June 25, 2012
Even though I’d rather cycle with the wind in my hair, unhindered by any kind of head protection, I don’t live in the bucolic idyll I’d like to, so I do ususally wear a protective helmet, especially when riding in traffic. It’s also mandatory for any kind of event, and I’d expect my kids to wear one so it’s only right that I practice what I preach to them.
After I bought my beautiful Pashley Princess Sovereign (recently christened Lucinda) I really wanted a helmet that felt more in keeping with her feminine style. My old helmet, borrowed from my husband, wasn’t exactly fitting the bill. Thankfully, I’ve recently discovered the beautiful helmets made by Sawako Furono. An architect by training, she designed the helmets to be a stylish alternative to the usual, masculine headwear we’re usually presented with. When I’m riding any other bike, I’m more than happy to wear my old helmet, but on the Pashley, this feels like a better option. I’m not letting my beautiful new bike down with a rubbish old helmet!
My beautiful new bike helmet
The helmets cost about the same as a high-end cycling helmet of any brand, but are produced in very limited numbers and in beautiful colour options. They are one size, with an adjustable dial at the back. For a brief second when I tried it on, I thought it was too small, but thankfully I was wrong and once I’d opened the fitting up at the back, it fitted perfectly and is really comfortable to wear.
A close up of the Liberty-esque print.
I bought my helmet from Cycle Chic, although you can also buy them directly from Sawako Furono’s website. Cycle Chic have a range of other helmets as well as other great panniers, clothing and accessories.
I suppose you’re going to want to see what it looks like? Oh, go on then…
June 11, 2012
Yesterday was test ride day. After consulting the whole world, the bike I have ended up ordering is the Pashley Princess Sovereign, in Buckingham Black.
Before we entered the shop I was having doubts about whether it was the right decision. After all, it’s a bike with a design dating back to the 1930′s and apart from some nice specification upgrades (Sturmey Archer hub brakes and Schwalbe puncture resistant Marathon Plus tyres) it hasn’t changed since. On the one hand, it’s outdated, a bit silly and completely unsuitable for riding around hilly Leeds. On the other hand, I’ve always wanted one. It’s the sheer unadulterated beauty of the machine, coupled with a very strong rose-tinted view of life atop a Pashley that’s done it. I’m basically yearning to be a character in an Enid Blyton book.
My lovely (long suffering) husband said to me that I should stop being practical and just go with my guts. As we went upstairs and I saw ‘my’ bike waiting for me, I grinned a giant grin. That was it. I was in love. One test ride up and down the local roads later and it was completely confirmed. This is the bike I want. Rose-tinted and impractical it may be, riding it was an utter, utter joy. Sitting upright gives you a similar body position as on a horse, rather than sitting forward, which I find really comfortable. There is no getting around the fact that it weighs an absolute ton, but I’m not going anywhere near Alpe d’Huez any time soon. Apart from using it to cycle to some of my work projects, I will mostly be pootling around after my kids on their little bikes, so that doesn’t matter. The giant basket in the front can hold all manner of baby wipes, soft toys, blankets, sweets and other essentials for a family outing. As for Cycletta, well, I’ll be at the back, sitting upright, and grinning all the way round.
As we left the shop, after reserving the bike and going home to sort out the rest of the paperwork, I did a little bit of happy crying. It’s a rare feeling to have exactly the thing I want, after waiting for years and years for it. I’m still smiling now, just remembering the test ride, and knowing that after a few more weeks of waiting, it will be coming home with me.