British bicycle-maker enjoying a "pash" for retro

Wed Dec 16, 2009 1:56pm EST
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By Caroline Copley

STRATFORD-UPON-AVON, England (Reuters Life!) - They may look as if they were plucked straight from a sepia-toned photograph of your great-grandfather's years as a student at Cambridge, but vintage bicycles are all the rage at the moment.

Traditionally styled bicycles with names like the Roadster Sovereign, Princess, Guv'nor and the Sonnet Pure are flying out the factory doors of England's longest-running bicycle manufacturer, Pashley Cycles (

Orders for Pashley bikes have defied the recession by increasing 100 percent over the previous year in June, driven by growth in overseas enquiries and a raised level of interest at home for authentic British craftsmanship.

"There's a growing trend for the classically styled bike," Pashley Managing Director Adrian Williams told Reuters. "And we've been doing 'retro' for the past 80 years."

The "sit-up and beg" bikes, so named for the upright position of the rider, mostly come with classic handbuilt frames in black and green, wicker baskets and sturdy construction.

But don't be fooled by the retro styling and the leather saddles. These bicycles also come with some very mod-cons.

The classic black, five-speed Roadster Sovereign and its female equivalent the Princess come with gears, brakes and the dynamo for the front headlamp built into the hubs of the wheels.

The chain is fully enclosed in its own housing in most models to keep the muck and grit out and the grease in -- so no need to tuck your trousers into your socks. A fitted rear lock secures many Pashley bikes with the push of a lever.   Continued...

<p>Pashley Cycles' Princess Sov 3Q is seen in this undated handout photo. REUTERS/Pashley Cycles/Handout</p>