So I bought a bike…

…but not the Pashley!

Well I’ve been tying myself in knots about a bicycle for months now, looking at all sorts of options for some cheaper way of getting a Pashley-like bicycle for a lot less money. As it turns out once you’ve got yourself all the bits you need to recreate that spec you don’t get much change from £700 anyway, so I was back with the dilemma of how I could justify that expense on something given the likelihood I wouldn’t get £700-worth of use out of it.

The bike as advertised

The bike as advertised – “1950s/60s”
actually the rear hub is stamped 1987.

What I bought instead is a 1987 BSA 3 speed with 26 inch wheels. It was second hand, very second hand indeed as it happens, and looked to be worth less than the £30 I paid for it from some guy in Cannock. The rims were particularly rusty, all the chrome was a little worse for wear and most immediately the rear tyre was totally knackered, the carcass showing through the sidewalls. This thing must have been ridden on a flat for some time!

I like that it’s a BSA (Birmingham Small Arms, as if you needed telling, although it is essentially a badge-engineered Raleigh) as firstly it’s all British made, and secondly it reminds me of my old headmaster who drove a bright red BSA Scout sports car. My absolute favourite thing is how straight one’s back is when riding, with your head actually higher up than when simply stood up straight. I’d never riden a three-speed hub-geared bike before, and was amazed at how few gears one actually needs, compared with my old 18 speed mountain bike.

Ready to ride!

All cleaned up, readjusted and ready to ride!

I’ve cleaned it up, tinkered with the gears and brakes, put new tyres and inner tubes on it and also fitted lights and it looks pretty decent, though still a little tatty. I like that though, I’m less worried about a potential thief’s eyes lighting up with dollar signs than I would be with a Pashley. I’ve still put a lock on it though. The only problem remaining with the bike is that the rims are a little bashed, causing a disconcerting judder under braking. It stops fine, it just doesn’t engender maximum confidence while doing so… The rear rack’s been taken off as it doesn’t really fit, and rims aside the one other change left to make is to add a decent leather saddle.


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