in an ideal system and all things being equal, has NO affect on either its cruising or top speed. It only affects the rate at which it can accelerate with a given force pushing it.

    In any direction. It'll take longer to slow down as well as speed up and it will be slower up hills; but please note that gravity racers add barbell weights to their rigs.

    But all that slow speeding up is because you need to use more energy to get it going, which doesn't "go away." The sucker's got some momentum now. The mass times the speed. A heavy bike, at least on the level, is actually a dream to ride fast once you ger 'er goin'. You can do a lot of "soft pedaling" without bleeding off speed.

    The idea that heavy bikes are slow comes from racing. Success in racing comes from being able accelerate fastest. You accelerate up the hills, out of the corners and toward the finish line. Here, all things being equal, the lightest bike wins - by a few feet. It's just all about who gets to the line first, which actually has very little to do with SPEED.

    Heavy bikes, in their own lethargic way - Boogie!

    Don't worry about the Chrome bag anachronism. I carry a Timbuk2 myself. Of course I actually ride a fixie. With brakes. Two of 'em. Cantilevers. Two racks too. Fat tires. A "bailout" chainring. And a kickstand.

    Ok, so maybe I'm not so hip, but so far I am resisting the urge to wrap ANYTHING with twine,thank you very much.

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  20. Hi Filigree, a nod of agreement from me on the Pashley's speed capabilities. I took mine out today for a ride of about 25km; predominantly on flat territory and on cycle paths shared with families, walkers etc etc. Anyway we found some beautiful big cycle lanes on a couple of boulevards and floored it. I was astonished and delighted at how quickly the Pashley gathered up speed and kept it. We were simply flying along and it felt so stable and secure. Blissful bike! FAST bike! :-)

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  21. Hi there,

    I have a Velorbis victoria and when choosing between this and the Pashley I made this overall comparison in favour of the Velorbis Victoria:

    Velorbis comes with brooks grips, brooks mud flap, dynamo driven rear lamps, and double kick stand none of which are to be found on a Pashley!
    Another few differences:
    Pashley only come 26” wheels & Velorbis come with both 26”/700c wheels options
    Pashley only produce freewheel hubs & Velorbis produces coaster brakes and freewheel hubs
    Velorbis has a special hook on their rear carrier for a lap top - Pashley has a none
    Velorbis uses stainless steel rims & Pashley uses polished alloy rims
    Velorbis offers optional leather skirt guards in brown or red leather - Pashley doesn’t.

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  22. Petra - that is true about the Brooks grips, coaster brake, double-kickstand, and rack attachment. But these elements can be easily upgraded on the Pashley, and the cost after the upgrades will still be $500 or so less than the Velorbis, at least in the US.

    Velorbis does not come with a full chaincase, and the anatomy of the bike does not allow for one to be installed, so this was a major deal-breaker for me. It also does not come in the classic English green colour that I like on the Pashley.

    Regarding rear dynamo-operated lights: It is debatable whether having them is beneficial (as compared to LED), because they suck away power from the front light. I prefer for my headlight to have 100% of the dynamo power, and for the tail light to be LED. It's a personal choice which set-up is "better". Same with alloy vs stainless steel rims. Alloy rims are better for a number of purposes, and I prefer them to stainless steel.

    Didn't know that the Victoria came with 700c wheel options, and I guess for those who feel strongly about this wheel size that would be a good thing.

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  23. You'll find that the Pashley's traditional design is made for durability above all else. Remember that the design dates from a time when those who owned a bicycle only owned one bicycle and it had to be built to last. If it's any consolation, my most modern bicycle was built up from an alloy steel MTB frame, now has stainless steel mudguards, etc and is basically like a classic roadster but with a 21-speed derailer gearing system, and it already weighs over 17kg (37lbs) before I add my saddle-bag, water bottles, etc. I've managed to hit 50kph (30mph) on long downhills and regularly get up to 30kph (20mph) on the flats. However, I like to cruise comfortably at about 15kph (9.5mph) when I can.

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  24. Hi Filligree,

    I've brought a Pashley bike and I've been riding it in Singapore. But currently I'm finding the gears are a bit too high cos' we do have hills in Singapore. It took me long enough to find a reliable bike specialist to lower down the gear for me. But upon further checking, they told me if I change the rear to a bigger sprocket, I will have to give up my chaincase which I really don't want to.

    Can I tap on the expertise in US. How can we do it and keep my chaincase? Advice most needed...Thanks in advance.

    Maureen

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  25. your bike is stunning! Where di you get your little green bag and how do you get it to stay on your rack? It really completes the look!

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