"There are four ages of ‘Bikekind’….
Age 1: Kid. Raleigh Chopper. The coolest machine ever. Stick-shift, three-in-the-floor, chopper. Easyrider – the American dream. I would’ve been eight years old, flared jeans, long hair, ‘the Sweet’ were in the charts.
Next up, Age 2: Twelve. Riding to Sidmouth beach with my brother, five miles each way on a single speed second hand street bike. Not flash, functional. Also riding the same to school – until I was hit by a motorcycle – and both of us were destroyed. Punk rock came along, and finished all of the hippy crap. And cycling. And launched … motorcycling. ‘Motorbikin’ Fast forward twenty-five years, not ridden a push-bike in all that time, a dodgy ‘mate’ flogs me a cardboard box containing a really shitty Chinese ‘mountain bike’ – with ‘full’ suspension and a million gears.
This is: Age 3. Which is, literally, a ‘one-use’ disposable piece of monkey-metal junk – as I learn when I try to get it serviced – and no self-respecting mechanic will allow it in his workshop. My brother claims that I sold it on to him. If that’s true, I am deeply ashamed. Might be the worst three hundred quid I’ve ever spent. Another fifteen or so summers wasting – and we, (me, my long-suffering partner and my Bengal Puss – now TWO Bengal pusses), are washed up in Stratford upon Avon, having just survived the UK Govt’s idea of ‘No one will be left behind’ – and lost all of our Worldly goods in the process.
Time for a restart and reset: Age 4. The Pashley year(s).
Before I elaborate further, let me introduce myself. My name is Steve Deeks, I’m a race car driver, pilot, automotive presenter – and am attracted to anything that moves fast. If that’s your kind of thing, you can read all about it at www.stevedeeks.com.
My partner JoJo was the first to succumb. She is obsessed with ‘Call the midwife’ – when she saw a ‘Call the midwife’ pushbike carving its way through Stratford’s inner lanes, it was a done deal. She had to have one. Pure chance, Pashley’s charming ‘Blake’ turned up at our door – as I recall – to buy some piece of bric-a-brac I had advertised on Facebook Marketplace – I asked him what he did for a living, (fit looking boy). Imagine my surprise …
The realisation that there was a factory in Stratford upon Avon actually MAKING the bikes was mind-blowing, we are both so sick of Chinese junk flooding so many aspects of our lives. The concept of BUYING BRITISH was utterly seductive. Especially to JoJo. After the Covid years – probably to a growing audience actually.
We both love European, JoJo is fluent in Italian – and I have a passion for all things Japanese, but I’m afraid, Chinese engineering isn’t my bag. In 2016, I needed a Monkey bike to go on the back of my Classic race team Hymer, and Chinese was the only thing on the sub 100KG menu. It was a desperate machine – a terrible copy of the original Japanese icon.
Courtesy of Blake, JoJo got her Britannia – and the idea was growing on me. Zipping around CV37, filling her wicker basket with Waitrose finest. She adores that bike, Then, in March, for the first time in my life I tore some of my core muscles in my stomach and groin, and just like that – my running days were over. I’ve always been a runner, it’s what I do to stay fit, healthy and keep my racing weight down. Without running, I had a major challenge.
Blake – and Pashley – came to my rescue. I’m racing a bright orange classic 911 for Bicester Heritage based ‘Classic Performance Engineering’ Could Pashley make a bright orange racing replica pushbike for me to stay race fit? Hell yes. What would be the best all-round Pashley platform on which to base it? I headed down to ‘The Traditional Cycle Shop’ to peruse. Met Fran – liked him immediately. Clearly this is not Halfords. There’s a cool vibe at the shop by the water. ‘What the hell is that?’ ‘That’s a Pashley-Morgan Steve, congratulations, you’ve picked one of our most expensive cycles’.
Well I would, wouldn’t I…?
Ten speed Shimano, discs front and rear, Panoracer Gravel King BIG tyres, aircraft spec Reynolds 631 tubing, and everything coated with bright orange paintwork. I don’t know much about cyclo-chic, but I do know when I have the coolest set of wheels in Shakespeare’s town. These are that. Now I know even less about actually cycling. I’ve watched the Lance Armstrong documentary about three times, but that’s the extent of it.
I know about motorcycles though, I work for the manufacturers launching bikes – I road test for a Triumph dealer group – and write about it, make little films.
So let me tell you about my Pashley ‘Tributo Beetle’, as I’ve named her. This is no ‘show pony’ – it’s the set of wheels on which I ride the 5-mile roundtrip to the gym, to distant pubs cross-country with my neighbours, into Stratford with my partner – and – due to the time of year I took delivery – mainly in the dark. When. I’m riding on my own, I realise I ride as hard and fast as my lungs, legs and limited skill-set will allow me.
I’ve loaded the ‘Pash’ down with lights; I have four facing forward, two back. I have about sixteen hundred lumens lighting the road – just as well.
From the outset, I struggled with stability – my other bike is a 1200 Ducati Diavel – I’m used to considerably more rubber on the road. The ‘Pash’ initially felt flighty and twitchy – speed felt risky – undoubtedly down to my flawed technique. Surprisingly the Brooks saddle never felt – feels – uncomfortable. Let’s see in summer how I feel when I stretch the riding distance …
Riding position is PERFECT – I have the right amount of weight over each wheel for maximum traction, bars and control ergonomics excellent, NOT from the off, surprisingly – or maybe not so surprisingly, but after a set-up visit to the ‘Traditional Cycle Shop’, where we fitted the bike to MY needs – quite different to factory ‘default’. And, maybe, therein lies the genius of the Pashley proposition: support from the very people who designed and built my bike. That is, like driving for a ‘works’ team, (speaking from personal experience), and it sets the experience apart. Of course you pay a premium – would you not want the craftsmen who created your bike to earn a decent wage? Of course you would – unless you are the kind of person who doesn’t deserve to own something so beautiful.
Back on the road – or in my case, mainly the footpath. A ‘Pash’ has a steel frame, it’s not the lightest. But it is the strongest, the most durable – and the frame geometry imbues the bike with the ability to soak up road and track shocks with ease. I have zero finesse; my ‘Pash’ gets bounced over kerbs, straddles potholes, etc. – soaks it all up like a boss. NVH? Check. This is what you, also, pay for.
Gears. My 'Pash' now shifts like an F1. It didn’t always. Out of the factory, it snagged at fifth, no matter what I did with the adjuster. I persevered, mainly because I had no other point of reference. Eventually I took her back to ‘Traditional Cycle Shop’ because Fran. Told me they always did a post-sale Pashley check after a few weeks. Best move I made – technician Nick did a stunning job – picking up the fact that the arm that the Shimano is mounted on had a very slight twist. When I picked the ‘Pash’ up, after the service, it was transformed, Up and down the gear set like a rapid fire weapon, perfectly spaced and well-chosen ratios. I love the gearbox on this bike – ‘I’ for intuitive.
Brakes – again, these things really need to be set up for your personal taste and riding style, the discs on my ‘Pash’ have superlative ‘feel’ – I’ve never locked a wheel inadvertently – equally I can pull a ‘stoppie’ with ease. The ratio between master cylinder and caliper is perfect. The system must be pretty well sealed too; I had to invert the cycle briefly, and was concerned that the system might need bleeding to remove air bubbles thus generated. Not noticeable. ‘The Traditional Cycle Shop’s Fran sorted the lever pull and set-up – once again, ‘factory settings’ didn’t suit my style.
Ergonomics. Perfect. For me. But I’m an odd shape. When I first saw the Pashley Morgan 110, I admit I was seduced by the dropped café racer bars. Just like in 1997 when Ducati’s 748 Superbike blew my mind and bank balance – I had to have one. In 2021 I remembered how much older I am than in 1997 – and specc’d the bike with the bars ‘the right way up’. I’m too old and stiff for the Lance Armstrong stretch – and the gentleman’s riding position is perfect for everyday riding – plus I have a chance of hanging on to the bike if it starts to slide. Useful. Brooks saddle looks like purgatory – but is actually really comfortable – although a ten-mile roundtrip is my limit so far.
Looks. It’s superb – I love the pushbike ‘bobber’ style – fat tyres – steel painted mudguards – black anodised rims – quick release racing wheels – it’s all there, everyone likes it – even ‘serious’ riders. When the Classic 911 gets its 2022 livery, the ‘Pash’ will be a replica; satin black on orange – emblazoned with the sponsor’s livery – and a regular at the racetrack. A few years back, in my capacity as Chief Instructor for Nissan’s GT Academy programme, I worked with Sir Chris Hoy. I need to run the ‘Pash’ past him for approval.
So, yes – I am a brand advocate. Why? I’ve been racing all of my adult life – hanging around pit garages, driving for ‘works’ teams in single-seaters, sports prototypes and junior touring. I’m used to small volume specialised engineering companies that are focused on high-performance, I’m used to being involved in a development process to tailor my kit to me. This is how the Pashley ‘family’ feel to me.
It’s a great British brand – it’s a chance to be part of a movement – and an opportunity to own something that the manufacturers plan you to maintain, rebuild and have – own - forever.
Where does that ever happen, in this generation?
Test ride one yourself."
Read his 'Pashley People' profile here