The Pashley Guv’nor [Review]

Didn’t Primrose, Hamish and I have a lovely time the day we shirked foul duties and motored to Woolongong, to visit Steel City Bikes and ride Pashleys! My initial thoughts on the brand can be found in an earlier entry, listing style-over-speed brands of the world. With a few test rides under my belt, and their beautiful hard copy brochures in hand, I can be a little more informed with what I say now. 

Note the self-satisfied look                                             "Now, could I keep up with F-grade on this?"

The Pashley Guv’nor is an astounding piece of "Modern" engineering. Gold lined rims. Special runs of 531 tubing. Arcane cable routes. Thick spokes. Tubular fork crown. Double top tubes for the 24" model. Oh and let us not forget the TITANIUM Brooks leather saddle. Were it not for Thatcher forcing Sturmey Archey to Taiwan, you could say every length has been made to make the Guv’nor true to its 1935 prototype’s spirit of imperial pride.
For the $2000+ a Guv’nor will cost you, you could buy a much faster bike. But this bike embodies speed as an idea. Crude kinetic energy is a measurable force, where capital-S, S-p-e-e-d, is a subjective quality, and thus far more potent. Doing 10km per hour between pedestrians on the footpath riding a Guv’nor, is genuinely speedy. Approaching the sound barrier 10km up in an aeroplane can leave you feeling as though you are stationary. The Pashley is designed for narrow hedge lined roads, or any situation that will accentuate your feeling of speed.
Like a sports coat thrown on over jeans, the Pashley Guv’nor instantly makes dudes look like gentlemen. You don’t have to go in for the flipped up cycling cap, or Mulga Bill costume, to look kinda suave, yet not self involved; that is because the bike retains a comical touch. Not Penny Farthing comical. Or fixie pretentious. But enough of each that somehow it works. The mud on your clothes from those unguarded wheels, I suggest calls for old clothes—"old money" clothes.
The sturdy cranks, enclosed brakes, and the internal hub-gears combine to provide the dependable ride you would expect of any new $2000 dollar bike. But the extreme rake, fastidious detailing, and lengths gone into making a machine that truly captures Britain’s interwar mood, wedged between her industrial heyday and the arrival of Modernism from continental Europe, make the Guv’nor so much more than two wheels to roll on. Just be sure you can fix another bike hook to the wall over your bed, before you commit. 
 

7 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Best Bicycle Review Ever!

    Practically perfect in every way!

    I was there too. I rode the Pashley. I drooled over the Pashley. Dr. Behooving, once again demonstrates his mastery of analysis and the English language.

    I would just like to add a few brief, salient points about the Pashley Cycles:

    Pashley Cycles is an English bicycle manufacturer in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, England, established in 1926. The company has been making bicycles for more than 70 years.

    Pashley Cycles was formed by William ‘Rath’ Pashley in 1926. He had been a dispatch rider in the First World War and an engineering apprentice with Austin Motors. The company was originally Pashley and Barber (his wife’s maiden name). It manufactured all manner of bikes, but carrier cycles made the Pashley name.

    The first premises were in Digbeth in Birmingham, but increasing demand led to larger premises in Aston. In 1936 Pashley Carrier Cycles became WR Pashley Ltd. Every component was made in-house except the tubing and lugs. This allowed constant development and quality control.

    After the depression, Pashley supplied Wall’s ice cream Stop Me and Buy One tricycles, with two wheels at the front. Two-wheeled load carriers like the small front wheeled ‘Deli Bike’ became favourites with butchers, milkmen and vintners.

    With World War II, production turned to munitions. Coach-building converted Rolls-Royces and Daimlers into ambulances for civil defence. After the war the company made small motorised vehicles. The Pashley Pelican was a rickshaw transporter using Royal Enfield or BSA motorcycle front ends. These, with standard carrier cycles, proved popular in Denmark, Holland, South Africa and Argentina. Canadian Police used the motor rickshaw to collect money from parking meters.

    In the 1960s Pashely supplied the Post Office after the previous supplier, the Co-op, closed. The initial contract was split between Pashley, Wearwell and Harmanco. Eventually Pashley took the entire contract and so it remains. With 37,000 bikes, Royal Mail remains Pashley’s largest customer. When tendering recently Pashley produced the Mailstar bike.

    Domestic demand for industrial and carrier cycles waned in the 1960s and Pashley’s main production was car trailers for Freeman and other catalogue companies. With a move to Masons Road in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1963 came a shift back to cycle production.

    William Pashley’s son Richard realised that the load-carrying tricycle could be converted for those who unwilling to ride a bicycle. The result was the Pashley Picador. It was shorter and lighter than its industrial counterpart, and used round tubing instead of box-section frame. Pashley continued to adapt carrier bikes for the public. The front carrier was removed and the lugs replaced on an even-wheeled work bike. Pashley also produce an old-fashioned roadster. In the middle of 1970s Pashley started to produce the Pickle child’s tricycle, based on the Raleigh Winkie of the 1950s.

    Pashley continued to supply the Post Office through the 1970s and 80s. It also acquired Gundles in 1974, the other manufacturer of work bikes. Pashley started to make tandems, and adapted tricycles for special needs. Eventually the ladies’ Classic Princess emerged with a low step-through frame and wicker basket.

    In 1991 Alex Moulton chose the company to make an all-purpose bike, launched in spring 1992. In 1994 a management buy-out took control. A licensing deal followed and in the autumn the following year Pashley and Land Rover teamed to produce a Moulton Bicycle.

    Pashley continued to develop throughout the 1990s, through acquisition and in-house. Since the 1990s, Pashley have also developed BMX and trials bikes. Pashley also offers a range of customised company bicycles and work bikes. Famously, Pashley makes bicycles for the Royal Mail (the Mailstar). All Pashley bikes are still hand built in their factory in Stratford-upon-Avon, England.

    This is all based entirely on my own research and does not involve any plagiarism whatsoever. Especially not from a Wikipedia article entitled, “Pashley Cycles” accessed on Friday, April 2, 2010.

    The Hon. Hamish Harker of The Hill.

  2. c0ntrite says:

    used stationary bikes

    $2000+ for a bike! I wouldn’t pay that much for a bike!

    Used Stationary Bikes

  3. Anonymous says:

    unbroken

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  4. Anonymous says:

    “Now, could I keep up with F-grade on this?”

    What grade are you normally?

    • Steven says:

      Re: “Now, could I keep up with F-grade on this?”

      That I am aware of, no one, anywhere, has attempted riding a Guv’nor in competition. Me: I consider myself a defender of B-Grade and all that it stands for.

    • Anonymous says:

      Re: “Now, could I keep up with F-grade on this?”

      Guv’nors have been ridden in competition but it is rare. Here’s an example: youtube.com/watch?v=I3M9w9fC7tg They took 14.5 hours to cover 205km including 4000m of ascent on guv’nor 3 speeds and finished with the very last of the last stranglers. Some of the hills were too steep for the 3-speeds so some walking was involved but one suspects that the time wouldn’t have been much better had they taken the 5-speed model.

    • Steven says:

      Re: “Now, could I keep up with F-grade on this?”

      Oh yes, I remember seeing that clip once. It didn’t really register in my mind as a race. More a ramble. I want footage of someone on a Guv’nor tucked tight in a pace-line, before I’m convinced. One speed would suffice where I race (flat course).

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