The Pashley Roadster Sovereign: Review After Two New England Winters

If you are a regular reader, you probably know that the Co-Habitant owns a Pashley Roadster Sovereign. We bought a pair of Pashleys when I first started this blog, and while I've since sold my Princess, he has kept his Roadster. He loves this bicycle. It is his main transportation bike, taking him to and from work every day for nearly two years now - in sunshine, rain and snow. This review is based on both his and my impressions of the bike.

Pashley bicycles have been made in Stratford-upon-Avon, England since 1926. The Roadster is a traditional lugged steel English roadster frame with relaxed geometry and 28" wheels. It is powdercoated black and fitted with a 5-speed Sturmey Archer hub, dynamo lighting, and drum brakes. See here for the full specs and here for the complete set of images. This bicycle was purchased in May 2009 from Harris Cyclery in West Newon, MA (not a sponsor at the time).

One interesting thing to note about this bike is the sizing. The Co-Habitant is 6' tall and his preferred frame size is normally 60-64cm, depending on geometry. However, his Pashley's frame is only 22.5" (57cm), and yet it is his size. That is because the Pashley Roadster has an unusually high bottom bracket (330mm), which makes the standover considerably higher than it would be on a typical bike. For comparison, the bottom bracket height on his vintage Raleigh DL-1 Roadster is 310mm, which in itself is considered high. This explains why the Raleigh and Pashley are both his size, despite the former being a 24" frame and the latter a 22.5" frame. When in doubt, go down a size with the Pashley Roadster.

The Pashley Roadster Sovereign is a bicycle fully equipped for commuting: generous fenders, full chaincase, vinyl dress guards, large rear rack, drop-down kickstand and an integrated wheel lock. The Co-Habitant finds the dressguards and chaincase convenient, because they enable him to wear pretty much anything he wants on the bike - including dressy clothing and overcoats. He does not like tucking his trousers into socks or wearing ankle straps when riding to work, so these features are important to him. The chaincase has kept his chain immaculately clean through two winters and does not stand in the way of rear wheel removal. For those who dislike the drop-down kickstand, the frame does come with a kickstand plate, so it's possible to install an alternative. Initially, we installed a Pletcher double-legged kickstand and used it instead of the drop-down, until it broke, so now it's back to the original.

Though the headlight on the Roadster is dynamo-powered, the tail light is battery-operated. The 2.4W dynamo hub makes it difficult to modify this lighting set-up, and we are really not sure why Pashley chose to do this instead of using a 3W hub and bulb. We are considering eventually replacing the lighting on his bike with a front and rear LED system with standlights. Trouble is, there aren't any classic LED headlights in a style that would suit the Pashley.

Supplementary Cateye battery lights attached for situations when visibility is especially poor. The bolts on the Pashley's front axel make it easy to mount these.

The rear rack is spacious, but made of such thick tubing that most pannier mounting systems will not fit it. The Ortlieb QL2 and the R&K Klick-fix systems sort of fit, but just barely.

Tires are Schwalbe Marathon Plus. They are not my favourite tires, but the puncture protection is unbeatable.

The saddle is the super-sprung Brooks B33 - especially suitable for the larger gentlemen on upright bikes.

And of course, the shiny "ding dong" bell. That's us, reflected in it.

Though we are both lovers of customisations, there wasn't much that the Co-Habitant modified on this bicycle. All the components have remained stock thus far. As far as positioning, he lowered the handlebars to make them level with the saddle and angled them down a bit, for a more aggressive position. He also shoved the saddle forward by means of reversing the seat clamp. He added a Brooks Glenbrook saddlebag and Millbrook handlebar bag, which are permanently affixed to the bike. The saddlebag contains his lock, bungee cords and saddle cover in the side pockets, with the main compartment kept empty for quick grocery trips and other errands.

The handlebar bag contains his rain gear, gloves, bad-weather cycling glasses, flashlight, and epic toolkit. The toolkit he carries only on longer trips.

The original plastic handlebar grips were replaced with the Brooks leather washer grips. Front and rear drum brakes are hand-operated, and he has them routed right-front. And just in case you haven't noticed, the handlebar set-up includes a cycling computer and twined water bottles in their DIY handlebar mounts. The computer is fairly unobtrusive, blending in with the black part of the riser stem.

And a close-up of he bottle cage mounts. The set-up with the twin bottles sticking out like miniature cannons over the handlebars is over-the-top eccentric for me - but over time I've grown used to seeing them on his bike and even find them endearing. He has also carried paper cups full of coffee in those bottle cages - successfully.

We considered washing the bicycle before taking pictures for the review, but ultimately decided against it. These pictures realistically portray what the bike looks like after a winter of commuting - and a harsh winter at that. The only time this frame has ever been wiped down was after the previous winter. With everything either fully enclosed or stainless, the Pashley Roadster is as low-maintenance as they get. The powdercoating has held up excellently, with just a few scuffs here and there. Over the time he's owned this bicycle, the Co-Habitant has broken two spokes on the rear wheel (one per year) and had them replaced. The wheels also had to be re-trued a couple of times, no doubt due to the horrible pothole-ridden roads on which he commutes. Otherwise, significant adjustments have not been necessary.

As far as ride quality and subjective feedback go, there is a distinct feeling of the bicycle being stable, reliable and enormous.

It can comfortably travel at high speeds, with the cyclist feeling relaxed, perched high above city traffic. And this isn't merely an illusion - with the high bottom bracket and the upright sitting position, the height at which the rider is placed really is out of the ordinary.

The bicycle handles well on the road and off, in dry and wet conditions. In the winter, it has proven to be a trusty companion.

Even during blizzards, the Co-Habitant continued to commute on this bicycle, and felt comfortable doing it.

When describing the Pashley Roadster's ride quality, it is worth noting that it is not the male equivalent of the Princess model: The geometry and handling of the two bikes are different. Performace-wise, the Roadster accelerates faster and climbs hills easier than the Princess, which can be problematic for those who buy the two bikes as a "his and hers" pair. Though this discrepancy between the men's and women's models is unfortunate, the Roadster's performance in itself is terrific.

As for my own impressions of the Co-Habitant's Pashley, I've come to see the bike as his permanent companion or even an extension of his personality. He loves the bike, never complains about it, and uses it daily for transportation, which is fantastic. But sometimes I do wonder whether the bike is overbuilt for his purposes: To me it seems excessively heavy, and I don't get the point of having that monstrous rear rack if it is seldom used for anything other than saddlebag support. Also, it takes great effort to convince him to leave the bike locked up in the city, which is frustrating. At work he has secure locking facilities, but when we go out he worries about the bike too much - which in my view somewhat undermines its usefulness. However, the most important thing is that he enjoys the bike and rides it, which I feel has been accomplished here pretty well.

Though the Pashley Roadster Sovereign is not inexpensive by any means, it is a good value once you consider what is included and add it all up: a traditional lugged frame made in England and a fully integrated "commuting package" consisting of fenders, drum brakes, full chaincase, dressguards, puncture-proof tires, lighting, and a high quality sprung leather saddle. After close to two years of daily use, including two New England winters, the bicycle looks hardly worse for wear - a testament to its durability. As with everything, your impressions may differ, but the Co-Habitant is a happy owner. He is not looking for another transportation bicycle for the foreseeable future.


  1. I used to feel very wary of leaving my DL-1 locked up in town. Eventually I decided to get separate insurance for the bikes I lock up outside, and a New York Lock, mainly for peace of mind. The lock is the most re-assuring part; if I needed a replacement DL-1, even with insurance money I'd still have to go to Denmark to get one.

  2. "...the Co-Habitant is a happy owner. He is not looking for another transportation bicycle."

    Which is, after all, about the highest praise a transportation bicycle needs.

  3. I just put a cyclocomputer on my 3spd and thought that i must be the only one - i should have known he would have one too.

    1. I have a computer on my 1989 Raleigh Courier 3 speed too.
      One of the later Nottingham built ones. I only use it in warmer weather.

  4. Great review! Definitely puts Pashely high on my list of city bikes to consider.

  5. How do the marathon's work on icy roads during the winter? I just started using studs this last winter and wondered whether they were unnecessary, or possibly their effectiveness has just made me complacent. I live in N. MI so vary between my regular commuter (with studs) and Pug as conditions dictate, but i'm wondering whether the weight and stability of the Pashley might be the better middle ground as my sit up and beg commuter is fairly light and prone to fishtailing in some conditions? I'm also an expat Brit so I do also like the appeal of flying the flag (metaphorically of course) - it's interesting to see that many Americans (certainly up here) wear their political views on their bumpers.

  6. I have the Pashley Guvnor made over into a traditional roadster... the geometry is exactly the same - except the frame is high end Reynolds 531 steel. It rides stable and like a dream.

  7. "Trouble is, there aren't any classic LED headlights in a style that would suit the Pashley."

    Has he considered finding or making a classically styled housing for the light and using it to build an LED dynamo headlight? It would incorporate both a tinkering project and a visual design aspect, and it's generally quite inexpensive.

    For example, here's a web-based tutorial.

  8. Nice review. Interesting that the BB is so high on this bike... 330mm is *freakishly* high. That's a whole 2" higher than a standard road bike BB. So effectively, the standover height is the same as that of a typical 24.5" road bike.

  9. Actually the saddle clamp comes "reversed" from the factory. The B33 is a special tripple-rail saddle, somewhat unusual for today. Bikes from the first half of 20th c. had this kind of saddle setup--slackish seat tube and slightly forward saddle. I think it works well here, and Pashley really did their homework.

    Oh, and add my complaint about the 2.4W dynamo hub. Pashley should have really used a 3.0W hub with a 3.0W bulb. The only thing a 2.4W accomplishes is makes it harder for the end-user to change lights. I don't even suppose it's cheaper for them to go with a 2.4W, so I am really puzzled here.

  10. Interesting, thanks.
    As the happy user of a B33 (on a Azor San Franciso) I'm intrigued by the very flat setting. Mine is much more angled (the rails are roughly orthogonal to the seat post), with a bar slightly higher than the saddle.
    To each his own.
    How do you explain the high bottom bracket ? It looks like a real drawback for a city bike.

  11. YESSSSSSS!!!! A review of the Pashely Roadster Sovereign. You have made my day. Good review too! Most of the reviews of this bike on the net are from people that don't get what this bike is made to do and or have never road one so should not be reviewing it. It was good to hear that your co-habitant really likes it. I just made the decision today to buy this bike and then found your review. I can't wait to get mine now.

    Thanks for the review.

  12. philippe said...
    "How do you explain the high bottom bracket ? It looks like a real drawback for a city bike."

    Perhaps they wanted the cyclist to be positioned as high as possible above traffic. I actually think that a high BB is an advantage on a city bike in that sense.

    I looked it up and 330mm BBs do exist - typically on mountain bikes. But as far as city bikes go, even Dutch bicycles are limited to 310mm I believe. My 57cm Gazelle is 310mm.

  13. NormanF said...
    "I have the Pashley Guvnor made over into a traditional roadster... the geometry is exactly the same - except the frame is high end Reynolds 531 steel. It rides stable and like a dream."

    Had we been able to work on our own bikes and had a bit more money at the time, I think this would have been ideal for him. Take the Guv'nor frame with its lighter drivetrain and add the plastic chaincase, good dynamo lighting, an upright saddle, cream Delta Cruisers, alloy North road bars, and a single kickstand. It would have been half the weight of this bike and probably an even more comfortable ride.

    Did you fit the bike with a chaincase just like the Roadster's?

  14. Velouria, thanks for this review! The Pashley Roadster is on my shortlist and the review was extremely helpful. A thoughtful review from an owner is worth 20 reviews from the bike press.

  15. Nice review. To me, that bike seems just about perfect.

    Regarding the light, Soma makes an LED Torpedo light in the classic style (link below). They say it has a sensor that turns it on when it gets dark. I e-mailed them to ask if this meant that the light would come on when the bike is in my darkened garage or basement, but haven't received a reply.

    One wouldn't think it would be designed like that, but then, if there is an on-off switch, what's the point of the sensor?

    It's a good looking light in any case.

  16. frozen prairie - That's a nice looking LED, though I meant dynamo powered. We could do what Eric suggested (thanks for that link, Eric), and the Co-Habitant did convert the headlight on my Gazelle to LED. But I think he is still reviewing his options. I think that the halogen dynamo headlights are actually fine for the city, but the battery tail light on the Pashley bothers me - why not both dynamo, since the system is already installed!

  17. Question: how do you permanently affix the saddlebag/handlebar bags to the bike?

  18. Oh, I only meant that he never removes them : )

  19. I looked it up and 330mm BBs do exist - typically on mountain bikes. But as far as city bikes go, even Dutch bicycles are limited to 310mm I believe. My 57cm Gazelle is 310mm.

    Right, mountain bikes have very high BBs so that they can clear rocks, tree roots, and other obstacles. And the frames are sized very small so that you can fall smartly. But for a city bike, it makes less sense. You can still achieve a towering view of traffic with a taller frame and lower BB. Maybe Pashley expects their customers to routinely hop curbstones and ride their bikes through ditches?

    As for dynamo taillights-- it seems that fewer bike makers, including custom one-man shops, are bothering to incorporate taillight dynamos into their bike designs. For example, I saw a recent (2010) Alex Singer, built by Ernest Czuka's son Olivier, which uses a dynamo-driven headlamp but battery tail lamp. I know from my own experience wiring a taillight internally that it's a HUGE amount of work and effort for a relatively minor convenience. It may have been more justified back in the days when battery LED technology was inferior to generator-driven taillight lighting (which was just a few years ago)... but it's less the case today, with very efficient, bright taillight LEDs that can last a long time on a single battery. Also, some new taillights use motion sensing to auto activate and turn off, so the advantages of dyno taillights are really starting to dwindle.

  20. To be perfectly honest, going with a cro-mo frame wouldn't make the bike half the weight, it would probably make a 54 lbs bike into a 50 lb bike. Maybe.

    Basically, you could shave off 5-7 more lbs by going with light weight everything: This bike would be ~45 lbs if I replaced cranks, rings, bars, seat post, but kept the dynamo, hub brakes, integrated lock and heavy duty fenders + rack. The wheels aren't light on the Guv'nor, by the way. I've ridden one and picked it up. Stripped naked, it's much lighter than the Roadster, and once you add the dynamo, more gears and those lead-lined Marathon Pluses, well...

    Would I do all that? Probably not. But would I want my hi-ten frame magically replaced with a cro-moly one even for negligible weight savings? Well, of course I would, given infinite funds, and just because it would be awesome. :)

    So I think what Norman did is really interesting.

  21. Even so, 2.4W hub is a mistake. Pashley, change it to 3.0W and ship me a new wheel! (I'll provide the $2 3.0W bulb myself :)

  22. Great review!

    After just cycling 12 miles home in torrential rain I'm interested in the comment "...bad-weather cycling glasses". What exactly does that mean? If the co-habitant has come up with some fab way of overcoming the limitations of standard specs, I'd love to hear it!

    I can tolerate everything about cycling in rain except for the impaired vision that comes from rain-sodden and misted up glasses. I have damaged corneas so contact lenses or laser surgery are out of the question, but I'm as blind as a bat without my prescription specs, so I have to stop every five minutes to dry off my lenses. Otherwise I'd be a hazard not just to myself, but to everyone else on the road.

    Any suggestions for how to combat this???

    1. Try Crizal lenses. The water just runs off and hardly mists up at all

  23. OT question:
    Could you write about chain tensioners sometime? What exactly they do and how to know if you need them?

  24. Thanks for the review and nice pics. I've seen one of these at the local bike shop and felt quite tempted to buy it. What put me off, however, is the black colour. Also, I'm surprised Pashley equips it with fenders of insufficient length, as so many other manufacturers. This bike should have them longer and with mud flaps (almost touching the ground in the front) . BTW, I really appreciate your term "co-habitant". It's brilliant. Osho would love it. It's the least possessive label. All the pretty photons to you and your cameras.

  25. somervillain: you cannot achieve a higher position in traffic by increasing frame size unless you also move the pedals higher because frame size does not affect saddle to pedals distance for a given seat tube angle since people adjust their seat post. To a smaller degree, people also like to control the angle itself with rails adjustments.

    Whether high BB is justifiable or desirable in the city is a separate question--I happen to like mine quite a bit.

  26. somervillain - It's not about LED battery vs dynamo technology in terms of output, but about convenience and reliability. When I have dynamo-powered front and rear lighting, I never have to worry whether my batteries are fresh, I never have to wonder whether my tail light is on. It's a personal preference probably not worth arguing about, but I consider dynamo lighting, front and rear, essential in any city and touring bike that I own.

    Also, a tail light need not be internally routed. My Rivendell frame was built with no provisions for dynamo routing, and we simply secured it with subtly placed zipties along the downtube. It looks fine.

  27. Jane--the glasses I use are cheap poly goggles that somewhat resemble lab glasses and are sold in our local bike shops. They are nothing special. The reason I have them is it hurts the eyes to ride fast in snow. Literally hurts. If the rain gets bad enough, it's also kind of unpleasant.

    I don't know how to solve your fogging-up problems, perhaps you could try products marketed for skiers and snowboarders? For some reason these el-cheapo glasses don't fog up, but then they are not actually glass.

  28. MDI said...
    "...going with a cro-mo frame wouldn't make the bike half the weight, it would probably make a 54 lbs bike into a 50 lb bike. Maybe."

    It's not just about the frame. The Roadster uses heavy components, while the Guv'nor's components are lighter. Combine that with the lighter frame, and also don't add that huge rack+drop-down kickstand combo, and I think the decrease in weight would be significant. Lord knows I don't mind heavy bikes - I ride a Gazelle after all. But when a bike is so heavy that I can't lift it off the ground, that seems over the top to me.

  29. Jane, I cannot emphasize this enough: for rain, wear a prominent bill/visor. Something that rides low on the forehead and out by at least 2 full inches. If you wear a helmet a cycling cap will fit underneath and be sufficient, but search for one with a longer visor (the visors that snap onto helmets are far less sufficient -they are too high). For the helmetless, baseball caps are fantastic, but there are plenty of more fashionable choices out there. With a good bill/visor, no rain will hit your glasses, even in a hurricane.

    I'm not sure about what to say about the fogging. I only have a fogging problem if I'm wearing a scarf or balaclava over my mouth & nose, which blows hot breath over my glasses in the cold. Maybe that anti-fog film for windshields on a pair of spare glasses? But that may be crazy. I've never used the stuff.

  30. Jane, I suggest you use Rain-X on the outside of your glasses. It wears off, so you might want to carry a bottle or use the wipes. It will prevent annoying large drops of water from forming on the glasses. It works by holding a very thing smooth layer of tiny droplets on the surface and as a result it can be counterproductive on cold days (your glasses will fog up more easily). Also, putting it on the inside of the glasses leads to more fogging. But it works great on the outside, until it wears off.

  31. BTW for fogging (riding in cold weather, below about 30 degrees Fahrenheit) I have found that ski goggles work best. I tried various anti-fogging methods on my regular specs but nothing worked that well. Ski goggles are made for just this purpose.

  32. It's not about LED battery vs dynamo technology in terms of output, but about convenience and reliability

    Right, that was precisely my point-- with technologies like auto-on and auto-off battery LEDs, which also last for hundreds of hours on a single battery, the convenience and reliability factor has soured compared with just a few years ago. Just sayin... if Alex Singer bikes are starting to go this way, there's got to be justification.

    That said, I still agree with you, having generator-powered lighting front and rear is the ultimate, and that's why I designed that with complete wiring integration into my latest build. However, I can't deal with the sight of exposed wiring, and that alone is probably the biggest cost-prohibitive aspects for any bike builder-- getting that wiring completely internalized.

  33. +1 on Adam's suggestion for a visor in the rain. I have tried glasses, but get serious visibility problems.

  34. For a double leg kick stand that won't break consider the same one that I use on my heavy Worksman cruiser.........

    The only thing that might break is the spring which can be replaced from stock at any hardware store.

  35. Hmm. My Eastman roadster (DL-1 clone, all parts interchangeable) weighs in at 32lbs. That's with no chaincase (noise too much for me), cantilever brake system, Velocity Dyads shod with Big Apples, Sugino RD-2 crank, Riv Dove h'bars, B-33, fixed gear. Original original Dl-1s were fixed, not epicyclic. Purists look askance at my mods, the general view is that it's pure tweed. 32lbs still feels planted, secure, formidable. And a lot easier up hills or stairs than 50.

  36. Anon 2:47 - He'd want drum brakes, 3-5 speeds, a chaincase and dynamo lighting, so that weight is probably not achievable in his case.

    What's your impression of the Eastman's quality? Did you keep any of the original components, or just use the frame?

  37. Nice post. May I ask how far his commute is? I ride 12 miles each way to my work on my Velorbis. Because the bike is quite heavy, I have added a 250 watt electric motor which is the equivalent of 1/8 HP.
    I use the battery in the morning because I don't want to arrive smelling like a gym sock.

    1. Hi Mr. Haramis, I don't know if you will ever see this message, but I have a Pashley Roadster Sovereign and much like yourself I do not want to arrive to work smelling like a gym sock either.

      I would like to install a modest electric motor to it, but I can't see how this is possible since the bike already has hub brakes.

      Can you e-mail me, as I would like to know more about your set up. Did you bike have hub brakes before you installed the motor?

      e-mail is thanks

  38. Re the rain/glasses problem, thanks everyone for your suggestions - I'm off out tomorrow to buy a hat with a visor! My glasses only fog up if I put my hood up (the only way I have at the moment of trying to prevent rain hitting my specs), so the visor solution may solve both issues. I've been reliably informed that rubbing saliva on the inside of the lenses stops them fogging, but I've not tried it myself so can't comment on its effectiveness.

  39. Mr. Haramis - His normal work commute is quite short. Before November 2010 it was 2 miles each way, now it's more like 1.5 miles each way. Of course there are other destinations that are further away that he travels to regularly as well. The longest he cycles on this bike is 30 miles round trip, and we take that trip fairly regularly in the summer. He says that his Pashley does all right on mild hills. How heavy would you say your Velorbis was before the motor installation?

  40. I bought a new Pashley 'Guv'nor' two weeks ago, and much to my surprise found that the assembly quality of the bike was somehow underwhelming, and definitely not up to the class (and the price tag) of the bike.

    I ordered my exemplar at a dealer in Berlin/Germany, and had it send across Germany in a box to Munich, so its state on arrival here represented the condition it left the Pashley plant in Stratford-upon-Avon, apart from some minor damage at the front wheel that may have happened during transport - there was some paint chipping on the rim's edges, and the wheel was quite out of true.

    But on Pashleys account (so to speak) I found
    - a rear tire that had been mounted against its running direction (no big deal of course, but such things should not happen in a small bicycle factory which claims to offer good craftsmanship);
    - a chain that had been tensioned much too much;
    - a stem that is intended to hold (only) bars of 26.0 mm diameter, but was coupled with a 25.4 mm diameter bar;
    - two rim bands that obviously had been damaged in the process of mounting the inner tubes;
    - two clamps for the three speed bowden cable that had been mounted in a way that a damage to the adjacent rear drum brake cable would have been inevitable in the long run;
    - and finally an upper ball race of the steering that had not been set properly to its position but sat there at an angle that was easily to be detected at first sight.

    I would consider the flaws mentioned above as bearing only a very theoretic possibility to cause failures or even accidents, but I think they are by no means acceptable on a high quality handmade bicycle that comes with a proud price tag, and in the process of re-working my new bike I came to the conclusion that Pashley definitely should pay more attention to the quality of assembly of their bikes. And I would strongly recommend to have a new Pashley - or at least the Guv'nor models - checked thorougly before the first ride.

    And just a word about weight: the fancy bar end caps of the Guv'nor are made of massive brass, so they weigh a hefty 115 grams as a pair ... I did not quite understand the concept of using extra heavy stuff like this in combination with an extra light titanium railed Brooks ... I removed all of this and went with a Brooks B 17 Special and a nice set of cork grips which I painted in a bright optimistic black colour - they are much lighter than the leather covered rubber grips, and even look better than them. :-)

    Finally: I wish I would have known earlier that the Roadster and the Guv'nor have exactly the same frame geometry - I think I would rather have used a Roadster to build a Guv'nor lookalike, and have all those nice parts that do come on the Roadster for free ...
    Honestly, I don't think that the Reynolds 531 tubing will in practice have a very large influence on the effective riding experience - especially as the fork on the Guv'nor seems to be exactly the same as on the Roadster, no Reynolds tubing here as far as I can tell.

    So, I have somewhat mixed feelings about my new Pashley Guv'nor at the moment, but I hope that these feelings will turn to positive emotions only in the course of the first ride which hopefully will take place on Saturday ...


  41. Seconding the love for the phrase 'co-habitant'!

    Could you tell us a bit more about the Brooks grips?
    I am considering getting those on my bike-to-be, but I am a bit worried that the aluminum ends feel cold to the touch.

  42. Bummble - I had the same grips on my Pashley Princess, but won't be installing them on other bikes. The metal parts on the ends do bother me, and I prefer a warmer leather/cork/wood/cloth texture throughout. Also, the grips are a bit too thick for my hands and I prefer something more slender. However, he doesn't have an issue with any of this and likes the grips.

    Matthias - Sorry to hear about your experience with the Guv'nor! One thing I can say though, is that I know it is typical for bike shops to do a great deal of tweaking before a bicycle hits the sales floor. It's not the way it should be, but it's a fact. Based on the experience of friends who've ordered directly from the manufacturer or distributor (be it Pashley or others), what you describe is not unusual.

  43. Very nice photos, V. I especially like the one of the co-habitant on the grass next to the Pashley, in his cap. That's classic. Steve in MD

  44. Velouria,

    A very well done review! Makes for great reading and very informative and thought provoking. I'm learning a lot from many of your posts and from those readers that follow and comment.


    consider buying a little bottle of anti-fog that SCUBA divers use on the inside of their masks when diving in deep cold waters. Back in the day, they would spit into their masks and swill it around and then give a quick rinse. The 'slime' would adhere to the glass and no fogging was the result.

    There is now a product available in SCUBA stores and over the Internet I'm sure, that works much the same way. Just a drop or two on a mask interior, (much less on individual lens on a pair of eye glasses) and you are good to go. Just be aware that it is an eye irritant so you don't want to get any into your eyes. That's why divers are cautioned to use only the bare minimum to cover the inside of their masks. Maybe one drop on a finger tip and then spread over both sides of each lens. (On dive masks, the front surface is in contact with the water, so no fogging on that surface.)


  45. Great review, awesome bike. I loved the kickstand comments. Too bad Pashley dealers are so rare (Pacific Northwest).

  46. i wish i loved my bike that much! he's not alone in his paranoia with getting his bike stolen. it makes me nervous too leaving my used 30 yr old bike locked in the street. although i'm surprised it doesn't extend to his bags! i dislike even leaving lights on or bungee cords.

  47. Another thought on high bottom bracket: I feel very stable on this bike. More so than on a road bike. I can corner very tight circles at great speed. I can recover from slips and slow fishtailing in snow. This goes against traditional thinking about BB height, but imagine balancing a yard stick on your finger vs a pencil. Which is easier? That's an oversimplification, I'm sure, but my experience with this bike w.r.t. handling is hard to put into words. :)

    Someone asked about Marathon Plus on ice: they handle as well or poorly as any other rubber of similar width. Ice is slippery, it's best to not ride on it. Get studs if you find yourself riding over ice a lot. Here in Boston this has not been a great concern so far, even in this crazy Winter we are continuing to have.

  48. My Pashley Roadster Sovereign is almost 1 year old and even though initially I had the same disappointment with the 2.4W generator, I learned to live with the rear battery light, which by the way didn't yet need new batteries.
    I'm 6'2" and for me the 24.5" frame felt more comfortable, but I only became aware of the the fact that we can reverse the seat clamp after I read the manual. If I knew that before maybe I would have tried the 22" frame with the saddle offset to the back (the factory standard is to the front, I believe, at least that's how my bike was assembled).
    I had some minor issues with the bicycle:
    1) I had to install a chain tensioner as the rear wheel would move out of alignment and slacken the chain due to a couple of highly sloped (but thankfully short) hills in my commute. This would happen no matter how hard I would tighten the rear wheel but the chain tensioner solved the problem.
    2) The drum brakes were squeaking, first the front and after I installed the chain tensioner even the rear one started squeaking. The front one improved a lot after I aligned the front wheel better but for the rear wheel only now I see some signs of improvement. I'm curious to hear if someone had a similar problem with the Sturmey Archer drum brakes and how it was fixed. I built 2 wheels for another bicycle with Sturmey Archer drum brakes (rear 3 speed and front 3W generator) and they always worked smooth and silent, however I noticed that there is a videoclip on youtube about the Pashley in which the same brake squeaking sound can be heard. Hopefully it is a matter of breaking in.
    I am overall very satisfied with the bicycle and find it very comfortable for trips of 1 hour or less. The tires are a bit hard but I suppose that is the price to pay for excellent puncture protection, and by lowering the pressure to about 60psi the comfort improves.
    Congratulations to the Co-habitant for his beautiful ride.

  49. I've noticed that I like high bottom brackets on upright bikes, lower bottom brackets on roadbikes. For some reason those combinations feel more stable to me.

  50. The motor has not changed the weight of the bike which is about 40 lbs because it weighs the same as the dynamo hub which it replaced. What weighs a lot is the battery, which is an additional 15 lbs. But if I were to upgrade to lithium it would weigh half that amount. So total is 40 lbs pre motor and battery install, and about 55lbs with acid battery.

  51. Jazzboy--the brake squeal is not going anywhere in the long term, especially in humid weather. It will come and go. That's just how these brakes behave when they have to stop 250-300 lbs of bike + stuff + growing boy. :) Although, I am surprised that you're finding a connection with wheel alignment.

    I was lamenting lack of chain tensioners too, maybe I should add them. The ones on the Bella Ciao are pretty awesome. Look at your hub assembly. There is an anti-rotation washer, make sure it bites into your fork ends really nice. I am not saying it's lacking on your bike, or reversed, but just something to consider. The rear wheel will of course move if a strong guy will give it a healthy push. I have a cycling buddy (about ~6'1", strong cyclist) who warps components all the time (albeit on his derailer bike). In any case, if you're pulling the wheel out of alignment, it's time for a larger cog on your hub. But beware, you can probably destroy that 5-speed in short order if you give it full blast in first gear often.

  52. @Jane - I've heard that a lot of people use dish soap on their glasses to prevent fog & help in the rain. You smear a small amount on with your finger and let it dry, then wipe it with a lens cleaning cloth. I've yet to try it, but from what I've heard it works better than those anti-fog products & is cheaper.

  53. Peppy (the snow-shoeing cat)March 30, 2011 at 10:42 PM

    You know, I didn't want to post this, but there _is_ a product called, um Cat Crap that is supposed to help with fogging.

  54. Anon at 2:47 replies to Velouria:
    Eastman quality is variable. It may no longer matter as the US source has dropped them. I find the hammer marks on the lugs made from scrap sheet metal formed over a mandrel and welded rather endearing. The ball bearing pedals to an old Raleigh pattern are better than anything Raleigh made since the '50s. One of the reasons for doing the whole 635 to 622 switchout was the best rims in the shipment were already rusted and made original DL-1 rims look like jewelry.
    Lights, chaincase, drumbrake, yeah I could see that. OTOH I could get Honjos, a B-67, Nitto stem, Marathon Supremes and go for 27 lbs.
    I've done limited mileage on more normal roadsters, never owned one. I am, so far as I can tell, confirmed that a roadster is a roadster is a roadster, the angles, bracket height, and sheer length are what make the ride. I do love the 700x50 Big Apples, cheap heavy Kenda 635xtoo skinny is not appealing.

  55. "Eastman quality is variable. It may no longer matter as the US source has dropped them."

    Oh, indeed. I just checked the Yellow Jersey website and see that they have stopped importing; wonder why.

    Glad to hear that you were able to fit 700x50 Big Apples plus fenders! I acquired a set of new 700C cream Fat Franks, and we were considering installing them on the Co-Habitant's DL-1.

  56. Anon 3:40PM

    Here in Colombia, Eastman roadsters are frequently sold with "GW" branded aluminium rims. In fact, some of the shops sell roadsters with quite a number of parts swapped out for aluminium equivalents.

    Sometimes there would be a roadster modified to take derailleur mountain bike gearing, yet retain the rod brakes! (Although most of the time cantilever bosses are brazed on and fitted with V-brakes.)

    The frames sold in Colombia do not have the threaded Chaincase boss of old Raleighs, and are not equipped with chaincases. Is this the same with Eastman frames that were brought to the US?.

    Interestingly enough, the few loop frames sold in the shops are sold with 26 x 1 3/4" wheels and 54mm tires (571-54 ERTO) and correspondingly wider forks than the 28" wheeled diamond frame. I've thought of getting a loop frame but the oddball wheel size is not very appealing. Has anyone seen something similar with the Indian loop frames brought to the US? Can these be fitted with 28" wheels without issue?

    As final note to these rather long list of remarks, I observe that quite a number of mountain bikes here have been modified to a posture similar to english 3 speeds, yet retain the often squeaking derailleur drivetrain.

  57. Just a final Eastman note: Credit to Andy and Tim at Yellow Jersey. The bikes shipped totally KD, the frames half-finished. The guys made them work.
    Small example of the work they do: The seat lugs have Raleigh style ears, and so are vulnerable as any Raleigh to crushed lug ears. All ears get filled with brass. SOP. And they do that optional work even after the extra extra long required build time on these things.
    They ride nice.
    Big Apples fit snug. No rub.

  58. Anon Florida - The Eastman USA frames had chaincases. Here's the former sales page.

  59. Thanks for the great review, I've been eagerly awaiting this!

    How difficult is it to remove the rear wheel with the SA hub? I am torn between this and the Civia Loring which has a SRAM imotion-9. Disconnecting and adjusting the SRAM looks pretty straight-forward, but I haven't found much info on the SA.
    The Pashley is classicly gorgeous, and has the full chain case, while the Loring is gorgous in a different way, and has a nice front rack. My LBS sells them for close to the same price, but I would need to add a front rack or basket to the Pashley, but that would be easier than trying to add a chain case to the Loring.

    I'm compiling a pro-con list, and am curious abut the ease of changing the rear tire.


  60. I don't think the Pashley would feel great with a front rack/basket.

    The SA hub is extremely easy and quick to disconnect from the shifter, it takes about 5 seconds. Simply unscrew the retaining ring around the indicator chain and you're done. Also need to unscrew the reaction arm. It takes a good deal of effort to learn how to adjust a 5-speed hub so it shifts perfectly and never feels gritty. But you didn't ask that, you asked about rear wheel removal. FYI: I hated the wheel removal on a Shimano 7-speed coast brake, but have no experience at all with SRAM hubs.

    The Pashley chain case is fairly simple (for me) to remove. I think it adds approximately 10 minutes total to the wheel removal+reassembly process.

    You need to pay close attention to how all the small things like anti-rotation washers fit together or you'll have a tough time reassembling the rear wheel in place.

    May I ask why you anticipate having to remove the rear wheel? I have never had to do it "in the field," and wouldn't really wish it on anyone, Pashley or not. Schwalbe Marathon Plus are highly regarded for preventing these situations, but you pay for it with a less cushy ride.

  61. Frazzled Glispa - For the price, personally I think the Pashley is a better deal. The only exception is if you find it too heavy. If you're in a situation where you need to carry the bike up a staircase on a daily basis, it's not the best choice.

    I don't entirely agree with MDI that a front rack is not a good idea on the Pashley. First off, I have seen a couple with a front rack and crate, and the owner of one told me it handles fine. Second, MDI's handlebar bag is insanely heavy and does not impact handling. If anything, a rack attached to the front axel will handle better, not worse.

  62. MDI - It's not that I necessarily want to remove the rear wheel, but no tire is 100% flat proof, and all tires wear out eventually, and changing a tube or a tire isn't the kind of thing I like to pay someone else to do, so I'm just trying to take everything into consideration before I pull the trigger on a pricey new bike. :)

    I've test ridden both, and will probably do so again later this week. I like both bikes, though of course they feel quite different - honestly, I wish I could afford both, but at the moment that isn't the case so I have to pick one. Of course, as problems go, this isn't such a bad one to have!

    Velouria - Thanks for the input! On my current setup I have removeable wire baskets (Basil Cardiff) on the rear and a Gamoh King Carrier on the front. I keep a Rivendell shop sack on the front and my chains go in there, as well as lighter items that over-flow the Cardiffs when I am shopping - unless I am running out for a couple of things that can just go on the front.

    I also have a basket for the dog with a wire top that straps down into the front rack. He weighs only 9 pounds, and is well behaved, but I like him up front where I can see him. I am car-free, and I like to keep him used to being on the bike, so when we have to go to the vet he is comfortable on the way.

    The Loring's rack is perfect for strapping that basket down, but the Pashley strikes me as a more robust all-weather bike. I'm in Denver, so it isn't like our winters are all that harsh as a rule (certainly, not like yours was this winter) and I live downtown, which is quite flat, so hills aren't a big issue for me. Pretty much everything is up a mild grade from me, which means whenever I haul stuff home I am going downhill.

    I really appreciate the input and info from both of you!

  63. You definitely need to work in a test ride with some weight on the front. Maybe bring a handlebar bag of some kind with 10-15 lbs of stuff in it and attach it to the bars. It won't be a perfect test, but it will at least hint at what handling will be like once you have a front rack+stuff on it. Make sure you also pick up the Pashley once you do that and pretend you have to carry it up some steps.

    If you end up getting the Pashley, you'll probably have to move the headlight to install a front rack. One benefit is that you have no front brake to worry about, so the entire fork crown bolt is yours to do with as you wish. You could connect the rack there with supports going to your axle. The light could go on the side of the rack, but you'll have to buy more dynamo wire and redo your routing. You could use that as an opportunity/excuse to get a real headlight, too.

    I would also definitely install a slightly larger cog in the rear if you're planning to haul so much stuff. Not sure which is the largest that fits without rubbing the chaincase or increasing chain slap too much, I hope you have a top notch LBS where they could try and tell you. It may be a 21 or something like that. Come to think of it, I don't even remember what's back there from the factory.

    Anyway, hope your bike shopping is fun.

  64. I bought a Pashley Sovereign about 2 months ago. Really nice to ride but one big hitch.
    I have tried many times to tweak the Sturmey Archer 5 speed hub gear but it's still prone to slipping out of gear.
    I'm not certain yet if this is just the nature of the 5 speed X-RD5W model or have I just been unlucky with the one I got??
    I'd be really interested to hear if anyone else has had the same problem?.
    PS. Great Site with lots of useful info, keep up the good work.

  65. To stop glasses fogging up rub the inside with toothpaste and then clean off with water. Even works for scuba masks.

  66. The 2.4 Watt hub works fine with LED lights ! I replaced the headlight on my Roadster 26 with an IQ Cyo and ran the wire for a Seculite tail light by twisting it around the entire lenght of the rear brake cable housing and then around the fender stay. The headlight reaches full brightness (which, by the way, is waaaay brighter than the stock halogen light) at almost walking speed, so it turned out that the 3 Watt hub would have been overkill. An added plus is that both lights have standlight function.

  67. Just to update my earlier comment on April 25 2011 re. the bike slipping out of gear. I received a replacement back wheel with hub enclosed after contacting the retailer in Dublin, Ireland. New one works perfectly, I was unlucky with the first one. I thought I was going mad as I could never seem to adjust it correctly!. Problem solved.

  68. i myself thought this review to be a little on the thin side. i am on the verge on buying this model but after reading the review i am even more indecisive.

    i would have liked to seen the co-habitant riding wearing trenchcoats to see the efficacy of the coat guards. Also no comment on the supposedly lacklustre shifting mechanism.

  69. Anon - The lackluster shifting is a problem with some later model SA hubs/shifters, but his bike was bought in early 2009 and had the earlier 5 speed hub. He never experienced any problems with shifting.

    The bike is not for everyone. It is heavy as heck and the rack tubing is too thick for most pannier systems. But the coatguards (and chaincase) are certainly efficient. A posed photo with a trench coat does not really demonstrate that anyhow.

  70. hi, me again. let me preface my remarks by saying i find your blog to be thoroughly informative. the writing and photos are both top-notch. because of it i think i've become a bicycle junkie overnight, without actually yet owning my first "real" adult bike yet. i am strongly leaning towards this Roadster. did the co-habitant consider the top double tube version? what you can tell me about it as far as frame geometry is concerned? i am intrigued. by the way, i think the term co-habitant is cute but i also find it slightly demeaning, even though i know you do not pretend it to be so. what is his name? perhaps it should be now and again so as not to dehumanize him totally. also, no offense intended, but it would be best if for the product reviews he tucked his shirt in.

    your faithful reader from europe,


  71. Ponti: I don't know if you're still considering the double-top tube version or have purchased something, but keep in mind the stand-over height.

    The 22.5" model, the middle one, has a higher top tube than the 24" DL1. Make sure you can clear the top tube before you get the 24.5" double-top tube version. I generally ride 62-63cm road bikes and I think the 24.5" Pashley would be too tall for me, partially because of its very very very high bottom bracket (which raises where the 22.5" seat tube ends).

    Another warning to those who may consider these bikes for commuting is be mindful of hilly terrain. Riding this uphill as a beginner cyclist will get old so fast.

    And finally, storage and carrying up stairs. It's 50 lbs or more with accessories, are you willing to portage that up and down steps every day to get in and out? This applies more or less to most Dutch-style or English Roadster style bikes, they are all within 45-60 lbs range.

    Enjoy whatever bike you're going to end up with.

  72. Great review (and so cleanly written). The only thing that's putting me off buying this beautiful bike is the weight. I live up a few flights of stairs and fear I would be put off using the Roadster if I had to lug it up and down twice a day to commute. Anyone had or have similar experiences? Simon

  73. Thank you for a very well written and informative review. I was looking for a traditional style bicycle for transportation purposes and your review has helped sway me towards the Pashley Roadster Sovereign.

    I am now awaiting delivery of my new machine and I hope I am as pleased with it as your co-habitant is with his!

  74. Sorry to rain on the party. I have one of these bikes. I love how it rides and looks and handles. But I just got done changing the rear tire tube for the 4th time and this bike has very few miles on it. Let me say that for all its beauty this bike is an absolute nightmare to work on. After these tires changes the chain guard is gone; permanently. The back brake cannot be adjusted any longer so we are down to only a front brake ( the cable attachment mechanism is so bad that the cable length cannot any longer be adjusted), and the right lug bolt that holds the rear wheel on is stripped and not because I am not careful but because it is a cheap steel and the threads go easily. This bike is a rube goldberg of engineering. I would not recommend buying one unless you have the time and money to have someone else repair it or you just like fighting with poorly engineered bicylces as a hobby.

  75. Hi you've all, I'm new here and would like to add that i've had my Pashley Roadster for over 10 years and have enjoyed it 100%, must admit though that the rear 3 speed hub is never fully precisce, and front lug bolts got stripped by uncareful mechanic using the wrong bolts, what this bike needs for the now and then service is knowleageble mechanics who know how to work on this type of bikes.

  76. Hello everyone, i'm converting my Pashley roadster into a sportier, lighter machine for longer jaunts, i removed fenders, racks, gear case, etc. and i'm wandering if a 46 or 48 tooth chainring would fit? as space looks tight, (rear cog would be changed correspondingly). I would really appreciate if someone could enlighten me on this subject, cheers, Georg

  77. I just got one of these, thank you for the informative review and to commentators. Funny about the rack thickness, I guess I'll need a set of panniers that drapes over the rack. I found that I needed to take some needle-nosed pliers to the silver cap on the front fender to get it to be quiet. Now that it's silent, the bike has a fantastic ride quality, and I don't mind the weight because it's a winter bike for me. Can't wait to use all the strength I'm building next summer on a Clubman Country or Gov'nor. I will definitely look for a IQ Cyo bulb.

  78. We have two Pashleys - a Princess and a Sovereign Roadster. The bike path network in Scottsdale, AZ (where we live) is extensive and we use it for getting around although our metro area is so spread out with little in the way of public transportation that we can't bike as much as we'd like. Our major risk this time of year (winter - if you can call it that down here) is snow-birds driving their SUVs recklessly while texting and yelling at the kids in back.

    The Pashleys ride like Rolls Royces plus we don't have to drink Gatorade or wear Spandex in order to enjoy a great bike ride.

  79. Owned my Pashley Roadster Sovereign for five years now and have used it almost daily ever since.

    When I bought it a lot of people told me it was a show bike and wouldn't stand up to the rigours of daily use, well they were wrong!

    The only minor problems I've had, have been that the bracket for the heavy front light is too flimsy and both it and it's replacement snapped surprisingly quickly. The plastic chain guard can be awkward to remove and feels a little fragile (although it has held up so far!). The tyres that were fitted when I bought it were prone to punctures and puncture repair became a weekly (sometimes biweekly!) job. Looking at the reviews it appears that Pashley have upgraded these since my purchase, but if you get any problems
    I would hugely recommend the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres - a year and a half since making the change and no punctures (despite encountering broken glass twice!)

    Overall this has proved a fantastic, reliable, stylish purchase. The rear stand has held up to the weight of ridiculously heavy books, shopping, Christmas presents etc and the bike itself withstood a year of daily 20 mile round trip all weather commuting, including 4 miles of off road pot hole strewn cycle tracks.

    A good bike and great fun.

  80. Thank you for sharing your experiences of owning a Pashley Sovereign roadster. I bought a 24.5 in double-top tube model almost exactly 4 years ago to the day and have had no major issues at all. Here in Oxford, England, we get a lot of cold wet weather so having the full-length mudguards, skirtguard and full-surround chainguard is incredibly practical to minimise surface water coming back onto you.

    I recently needed to replace the tyres (Schwalbe Marathan Plus) as they were starting to perish around the sides (amazingly the tread was still in good shape) and decided to switch to the cream version and Guvnorize the machine for the warmer months by removing mudguards, chainguard, rear rack and heavier well-sprung B49 Brooks saddle (this lot weigh 5kg in total) and fitted a special edition Brooks B17 sports saddle, switched the handlebars around (retaining the original handlebar stem - which I couldn't easily extract) and fitting a pair of Pashley leather handlebar grips and new 5-speed Sturmey-Archer gear shifter (the older black-plastic version always seemed cheap and feeble as it proved to be). I had some issues removing the bottom bracket so have retained the original cranks and chain but have a nicer and lighter set of Sturmey Archer cranks and gold chain in readiness. I also replaced the original chunky pedals and fitted a pair of rat-traps and some classic-style toe clips with Brooks leather straps (the same tan shade as the grips and saddle). The bike is now even more of an eye-catcher than it was before and I'd recommend going the Sovereign-to-Guvnor route rather than buy a Guvnor and the, perhaps, have to buy the mudguards etc as an extra expense. You may miss out on a Reynolds frame but you gain all the stuff you need for winter riding and you also get a 5-speed hub rather than just a single or 3-speed. Also, if you're 6-ft (as I am) I'd definitely recommend going for the 24.5 frame rather than the 22.5. Happy to send some pics to add to this posting chaps. Bob

  81. I've had my Sovereign Roadster now for only two weeks, and I love it. I paid £550 for it from Halfords (UK). Funny thing is now, that my £3500 Cannodale mountain bike doesn't get a look in !

    I ride and watch the world around and see things that I'm sure I would have missed if I was on the mountain bike.

    Reminds me of that Simon and Garfunkel song !

    "Slow down, you move too fast, you've got to make the morning last...."

  82. Love the bike. Too much, it's been in my garage for the last 4 months since purchase, just like looking at it..

    Eventually I will ride it around town

  83. Re the 2.4W Dynohub; this is standard spec. for the Dutch market, and they perhaps don't do a different spec for other markets that are so much smaller than that one for this type of bike. 2.4W with a good LED lamp is plenty these days; in Germany they are in the process of approving a 1.5W dynamo standard that will allow more light with LEDs than the 3W standard ever did with halogen bulbs.

    I have an older Pashley Sovereign Roadster with 26 x 1-3/8" wheels, and the 5-speed hub with the ball-locking sun pinions. It is now nearly fifteen years old, has gone through several sets of tyres, but is still on the original chain and brake linings.

    Mine has a wicker basket on the front and goes five or ten miles most days, gets groceries, and sometimes goes further afield when I'm in the mood. 30 miles or so is no problem.

    The bike is heavy; it is heavier than a 1950's Raleigh of similar spec (but with rim brakes) I once had. I giess it is OK on the flat but I'd like it lighter elsewhere.

    Rear wheel removal is troublesome; there are just too many washers, chain tugs, chaincase brackets etc. For this job, once a year is plenty. When I puncture, I don't take the wheel out, I patch the tube in situ.

    The SA X-RD5 5-speed hub has given some trouble; IMHO it needs a different lube (with solid lubricant additives), careful set-up and adjustment. It has settled down to become reliable now but at one time I was doubtful of this happening. I believe that clumsy 2-1 shifts leave the possibility that both sun pinions will be engaged briefly; this makes terrible noises and it likely to break the hub.

    Having recently inspected the internals of the current model X-RD5(W) hub I can report that the centre does not interchange with the earlier type. (Spare parts for the earlier type are already becoming harder to find.) I can also report that I do not think the design of the X-RD5(W)is particularly good. The planet pinions do not have separate pins upon which they rotate; instead they have projections which rotate in the planet cage on a small, hghly loaded area. This is an unsatisfactory-looking arrangement that will very likely lead to premature wear. In addition the sun locking is via a single dog, and again does not exclude the possibility of simultaneous locking of both suns to the axle.

    With both these 5-speed versions the sun pinion locking has the same flaw, implemented differently. In both cases the second sun can be engaged by moving the gear control, but disengagement of the previous sun pinion is acheived via a spring-loaded mechanism and is therefore not guaranteed to happen. If the spring fails to disengage the first sun because parts are binding slightly or the pedalling load has not been reduced during the shift, damage can occur.

    If the X-RD5(W) fails, the innards can (if my measurements are correct) be replaced by old-style AW innards. If X-RD5 innards fail now, and cannot be replaced, I'm not sure what alternatives will fit in their place.

    Overall, the Pashley is a brilliant bike, let down by the weight and a question mark over the rear hub. Still, mine has lasted 15 years so far, and for all I know, it has at least another 15 years in it....

  84. I have a Pashley Roadster Sovereign(bought last year 2012) and developed an intermittent squeak, which sounds like it's coming from the front end. It seems to happen when my right leg presses down on the pedal, and either
    1)I hit certain bumps
    2)When I pedal extra hard uphill
    3)Turn the front wheel a certain way

    It doesn't happen all the time, just enough to be maddeningly noticeable. Any ideas what it could be?? Brakes dragging? Cracked ball bearing? Dynamo light generator malfunction? Handle bar issue?


  85. As the very happy owner of a Pashley Guv'nor 3 speed I decided to add a new Pashley Roadster Sovereign to the stable. I ride 17km each morning on a road circuit that comprises various moderate climb hills, rough bitumen and ride throughout the year, regardless of the weather. Let me say that the Guv'nor is simply a fantastic bike and it's speed belies it's 15.6kg weight. However, the Sovereign weighed in at 21.6 kg and I believe, unnecessarily heavy. I made the following improvements which also lost 1.1kg off the bike. That may not sound a lot - but made a huge difference to the ride.
    1. The Bell. The bell on the Sovereign is as big and heavy enough to serve as a casserole dish for the 52nd battalion. Off it came and replaced by a brass number similar to the Guv'nor at a fraction of the weight.
    2. The Pedals. The standard pedals look great - but I swapped them for MKS stream pedals with Velo Orange toe clips identical those I have on the Guv'nor. A lighter pedal and gives better control with foot placement - without detracting from the looks.
    3. The Light. The standard headlight looked great but performance poor in darkness and I ended up using an additional Night Rider set up on the handlebar for decent visibility.
    At the suggestion of my bike shop, I then replaced the original headlight with a Busch & Muller IQ CycoSensorplus LED unit which wired straight in to the dyno. What a fantastic difference! Simply an outstanding light and looks good as well. It also has a capacitor storage mode meaning the light will stay on when you are stopped for a few minutes. Cannot recommend this unit enough - so off came my Night Rider set up - no need as the B&M not only gives a superior spread of light but is very bright indeed - and does not detract from the look of the bike.
    The Seat. The original Brooks B33 chrome plated spring saddle is simply beautiful - but way to heavy and I decided that it would be better admired as a stool for my work bench.. So I have replaced it with a Brooks B17 Champion Standard with the centre cut out feature to ease pressure on the private parts. My logic also was that the Brooks B17 would allow more efficient pedalling as all downward force by the legs would go in to the pedalling, rather than partly compressing the springs on the B33. The difference has been significant with this mod - the bike is simply much nicer and easier to ride and a good weight loss as well as the new combo with alloy post is noticeably lighter. The B17 looks great (similar to that used on the Guv'nor) and is I think, more comfortable. Keep in mind that the Sovereign does not lend itself to standing on the pedals as the Guv'nor does, so seat comfort and efficiency are paramount.
    The Brakes. Both models (Sovereign and Guv'nor) are fitted with the SA drum set up, but they felt very underdone on the Sovereign initially because of the extra 6 kg to stop. They feel better now - but not great.
    The Gears. The 5 speed SA set up has perfect ratios for the bike - and you use all the gears frequently in my case. The adjustment is far more finicky than the lovely 3 speed unfortunately, but given the bikes weight, you will bless the range of gears. The Guv'nor manages just fine with 3 speeds although not as high geared understandably.
    One could go further on weight reduction with rear rack, rear stand etc etc - but really no point in this at all - it would alter the look, purpose and usefulness of the bike.
    In conclusion, I have changed what I thought was a slightly disappointing ride (compared to my Guv'nor) to a very nice ride indeed with sensible improvements that do not detract from the original look or intent of the bike.

  86. An excellent book for Roadster Bicycle fans is -Full Tilt: Ireland To India With a Bicycle by Dervla Murphy.

    She set of in 1963.

  87. I feel a bit lost with the Pashley. Anyone who has ridden an old 28" English bike will understand why. They just don't have the same solid feel, comfort or cruising, I feel that Flying Pigeon from China ironically give a much closer experience of the classic English Bike feel.

    The mixture of alloy parts and feels a bit odd. And the drum brakes are really very poor.. I was very rudely surprised by that and even riding on the flat I find that at most I get a gentle stopping. I certainly would not consider tearing down hillsides on it.

    It is certainly not a bad bike. But its not Raleigh or Humber either. I feel they could have done better work in putting that together.

  88. Is it possible to remove the rear rack on the Roadster Sovereign and replace it with an alternative rack? It doesn't look possible on some pictures I've seen.

    1. Hi Richard. Yes, it is possible - and I know others have replaced these racks with different ones.

  89. Thank you, I'm extremely grateful for your response, and for your wonderful review.

  90. It's good to read a review where the owner's love for an item shines through. I can't pretend that I have ten year's experience with my Roadster Sovereign, but it's been another loving relationship.

    It's heavy, and I struggle sometimes to get my leg over the saddle - it's a 24.5" frame with a double crossbar (I'm 6' 2.5") - but it's supremely comfortable, riding like a dream with such a feeling of majesty as I glide along that it always brings a smile to my face. It's a real head-turner too...

    Current spec Sovereigns have are fitted with an AXA Dutch-style frame lock through the coat guard, which is a convenient way to keep it secure outside a shop. I find the brakes to be firm and precise, but the notch-less gear shifter can require a little concentration. I'd recommend fitting a Velo Orange Porteur Double Kickstand - discrete (black legs) and much more practical.

  91. I am the 64 year old proud owner of a Pashley princess classic in regency green and my odometer reports that I have covered 3000 miles in a year. I tried the male version however I had the same problem as Neil, ie problems getting my leg over the crossbar. I took a Princess classic for a test ride and I was sold. I found the 'step thru' much easier and at my age riding a ladies bike does not bother me. The upright riding postion is lovely, with the swept back handlebars and comfortable rubber handlebar grips. I ride without the basket fitted and the Brooks B66 sprung saddle is superbly comfortable especially after a couple of liberal coats of proofide. Mine is the three speed version and is a dream to shift, I have never had a problem shifting my gears whether moving or stationary. I found the five speed version a little more awkward to shift. I fitted some powerful lights, a Caradice saddlebag and I upgraded the tyres from the 'Continental cityrides which were fitted originally to Swalbe marathon pluss's. I wore out the Continentals!
    She rides like a dream and I can honestly say it is one of the best bikes I have ever ridden since I owned my Raleigh trent tourist.

  92. I owned the same model a couple of years ago when I was living in London. Definitely I remember how comfortable the bike was. The Brooks saddle was a breeze. However I had several punctures, broken spokes and even had to change the front hub. After two years it was becoming extremely expensive to maintain. Besides all that I was cycling 10 miles a day across Chelsea and Kensington.It would hurt my feet in the end of the week.I own three other bicycles that are lighter, less expensive to keep, but without a doubt the pashley roadster classic will stay always on my mind. Maybe one day I will get another one when I move to Cambridge.

  93. I recently purchased the pashley sovereign 22.5 inch and am pleased with it so far. My objective was to have a commuter bicycle that was low maintenance and I believe this is as close as it gets at a reasonable price. I appreciate the choices made in the construction of the bike but as mentioned some of the choices are frustrating too. The front dynamo is only 2.4W and not 3.0W which limits you to a front dynamo light only. The one fitted is not very bright but looks nice. I changed the light for an edelux II but used the same mount that came with the original. The change in aesthetics was not too drastic. I can live with the rear battery powered light as they usually last a long time before requiring a battery change. Note also that the wire for the front light is quite thin and passes inside the front fork. Fitting the edelux, I had to enlarge the hole in the sealing grommet where the wire exits at the top of the fork. I also changed the pedals for ones that take cycle clips. They fit without any issues of touching the front mudguard. I believe even the XL size cycle clips would fit without contacting the mudguard. Another change made was to add a Fahrer mudflap to the front mudguard. It is made of tough fabric and can be cut to take the bolts that attached the lower mudguard stays. I added this item because I felt the front guard would not protect the bottom bracket from spray. It works well and I would recommend it. The other change was to have fitted the 8 speed shimano hub gear and the brooks grips made from washers. The gears are fine but the grips require gloves for comfort as they are a tad hard on the hands. I chose them for longevity as I suspect the Pashley versions that are softer would look tired very quickly on a daily commuter bike. As to the ride it is generally slower than a modern bicycle but this has its compensations as one looks around rather than staring at bitumen. For short rides around 10km in town it is fine.

    As a gripe I would mention the cycle stand. It works well but it is stiff to operate and because of the mechanical latching it scratches the paint of the stand on either side. There are no rubber feet on the stand either so these areas become scratched to bare metal too. Changing the stand would drastically alter the appearance and so I am living with it.

    All in all it is a good choice for a slow but steady commuter bike that is very low maintenance


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