We’re all of us passionate about our bikes. Here’s a story from Nick Moore that puts that feeling into words oh so eloquently.
Maybe I’m just contrary. Or mad. Or both. But in an age when the cycling world is obsessed with making things lighter, easier and more precise, I’m heading determinedly in the opposite direction. Like, I suspect, many Solo customers, I’d been effortlessly seduced by carbon fibre, 10-speed and the whole pro-peloton thing. And I was quite happy with that, until summer ’08, when I happened upon an online review of the Pashley Guv’nor. If you haven’t seen it, the Guv’nor, is a re-creation of one of the first bikes that Pashley, founded in 1929 and now best known for supplying bikes to Britain’s posties, ever made. The story goes that the boss wanted something different for his daily commute, so they rummaged through the plans drawer and decided to have a stab at one of the company’s original roadsters, known as a ‘path racer’, which was the 1930’s answer to the Cervélo R3. I already had five bikes in my garage. I really didn’t need any more. (My wife said so, which meant it had to be true.) And The Guv’nor, it seemed, wouldn’t offer anything that my existing bikes couldn’t do a lot better. It didn’t make sense on any level. Yet somehow, I just couldn’t get it out of my head. So, in October, I went to the Bike Show at London’s Earls Court to see it for real. One look was enough: this was the bike for me. Still didn’t really know why, mind you; forces greater than me were obviously at work. While at the Show, I ran across a new clothing company, who were exhibiting the Solo Equipe jersey I’d also seen reviewed online. I tried one, found it to be every bit as nice as I’d expected, and left the stand clutching a smart black musette containing a money-off voucher. Of which more later. I ordered my Guv’nor the next day. When he arrived, it was early November; precisely the time of year you don’t want to riding a bike with cream-coloured tyres and no mudguards. The weather, however, was the least of my worries. First and most obvious was the technological chasm between The Guv’nor (15 kilos of Reynolds 531 and three hub gears) and my road bike. This, as you can imagine, became apparent fairly early in the test ride. Second, I had to contend with a brand-new Brooks B17, which was as smooth and polished as a mahogany dining table, and about as yielding. Third, and most importantly, my usual medley of shiny synthetics just looked all wrong with the bike’s sober black frame and leather hand grips. It was like a Model T Ford being driven by the Terminator. Trouble was, I couldn’t face the alternative The Guv’nor’s 30s heritage seemed to suggest. I was haunted by appalling visions of corduroy, tweed and Argyll socks. I just couldn’t embrace my inner geography teacher. Which was when I remembered the voucher. By the time the next dry day arrived, so had my red Solo Equipe jersey; altogether more appropriate attire that made me look more like Fausto Coppi and less like either a Power Ranger, or a character from PG Wodehouse. I’m pleased to say the jersey saw me safe and warm through one of the coldest winters on record. And since the UK government doesn’t yet compel me to wear a helmet, a black-and-red Solo cap is a staple of my summer ensemble. Along with the goggles. But that’s another story.