Sunday, September 13, 2009

Meet Penelope

OK, I'd had my heart set on a Velorbis Victoria, but after testing riding a Victoria and a Pashley Princess Sovereign (which I'd INITIALLY had my heart set on until I found out how much they weighed), the balance fell in the Pashley's favour.

Why? Ride quality was good on both, and the Shimano gearset on the Victoria is lovely. It was very tempting. However. The Victoria costs an additional $700 compared to the Pashley. Could I find $700 value in the difference? Um...the Vic's headlight stays on for a minute when you're stationary (quite a nice touch for a dynamo light). It's got more gears and there's not much to choose in quality between Shimano and Sturmey Archer. The Victoria is 4kg lighter, which was tempting. Ultimately I found it hard to justify the extra money for the Victoria, given that one or two people on the internet have questioned build quality and longevity.

So Penelope Pashley has joined our family. This is easily the nicest bike I've ever had - so stable, so smooth. When I sat on her in the shop yesterday I was stunned at the stability even standing still. This is a Rolls Royce of bicycles.

My test ride in both cases was on fairly flat ground with minor upward slopes, which was a bit of a concern. I'm 20 years older (and 10 kg heavier and heaven knows how less fit) than when I first got a mountain bike with 21 gears, I ride a 25 year old 12 speed road bike and get up hills these days without too much gasping, but I'm buying a bike with 5 hub gears which weighs 7kg more than Petunia my mixte. When I bought Petunia last year I hadn't ridden for about ten years; I felt every nuance in the terrain heartily for the first few months.

My first real ride on Penelope today told me I'll be feeling every nuance all over again. Honestly my legs felt like chewed string at the end of 8km (which includes a hill or two). I guess it didn't help that we'd taken our road bikes out this morning for a 16km ride in a park which includes The Long Slow Hill From Hell so my muscles had worked hard already. But what a bike... she feels so stable and once she's up and running the momentum of her weight carries her effortlessly on the flat. I think I'm in love :-).

Here's Penelope, just after I paid for her and took her out of the shop. I'm considering a sugar rush to get over the shock of paying a four figure sum for a bicycle LOL! Thanks to the fantastic Kate of Steel City Cycle Works for importing these wonderful bikes.


  1. Hurray for Penelope!

    If the gearing worries you, just look into adding gears and lowering the gears by getting a larger cog installed. Should be easy to do at your local shop.


  2. Thanks Filigree. I'll be giving the current setup a good tryout first to see if I can live comfortably with it. :-)