When I first got into cycling back in 2010, I blogged about how the Pashley Guvnor ‘epitomised everything I wanted aesthetically in a bicycle’. At the time, I wasn’t interested in modern bikes and wanted something with vintage feel. The Guvnor stood out amongst a sea of gaudy and overdone colour schemes on one side, and twee retro on the other.
I didn’t want to spend too much on a bike though, in case it became another one of my ‘temporary hobbies’. The Guvnor felt too expensive at the time, so I went for the Globe Daily at half the price. However, over the last two years I’ve gone from Globe Daily, Steel Peugeot (off ebay, which became my singlespeed), Specialized Allez, Canyon Ultimate AL and Colnago CLX 3 (the last two are my current steeds). My eyes were quickly to the beauty of modern bikes with companies like Canyon that make bikes with restraint in the graphics, and a high quality of finishing to boot. I really appreciate my carbon Colnago when it comes to hills.
Even so, I can’t get the Guvnor out of my head almost three years later. This probably isn’t helped by the fact I’ve been following the weekend jollies held by The Guvnors Assembly. I’ve always had a niggling thought in the back of my head (particularly in autumn strangely) - “Yes it’s heavy, but what is it actually like to ride?”.
So, when the family went to Stratford-upon-Avon last weekend, I couldn’t help but pop along to the Traditional Cycle Shop for a wee test ride! Yes, it was as heavy as a battleship (but probably not as heavy as other Pashley models like the Roadster), but my first feeling on mounting it was one of comfort. The Brooks B17 saddle was a revelation - I could really feel the ‘hammock’ effect. The swept-back hand position was odd for the first second or so (maybe as I was expecting the bars to be flatter), but this went quickly, and I realised it was a similar to my normal hand position on my road bikes.
When I rode it, it was like being on an elegant steamroller. It took very slightly longer than my road bike to get it up to speed, but once it was going, it just seemed to cruise over rough ground with ease. Very comfortable and an utter joy to ride. The only time the weight will be an issue is when I carry my bike up and down the stairs to my office (only twice a day every week - hey ho!).
Despite that practical consideration I just want one more now that I’ve tried it. I want to put on my tweed flat cap and take an autumnal ride through the streets of Oxford where the low sun makes the old colleges look golden. Ahhhh, bliss.
In the meantime, I’m going to go back and alter my singlespeed project to adopt some the Guvnor aesthetic. It won’t have the correct slack Path Racer geometry, but it will tide me over until I can get one. Which is going to be difficult, because I’m also hankering after a cyclocross bike, but that’s another story…