Pashley Guvnor – a detailed review and sizing rant


The Pashley Guvnor is a 1930’s style path racer that Pashley Cycles released in 2008 as a singlespeed and 3-speed, and later occasional limited edition variants (the brass-lugged 4-speed Plus Four, the 2-speed Plus Two and a Ralph Lauren Rugby Tweed Run limited edition also shown here and here). There is this nice timeline from Duchy Wheeler on the Guvnors’ Assembly. See also the Pashley Guvnor microsite.

If you need axle wingnuts for your Guvnor, Duchy Wheeler has a fresh batch for sale on eBay – click here! Note also that he also had some tapped to 13/32″ 26tpi “which would be suitable for the S2C hub fitted to the Plus Two model.” I bought mine from him (see pics at bottom of page), and shipping from the UK was inexpensive and surprisingly fast.

Note to my U.S. homies: if, like me, you have no local Pashley shops to test ride a Guv’nor, and you can decide on a proper frame size (hopefully considering my criteria below), then you can order your Guv directly from their U.S. distributor, Belmont Distribution, via their website Shipping is free to your door, and Pashley does a better packaging job than most bike companies, so you don’t have to worry about dents or scratches in transit. I was also happy to see that their prices are the lowest anywhere I’ve found, the standard MSRP, with no up charge for the double top-tubed 24.5″ frame, as some on-line dealers have. Nota bene: sadly, Pashley only includes the packet of Guv goodies (officially, the Maintenance Kit) in the U.K. Market: tea, tool kit, spare tube, oil and saddle treatment. 😦

Below: singlespeed Guvnor, single top tube variant (20.5 & 22.5″ sizes)

Below: 24.5″ double top tube Guvnor; note that the stem is raised up quite a bit in this photo, giving kind of a goofy look

Below: this is what I think I look like on my Guvnor on the way to the coffee shop

Below: this is an old Flying Pigeon path racer that some poor chap put a rack on; in this photo, you can easily see the dramatically decreased angle of the seat tube and head tube; you can also see how far forward the front wheel is, and the long chainstays are evident from the gap between the rear wheel and the seat tube; although less clear, the bottom bracket drop (below the centerline of the hub axels) is quite small

Below: an early 1900’s BSA Speedy path racer; as an earlier model, the chain stays are shorter and the BB drop looks more typical of road bikes, but the slack angles and forward-positioned front wheel are evident

But the Guvnor is much more than a retro looking bike. The frame geometry is taken directly from Pashley’s 85 year old Path Racer model, and uses historic Reynolds 531 tubing that Reynold’s drew for Pashley. In fact, the main reason I created this rather long blog entry was to pull together a lot of disparate information about the Guvnor into a single site, as well as some info that I’ve compiled myself. While shopping for a Pashley, I was put off by the lack of detailed frame and component specs provided by Pashley – and I have no local dealers to visit for a look-see. So, let’s take a look! Note that some of these are pics of my Guv, with a few “after market” add-ons here and there…

The 531 frame tubes are butted and brazed into custom lugs, and there are four nice lugs on each frame, or five lugs on the 24.5″ double top tube model, which is what I have. The rear triangle is super cool D-shaped tubing with bolt-on seatstays and long horizontal dropouts. The fork is a hand-brazed, tubular crown design with beautifully-sloping oval blades and what Pashley calls a “relaxed” rake; I measured this to be about 120mm, which is indeed pretty damn relaxed (typical rake, or offset, for a road bike is 40-45mm)! What you won’t find are many brazed add-on’s, like water bottle mounts (they belong on the bar), rack mounts (egads!) or lots of cable stops (though there are a few). There are a couple bolt-on chrome stops that I absolutely love. There are also two mounting points fore and aft, probably for legally-required reflectors or lights; these could be used for fenders, too (though some may remind you that fenders have no place on a path racer!). You can get the bike in any color you’d like, as long as it’s Buckingham Black. The metal head badge is pretty nice. There are not many decals on the Guvnor, which is nice in many respects and somehow adds to the mystique. It also causes daily inquires from admirers as to the brand of your bike.

Below: hot frame coming through!

Below: the only Pashley and Guvnor decals are on the top tube near the head tube lug (this is a single top tube 20.5″ frame)

Below: the Pashley metal head badge

Below: bolt-on cable stop; note the brazed stop behind – Pashley probably wanted to make one frame for all variants, so brakes get brazed stops while shifters, if present, get the bolt-on stops

Below: the lower top tube & seat tube lug on my double top tube 24.5″ frame

Below: the combined lower head tube lug on my double top tube 24.5″ frame

Below: the BB lug cluster; note the bolt-on roller cable guide for the 3-speed, as well as the start of those long chainstays

Below: D-shaped rear triangle tubing is really attractive; note the lack of any brake mounting points, though there is a bolt on the back side of the cross member20120417-205200.jpg

Let’s talk geometry and sizing. The Guv comes in only three sizes, which are the center-to-center seat tube lengths: 20.5, 22.5 and 24.5″ (52, 57 and 62cm). Now hold on, don’t run out and buy a Guv based on these sizes. I’ll come straight out and say that I think a lot of Guvnor owners are riding under-sized bikes. This is because the Guv geometry and design specs are much, much different than those of modern bikes. Two observations: (1) lots of Guv owners mention that they have to run their saddles really high (and in some cases replace the seat post with a longer version – crikey!), and (2) a quick Google image search of some vintage photos of bikes and riders clearly show that most riders back then could not possible straddle the high top tubes of their bikes. If any of you remember riding road bikes from the 70’s or earlier, you probably recall that your top tube was supposed to either touch you b’ness or come very close to it – not much more than 1 cm of clearance. By the 90’s, this had increased to about an inch. With the advent of manufacturing-cost-savings and super-long-seatposts, the sloping top tubes of “compact” geometries (yuck), clearance rules have gotten ridiculous.

Below: this seat post is near its max extension (from the excellent site Lovely Bicycle!)

Below: this guy couldn’t straddle his top tube, nor could any of his riding buddies…

…and neither could most of these guys

Pashley themselves are a wee schizophrenic about their sizing recommendations, providing two different sets of guidelines. On the main Guvnor page they indicate “inside leg” measurements:

  • 20.5″ frame suits 29″ – 33″
  • 22.5″ frame suits 31″ – 35″
  • 24.5″ frame suits 35″ – 39.5″
  • While their Guvnor microsite suggests different a much different size range for the large frame:

  • 24.5″ frame suits 33″ – 37″
  • As explained below, I think the 33″-37″ size range for the 24.5″ frame is probably pretty accurate for most people. But the 31″-35″ range for the 22.5″ frame seems way off to me – with my 34.5″ inseam, I’m solidly in the 24.5″ largest frame size range based on my rides on this frame size. I roughly think the maximum inseam for the 22.5″ frame should be around 33″. Unfortunately, I can’t really provide any specific sizing insight on the 20.5″ frame aside from my general remarks below. This leaves very tall chaps out in the cold; anyone over maybe 6’6″ might not be able to raise the stem or seatpost up enough, despite the overall height of the Guv.

    There are three things that drive the need to “size-up” your Guvnor: the high bottom bracket placement of the old path racer geometry, the ginormous 28″ English (ISO 635) wheels spec, and the upside down North Road style bars, which are the signature of the path racer style. BB drop on a modern road bike is 70-74mm, while on my Guv it’s about 50mm, an inch higher; so this raises up the rider and increases the top tube height (standover height), while reducing standover clearance. The 28″ English wheels are ISO 635 diameter. 28″ Euro, 29″ MTB and 700c wheels are all ISO 622 in diameter. These wheels are BIG! This raises the bike up a little bit more (by 1/2 the wheel diameter difference), particularly when the height of the 1.5″ balloon tires is taken into account. The result is that the pedals are high up in the air (about 2.5″ higher than a modern road bike!), so the saddle must also be higher in order to give you sufficient leg extension. So if you size the frame based on modern standover clearance rules-of-thumb, you’re going to have to raise your seat post way up high (which is not right, and is ugly, on a non-sloping top tube bike) and then you’re way too bent over to reach the drops of the North Road (which have 50mm of drop). So now, not only is your saddle up too high, you’re bent over into an overly-aggressive (for this bike) posture. Some poor souls must then raise up the quill stem to compensate; the retro-grouches at Rivendell will tell you this is perfectly OK, and will even sell you a quill stem with ridiculously long quill height (insert merry-go-round music here). So now you have enough seatpost and stem showing to look like you’re riding a Brompton. Nonetheless, at least one rider has noted that many Guvnor riders probably won’t try to get as much leg extension as they have on their road bike, so the saddle will be lowered a bit – good point. Thus, the intended usage may push a buyer in one direction or the other.

    From my experience, one should have virtually no standover clearance on their Guvnor, or even negative clearance so you can’t straddle your top tube without laying the frame over slightly when stopped, just like people did for the first 100 years of cycling history. Of course, you don’t want to take this too far to the point where you look like one of those poor kids who are trying to grow into their older siblings bike while their cheap-ass parents spend more on one tank of gas than it would cost for a properly-fitting children’s bike. I digress. I’m 6’2″ with a 34-35″ clothing inseam and a ~90cm pubic bone height (PBH). Yes, I’m now recommending the Rivendell geezers measuring methods. Truthfully, I love their frames, but I hate their Shimano-Barcalounger spec’ed bike builds. Some day I’m going to buy one of their frames, build it up with Campy and send it back to them. Once again, I must apologize, dear reader, for my digressions. According to conventional frame geometry sizing, I should’ve ordered a 22.5″ Guvnor, but the above rationale led me to order the 24.5″ from Pashley’s U.S. Distributor, Belmont Distribution via their direct order website, and am I glad I did!!! Not only did I get the super-cool double top tube, but my saddle is in a nice spot and the saddle-bar height difference is extremely comfortable (as in the stock Pashley photos above, but my stem is positioned lower), yet still efficient enough for faster, longer-distance rides. Straddling the bike with shoes on, my family jewels are in light contact with the top top tube (not to be confused with the bottom top tube). Tilting the bike a couple degrees when stopping allows ample clearance, if needed. In addition, I have a history of choosing slightly undersized bike frames for myself, so now I shy away from that possibility.

    Below: my Guv

    Before we look at the some frame dimensions, one more thought on sizing. I, along with a lot of others, firmly believe that the top tube (or effective) top tube length is a much more telling dimension for guiding frame fit compared to seat tube length, which have become meaningless with all the new variations on frame design. There are zillions of websites discussing this, so I won’t expound too much – but with the Guv, I would strongly recommend comparing the top tube lengths (if you can find them!). I hope I’ve already convinced you that stand over height is not a useful sizing gauge – in fact , it’s only useful for very traditional, flat top tube road bikes.

    Here are my 24.5″ frame specs, where “measured” means I eye-balled it myself, so the numbers are likely not exact. Pashley doesn’t provide much info (send me more info and I’ll update these)…

  • seat tube: 62.2 cm (24.5 x 2.54, visually confirmed ~62 cm C-C), 68 degrees
  • top tube ~59 cm (C-C, measured)
  • headtube: ~22.5 cm (total length, measured), 68 degrees
  • chainstays: ~49 cm (C-C, measured)
  • fork rake: ~120 mm (measured)
  • wheelbase: ~115 cm (measured)
  • BB drop: ~50 mm (measured)
  • top tube height: 80.5, 85.5, 89 cm (20.5″, 22.5″, 24.5″ frames)
  • frame weight: 2.72 kg (22.5″ frame?)
  • fork weight: 967 g
  • And some size-specific specs:

  • stem length: 85, 125, 140mm (20.5″, 22.5″, 24.5″ frames)
  • crank arm length: 170mm (24.5″ frame)
  • weight: ~15 kg (measured, 24.5″ 3-speed) – cheers, Giles!
  • 2008 BikeRadar review weight: 13 kg (22.5″ single-speed)
  • One thing that might surprise you is the relative seat tube and top tube lengths. Normally, these two length are generally pretty close, except for smaller or women’s-specific frames. My custom-built Alchemy frame put me, for example, on a frame with both tubes being about 58cm. In contrast, my Guvnor seat tube is 3 cm longer than the top tube! I would never fit on a 62 cm road bike! But a 59 cm top tube is pretty close to my other bikes (a bit longer due to the slack seat tube angle) – so this agrees with my recommendation to use top tube length, rather than seat tube length, as one of your guides to sizing.

    Concerning weight, in 2008 a BikeRadar review listed the weight of a single-speed Guv as 13 kg. This was apparently for a 22.5″ frame (based on the stand over height they listed); however, this may have been a nominal weight provided by Pashley, because the review also provides a frame weight (2720 g) and a fork weight (967 g) – and I doubt they disassembled the bike!

    So what does all this mean to the ride!? Well, I guess I was expecting a very casual, Amsterdam bike type feeling, and I was willing to accept that my Guv might be limited to “fun rides” and such. After a couple spins around my block to get the saddle and handlebar positioning dialed in, I was immediately shocked at how great the Pash felt to ride. Yeah, the front wheel is way out in front of you, but the handling is still quite sharp. Somehow the geometry and long wheelbase just seem to work out. I also didn’t feel like I was riding high up, even though I was. With a large frame, the bars are not raised up at all, but the position is very comfortable and still feels “racey”. In short, it’s a supremely rideable bike, one that you feel like you can either just cruise along on, or hammer and spin it up. Amazing.

    OK, let’s look over the bike front-to-back! Looking now at the Guv’s fork, aside from the tubular crown and long curvaceous blades, there are a couple other peculiarities. Firstly, there are these two mounting points inside the left blade; in the pics, I’ve plugged them with some short bolts, though they don’t come that way (yikes!). These are most likely for a bottle type light dynamo, though normally these mounting holes are tapped on the outer sides of the blade. Hmmm… There is also a little tab to receive the front hub “brake arm”. The dropouts also have these little slots for the axel safety washers. Charming. The lack of canti or disc brake mounts is notable, as is the lack of any eyelets near the dropout for fenders or racks. This is a path racer, people. There is, though, a hole in the crown to mount, presumably, a light or reflector. But you could also use this to mount a small, partial fender, using either an L bracket or a daruma.

    Don’t ask me!

    Below: tab on inside left fork leg for the drum brake arm

    Below: safety washers on the fork dropouts

    Moving on up, the headset is nicely polished, if not somewhat nondescript. The Nitto stem is a little disappointing. The satin finish doesn’t match anything else on the bike, and is particularly conspicuous sitting there between the shiny headset and handlebar. There’s also been some consternation about bar slippage, presumably because most road quill stems have a 26mm clamp and most North Road bars have a 25.4mm clamp (which, in turns seems to be a Law of Bicycle Parts that bars with “MTB” size grip diameters, 22.2 mm, must come with 25.4 mm clamp diameters; call me a dreamer, but it seems like all that should be necessary to interchange road/MTB diameters is for some guy in China to press a button on a machine). Apparently, the Guv originally came with a particularly problematic Cinelli stem, and the Nitto is supposed to be better – the Nitto should be a 25.4mm version, because the Technomic is available in either 25.4 or 26.0mm versions. Of course, it’s also available in a polished finish, which should have been spec’ed on the Guv. Mine slipped once, so I greased up the clamp bolt and tightened it down more than I usually would. Note that the clamp bolt does not thread into the aluminum stem body, but instead into a (steel) nut (old school!), so you’re not going to strip any important threads.

    The handlebar is a (now) well-known North Road style, which can double as a 1.3 lb anchor in a pinch. It’s made from highly polished chro-moly, as if anyone would know if they were to sneak in a highly polished aluminum bar. In case you haven’t already figured it out, keeping the weight down was not on Pashley’s priority list for the Guvnor. The bar specs are below, but it’s a medium width bar with moderate sweep and a decent 50mm drop. Less racey than a Lauterwasser, but more sporty than an Albatross or porteur bar. Keep in mind that you can flip the bar over for a 50mm rise, if you want an upright position. But please don’t do that. Now several folks have complained about the somewhat longish stem lengths that Pashley spec’d (also listed below) for the Guv, but the length and the sweep of the bars brings the grips back to a very nice position. I should note, though, that I have pretty long arms (35.5″ sleeves). So be prepared to buy yourself a shorter, polished stem. The Pashley leather grips are pretty sweet, with cool herringbone stitching, a practical rubber under layer and heavy-duty turned alloy end caps. Be advised, though, that these grips can be a major PITA to put on and take off. One of mine was pretty typical for rubber grips, but the other was a real chore to get on the bar. I assume the variability is in the grips, not the bar – but that could be wrong. The only negative point is that the leather is a poor match with the Brooks saddle. Lots of people complain about the stock (Sturmey) brake levers, and I agree that they just look out of place on the Guv with their black body. I replaced them with Diacompe DC-135’s, which have a slightly longer lever and are really quite elegant. The only drawback is that I lost the reach adjustment from the original levers. The 3-speed shifter is a classic trigger style, which is infinitely better than the standard twist shifter. There’s also a nifty little brass bell that makes a high-pitched, very civilized, very English ding; I placed mine on the stem like all the hip kids these days – but you can put it on the bar.

    Below: Pashley leather grips and Sturmey classic trigger shifter

    ding, ding!

    The alloy Kalloy seat post is a decent polished job; its comparatively short length (220mm) supports my sizing theories above. The 27.0 diameter presents a very slight challenge to replacement (which shouldn’t be necessary!). The seat tube clamp bolt is just that – a steel bolt. But it’s hefty and holds the rear triangle together, so I’m not going to replace it with something prettier. The saddle, ahhhh…the saddle. I’m not going to into a Brooks gospel here, but the antique brown B17 Titanium Champion Special saddle is unbelievably nice (and will set you back about US$300 on it’s own). It has a unique chamfered edge detail along the skirts as well as smaller copper rivets (Champion Special series features) and of course titanium rails. Anyone who owns one will tell you it’s a very comfortable saddle after the break-in period (anywhere from 6 months to 6 years).

    Below: the gorgeous antique brown Brooks B17 Titanium Champion Special saddle

    Moving down to the drivetrain, the crankset is a highly polished Sugino XD-2 with a 42t ring and a polished chainring guard. Some people poo-poo on this component, too – and I agree that it might look a bit too ‘techy’, but up close they are such lovely cranks, I’ve lost my motivation to change them out (although if I did, it would be with IRD Defiant track cranks!). On the other side of the planet (from me), James at Perth Vintage Cycles has a nice write-up on lots of affordable retro crank alternates (he even borrowed my crank photo, sans credit!). The chain is a pretty basic KMC with a single-use Taya Sigma removable link, which the edifying Dutchy Wheeler has indicated is somewhat prone to failure, and should be replaced by something like a KMC spring clip connector. I used Wipperman Connex links on all my bikes, though I haven’t yet searched for one to fit this chain. The bottom bracket is a basic Sunrace alloy model with a 113mm axel (the Sugino cranks require a 110 or 113mm axel), threaded into a 68mm British-threaded shell. The pedals are very cool, polished MKS Sylvan Stream – they come without toe clips or straps. Perhaps in keeping with the racer model, these pedals are narrower than some other MKS models. Duchy Wheeler suggests swapping out with the wider MKS Touring model, and after several rides, I now heartily agree with his sage advice: in ‘casual’ shoes, the end of the Stream pedal approaches the center of my shoe sole. See below for a comparison between these two pedals.

    Below: this pic doesn’t do justice to the mirror finish on the Sugino cranks

    The 3-speed Guv uses the Sturmey Archer X-RD3/X-FD hub combo, with internal drum brakes (!) and a smooth-shifting internal 3-speed gearing. I’m certain that the reason for spec’ing drum brakes on the 3 spd is because Pashley didn’t want to make multiple frame/fork types with and without brake bosses for the various models. Plus in 2008, they probably didn’t know which model was going to be most popular with the public, so they didn’t want to commit to brake bosses in case everyone started buying singlespeeds with coaster brakes. The brakes are not going to compete with discs or even canti’s, but honestly, they are quite sufficient unless you’ll be riding big hills. At least they’re unaffected by rain! Shifting is actually a lot smoother than I expected, probably because I’ve never ridden Sturmey anything. The gear range (shown below) isn’t as wide as I might prefer, but the upside is that the shifting is smoother. If you’re a spinner who shifts frequently to maintain your desired cadence (like me), then you’ll have to adjust your pedaling style a bit. Surprisingly, you barely have to move the pedals to completely change gears – a couple times I’ve come to a stop in high gear, down-shifted two steps to the low gear, and by the time I push off, I’m already in the right gear. Nice.

    Below: front hub drum brake connections

    The rear dropouts are pretty unique. The D-shaped tubing all comes together at these beefy, long, rear-facing dropouts where the seat stays are bolted on, just in case you don’t know how to use a chain tool, I guess. As with the front end, there are no eyelets, for reasons that should now be clear. Don’t forget the (reflector or taillight?) mounting bolt on rear stay arch, where you could mount a fender that uses a seat tube clamp. Don’t tell anyone, but I did that one time when I was in a pinch.

    Below: rear hub with internal shifting mechanism – crazy stuff, folks; note bolt-on stay and long horizontal drop-outs

    The hubs are laced with 36 stainless spokes to 28″ (ISO 635) Westwood profile rims, which are black with a gold pinstripe. The tires are 1.5″ (40-635) very smooth-rolling Schwalbe Delta Cruisers in cream. I hope you like them, because 635 tires are few and far between, unless you like black. The cream color stays cream for about the first 50 ft of your first ride. Brown would be really cool. I’m going make this search term friendly: in case you’re wondering What Size Tubes Do You Use in 28″ x 1.5″ Tires? (Pashley Guvnor), the answer is the Schwalbe AV17 or any 700x38C to 45C tube, including the Schwalbe AV19. Duchy Wheeler notes that the spare tube shipped with his Guv’nor is an AV17, so this size can be considered original equipment. I wonder if AV stands for Auto Valve? Ironically, their designation for presta valves is SV (Sclaverand valve). Those wacky Germans.

    OK, here’s my best take on a detail component spec, for my model 1310 3-speed. As minor specs often change year-to-year, and these are mostly from my bike, they may only apply to 2011-2012 models (again, corrections or additions are appreciated):

  • headset: 1″ threaded, polished
  • stem: Nitto Technomic, 72 degree, various lengths (see above), 25.4mm clamp?, 1″ quill, not polished!
  • handle bar: North Road style, polished chro-moly, 55cm width, 50mm drop, 65 degree sweep, 25.4mm clamp dia, 22.2mm grip dia. (580g)
  • grips: Pashley leather, hand sewn with turned alloy end caps (232g for both)
  • crankset: Sugino XD-2, polished, 42t, w/ guard, 170mm (24.5″ frame)
  • bottom bracket: Sunrace BBS18-113, 113mm axel, JIS square taper, British/ISO 1.37x24tpi, 68mm shell
  • pedals: MKS Sylvan Stream, rat-trap style, polished
  • chain: KMC Z510 HX with Taya Sigma removable link
  • cog: 20t (3-speed)
  • front hub: Sturmey Archer X-FD, internal 70mm drum brake
  • rear hub: Sturmey Archer X-RD3, internal 3 speed w/ 70mm drum brake
  • gear inches: 44, 59, 78 inches
  • shifter: Sturmey Archer S3s classic trigger
  • brake levers: ?
  • seat post: Kalloy UNO alloy, polished, 27.0 x 220mm
  • saddle: Brooks B17 Titanium Champion Special, antique brown
  • rims: Westwood style alloy, 28″ ISO 635, 36 hole, black w/ gold pinstripe
  • spokes: stainless, 3 cross lacing
  • tires: Schwalbe Delta Cruisers, cream, 40-635 (28″ English x 1.5″)
  • tubes: Schwalbe AV17 (Schrader valve)
  • misc: brass bell
  • Below: Gripfast axle wing nuts sold separately! Contact Duchy Wheeler if you want a set!

    Diacompe DC-135 brake levers that replaced the dodgy stock levers

    Below: MKS Touring Pedals, which replace the stock MKS Stream pedals, along with VO’s Deep Half Clip strapless toe clips and Elkhide Toe Clip Leathers

    Below: How much larger are the MKS Touring pedals compared to the stock Stream’s? This much (Bass Ale included for scale):

    Below: Aluminum Sigg bottle with retro top reflects the old-but-new design of the Guv; stainless Velo Orange Retro MK II cage is killer

    Below: Acorn Bags’ tool wrap is wonderfully designed inside and out

    I say, good show old man!

    Some of my accessories that you can see in these photos:

  • Diacompe DC-135 brake levers (don’t forget to buy two Sturmey HSK 715 pinch bolts – thanks GA!)
  • Gripfast No. 2 axle wing nuts (M9), front only – thanks to Duchy Wheeler via eBay
  • Acorn Bags’ tool roll saddle bag – very, very nice
  • Velo Orange Deep Half Clip toe clips and Elkhide Toe Clip Leathers
  • Giant alloy handlebar bottle cage mount (the same mount is rebranded by many companies) – I buffed out the Giant logo
  • Velo Orange Retro MK II cage, stainless steel
  • Sigg Aluminum Classic 600mL bottle (discontinued but available at a few retailers – try w/ retro cap (which must be bought separately, check Amazon)
  • Aluminum Union Jack Schrader valve stem caps (Amazon, for Mini Coopers)
  • Finally, a couple opinions on some common complaints about the Guvnor – or perhaps I should say complaints about the Guvnor concept. Pashley describes the Guv as a bike with classic 1930’s path racer style, but with modern components. They never claimed to be selling a faithful reproduction. Nonetheless, a few people have commented that the modern parts spec doesn’t match up with the path racer heritage. Personally, I wouldn’t buy, nor would I be particularly excited to ride, a reproduction bike. By their very nature, a reproduction is a phony. What Pashley has done is they’ve given you a nice blend of the “best of” path racers. First and foremost, the frame geometry, wheel spec, handlebar positioning and fork rake provide a real path racer type ride. You can’t mimic the combination of slack angles and long wheelbase in any other way. Second, they give you a nice taste of historic authenticity and beauty with the 531 tubing, lugs, Westwood rims, and leather niceties. Finally, they make the bike truly rideable and relevant with parts that are modern, but not too modern – Sturmey Archer, not Shitmano, drum brakes, not discs, etc. As to the singlespeed vs. 3-speed, there is validity to either side of that equation – to which the above points still apply.

    Some also think the Guv is overpriced, and that one can build up a “path racer” (and now the phrase is being used very liberally) with an inexpensive frame (e.g. a Surly or an old road frame) and some parts from Soma. Wow, are these folks really missing the boat. As I stated above, the main point of this bike is the ride that results from the old school geometry; you’re not going to find any generic frame that can do this. As to the price, of course it’s all relative, but this bike comes with a $300 saddle, $100 grips, custom wheels, special-run Reynolds 531, an English hand-made frame and custom lugs. $1600? There are gads of $2500 mass-produced Ultegra bikes out there that can’t come close to claiming this type of parts spec or workmanship. One guy posted his project bike based on a Raleigh International, and came in a couple hundred dollars under the Guv price tag, and what does he have, but a Frankenbike? He should’ve made a Clubman clone, at least the geometry would be in the ballpark! To put it in one sentence, “A North Road bar does not a path racer make.”


    134 thoughts on “Pashley Guvnor – a detailed review and sizing rant

    1. Thanks for a fascinating review of the Guv’nor. One question I never find the answer to is the weight of the bicycle (I live on the third floor and my building has no lift)… Not that the wight would stop me from ordering one, but I’d like to know in advance.

      • Good question! Sorry for the somewhat obvious omission! My 24.5″ Guvnor, with the toe clips & straps, handlebar cage mount, VO bottle cage and wing nuts (I only removed the seat bag and water bottle) weighs in at 33.8 lbs (15.3 kg)! I suspect that my Diacompe brake levers are slightly lighter than the stock levers, though. As I mentioned in my write-up, Pashley didn’t seem overly concerned about weight – but they don’t have to heave it up 3 stories, either! Think of it as cross-training – you’ll be ship-shape for cyclocross season!

        In 2008, a BikeRadar review listed the weight of a single-speed Guv as 13 kg. This was apparently for a 22.5″ frame (based on the standover height they listed); however, this may have been a nominal weight provided by Pashley, because the review also provides a frame weight (2720 g) and a fork weight (967 g) – and I doubt they disassembled the bike!

        • I ordered the 20,5-inch 3-speed model (by phone, delivery guaranteed in 2 weeks!) so the weight will be somewhat less than yours. That will keep me in shape (I’m 64), you’re right.

      • My single-speed Guv’nor weighs 36 lbs with small leather tool bag, a lightweight air pump, and a full standard water bottle. I did the NYC TA Century last year, and the only serious challenge was lugging the bike up several sets of stairs to cross a couple of bridges. I got several comments during the ride – “Beautiful bike” “Are your handlebars upside down?” “Does it have gears?” “You’ll never make the hills above Central Park” (no problem btw). The Pashley is a perfect bike for the riding I do in NYC. I have about 1000 miles on it without a problem of any kind, and will ride the century again this September. I did replace the pedals with the longer Powergrip pedals with fabric straps as I found the stock pedals too narrow and easy to lose contact with over bumps.

        • Thanks for the note – I’m feeling like a slacker after hearing from all you 1000+ mile Guv owners! I guess I’d better rotate my Guv into usage more often, instead if reserving it for coffee shop runs!



        • The mechanics at the store and I were grinning from ear to ear (they amiably invited me for the “unboxing” this afternoon) simply by looking at the Guv’nor being taken out of its crate. Most of them had never seen one since there are only 5 Guv’nors, counting mine, in Montréal.

    2. Very Frustrating Day today: the mechanic at my LBS finally had time to assemble my Guv’nor (although he promised me to do it last saturday…) but during the process he lost the “indicator chain” for the 3-speed hub. My bicycle shop ordered one but I’ll have to wait three to four days before it arrives from Toronto, as none was available from any bicycle shop in Montréal (not many shops sell Pashley bicycles).

      I had ordered a Pashley Roadster 26 Sovereign at the same time as the Guv’nor but… the canadian distributor sent a Roadster Sovereign (with 28-inch wheels and the skirt guard, a much bigger bicycle). The owner of my LBS called the distributor and he’ll gladly sent the model I purchased… in four to five weeks.

      I guess I’ll appreciate all the more my bicycles once I can get them!

      (Sorry for the rant.)

    3. Thanks a lot Dave for you precise and acute review of this bike. I much agree with you on every point you make, specially about the spirit of design beneath this bike, an old racer type but made out today with no pretends of a reproduction.
      I for my part just did one on my size inspired by the Guv and i’m very happy with the result, especially recognizing that much of what I like go through the eye first than by the technique part.
      Likewise, I felt free to make some improvements most of all for the availability of parts I can find here on the end of the world, and other are kept, as the Sturmey Archer hubs (three speeds) or brooks seat and grips. I use it daily and I welcome my self the result, there is as good combination of technology and style in a good balance. Cheers from Chile

      • It’s great to hear from South America! I’m certain you and your bike are a unique sight on the streets – and I’m glad you liked the review!

        Cheers Victor,


    4. Thank you so much for this review! – I am in the same boat of trying to justify what size guv’nor to buy without ever being able to throw a leg over one – I am 6’2″ with a 33″ inside leg measurement and I felt like I was really in between the 24.5 and 22.5 frame sizes. Your entry echo’d my thoughts exactly about leg extension and riding position concerns. – Again you really have helped me put my mind at rest – I am going to order the 24.5 frame size!

      • I’m glad this has helped you – you’ll definitely be more comfortable on the 24.5″, plus you get the cool double top tube that will attract a lot of admirers!

    5. I feel like I’m totally on the fence in terms of sizing and nervous about making the plunge. I’m just under 6′ 1″, 32″ inseam but ape arms just over 36″ (that’s from a dress shirt measurement). 22.5″ or 24.5″? One seems slightly small, the other slightly big. Any help you can offer is greatly appreciated. (You should get a commission from Pashley for your size consultations!). Thanks, RV

      • I think you’re well within the range of the 24.5″. I also have long 36″ arms, though I’m 1″ taller and I have longer legs. But remember, I feel like I’m *easily* past the 22.5/24.5 threshold, so I think you’re still comfortably inside the size range for the 24.5″. If you were 2″ shorter and had normal length arms, then you might be inbetween sizes.
        As always, though, there are exceptions for special usage or preferences. Say you really just wanted to toodle around short distances, or you want to use it for a grocery-getter with racks, etc – then maybe go smaller. Also, if you are one of those people that like compact frames and lots of seatpost exposed, then you could go smaller – but even then I think you’d be pushing it. This is the type of bike that would look cool with almost no seatpost showing – you see path racer styled bikes at NAHBS like that.
        You’ll benefit from the long stems Pashley spec’d. I thought I’d have to replace the stock one with something shorter, but the long stem seems to work with my long arms and the funky old geometry somehow. And also remember that you have lots of room for up-down stem adjustment since it’s a quill style.
        Yeah, I’m hoping someone at Pashley reads this, sees the 4,000 hits and decides maybe they should add some more info to their website! And send my a Clubman for my troubles!!
        Happy riding – let me know how it goes – cheers,

        • Many thanks! This is really helpful. And, yes, Pashley should pay attention to your posts and those made on your blog by people wanting to give them money for their bikes!

    6. I visited a fine retro bicycle store in Bruge this past February called Exceler cycles , if I remember their name correctly and on scanning their website came across the guvnor ….. After some enquiries I found a 22.5 model in my local store in Sheffield, uk, yep it looked BIG but at another branch they kindly located the 20.5 for me to try. Far too small and I purchased the 22.5. Rode super on the test ride, not had chance yet to get out but it’s taken pride of place in my front room, it’s a beauty!!

    7. Hi I recently picked up a Gov’nor off Ebay it was advertised as a 22.5 I got it at a good price in superb condition . When it arrived put it together and took it for a spin – it felt great , although I needed to adjust the seat post to the max . I am 6′ with a 32″ leg , I thought no more of it , though felt I still needed more height , then out one evening went past a guy on a Gov’nor , of course we stopped , chatted and only then realised I had a 20.5″ !!! Hence the seat post and stem on max . Solution got myself a Velo Orange LONG post and a Nitto LONG stem – which also has a incline . The ride feels perfect now , best wishes .

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    9. I am about 6’1″ and a half and was wondering if any of you who are around my height clear the top tube but have your “man parts” resting on the top tube? As this is different from any bike I currently ride, I am a bit unsure of what to do. I have ridden the 24.5 and it feels great but its size scares me and I wonder how I would feel after 30 minutes to an hour on it.

      • At 6’1″, you should be comfortably in the size range of the 24.5 model. Remember that inseam is only one measurement – your arm and torso length are probably at least as important.

        If your inseam is 32-33″, you’ll be in contact with the top tube, which is normal for this bike with its high bottom bracket. Off the saddle, you’ll tilt he bike slightly when straddling.

        As with any bike, be prepared to replace the stock stem to match your body if necessary.



    10. Thanks Dave. Your review is actually what has led me towards this size. It is a bike I have been dreaming about for a few years now. There are no others on the road like it.

      One more question for Guvnor owners: How many of you commute on it? I rotate through my stable for commuting but if I purchased it I would add it in? I ride about 7 miles each way with some hills and use a variety of bikes from fixed gear to IGH.

    11. After reading your excellent review I purchased a 22.5″ 3 speed Guvnor. My barefoot inseam is slightly under 32″ and my height is 5′ 11″. Do you think the 22.5″ will be a good fit for my size? Planning to ride the Guvnor around town and the rural roads with some hills.

      • Yes, I think the 22.5″ is right for you. If you had a preference for larger frames, had long arms and planned to mostly just ride flat roads, you might just be able to squeeze into the 24.5″ – but the 22.5″ is going to be a better all-around fit for you. As with any bike, be prepared to fine-tune your fit with a new stem. Also make sure you move the stock stem up and down to a few different heights just to see how the different positions feel. If you end up with the stem in a high position, remember that you can flip the Northbar ‘upsidedown’ for an upright position. Also remember that any major stem and/ or seat post adjustments should usually be accompanied with minor fore-aft saddle position adjustments.

        Enjoy you Guv!

    12. Thank you for the reply Dave. I have a couple questions for you.

      You mentioned two Sturmey HSK 715 pinch bolts are required for the Diacompe DC-135 brake levers. Can you briefly explain why pinch bolts are required with the brake levers. I plan to install reverse brake levers with a modified internal collet.

      Do you know of any Guv owners who changed their 3 speed hub to a wider range internal gear hub?


      • It’s kind of hard to explain, but suffice to say that you have to cut the stock cable in order to replace the levers (regardless of what type of lever you are replacing it with). You then can’t reuse the cable, so you need the pinch bolts for the brake end of the new cables. I think the stock cable had a weird sort of stop on the brake end. My memory is real fuzzy on this, but I also wasn’t sure why I would need the pinch bolts until I started doing the brake lever swap.

        I’ve never known of anyone who changed the gearing; but you’re right in thinking the stock range is a bit narrow.

    13. Thanks again Dave.
      I noticed the pinch bolt in one of your photos and now I understand how to install it. Probably will leave hub as is and enjoy the bike as a 3 speed,

      Again, your detailed description of the Guvnor including all the photos have been very helpful.


      • Your inseam length or pubic bone height (see Rivendell’s website) are much more important for sizing than your total height.

        In choosing between the 20.5 and 22.5 sizes, I’m afraid I can’t offer much insight. Examine my sizing guidelines for the 22.5 vs. 24.5 and try to extrapolate to the 20.5 using the frame dimensions, if you can find them.



    14. I’m 6 foot – wear a 33 inch jean. I’ve test ridden the 22 and 24, i prefer the 24 as it doesn’t feel so ‘cramped’ – I’ve a longish body!

      I can straddle the top tube of the 24 with it brushing my gentlemans under carriage. But both feet remain flat on the floor. My concern is not touching the floor from the saddle, which means I need to slide forward when stopping (I dont need to tilt the bicycle though). What do you think would be most appropriate?

      thanking you

      • Sounds like the 24.5 fits you well, considering your description of your standover clearance (or lack thereof), particularly if you you’re longish (like me). I don’t think you should be able to touch-down from the saddle on any properly-fitted and adjusted bike! Good luck – let us know how it turns out!

    15. Great review Dave!!! I was equally perplexed by Pashley’s sizing for the Guv’nor, but this answers all my questions, plus loads more that I hadn’t even thought of yet. Good man – Pashley should reward you with one of those posh saddle bags!

      • Glad to help, Kevin! When I was shopping for my Guv a year ago, I couldn’t find any info at all! It was discouraging and frustrating – and unnecessary, in my opinion!


    16. Thinking very seriously about getting a Guvnor, and found your site and its great info on the bike, thanks! I wonder about your “center to center” measurements, though, since the Pashley site appears to use center to top for other bikes, the Clubman for example. C-C is from center of BB to center of top tube/seat tube juncture, is that what you measured?

      It could also be helpful for comparison if you reported the measured standover height of your bike, and the actual seat height you have set (center BB to top of seat) compared to the formulas mentioned on the Rivendell site, PBH-10cm, or PBH * .883.

      • Hi John,

        Yes, my center-to-center measurements are measured from each tubes’ centerline, or from the center of the bottom bracket shell, according to standard convention. The newer center-to-top convention for the seat tube is arbitrary; but for sizing purposes, C-T measurements are less useful, since the seat post length depends on the top tube slope, and because different manufacturers use different seat tube extensions (the 1-2 cm of seat tube length that rises above the top tube).

        The exception is the head tube, which is always measured as the actual end-to-end length. There are a few good reasons why this is so.

        The standover heights for each frame are tabulated above under “top tube height”; these numbers are from Pashley.

        I didn’t list the full BB-to-saddle height since this will vary according to personal preference, riding style and bike type. The Rivendell formula matches my values on my road bike and commuter (full leg extension), but not on my Guvnor or cross bikes (much less extension, for comfort).



    17. Dave,
      Can you tell me the stand-over height on your govnor 24 1/2″ frame? I agree that the govnor is an “older” style bike and a long extended seat post is inappropriate.

      • The standover heights are listed above under “top tube height”; the 24.5″ frame has an 89cm standover height. The values listed are Pashley values, not measured by me.



    18. Sorry to say, my Guv’nor lasted one ride before I decided it was a folly. It’s a heavy thing, with heavy (dare I say, clumsy) steering and inadequate gearing (3-speed) for any form of hill; it’s great bike to look at, but there are other ways of having fun on two wheels. I decided, instead, to buy a new steel-framed traditional geometry Condor World Series. Sold the Guv’nor for the same money as I paid, so nothing lost. My wife has a Pashley Princess, so I still get to ride that for the ‘newspaper’ run.

      • Ha – yeah, it’s not a first or even second bike, nor is it suited for hill climbing (though I’ve powered up some pretty big hills on mine – great training)! If you don’t already have a classic steel road bike, then I would agree that the Pashley is not a good stand-in for that. Perhaps I should have mentioned that the Guvnor was my 6th bike!!

        Personally, I love the feel of the ride, in particular the steering – which I would not call clumsy, but slow and smooth. Still not as boat-like as an Amsterdam-style bike, though.



    19. Firstly thanks for the great write up, it’s really detailed and considered and the best proper description of the bike I have found.

      The Guvnor reignited my love of the bicycle. For some folk it seems that it is too heavy or clumsy, for me it’s solid, smooth and stable. I love it at speed, that long wheelbase, that solid frame. I know that hitting a pot hole isn’t going to cause a fracture (in me or the bike!). Don’t know how far I can push the analogy but I think of it a little like an E-Type Jag, beautiful machine but not without faults and with pretty awful brakes! Truth be told that the brakes on the Guvnor can be an issue if you hammer it on this bicycle. In traffic, having to stop quickly, is not possible and it’s pretty easy to make friends with the car in front of you. But for long sweeping country lanes I wouldn’t want to be on anything else.

      Regards the sizing question; I’m over 6 foot and went for the 22.5. This might or might not be “correct” but it’s what I wanted. I’ve always preferred slightly smaller bikes as I feel more able to control them, this is probably more to do with my Downhill MTB past than anything and might not be too relevant…(after all its probably unlikely I’ll be getting the Guvnor very airborne!). I hate to say it but I also much prefer the look of the single top tube bike, its a taste thing but the double top tube ruins something about the simplicity of the bike for me. So far I havn’t regretted my sizing decision. I ride for miles comfortably, up and down hill but yes, the the seatpost is at max….sorry!

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    22. Hi Dave,

      I am thinking of switching out the stock rat trap pedals for the VO Grand Cru Sabot pedals. Do you have any experience with them, and do you have any opinion either way? Thanks! Bill.

    23. Hi Bill,

      I don’t have any experience with the Sabot’s – and they’re actually fairly new, so I haven’t seen them anywhere in person. They look nice made, although they also look really quite large – I’m not sure I could come to terms with them visually! They’re also rather pricey. As I mentioned above, the MKS Sylvan Touring pedals (also available through Velo Orange) are a nice substitution for the original MKS rat traps – they have the same vintage appearance, but with a full-sized platform for standard shoes. The MKS Lamba pedals are also very large platform, like the Sabots, and a very unique design that is quirky enough to perhaps compliment the Guvnor…maybe!



    24. Hi Dave,

      Thanks for your input. The MKS Lambda pedals look pretty cool, and may be a good fit on the Guvnor. I would like to try a wider pedal because I wear casual shoes for most of my riding, and the smaller pedals hurt my feet. I saw some of the copper-colored pedals on the Soma fab web site; they look nice but I don’t know how durable the finish is.

      So far have put over 600 miles on my Guvnor, mostly commuting to work. I have a secure sheltered place to park It, though I do try not to ride it when it rains. I took your sizing advice before I purchased my bike; it was spot-on. Thanks! Bill.

    25. Hi I have just been to Evans bike shop and fell in love, with the guvnor. So had to come home and try to find out what my head thinks. Your article is spot on in every sense. Great for my head, but not my heart. Being 6’2 with 33.5″ barefoot inside leg I know my head should go with 24.5 twin top ……but love the simplicity of single 22.5 which when I tried on seemed ok. Agree did feel cramped, but only for pooling around villages and towns. Will be my only bike though so needs to fit. Dave… I go with heart or head, or fall out of love?

      • Hi Karl! Sorry if I ruined your fun! Since writing this article, I’ve received dozens of messages similar to yours, and it has always surprised me when folks like you are ‘turned off’ by the double top tube on the 24.5 frame. In my case, it was just the opposite – I wanted the double top tube frame, but was worried it would be too big! If I were you, I’d reconsider the uniqueness and authentic appearance of the double top tube. I get LOTS of comments from other people on the beauty and style of my Pashley, and it even won 1st place for Most Prized Steed at my local tweed ride last year. If it will be your only ride, then I’d definitely make sure it fits! But the Guv isn’t the ideal bike for serving as your only ride – its a pleasure and joy to ride, but sometimes I just want to get on a lightweight bike with lots of gears and go! Best of luck making your decision!



    26. Hey Dave!

      I went back into Evans (Liverpool) today and test rode the twin top 24.5 they ordered for me last week. As soon as I saw it – I had to have it. After a 2 mins ride I knew the size was perfect and much better (for me) than the 22.5. I didn’t expect to be able to sit over the top tube and still stand flat – which was good – and the saddle has plenty of height adjustment if I want less bend of my knees etc. I did feel originally the single tube looked nicer- but guess what – as soon as I was out rolling those 700’s on tarmac I felt “proud” to have a twin top. I know this is the right choice for me. I am so glad I found your blog and article on this as I would have made the wrong choice otherwise. Anyway if anyone else is thinking of a guv’nor but not quite sure, let me tell you – you will have a big smile on your face when you start her up. It is definitely the Rolls-Royce of the bike world, stately, elegant, confident, fast when you want it to be, well built and above all different, yet understated, from most other bikes that you see.

      Cheers Dave you are a star!
      Karl (6’2″, 33.5″ inside-leg)

      • Excellent – glad you enjoy the ride so much. The longer head tube on the 24.5″ will also give you a nice range of handlebar heights. After a long winter, I rode my Guv yesterday at the Cleveland (Ohio) Tweed Ride, and once again was reminded of the unique and wonderful ride characteristics! This year at the ride, there was another Guv as well as a Roadster – I like to think of it as the 2nd British Invasion!!

        Thanks also for posting your inseam – most useful to others!



    27. Hello, and thanks for the review; as a fellow North American I’m a little hesitant to purchase a bike without so much as ever seeing one in person, so all the detail you provided has been great.

      I have a question for you (and I’m hoping it’s not a really stupid question, or if it is that you’ll forgive me). I’m considering the Guv’nor as a (very well cared for) winter bike, and I’m trying to find studded tires that will fit on it. The closest I’ve seen is the Schwalbe Marathon Winter, which are supposed to be 28 x 2.00. Would these fit the Guv’nor? Any thoughts in general on using it as a winter commuter?

      • Hi Alice – I’m willing to bet that the 2.0 studded tires would fit the Guv, as there is quite a bit of clearance with the existing 1.5 tires. In my experience, studs don’t require a lot of extra clearance over their non-studded versions, but it’s a tough call when you’re going from 1.5 to 2.0 and also adding studs. Just make sure you buy ISO 635 tires, as there are multiple conventions for tires marked “28 in”. I spoke with another Guv owner at our local Tweed Ride last week, and we both thought it would be interesting to see larger tires on the Guv! The big question is whether or not you plan on using fenders. If so, then you may have clearance issues.

        Employing the Guv for winter duty is another question, though. Having once been a dedicated snow commuter in college, I rode a lot in real Iowa snow using a mountain bike. There are a few things about the Guv that make me hesitant to recommend it for winter riding. Firstly, there are lots of steel parts on the Guv, including the frame itself. At the same time, the Guv frame is a bit of a boutique product – meaning it might not stand up to harsh weather as well as one would like. Every so often, I hear about things like paint chips and loose decals on Guv’s – things you just don’t see anymore on mass-produced bikes. It’s not that the Guv is fragile or anything (after all, it’s made for English riding!), it’s just that steel and leather fare better in rain than they do in salt and snow. At the very least, you should immediately apply Frame Saver to you Guv upon receiving it (which will require partially disassembling it) and then liberally apply an auto spray wax to the outside of the frame and other metal parts throughout the winter.

        But more importantly, the unique ride qualities of the Guv may be important if you’re riding in snow and ice. But here, I’m not sure if the long wheel base will help or hurt. In my experience, riding in snow can often require lots of small course corrections and “body English” as you slip and slide. Here, the high riding Guv may be at a disadvantage. Similarly, the long raking fork isn’t going to respond as quickly. Yet, the long Guv wheelbase may actually add stability.

        For the same reason, I would recommend the 3 speed over the single speed version.

        In my more recent non-snowy, but cold and wet winter commuting, I found my lightweight cross bike to be the ultimate commuter, partly because of its lightness. With the extra weight and bulk of cold weather gear (as well as my commuter bag), it seems like a light weight bike helps keep me moving along efficiently while avoiding over-heating. So here the hefty Guv is definitely at a disadvantage.

        So, my long reply might not be useful, because I’m just not sure! If your winter commute just involves hardback snow with occasional ice patches, is fairly flat and not more than 20 miles each way, then the Guv may be just fine. But if you’re slugging through deep snow, busting through snowplow ridges and climbing hills on your commute, then I’d be a bit less optimistic. The Guv will not ride like your other bikes and will take some getting used to, which is a process you might not want to combine with snow riding! But you will indeed adapt and could decide the Guv works well for you!

        Let us know how things go if you decide to take the plunge on a Guv! I’d love to post some pics of larger tires w/ or w/o winter studs!



    28. Hi Dave, you should check out the aluminum water bottles at They would look great in the bottle holder you use. I bought one just to sit on a bookshelf and look cool.

    29. Wonderful review, thanks. I am so in love with this bike. So glad to find out I can buy one online w/o having to find a local dealer. Granted, I’ve got local dealers here in DC and MD, so maybe I can try one out and see if they’ll match the distributor’s price.
      I am also glad I read your review due to your mention of the inseam. I thought, with a 29-30in inseam I’d go for the 20.5″ frame, but now I’m thinking maybe the 22? I certainly want to try them out now.
      One question though: The leather grips in your photo, are they the grips included in the bike, or are they the grips available for $100 at the distributor’s website?
      Cheers and again, thanks for a great review,

      • Thank YOU Simon! I’m always glad to hear from someone who found this page useful, but at the same time I’m still surprised at how little information Pashley provides themselves. Perhaps it’s their way of adding to the mystique of the Guv! Your wrapped grips are lovely, and I’m glad you were able to extract some value from the old ones (I “recycled” mine on another bike with a Brooks honey-colored saddle!). In fact, I need to update my photos to show my final modifications – Brooks slender grips, VO bottle cages, etc. I think you will really notice a marked improvement in pedaling comfort with the wider pedals that you mentioned – originally a tip from Duchy Wheeler! I also love the look of the chrome crank bolt cover – what was your source?



    30. Hi Dave,
      I have been reading all the post but find myself like others in between sizes. I’m 5’9″ with a 34.5″ inside leg inseam and 35″ arms. 24.5 or 22.5?

      • Yikes, that’s a tough one – it seems like your torso is on the short side despite pretty long legs and arms. I think you’re going to end up on the 24.5 with the option to swap out the stem. Your inseam is just way too long for the 22.5, I’m afraid. Actually, with your long arms, the stock stem may be OK. The Northroad bar brings your hands way back toward you. The only way I’d go with the 22.5 is if you want to do a lot of maneuvering (city traffic riding) or significant climbing; since the Guv is not a nimble machine, the gentlemanly ride can be exaggerated with the 24.5 size and weight.

        Good luck!


    31. Fantastic and detailed write up . I just re-read it for the 2nd time. I just got my 24.5″ Guv today. Thanks so much for taking the time !!!

    32. Regarding those two tapped holes on the inside of the fork arm: They are in fact for a mounting plate to which a bottle generator can be mounted. Pashley sells (or, rather, /sells/) a traingular metal plate that mounts to those holes. I say “sold” because I recently bought what they informed me was the last one in the warehouse–in fact, I had to convince them that the part even existed, after which they found mine laying on a shelf somewhere. (I had a mount previously, removed it, and then couldn’t find it any more … but I knew it was real!) As you note, the mounting point for a bottle generator is usually a little farther outboard. So, in my two installations, I had to source a small spacer (about 4mm) that sits between the mount and the generator, placing it far out enough to clear the tire in the off position.

      You can see a generator mounted to the special plate here:

      In case you’re wondering how far a Guvnor can be ridden, you might want to visit my web site: I rode my Pashley 1,100 miles from Santa Rosa, CA, to Seattle, WA, in 2009 to raise funds for disease research.

      • Thanks very much for this info, Eric! And kudos on your 1100 mile ride on the Guv!

        If possible, it would be great to post some detail shots of the mounting plate and your dyno, so that others can see it close up! Also, any chance you could provide some detailed dimensions so we could make our own (since you got the last one!!)???



        • I’ll get some photos to you later this week. You might check with Pashley about the part–the person I corresponded with may have been overstating things. I *did* check with Belmont Sales, and they didn’t have any, either.

          Great work on the blog!

          Eric N Twitter: @CampyOnlyGuy


        • Great – thanks!

          Love the CampyOnly blog – I’m a long time reader of the old site, where several of my bikes are shown. Come to think of it, I have a couple more to add!



        • Here’s a quick sketch of what the part looks like. The screws that go into the fork (same size as in a standard water bottle brazeon) go into the slot; this allows for up/down adjustment of the generator. I’ll send photos and measurements when I get back from a business trip.

          Eric N Twitter: @CampyOnlyGuy


      • Hi Norman!

        One does not usually specify the seat stay length, since it’s length is a “result” of other “specified” dimensions, such as chain stay length and seat tube angle. Of course, unconventional geometries (like time trial bikes) have shorter seat stays since they intersect the frame below the seat tube/top tube juncture. There was a nice article in Bike magazine many years ago that addressed this question, with the author taking the position that seat tube length and angle are not important to sizing. Presumably s/he was talking about conventional diamond frames. An exception is for stuff like rear racks, fenders, panniers, etc. where such info might be of use. If anyone can answer this, please do so.



    33. Thanks for the heads up, been working on this for a little over a month, trying to pick the perfect bike… talking to builders, what a range of prices… as you can probably tell I’m so Novice on this subject of bikes, having people in the Know, such as yourself is a real boon.
      Thank you sir and Regards, Norm

    34. Howdy, norm again. the pashley headbadge at the top of this page with the tire and the ribbon Pashley & Barbour…… where does it come from& where could you get one today ? I can’t find it anywhere on line nor any mention thereof.Copy places get antsy about copying what looks like a patented head badge….. any info, …… anybody ?

    35. Hi Dave, I am now unoficially past the 1500 mile mark on my Guvnor. Here goes: I have not yet upgraded the pedals to something larger but I may. I am using a smaller more comfortable shoe (Hasus) for cycling. I really like the overall performance of the bike. Drum brakes stop me just fine. Rear tire is a little worn, but still okay. I run 65 psi in both tires (I weigh 220#) and though the ride is a tad rough the bike feels snappier and more responsive. Only 3 flats, one when the back tire came off the rim and the tube exploded whilst sitting in my garage at 70 psi. The rounded profile of the rim makes bead sealing a little tricky when tire pressures are high but if you are careful when installing the tire all is good. I use inner tubes from Sunlite because that company is based in Miami and my LBS can have them for me the next day. I also like the look of the black stems better than the threaded ones on the Schwalbe tubes. I have fitted brass valve stem caps (antique repros) available on ebay; really complements the gold pinstriping on the rims. I am a little disappointed with the saddle, having had to tension it after only 6 months. Never had to tension my Team Pro saddles. I commute with this bike using the Cygolite Expilion 800 lumen front and 2 watt rear light. Take ’em off when I want to so they don’t spoil the looks of the bike.

      I had trouble maintaining chain tension and bought a pair of MKS tensioners at the suggestion of some folks on the Guvnors Assembly site. These work (the larger size) but the fit is a little awkward on the bike and recommend you get a style that has a flat washer for the axle bolt to go through instead of a washer that has a boss. Makes for an easier fit when mounting the tensioner outside of the dropout.

    36. Good day sir. Thank you for such a succinct review of the Guvnor which I feel is a rather splendid bicycle. To me the machine looks rather like a pimped up 1960’s GPO bike, minus the front rack, which I used to enjoy as my school commuter. Quite likely based on an earlier machine.
      Anyway must dash I have a moustache to twiddle.
      Pip pip

    37. Hello there,

      I am about to order a Speed 5, which I believe to be the same geometry as the Guv’nor. Having taken a 22.5″ for a spin I thought the size to be adequate, but could not shake a nagging doubt about the size.

      Having discovered your wonderful notes I am now thinking a 24.5″ might be more the order of the day. I am 6’2″ with a 35″ pelvic measurement (as per those chaps at Rivendell). Would you support this train of thought? Unfortunately I cannot get hold of a 24.5″ in order to confirm this for myself.

      • Hello Charles,

        Assuming the frame dimensions of the new Speed 5 are identical to the Guv’nors, then I would agree that you are firmly within the size range for the 24.5″ frame. My dimensions are nearly identical to yours. In fact, given the deep drop of the Lauterwassen-style bars on the Speed 5, you definitely want the longest head tube possible to avoid being uncomfortably bent over. Even with the shallow drop of the Northroad bar on the Guv, the position is quite aggressive if the stem is fully lowered into the steerer tube. With your height and leg length, the 22.5″ Speed 5 must have felt like riding in the drops of an 80’s vintage road race machine!



    38. Hello Dave,

      Thank you for your reply. I have been in touch with the fellows at Pashley and they have confirmed that the Guv’nor and the Speed 5 have exactly the same frame geometry. I am now very tempted to go for the 24,5″ – I did originally prefer the lines of the single top tube but the more I think about it the more I am liking the double top tube. I can feel a decision coming on, just a shame it’s winter here.

      Thanks again


      • Just a quick update. My 24.5″ Speed 5 arrived today and the size is spot on. I must say that it is much nicer in the metal than photographs suggest, and I was instantly glad I had gone for the twin top tube.

        Thank you again for your sizing advice.

    39. This page is so informative and has the most details that I’ve seen on all the other sites for the guvnor. I have a guvnor in excellent condition that is my pride and joy out of all my unique hard to find bikes. It looks like I may to have to part with my guvnor as part of a bitter divorce settlement. I’ve only ridden it once and I’m so glad there are others out there that have the same appreciation I have for this bike.

    40. Hi Dave, love your site, have a question, what kind of Safety Washers (aka Lock Washer) with the Gripfast axle wing nuts are to be used? I have a BF hub with 90mm brake and 3/8” axle (26 TPI).



      • I reused the stock washers from the Sturmey hub. Keep in mind that there are a plethora of bike experts that claim these safety washers are not necessary. For wing nut compatibility questions, drop an email to Dutchy Wheeler:

    41. Hi Dave,

      I see you handled the water bottle issue with a period-appropriate solution. What about a pump? Does a mini fit in your rollup bag?

      I have been lusting after Pashleys, but like you, don’t have a dealer nearby to test one. So I echo all the comments on here thanking you for the detailed review. I was actually leaning toward the Speed 5 as my all-around road and path riding machine. (I have a perfectly nice 2008 Cannondale 613 that does nothing for me emotionally.) But I noticed you told a commenter above that a bike like the Guv’nor shouldn’t even be a second bike, and that if one doesn’t have a good steel road bike, that comes first.

      Any suggestions for someone who is obviously in tune with all you said about the Guv’nor above, “historic authenticity and beauty [but] with parts that are modern, but not too modern”? In other words, I love the classic “10-speed” look, but don’t want to buy an old bike on eBay. Would the Pashley Clubman Country fit that bill? (It’s at the upper limit of my price range.)

      Thanks again,

      • Yes, a Clubman would be a great option. Bianchi has a nice range of retro-looking steel bikes, most (if not all) based on Reynolds 631 – from the $1000 Lupo to the $2000 Vigorelli. Plus the 2014 Bianchi paint schemes and decals were pulled straight from the history books. A used Raleigh Clubman would also fit the bill; too bad they no longer make it.

        Don’t tell anyone, but my saddle bag carries a CO2 inflator (with big cartridge for those big Guv tires)!!!

        • Thank for your answer – is possible, that another Pashley fit better to me? For example “Pashley roadster sovereign” with middle frame 56?

        • I’m afraid I don’t know about the other frames, but I suspect you would fit better on any of them since only the Guv’nor has the unusual path racer geometry. You can also e-mail Pashley via their website to ask for their recommendation.

    42. Even if you could make the brake work, you’d run into a problem with the belt drive, which requires a drive side triangle that can be taken apart (since the belt is a one-piece unit, unlike a standard chain). You could make it work by unbolting the seatstays, but the Guvnor’s frame wasn’t designed to be taken apart with any regularity.

      You might also run into a problem finding a belt long enough to work with the Guvnor’s stays, which are much longer than those on a typical modern bicycle.

    43. Great review Dave ! I have been researching the Speed 5 myself, and came across your review. I love the look of both the Speec 5 and the Guvnor, but I’m leaning towards the 5.

      I’ve actually located a Pashley dealer in my city ! (Adelaide, South Australia). I’m curious about this geometry and hopefully they have a bike available for a test ride. If I like the ride I may look at purchasing one.

      And in regards to Lee’s suggestion on the belt drive. S+S couplers should make it possible, but it would no doubt make it a costly excersize.

    44. Good day from good old blighty sir! After much concern and deliberation on my part. I have just moments ago ordered myself a 24.5″ frame Speed 5. Your article is a wonderfully candid and informative read which helped greatly.

      As an aside and to help others I am 6’2″ and a bit tall with a 35″ inseam measurement (top of thigh to floor). The bike shall be with me in 5 days and I will report back! I can’t wait to soak up the double top tube frame. Like you I really wanted the double topper but wasn’t sure if I would fit! Your article has belayed my fears. I feel I am comfortably within the size requirements for the big one!


        • Well, what can I say, I picked up the speed 5 a few days ago and have had it waiting (in my living room) for a trip out since then. I’ve just got back in from the maiden voyage, a mere 6.5 miles but I was smiling the whole time. I can stand with my feet flat on the ground and the top tube is a whisker away from my crown jewels, perfect! The saddle is nice and low and the bike looks amazing in the flesh.

          I’ve already fitted the Velo orange bottle holder with a small (532ml) reflect klean kanteen and got rid of the straps from the toe clips (bad past experience!).

          The ride is divine and the riding position is fantastic, I wouldn’t want to be on a smaller frame, the dropped bars are just too severe and anyone over 6 foot would be crushed up in there with a ludicrous saddle height.

          My only criticism of the bike is that the pedals are a tad narrow and uncomfortable for my feet, I will be looking in to the touring pedals you mentioned and perhaps some brass valve caps to set off the gold pinstripe around the wheel rims.

          Time for a nice cup of tea and to admire the old beast now it’s in my kitchen pride of place in the bay window.

    45. Dave,

      Greetings from Santa Monica, California.

      Thank you very much for your most excellent review of the Guv. I was fortunate enough to buy mine second hand in exactly perfect condition with very, very few miles on it.

      For my first few minutes under steam I thought, “hmmm, this is different…kind of weird…and it might be a little too big for me”. I thought I might not like it. Then, after a short while and a few miles along a beach-front bike path, I though, “wow…this really is different…and I definitely like it!”.

      Now I get warm, fuzzy feelings just thinking about my next bike ride. You have helped me understand why. Thanks again for that.

      Peter K.

      • Great to hear that you’re enjoying the ride, Peter! The Guv definitely provides a unique feel that can be challenging for all of us that have grown up on bikes with less fork rake! You’re lucky to have good terrain for the Guv!

    46. Hi Dave,
      As with everyone else here I am extremely impressed with, and grateful for your excellent article. My experience here in New Zealand is pretty much exactly as for Peter above. Fell in love with the Guv’nor and when my partner and I went over to England and France last year to follow the Tour I planned to bring one back to New Zealand with me. Unfortunately I test rode a 22.5″ in London and found it cramped so was put off ad bought a Bromptom instead as easier to get around with on trains and planes and loved the ride. Ironically I found a brand new 24.5″ advertised for sale three months later when back here in NZ. Went and rode it and absolutely loved it. It was so comfortable and silky to ride and now one of very favourites ( I have 12 bikes and my partner is getting me counselling !). I am only 168cm tall (5′ 6″) but inside leg measurement is 33cm basically a daddy long legs but even the reach feels very very comfortable. And the double top tube has grown on me to where now it is actually a preference. Keep up the great work mate and happy riding.

      • Cheers, Wayne! Glad to hear that you found a good fit! That double top tube definitely seems to grow on you, and it also seems to garner more attention! Happy trails!

    47. I have had My Gov- for a few months now and always get great nods of agreement from all cyclists – passed by a peloton- riders shouting great bike mate! Yes it is a fine machine comfortable ride too -only a small issue of the bars moving forward during long rides (I use the Sturmey Archer Gear shifter as a reference .(and my wrists)
      Done a couple of mods as suggested by Dave – Front wing nuts and Valve covers from the Mini cooper
      Traveled many miles on the Bike, train rides to the welsh hills too trundled around Canal tow paths and cycle ways of Merseyside & Cheshire we even rode on a charity ride through the Mersey Tunnel ! .the back across on the Ferry Boat for a goods soaking on the way home – who cares it was really fun
      My only regret is not buying a Gov sooner

    48. I love the chain ring guards, but can’t seem to find a source with them in stock. I found an online shop and they said they have been out of them for months. Unfortunately, they haven’t gotten back to me with an update following a conversation with their distributor. On one of my project bikes, I had a triple Sugino XD2 crank, but want to convert to a 44/30 touring double with said guard, with its impressive looking windows. Grant needs his eyes examined with their fugly guard on the wide/low 40/26 set-up; pardon my French. Any help would be most appreciated. Thanks as always.

    49. Thanks for the great review. I am in the market for a three-speed Guv’nor but (like you??) I’m a Brit transplanted to the US and a very long drive from my nearest dealer.

      I love the look of the double top bar but, if anything, your review and the excellent comments have made me even more nervous about sizing. I am 6 ft even which seems to be about minimum height for the 24.5″ frame, but my inside leg measurement is only about 31″.

      I’m pretty flexible (a recovering roadie/triathlete) and have reasonably long arms.


      I’m hoping that I can get back to the UK or to the Washington DC area on business soon and try the bike in-person, but if my top tube dreams are going to be crushed I would rather and get it over and done with! 🙂

      Thanks again. Roger

      • Hmmm – tough call. Given your inseam, I’d say go with the 24.5″ if you’re OK with a tall frame that you can’t straddle. Given you’re from the UK, make sure that we’re talking apples-to-apples about your 31″ inseam. Check out Rivendell’s PBH (pubic bone height) guidance also (vs. stand over height); PBH isn’t the same as clothing inseam. In any case, be prepared to replace the stem!


        • Thanks Dave – I’ll take a look at Rivendell. I’m happy with the kids I already have, so I’m not too concerned about “straddling” ( 🙂 ) but I obviously care about comfort and also don’t want to look ridiculous. Cheers, Roger

    50. Has anyone found front chainrings that will fit this crank that are 50-54 tooth, I live in Holland and can easily spin my Guvnor at max rev and feel the bike has way more speed in the tank with a higher gearing.
      7000km in year one used as my daily commuter and I still love riding this bike

      • Any 110 bcd (bolt circle diameter) ring will work. I think 50-54t might be overkill, though. Velo Orange’s 48t Grand Cru Drillium ring is 110 bcd and would look beautiful on the Guv. Campagnolo makes a polished 50t Athena CT (110 bcd) chain ring – though it’s probably designed for very narrow chains.

        Great to hear from Holland and from a serious Guv commuter!!



      • A smaller cog out back would be easier and cheaper I would have thought. The bash guard may need to be changed with a bigger front chain ring.

    51. Your information on frame size influenced my choice of the 24.5. Fortunately Love Bikes in Pittsburgh Pa. just became a Pashley dealer. At 6′ 1″ with 35″ inside leg measurement I was on the fence about frame size. The bike came in this week, I checked her out and the top bar is just touching my my groin area. I think it’s perfect for me. Glad I ordered the large frame. Now if the snow, ice and road salt will go away I can take her out for a spin. I couldn’t have made my decision without your article. Thanks, Jim

    52. Hi Sir!
      *LIKED* True Brand Ambassador of Pashley! Love all the engagements to date!
      I’m 24 hours away from my SPEED-5 but the local coverage on GUV is poisonous!!
      Should I make a detour?! Aughh.

      Have a good one, everyone!

    53. Hi, just read your superb review, I’ve recently purchased a 20 year old pashley roadster, but gained some very useful information and technical knowledge about the pashley brand, also going to try out some detailing, like the front wing nuts and tyre valves…. Thanks again

    54. Thank you for this detailed review, I went to buy a secondhand Guvnur today, you are spot on in your disruption , it was a 22.5 inch and it felt really cramped , also the bike was in bad shape which is a shame I really liked the ride and the handing, it reminded me of my first British bike with double top tube , that was even more cramped 😀.

    55. I hope I’m not too late with this thank-you and question. It’s been a year since the last comment about the Pashley. But I found your review of the Guv’nor only yesterday, in the course of looking for specs on old racing frames. That search had come up empty, even from a bike museum, until I found your wonderfully thorough entry. Thank you.

      I have wanted to know more precisely how old frames were designed and how they rode because I traverse gravel roads of a quality much like those pictured in old photos, and maybe sometimes worse. I do this on a fixed-gear Surly Steamroller, which takes 35mm wide tires, but is modern road race geometry — 73.5 degree angles, and stays so short that flip-flopping the hub is difficult. What I’d like to know is how differently such a frame rides from a slack-angled, long-wheelbase path racer, in terms of comfort, stability, and cornering.

      I would like a bike that it still raceable on gravel, but takes less attention — and maybe skill — to keep straight on gravel in a 30 mph side wind. Or while being muscled uphill on gravel at 30 rpm. One that rides straight with no hands. (But with a hands-on-bars position still much like a road racer.) How much smoother would 49cm chain stays be compare with 40cm? Enough to go a size narrower in tire? Would such a slack head angle and long rake corner predictably at speed on pavement? (I was amazed to see, according to a trig formula someone set up for me, and with your specs for the Guv’nor, that its trail and the “wheel flop” are very low.) Would these specs — at least on a lighter bike — make for a gravel racer? Because frames for cyclocross and gravel grinding — and even modern touring bikes — are not angled and raked anywhere near like this. Could that simply be because of the influence of pro road racing? Was it really the old bike designs that had it right, made the best compromises, for fast riding on dirt and gravel roads?

      Your review said, “I was immediately shocked at how great the Pash felt to ride. Yeah, the front wheel is way out in front of you, but the handling is still quite sharp. Somehow the geometry and long wheelbase just seem to work out. … the position is very comfortable and still feels ‘racey’. In short, it’s a supremely rideable bike, one that you feel like you can either just cruise along on, or hammer and spin it up.” Maybe this says enough. But you don’t tell whether any of your riding was off of pavement, which can make a big difference. You also don’t compare the Guv’nor with your other cycles, which might help. And it’s been a few years since the review. You’ve had more experience with the Pashley. Would you like to say more? I’d like to hear.

      You needn’t go so long with an answer as I did getting to the questions. But thanks for reading.

      Scott Bontz
      Gypsum, Kansas

      • Interesting question Scott.

        As a Guv’nor owner, as well as a Surly owner(Travellers Check though, not a Steam Roller. Angles are a little more relaxed, but same steel), owner of a Salsa Casseroll, and an SE Lager fixed gear (cro mo steel, Surly Steam Roller fork), I think im some what qualified to give a response.

        I would say the Guv’nor would handle those conditions just fine. The frame definitely has more flex, and alot heavier than the other bikes mentioned. It also feels a fair bit slower, but I honestly don’t think it would actually be as slow as it ‘feels’. That feeling would be mostly due to the Guv’nors relaxed riding position more than anything else.

        The Guv’nors strength would definitely be its ability to soak up the bumps. It does so with distinction. It would feel right at home on gravel roads. A lot of that would probably come from the front forks which are quite flexy.

        Where I believe the Guv’nor has a disadvantage, would be going up hill. Due to its relaxed riding position, you are most comfortable when seated on a flat angled road. Getting out of the saddle can feel a little awkward, and due to its weight, it isn’t where you feel most comfortable on a Guv’nor IMO. Especially on a single speed, like mine. You may want to consider the 3 or 5 speed if your bike journey has a few climbs. Personally I’d love to see Pashley bring out a Rohloff version. But to my disappointment as a Rohloff owner, it isn’t possible to mount one on the Guv’nor without re engineering the rest stays.

        Hope this helps.


        Steve 👍

        • I have done a flat dirt track ride on the 3 speed gov it was one of my best experiences – I was being tailed by a mountain bike and he loved the tow.

    56. Steve, thanks for addressing my questions. Given your experience, including fixed gear, you seem quite qualified.

      I am not interested in going with multiple speeds. I love and am committed to riding fixed gear. And frankly, I probably wouldn’t get a Guv’nor, for several reasons. But it’s the only current bike like the one I’ve imagine having built, so learning how it rides is very helpful.

      If my riding position didn’t change from the Steamroller — same saddle distance behind the bottom bracket, same reach and drop to the handlebars — and I kept the same components that give me a 19-pound Steamroller, why wouldn’t a longer, more relaxed bike climb as well, except for weighing perhaps at most a pound more, for the longer stays and fork? In other words, is the Guv’nor’s awkwardness while climbing mostly about having rather close bars, plus the weight? Or is it the effect on steering by the very relaxed head angle and long rake (and resulting springy fork)?


    57. HI.
      I’m interested in buying Pashley Guvnor for my husband for his 50th. Can you tell me do you have a booklet you send out to look threw or is it all on your website? Interested in all the nic nacs that come with it too, like bottle holder etc. Is there different style Guvnors?
      Also what does the price range start from?
      Many thanks.

      • Hello Tina,
        I would suggest that you visit Pashley’s website to locate a local dealer:

        If you’re in the US and have no dealer near you, you can order a Pashley on-line as long as you are very careful about selecting the right size:

        There are currently four versions of the Guvnor:
        Guvnor single- or three-speed, US$1,600
        Guvnor Plus Two (two-speed), US$1,600
        Speed 5 (a modified Guvnor, with five speeds), US$1,700

        I believe the Plus Two is a 2017 model, so it may have limited availability.



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