By Samantha Doyle
Sizes: 17.5” 20” 22”
Size tested: 17.5”
For me, Pashley are the world’s leading authority on hand-made city bikes, and the Pashley Sonnet is a joy to ride. It’s well balanced, super-comfy and provides me with mile upon mile of care-free cycling.
Salisbury is a small and vibrant city that’s most famous for its beautiful cathedral. The cathedral and the Cathedral Close are a magnet for tourists and locals alike, and yet even in the height of summer there’s always room for cycling around this stately oasis.
But the greatest pleasure aboard my Pashley Sonnet is during a cold and clear winter’s day when I get out early, put Harry in the basket, and have the Close to myself.
The Sonnet comes in two versions, there’s the simpler and slightly lighter Sonnet Pure, or there’s my choice, the fully-equipped Bliss – and oh, how it is to ride! I love this bike.
The Sonnet Bliss has a very handy bike lock fitted to the rear wheel, again this is something less to carry. There’s also an old-fashioned pump that works really well and is easy enough for me to keep the tyres pumped up.
The roads around the centre of Salisbury aren’t Wiltshire’s finest, but the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres have proved to be totally puncture proof and grippy over the wet cobbles along the old High Street leading to the cathedral.
The Sonnet Bliss also comes fitted with a very substantial rear carrier and hinged bracket that holds onto my library books without fear of losing them. There’s a powerful LED rear light incorporated into the carrier which is a thoughtful addition to the reflector on the rear mudguard.
The Brooks leather B66 saddle is a work of art, it’s so comfortable and cushioning. The heavy duty springs that support the saddle make you feel like you’re floating on air even over the roughest of cobbles.
Ride position is classic sit-up-and-beg and the handlebars fall naturally to hand, so to speak! The Pashley Sonnet is armchair cycling and the five-speed Sturmey Archer hub gears provide easy pedalling up all but the steepest of Salisbury’s hills.
The design and weight of a steel bike of this stature is always going to make the bike a bit of a handful while climbing, but let’s keep things real here, you don’t buy a Pashley bike to gain valuable King of the Mount points, do you?
The full length mudguards protect my clothing in the wet and their hand-applies gold linings just go to show the detail of how far Pashley will go to create a bike that appeals to a wide range of riders. Ok, so a Pashley isn’t always a cheap option, and I Scrooge-like saved my pennies over a couple of years to get the bike that I always craved.
The colour coded paint is Ivory coloured with Claret mudguards and chainguard. The chainguard isn’t one of those fully-enclosed jobs, you can still get to the chain easily enough if there are any problems – which there hasn’t been after six months of regular use.
There’s a handy propstand for ease of loading the basket. I can get the stand out with just a well-practiced sweep of my left foot. The helpful staff at Stonehenge Cycles helped set the Sonnet up for me and are a main Pashley dealership. They also know what they’re talking about and listened patiently to my bike-related ramblings and questions.
The front of the Sonnet is dominated by the large wicker basket that devours all my local shopping but tucked away underneath is the hub-dynamo powered front lamp which lights up the late afternoon shadows when my trip into Salisbury is done.
I really love the ding-dong bell, it politely lets people know your there, and when they turn to see what it is, they always seem to have a smile on their faces. The Pashley Sonnet is a very disarming bike and I’m never in a rush.
In summary: To me, the Pashley Sonnet is as British as red phone and letter boxes with a bit of National Trust thrown in for good measure. The Sonnet is a good mix of old-school British values and workmanship kitted out with modern equipment that will keep me in good measure for many years to come. I can’t say the same for me, but I and Harry continue to enjoy our early mornings in the Close aboard one of the flag-ship cycle brands that we’re both very proud to own.