Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pashley vs. Linus - How I Made the Decision

I'm obsessive when it comes to making decisions. I always want to be absolutely sure that I'm making the right choice, and that usually entails endless research, pros/cons comparisons, and lists. I like to make lists.

So when I started my search for a city bike, it became all-consuming. Now that I've made my decision, I'm back to normal! W can breathe a sigh of relief.  Poor W - he had to endure a lot these last few weeks... looking at hubs, brakes, pictures, blogs, etc...

These were my must-haves:
  • Step-through or loop frame for ease of mounting/dismounting/skirt-wearing
  • Steel frame
  • Upright riding posture
  • Swept-back handlebars
  • Internal gear hub - at least 5 speeds
  • Some sort of chain protection - at least a partial chainguard, but preferably a full chaincase

And important, but not deal-breakers:
  • Lighting (but this is easy enough to add on)
  • Skirt/Coat guard
  • Hub brakes

I originally sought a Batavus, but apparently there are no adult Dutch cyclists who are 4'11". Like I mentioned previously, I test rode a few models before narrowing it down to the Pashley Princess Sovereign and the Linus Dutchi. The Linus link takes you to the Dutchi 3, but they are coming out with a Dutchi featuring an 8-speed Shimano Nexus hub that is not yet on the website. There were other manufacturers that I would have been interested in checking out (e.g. BiomegaAbiciPublic) but they were either out of my price range or not readily available for test riding.

First I listed out the significant pros and cons of each.  Let's start with the PS:

  • Full chaincase
  • Dynamo headlamp
  • Brooks saddle
  • Rear wheel lock
  • Rear LED light (although this could be a strike against it... dynamo would be nice)
  • Skirt guard
  • Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires
  • Powder coated
  • Enclosed hub brakes
  • "Classically" stylish
  • More expensive
  • Heavier
  • Less gears/gear range (see below for more details)
  • Rubber grips (not as aesthetically pleasing to me)

And now the Linus:

  • Lighter
  • More gears/gear range
  • Less expensive
  • Leather grips
  • "Simply" stylish
  • Partial chainguard
  • Have to add accessories (e.g. lights, basket)
  • Rim brakes
  • Not powder coated
  • No frame lock
  • Saddle (not a Brooks)
The rim brakes and lack of frame lock weren't a huge deal to me, though.

A lot of the differences between the two were based on the available accessories which, in my mind, are easy enough to deal with. So it came down to the three things that mattered the most and were not as straightforward to change: weight, gears, and quality for the price.

PS apparently weighs in at 45 lbs. The Dutchi 3 weighs 33 lbs. I didn't have any specs on the 8 speed, but Sean said the difference between the PS and the Dutchi 8 would be about 6 or 7 lbs. According to Sean, this difference would be minimal while cycling, and only really noticeable when picking up the bike (doesn't matter since I wouldn't be carrying it up and down stairs or anything). Although they are both relatively heavy, I like that quality as it translates to forward momentum and stability. As a result, the weight difference between the two was no longer an issue for me.

As for gears - the PS comes with a Sturmey-Archer X-RD5(W), which is a wider range hub than on previous PS models. The Linus would be equipped with a Shimano Nexus 8. Not having known that much about gears in the first place (other than how and when to change them), I found this website extremely informative. I had always thought that the number of gears was important; however I now understand the significance of gear range.

Here are the range and specs for the SA hub:

Overall range 256%
Gear 1 - 0.625 (-37.5%)
Gear 2 - 0.75 (-25%)
Gear 3 - 1.00 (Direct drive)
Gear 4 - 1.333 (+33.3%)
Gear 5 - 1.60 (+60%)

And the Shimano:

Overall range 307%
Gear 1 - 0.527 (-47.3%)
Gear 2 - 0.644 (-35.6%)
Gear 3 - 0.748 (-25.2%)
Gear 4 - 0.851 (-14.9%)
Gear 5 - 1.00 (Direct drive)
Gear 6 - 1.223 (+22.3%)
Gear 7 - 1.419 (+41.9%)
Gear 8 - 1.615 (+61.5%)

I found these specs online.  Sean says the SA range is 275% and the Nexus is 208%.  In any case...

Obviously the Shimano has more gears but less range between gears. The higher gears on both hubs are similar enough for my liking; my main focus is on the lower gears. I'm not too concerned with the higher gears as hill climbing is my main concern when it comes to riding. Calgary can get pretty hilly, and my house is apparently in one of the highest areas of the city. First gear is lower in the Shimano, but I figure I can always lower the gears in the SA if I find it necessary. If worse comes to worse, Sean says we can change the SA hub to an 8-speed one; however that would cost several hundred dollars as it requires rebuilding the rear wheel. So really - it's a wash, I think. The Shimano is nice, but it seems like the SA would also suit my needs and can be modified enough if things aren't quite right. The more important thing is the quality of the bike on which the hub sits.

Which brings me to my final consideration. The cost difference between the two would be about $500.  However, after adding extras to the Linus (lights, Brooks saddle, basket), the difference would be maybe around $250. Considering the environment in which I plan to eventually ride (snow, rain, salt on roads, etc.), I would prefer the more durable of the two, which to me is the PS. The quality of the Linus seems to be great, but the Pashley is better in my mind. If I got the Linus, I'm sure I would be very happy but part of me would wonder what it would be like to have the PS. For some reason, I don't think it would be the other way around. So for a few hundred dollars more, I think the PS is the better buy for me. Sean suggested I go with the PS because of its features, durability, and utility. I also came across this site that scrutinized the quality of the Linus. Don't get me wrong - I think Linus makes fantastic bikes, and their popularity is testament to that (a simple Google search reveals many, many positive reviews of their products). However, the PS just has so much going for it that I decided to take the plunge and order one up!

Keep in mind that I have never test-ridden the Linus - I was planning on doing this once BikeBike got their shipment in, but that probably won't be until March 2011. Seeing as how I have already weighed the pros and cons, I didn't feel it was necessary to wait for a test ride... Pashley it is!

I had a difficult time choosing a colour, but I finally settled on Regency Green. I do like Buckingham Black but with all the accessories on the PS, I thought the green was less "heavy" looking. Plus, I saw Lovely Bicycle's PS with cream Delta Cruisers and that was all I needed!

So now I am waiting for my bike.... I can't think of the last time I was this excited!!


  1. How exciting for you! I also am awaiting a PS, which I ordered in late November. I'm getting the 17.5 in black. :)

  2. Bike twins! I think mine should be arriving this week. It's been a long winter of waiting, hasn't it!

  3. Yay! I'm unsure as to when my will be arriving. It was originally supposed to be late Jan. early Feb. But my the bike shop told me last week that he's still waiting to hear from the factory. So who knows at this point. Looking forward to pictures of yours though!