Best of British Bikes
Pashley are Britain’s longest established bike manufacturer. Many other bicycle companies have turned to overseas production in search of cheaper costs, risking the quality and reputation of their brand. Pashley are one of only three bicycle manufacturers left in England today. Their bikes don’t come cheap, so what is it that makes you invest in one? Today they are particularly trendy, with continual celebrity endorsement. The image of a Pashley bike is often regarded as an epitome of Britishness.
Founded in 1926 by William ‘Rath’ Pashley, a dispatch rider in the First World War, Pashley are now based in Stratford-upon-Avon, having been originally set up in Birmingham, where almost every component was made in their own factory.
Pashley’s most traditional, flagship designs are the Princess Sovereign, with its recognisably elegant frame with a wicker basket fixed to its front, and the Roadster, a more classic ‘King of the Road’ bike. Pashley originally made their name by manufacturing carrier and cargo bikes for industry, as well as load carrier tricycles for confectionary. They supplied Wall’s with their ‘Stop Me and Buy One’ tricycles and found other niche markets such as trikes for children.
In the early 1970s, Pashley started to supply the Royal Mail, which soon became their largest order, supplying them today with over 37,000 bikes. Specifically made for Royal Mail, it’s one of Pashley’s most famous, as well as being the most financially supportive.
Made in Britain
What used to be a great bike producing nation, Britain now has only two other manufacturers, as well as bespoke bike companies such as Mercian and Rapha. In the early 1990s, the mountain-bike craze deemed the British bicycle unfashionable. Pashley rejected the lure of cheap production lines and have avoided existing merely as a re-distribution centre for foreign imports. There are no conveyor belts in the Pashley factory, only a team of 20 men hand-crafting individual elements, using their learned craftsmanship and skills.
As British bike manufacture has steadily fallen, Pashley’s determination to remain in England has been rewarded. In 1994, Pashley undertook a management buyout when bicycle-enthusiast Adrian Williams became shareholder and Managing Director. Factory manager John Kerby still remains there, having started in 1968. During a steady decline in the history of the British bike industry, Pashley provides us with an opportunity to revive it, investing it with the feeling of quality and worth that it deserves.
Recently, Pashley have taken part in the Best of Britannia exhibition in 2012, of which Lane was also a part and are featured in ad campaigns for fashion brands such as Radley and Topshop. Their continuing success is evidence of the growing trend and consumer thirst for products that use ‘hand-made British craftsmanship’.
Pashley is a brand based on heritage, using traditional manufacturing methods and updating them with modern materials and componentry for modern riding conditions and style sensibilities. It is important for British companies to remain focused on pioneering design and continue to do interesting and innovative work, otherwise they run the risk of not moving forward. When their manufacture and design is so rooted in their heritage, it would be easy to continue to produce the same products without taking risks. It is essential to update designs to the modern market which Pashley are successfully doing.
Pashley have recently launched ‘Pashley — The Collection’, a new accessories and attire range of cycle-friendly products inspired by their classic designs and traditional craftsmanship. Pashley have sourced British materials and producers wherever possible. Over ten years ago, Pashley launched a small range of leather accessories for their bicycles, as well as separate seats, baskets and bells. These used traditional fittings and robust, natural materials such as bridle leather or lined canvas. They took direct inspiration from the company’s heritage with the ‘Rath’ Despatch Bag, based on the founder William ‘Rath’ Pashley’s wartime bags. When their customers requested them to broaden their range, they responded with the fuller collection.
Pashley are the original designers of exceptionally good quality bikes. Their designs are not just about looking old-fashioned and fitting with the popular ‘vintage’ trend (of which there are a lot of cheap imitations!) Every element of a Pashley bike is made with exceptional quality, which is why we invest so much in it, because we know that they will last a lifetime. This reputation can only come from being a long-standing business with a huge focus on good design, made with the best quality materials and by the best craftsmen, something which Lane looks to for inspiration.
Photographs courtesy of Pashley Cycles.
Check out our Pinterest board ‘Lane – Pashley inspiration’ for more images of Pashley bicycles.