Thursday, April 15, 2010

Loopy Contemplations

As Justine remarked in the previous post, "There's no need to abandon your loop frame just because you get a nice road bike. Every kind of riding is different". I love loop frames and believe very strongly that the sort of bicycle described here is the best bike to ride for transportation in one's regular clothing - especially if you are a woman who wears skirts or business attire.

It is also best if you want to cycle at a leisurely pace and get the most out of the scenery - like the beautiful and fleeting spring blossoms.

These pictures were meant to have a "green on green" theme as a follow-up to the "blue on blue", but they were taken with a mobile phone and the green colour of the Pashley frame is completely invisible. But conceptually it is there: green grass, green sweater set, green Pashley. (Just imagine the bike looks green, okay?)

I long to have a "one and only," dependable, perfect loop-frame bicycle. Unfortunately, I think that the lovely Pashley might not be the one. For whatever reason, my vintage Raleigh DL-1 Lady's Tourist just works better with my anatomy. However, the DL-1 is not perfect either: lacking the Pashley's dependable brakes and all-weather capabilities. Over the past 9 months I have been agonising about how to resolve this and toying with different possibilities, but now I have finally taken action: I will be turning the Raleigh DL-1 into "superbike" by installing a secret coaster brake whilst leaving the rod brakes intact. And, assuming that this works out ...I will be selling the Pashley. Can't believe I just committed this to text, but there it is. I have not made it official yet or posted the bike for sale anywhere, but if you live in the area and think you might be interested, get in touch. Who knows - maybe you'll meet the loopy best friend of your dreams!

42 comments:

  1. omgomgomg I knew it! I knew this was coming since when you started posting about the DL-1!

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  2. Shocked!! But, as a 5'7 Cambridge/Somerville resident with an overdeveloped affection for coaster brakes... also intrigued!

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  3. I was *just* thinking about you and the pash and thinking you were going to sell it and thinking it was too bad I'm too short to give it a good home....

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  4. does this mean the cohabitant would also be shedding his pashley? and/or do you feel like the differences in the dl-1 and princess are greater than any differences in the roadster and its predecessors?

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  5. ps: also wished i lived anywhere near you to snap up that bike!

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  6. Elizabeth - Oh no, he loves his Pashley. It's actually the other way around, where he keeps wanting to sell his vintage DL-1 and I have to constantly prevent him from doing it (it's a collector's item and I think he ought to keep it).

    I think that in some ways, the Pashley Princess and Roadster are different bikes beyond the gender dichotomy, because the male version has 28" wheels and the female 26". Some think this makes no difference, but I am not so sure.

    Aside from wheel size issues, I feel that the Pashley Roadster vs DL-1 Roadster and the Pashley Princess vs DL-1 Lady Tourist differences are equivalent. The DL-1s have longer wheelbases, laxer geometry, shorter head-tubes, narrower handlebars than the Pashleys. Some people prefer the DL-1s in this regard (me!), while others do not (him, and many others I know). I think it is truly a matter of personal choice and possibly even of individual anatomy & muscle strength.

    Vee - Are you *sure* that you can't fit a 20" Princess? I am 5'7" and at this point have more than a "fistful" of seatpost showing, and my leg is not even 100% extended on the pedal.

    margonaute - Hmmmm : )

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  7. Whoa. This is big. I'm so happy that you have found your bike soul mate. And the DL-1 is going to be even more amazing once you've finished adding all your touches.

    At the same time, I can't help but feel a little sad about Eustacia. You guys have had some lovely adventures together. But I have a soft spot for green Pashleys. ;)

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  8. Wow, selling the Pashley! You two seem so good together. I can see how the Raleigh would work better with you, though. I have a strong urge to buy your Pashley. Good thing I live half way across the country, because I cannot afford another bike :)

    By the way, beautiful photos! The green theme definitely shines through very nicely.

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  9. It's really kind of emotionally wretching to think about selling your bicycle, isn't it. Your bike becomes your buddy in a way. I actually rode the Specialized Expedition today because I magically assumed it missed me (notice I do refer to my bike as "it", so my bikes are not yet at the same level as say, my husband or our dogs).

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  10. How interesting! I was just wondering about the differences between DL-1s and Pashleys the other day and had to go look up your old post comparing the two. I have been reconsidering my decision to buy a Pashley, since to me it rides similar to my Hercules. So I started thinking, like you, what I could do to DL-1 brake wise to make it a safer bicycle to ride in weather and in a very hilly area. I'll be interested to see how this project works out for you. You may well inspire me to try and find DL-1 for myself!

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  11. sometimes admitting the truth to one's self is the hardest thing of all, but you have to follow your heart. live and learn and most importantly enjoy the ride!

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  12. Keep me posted! My KHS Green has been a super getting-reintroduced-to-cycling-in-adulthood bike; but after having the chance to test some higher-pedigreed Velorbis and Batavus models, I find myself longing for something a bit more plush. Hmmmm indeed!

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  13. Wow, selling Eustacia! It seems like you've really come to know yourself as a cylist, which can only be good. I'm excited to hear about the phantom coaster brake. It seems like the perfect solution.

    I remain super happy with my Pashley, but I am increasingly eyeing and trying mixtes. I blame you. :) Also, this beautiful shop

    http://www.adelineadeline.com/

    recently opened here and I'm going to head there to try the Retrovelo Paula and Klara.

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  14. hmmmm. I'm barely 5'1". I'm so tempted although I think I would have the same issues that you have with it. I'd love to ride it to see how coaster brakes feels on two wheels though.

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  15. How are you going to haul cargo on the DL1? Are you going to attach a basket?

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  16. Herzog - Although visually I love Pashley's front wicker basket, I think ride-wise I prefer not to have anything large in front of the handlebars. When I was using "Jacqueline" in Austria, her set-up was just perfect for me. So I think if the DL-1 superbike project works out, I will get either a set of Wald basket panniers for it, or the Brooks Brick Lane roll-up panniers I've always wanted. Wicker baskets are cute, but I don't think they are for me.

    Just want to say that I really want to discourage universal conclusions ("a DL-1 is better than a Pashley") based on my decision. First of, the DL-1 is a very particular kind of bike and it is definitely not for everyone. I may just be weird in preferring it. For example, I like narrow handlebars, which is unusual. It is also extremely difficult to restore the DL-1 to a point where it is not just rideable, but safe and up to par with modern standards.

    If I were buying a modern, currently produced bike again, I would still choose the Pashley. I like Pashley better than Gazelle, Velorbis, Batavus, and Azor - which are the other major European manufacturers I've tried so far.

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  17. If you decide to get a rear rack, you should be able to find one that looks just like Somervillain's. I'll post the link later when I find it.

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  18. Herzog - If you come across one, please let me know. I am actively looking for one, but have not seen them for sale lately.

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  19. regarding...
    "extremely difficult to restore the DL-1 to a point where it is not just rideable, but safe and up to par with modern standards"

    How exciting for you to take this on! As you know I've had my DL-1 for a long time. I remember fondly when you began querying me about my bicycle (at the point when you decided to have one of your own)... Now I'm excited to see what you do to upgrade to modern standards. What fantastic plans :)

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  20. We got lucky in that our loop-frame Raleigh Roadster has rod-operated hub brakes (I love the aesthetics of rod brakes, but the rod-operated rim brakes just aren't that good). It does have 28" wheels though, and you've said probably a longer wheelbase, so it might actually be more similar to your Pashley, who knows :)

    It shouldn't be too hard to find a 3-speed coaster brake hub (does it just have a freewheel hub now?)

    I feel like there has been a kind of developed disdain for coaster brakes in the bike world, but I actually think they're quite useful, especially on an upright bike, as it makes it much easier to ride with one hand (using the other for coffee, camera, etc).

    Good luck! I hope that your DL-1 as it turns out will be just what you're hoping for!

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  21. RidingPretty - Yes, I am still very curious how other owners of the DL-1 feel about it. I recently tried the DL-1 belonging to "Biking in Heels", and oddly it feels differently from mine - despite being the previous year's model. Yours is a good 10 years newer than mine, if I remember correctly, but alas you are in CA and there is no hope of me trying it! I will definitely begin posting soon about the superbike conversion project. Fingers crossed that it will work.

    portlandize - No-no, the Pashley has a shorter wheelbase and 26" wheels, so your DL-1 is similar to my DL-1 and not to the Pashley. Coaster brakes are certainly a matter of taste. The Co-Habitant does not like them, whereas I love them. I have the hub, but a new wheel needs to be built around it, because these hubs are for 36 spokes whereas the DL-1 has 40. Will post about it all soon!

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  22. Ah, I guess I got them mixed up :)

    The 1st gear on our DL-1 just crapped out on us recently and we had to replace the hub (after Clever Cycles taking it apart twice in an effort to get it working again), which also required a new rim for us, as the newer Sturmey hubs are all 36 spoke, and the original hub/rim were also 40 spoke like yours. Ended up having to get a new tire as well, as the low-profile single-walled rims they had available (that were similar to the originals) were Dutch and just slightly smaller than the original Raleigh rims. Made for a bit of an expensive project, but that was basically the most expensive possible thing that could have happened short of the frame breaking. Should be good for a long while now.

    Good luck!

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  23. Durr... this is the one I was thinking of, but it seems that it only fits 26 inch wheels. :(

    http://www.theoldbicycleshowroom.co.uk/rear-carrier-for-vintage-bicycles---black---for-26-inch-wheels-448-p.asp

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  24. What year is your bicycle? I can't seem to remember. Mine is from the early to mid 70's and not the 60's like the previous owner told me it was. Anyway I don't care what age it is, I love my DL-1.
    Ah, 'no hope of ever coming to CA'...hmmm maybe you should come one day.

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  25. one thing i've noticed about the DL1 that contributes to its wonderful riding characteristic is that it has a high trail fork, meaning that the steering has a very stable feeling with a strong tendency to self-center-- i can easily ride mine hands-free, and my hands never get tired steering (in contrast, on my dutch bike, my hands get tired from constantly making minor corrections to a twitchy front end, which has a low-trail fork for carrying loads). the downside of stable feeling of a high-trail fork is that it makes carrying front loads difficult and heavy-feeling. and come to think of it, i rarely see DL1s with front racks. i think the DL1s were designed more for carrying a rear load. so far, my experience has been that the DL1 carries a rear load very well; i barely no i'm carrying anything. i wonder how this contrasts with the pashley?

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  26. somervillain - The Pashley seems fine with both front and rear load, though the amount of stuff I carry (light groceries, a couple of packages, water, my laptop bag) is probably not a sufficiently good test. My dislike of the basket in front (not just on the Pashley, but on all bikes I've tried), is that it seems to confuse my already-poor sense of spatial rotation and coordination. I like to be able to see the tire touch the ground in front of me and the basket prevents this, making me feel like some sort of unwieldy moped. BTW: I have seen plenty of DL-1s with front baskets, though not as enormous as my Pashley's.

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  27. What year is your bicycle? Now I really want to know :)

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  28. Oops, I missed your question earlier. My bike is 1972-73, which is the first year they introduced the '70s stickers. But I thought it was determined that your bike is from the '80s? Now I'm confused and perhaps mixing up your DL-1 with somebody else's!

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  29. RidingPretty again - Okay, I remember now what made me conclude that your DL-1 is from the '80s: The rear fender on yours does not have the white end, and I think it was a legal requirement to have one up until the early '80s. Also, the lettering on the chainguard and the pinstriping on yours is, I believe, a later generation design. Of course I could be wrong!

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  30. This is sad news especially when your experience with the Pashley has been a huge influence in me leaning over the Princess over the foldable Brompton! I'm currently in London and thought I would make a bike purchase before I head back to New York City. Now I'm torn again! How appropriate do you think the Pashley Princess Sovereign is for a traffic heavy city like New York? Am I better off investing in Brompton? I would love to know your personal opinion!

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  31. Jenny - If I were getting a new bike, I would still choose the Pashley from all the available options, including choosing it over a Brompton. My Pashley is great for city cycling - it's what made me feel confident to start cycling on the road in Boston last year. If you live in NYC, one potential problem with the Pashley (or any other heavy bike) is not how it handles in traffic, but if you live in a multi-story building with no elevator: It is heavy to drag up staircases! Depending on where you live, you could of course leave it locked up outside.

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  32. Perhaps before selling it would be revealing to temporarily remove the basket and its support and orient the North Roads the same way and at the same height as is with the DL-1. Then adjust the saddle for a similar orientation. Then you can have one more crack at it. (Then mount the Schwalbe Delta Cruisers in cream...)

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  33. My bicycle is from the early-to mid 70's! The fender is probably confusing you. It is a replacement fender. It happens (replacements). Also my bicycle is in such excellent condition it makes her looks 10 years younger than she is, this may also be part of the confusion.

    Starting in the 80's DL-1s were no longer imported from Britain into the US. They became undesirable and unpopular so nobody wanted them any more. In the 80's a type of DL-1 continued to be produced in Asia (India?) somewhere, a place where the market demand was still very high for these bicycles. Since you are helping to popularize the DL-1, if I were the enterprising type - HA! I hunt down these bicycles in India and import them to the USA!!

    Anyway mine is 100% English made, every single nut and bolt. Maybe you can research and do a post on DL-1's history if you like. At the Bike Church (my local bike co-op) some of the fanatics drooled over her, people who absolutely know a British original over the Asian produced DL-1's.

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  34. I always thought you were a little loopy, Veloria. But Justine is right. I have several "daily riders" and they have many different personalities. Sometimes it's tough to know which personality best fits my mood though.

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  35. I have been looking for a rear rack for my DL-1 too. And it may be easier/closer than you think. A Pashley dealer tells me that the Pashley roadster rear rack fits well on the DL-1, and he can sell me one. He apparently has put one on his DL-1. Also, this rack of which I write, looks identical to the Steco rack with kickstand (http://www.mammoet.nl/store/catalog/product_info.php/products_id/3393/language/en), so if you are back in Europe, you can also pick one of those up. This Dutch retailer also seems willing to sell internationally, although I haven't tried it.

    One question I have for you: your Pashley has 7 speeds, and you DL-1 has 3. Is the range of your lowered gearing on the DL-1 similar to the Pashley's 7?

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  36. Veloria, thank you so much for this engaging and fun blog and not least for your insights on choosing a bicycle. I learned of your blog while considering a step-through bicycle for my easy ride days. Thanks to your trenchant insights and fortune's smile, I picked up a 1977 DL-1 (technically, I guess a DL-1L) Friday night right after looking at this post. Minus lights and pump and does need tires but otherwise in good shape-can send a pix if you like. Thanks again! Jim Duncan

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  37. Velouria, I am not surprised to hear you are thinking of finding Eustacia Vye a new home. Your posts last summer gave glowing reports about your DL-1 and how she suits your anatomy. I hope you can make the coaster hub work and have a reliable all weather loop frame bike with your Raleigh.

    Whoever buys Eustacia will have a superb bike with modifications such as the seven speed hub. It's a shame that she's not 'the perfect bike' for you... but with your collection growing (and I do wonder what your studio/spare room will look like when the two new custom bikes come home this spring/summer! ha ha!!!) I can imagine that something had to give. Eustacia, with her lovely stability and forgiving handling, has taught you a lot about yourself and your cycling capabilities and needs. Not to mention wants and desires like vintage ladies' tourers!

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  38. Is this a DL?
    http://toronto.en.craigslist.ca/tor/bik/1694301262.html

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  39. Anon 1:16pm - Looks like it. The picture is small, so I can't determine the year, but looks like early 1970s to me. What the seller refers to as "Dutch style frame" is actually an English Roadster loop frame and not the same as a Dutch bike, but never mind. The saddle does not look original to me; it seems carved out on the side - though it could be the angle. Unless the bike is truly in restored and excellent condition (incl. new tires, functional shifter, perfectly working hub, etc), the price is a little steep - at least for the Boston area. But overall seems like the real deal.

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  40. coaster brake is perfect for a DL1 if i had the mens version of the Tourist i'd definitely try doing that. coasters are perfect when i'm riding and drinking coffee.

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  41. Oh My Goodness you are a bad influence;) I mean that in the best possible way of course. Now I'm looking for my own vintage loop frame bike especially now that we have the extra space to store more than two bikes. I'm so glad that you have this blog as it always inspires me and gives me lots to think about too:) You are simply Awesome!

    Fiona

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  42. Here's an apparent Dl-1 in the DC area for about the same money and says it's been overhauled. Listing is in March but appears active. Jim

    http://baltimore.craigslist.org/bik/1665075273.html

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