One of my favourite mottos is, style over comfort. The other is, suffer for your art. And both of these neatly encapsulate the fact that I cycle 18 miles to and from work every day on a 14kg bike (most commuter bikes weigh around 8kg) that’s modelled on a 1930s racer and has a measly five gears. You should see my thighs; they’re like reinforced concrete, you can practically hear the lactic acid coursing through them. As for my lower back, it’s completely shot; there’s definitely something rattling around down inside there, possible part of my vertebrae that snapped off whilst I was making the long ascent up the A1.
Coccydynia and other muscle, joint and bone disorders aside, there are countless of advantages to choosing a handsome, vintage bike over something more modern and practical. Here are just some of them:
No need for Lycra
I look around me on the cycle into work each morning and feel vindicated somehow; cyclists look pretty appalling as a rule. Women seem to generally carry off riding a bike with great aplomb (a basket on the handlebars helps) but most guys? Forget it. As Lycra-clad speed demons zip past me on their £3k worth of Cannondale bike, the name of their cycling club emblazoned across their backs, I allow myself a wry smile, safe in the knowledge that if a street style photographer happens to be waiting at the lights, I’ve got a good chance of being snapped – they haven’t yet, but it’s merely a matter of time…
Avoid the work shower
By choosing a bike that compliments your attire, there’s no need to change into an unsightly (and surely pointless) Lycra onesie for your commute; this also negates the need for a shower at work. You can just put your helmet and bicycle clips on and away you go. Communal showers are off-putting enough, but imagine seeing your boss’s todger at 8.30am – it’s too much of a nightmarish scenario to ever contemplate taking the risk. During clement weather you may sweat a little when you get into the office, but simply use your pocket square to dab any excess moisture away from your hairline. Besides, strenuous exertion is not very gentlemanly anyway, so cruising should be your default speed – with three or five gears you don’t really have a choice anyway.
If you’re familiar with the ‘all the gear no idea’ cyclists who take themselves very seriously and have obviously spent thousands of pounds on their bike and equipment, you’ll have noticed those ugly shoes they wear, which clip on to the pedals of their bike. You can see them struggling with them each time they pull away from the traffic lights. What utter nonsense. Loafers, Alden Indie style boots, or a pair of classic tan brogues are the only types of footwear you should consider; don’t compromise.
You’ll turn heads
The first time I set off on my Pashley, I was accosted at some traffic lights near Old Street. As my headphones played Chet Baker to block out the hellish sound of the London streets, I was aware of eyes boring into me and turned to see a fellow cyclist giving me the once over and gesticulating for me to take them off. Usually this means you’ve cut someone up or your satchel is open and the contents are lying across the road. However, all this chap wanted to do was compliment me about my bike and ask questions about it’s age. How refreshing! A bike like this pays for itself in compliments, believe me.