Dursley Pedersen review and info
I finally got the chance to actually ride one of these strange looking machines! I had seen pictures, like some of you have, on the 'net. There was also a site for an American distributor at http://www.pedersenbicycles.com/history.htm
Most years, in December, the family and I take a short vacation in SoCal, so I called the number from the website and talked to Dave Ducor, who builds these bikes. We arranged a time to meet on Jan. 3rd and try out several of these bikes. Unfortuanately, the IPhone charger wasn't charging right, so the phones battery was really to low for more than a picture or two. Here's a shot of the bikes up on top of Daves car:
The other picture I got was too washed out by sunlight. Here, from the website, is a picture of the bike I wound up riding the most on:
It had a copper colored paint job, wooden fenders, and a Roloff hub. The ride? Utterly Effortless! Sit down on the seat, you're in position to naturally push down with your legs and away you roll. I was just amazed at how easy these bikes are to ride and how comfortable they are! The bike, at rest, looks ungainly with the front up so high, but when you sit down on the seat it all seems perfectly natural and comfortable.
I was interested in these bikes as I have a very short inseam (29 or 30 inches) for my 5'11" height. The top tubes of most bikes that fit me are way to high, and every time you slide off the seat I wind up having a good chance of hurting the family jewels. I also am in my early fifties with slowly degenerating discs in my back that often make bike riding uncomfortable or painful. I usually ride an old Schwinn Varsity, 'girls' frame.. and it's comfortable enough on my back with the bent forward position until I stop. Trying to straighten up is where the pain comes in. There's also a hybrid in the group that has a more upright position, but most of these bikes cause a lot of pain as the bumps in the road go straight up the seat post into my back. The Pedersen, by contrast, has no seat post but a saddle anchored at three points that acts like a hammock.
Anyway, Dave and I were in Rancho Cucamonga and the Pacific Electric Trail was just too good to pass up, so off we went. As I've read, the Pedersen is not a race bike, but it isn't slow! I would guess we were averaging somewhere in the 14 to 16 mph range as we were passing most of the other riders on the bike path. The Dursley ride is pure cushioned comfort. Something about the design makes that frame soak up the jolts from the road better even than old Cro-Moly steel. The saddle does move a little 'side to side' but since it moves with you it very quickly becomes something that you just don't notice. There's no hand pressure needed on the handlebars. You simply grip the handlebars and steer the bike where you want it to go. The only thing remotely bad I found was that the front of the bike is light, and the front wheel can be busy, requiring regular small corrections. That's why you see racks and packs on the front of most Pedersens, as that weight stabilizes the front. In spite of the light front wheel, the bike is very responsive, very easy to corner with.
Dave and I wound up going an hour down the bike trail and an hour back. Two hours on the bike and I had no discomfort---no soreness from the saddle, no back pain, no numb hands or hand pain, and I was riding in jeans and a t-shirt. The bike is just a joy to ride.
The way you order one is to go to the website I linked above and call Dave. He orders the frames in from Europe and then builds the bikes to your specs. There are a lot of decisions to be made, such as the drive train (the Rohloffs are nice but expensive), the brakes (he can even build the bike with hydraulics), the fenders, the paint color..to name a few options.
So yes, the Pedersens still exist and can be bought. Daves a great guy to deal with, and I would encourage anyone who lives in or visits the SoCal area to try one out, especially if you have back pain.
Ride, Wrench, Swap, Race
Interesting to hear of a 1st ride opinion on these, having been racing on one for so long now.
Yes, you can whip them up to speed, though there will come some extra effort from aero losses as you approach and exceed 20mph.
As for the saddle sway, I have dealt with this gremlin all these years, but this season (CX) I was wanting to secure the front end of the strap attachment lower for better accelerations when sprinting off of the saddle.
I used stout zip ties to pull the strap down against the twin lateral frame tubes, which made the saddle a lot more taut.
Interestingly, this actually improved the comfort in terms of the suspension action, but also did away with the sway that gave the otherwise-stable bike such a jiggly feel, and my lap times had to have improved.
I didn't know who was still selling these, but curiously the two, older Cheltenham-Pedersens I've had both were bought from sellers in L.A.
Also, at some point the owner of Kool-Stop was the importer.
Glad to hear you like the Pedersen. Here's my current (ca.1980) racer, wearing road tires in this picture, so here at just under 28lbs:
And a blast from the past, racing Expert/Elite class of the opening round of the UCI XC series back when mtb suspension was still in a relatively experimental stage:
Suffice to say, these bikes are also pretty durable.
Last edited by dddd; 01-07-13 at 01:53 PM.
I'll bet you get a lot of attention on the race track! I wondered about tying down the front of the saddle for a better purchase when pedaling hard, such as for speed or hills. When I finally get my bike I'll have to try that. 28lbs? Hmmm, I could swear the bike I rode weighed less than that, but maybe that's just because I'm used to a 35 lb Schwinn.
Ride, Wrench, Swap, Race
If the bike has full gears, then I would think (it almost has to weigh) thirty-something pounds, but my frame might be heavier for all I know.
I got the 28lbs with a very light wheelset btw, CTL-370 rims with 28 butted spokes in front, and a lightweight Topline crankset.
I've since tied the saddle even further down, and luckily the thick zip-ties seem fully up to the task!
I've posted these photos before, but here's another view from this past season (you can see the ~3" of the front end of the strap pulled down, making the hammock saddle shorter, tauter and more level):
...and one from several years back: