Sunday, October 10, 2010

City Bicycle Debate

The last week or so has brought about a lot of thought regarding my all around city style bicycle, which, at the moment, is my Pashley Princess Sovereign. I purchased this bicycle as a replacement for my Electra bicycles, which weren't as comfortable and couldn't seem to get me on as long of trips as I'd hoped to go on a city bike.
I've been riding the Pashley for awhile now; not an extremely long time, but long enough to know the things that work and the things that could use improvement. I should and will preface the following statements by saying that I really do love this bicycle, and it is an extremely comfortable bike to ride. It has everything I hoped to have on a bicycle from dynamo lighting, to baskets to carry goods in, to a fully enclosed chain guard. In theory, it is the perfect bicycle.
The problems that have arisen with this bicycle actually have very little to do with the Pashley itself, but rather with where we live. While I would love to be able to move to a more populated and bike friendly area, it just isn't possible for us at this time, and my bikes need to be functional to get me to the places I need to go. While the Pashley will and can take me anywhere I desire, there is a trade off that comes with riding this bike. The biggest trade is that it is very heavy, and while its weight is one of the qualities that allows comfort while riding, it also creates a slow ride; a very slow ride. With all the additions on this bicycle and carrying a locking chain and personal bag, her weight comes in at around 60 lbs. That's quite a bit for a bicycle!
Though I have no real issue with the weight of the bicycle, nor the slowness of the ride (it's actually something that's very fun, really), everything is a bit of a haul for us. The nearest places we typically go are at least 8-10 miles one way (except the local market, which is only about 2.5 miles one way). Those 8-10 miles aren't 'fun' miles either, but rather take us on a very busy, major highway with cars travelling at speeds in excess of 70 mph, a few fairly substantial hills, and a whole lot of nothing to look at other than dead weeds and speeding vehicles. When you're travelling slowly, it doesn't make for the most exciting of rides. I do my best to enjoy any time on my bikes, but that same trip, on the same long highway gets to be more of a chore than anything when the speed is slow and there isn't much to see.
My thought was to perhaps sell the Pashley (I'm actually cringing a bit and my stomach sinks just thinking of such a thing) and purchase another city bicycle, and I had a rather specific bicycle thought in mind. Since I love my Sam Hillborne so much for longer rides, I was thinking about getting a Betty Foy frame from Rivendell and making it into something more city-like, rather than for touring. Does this seem crazy? Perhaps.
*Photo from Rivendell
Basically, I'm thinking that I would purchase the frame from the sale of my Pashley, and then slowly buy the parts to build up an appropriate city bicycle, complete with dynamo driven lighting, internal 8 speed hub, baskets, and chain guard. In so doing, I believe I would have a comfortable city bike, with all the amenities I desire, that will also take me a bit quicker on the long rides required just to get into town. The down side to this option, obviously, is the sale of the Pashley. The other not so great part of this, is that I would be without a city style bicycle for quite awhile while the bicycle was being saved for and built up. I'm guesstimating that this would be somewhere between four months up to possibly a year or more.
I have also considered the idea of keeping the Pashley for the day when we will no longer live in our current surroundings, and simply saving up, bit by bit, to purchase the Betty Foy frame and parts. While this also isn't an ideal option, it may be the one that makes the most sense. So, what will become of my beloved Pashley Princess? Time will tell. For now, she sits waiting for the next ride, while I debate the pros and cons of life both with her, and the possibility of life continuing on without her.

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