Pashley-Moulton TSR30 Early Experience and Review
I’d been looking at Moulton space frame bikes since I saw a thread here about Alex Moulton and a link to a video. There was something about the space frame and the claimed road holding of the small wheeled full suspension bike. Of course it was the extraordinarily expensive ‘New Series’ featured in the video. At £4000 to £7000, that was a non-starter, but the TSR series, designed by Moulton and hand built by Pashleys under license were less insanely out of reach. They range from about £900 to £1450. A hub geared version at the lower end to the campag veloce equipped TSR30 (it has 30 gears) at the top. It was still too much – I mean, I have the Merc, an unused mountain bike and an old roadie, not to mention three bikes in various states of dilapidation belonging to my sons. It was then that I typed ‘Pashley Moulton’ into ebay and up popped something I could not miss. An unfortunate tale of woe beginning,
“I bought this bike a week ago and for personal reasons, I can not keep it. Who will offer me a thousand pounds?”
“I will,’ I typed, glancing sideways at She Who Must Be Obeyed, ‘As long as you can provide me with the original receipt that shows you own it.’
So that’s how I came to be the owner of the beauty you see before you.
So – how does it perform.
Well it’s fast – very speedy in comparison to the Merc or the mountain bike and I can easily keep up with my 23 year old son riding his road bike. This is true even though I swapped out the stelvio racer tyres for marathons almost as soon as I got it. I had three punctures in quick succession, partly because of thorns on the road and partly because I was running them at 90 psi which I now know is too soft and not the best way to go. The marathons are detectably slower, but only a little, and they give less frisky handling too. I’m running them at 100psi and on a damp road, I can see that the contact patch is only on a centimetre wide track down the centre. So far, I’ve had 345 trouble free miles since I put them on.
Whereas I’d average about twelve miles an hour on the Merc on a twenty mile ride, I’m quite easily managing an average of 17.8 on a forty mile ride on the TSR. It invites effort and is a rewarding ride. Of course we're talking about an entirely different kind of animal to the Brompton lookalike, but isn’t that much bigger. It rides just like a full sized racer, except the steering is much more rapid. The gear range is 22 – 95 inches – easily enough to cover any riding I’d be likely to get up to.
The bike weighs in at 24 pounds, the steel frame a combination of cro-mo and Reynolds 531. The space frame construction is stiff as the average road bridge and the structure wouldn’t be out of place on one either with a criss cross pattern of thin tubes and what I’d call thick steel wire. It is very unusual, and gets some puzzled looks when it it isn’t zipping along. The ride is a delight, thanks to the novel suspension system, which gives really confident road holding while travelling at speed on broken road surfaces. I now purposely ride a fast, busy, downhill route that has been badly dig up by utilities companies whereas, on the Merc, I avoided it, because the bouncing felt dangerous. Now I just sail over the lot.
The front suspension is adjustable by tightening four small nuts on the leading links (damping) and turning a knurled ring to preload the spring under the head tube. I’ve set the system on hard spring with firm damping. The rear works well too, absorbing bumps much more freely than the hard rubber bung on the rear of the Merc. The contrast in ride between the two is remarkable. The rear suspension is not adjustable, but it does have a grease nipple so that bronze bushes and the hard steel pivot bolt won’t wear out unnecessarily. The design has the rear suspension pivot bolt forward of the bottom bracket, so no amount of leg power will be wasted in compressing the suspension.
The stem is fully adjustable and can be rotated from being fully horizontal for those who need more reach, to vertical, for short-arses like me, who don’t want to be stretched on the rack. Like the rest of the components, the adjustable stem oozes quality. The bike will fit people between 27 and 36 inside leg (inseam).
Overall, the machine is beautifully made, with high quality brazing on neat frame joints, and classy, deep burgundy stove enamel paintwork. The quality of the componentry is high, but I was very disappointed on an early ride when the left-hand crank on the Sugino crankset began to loosen. There was no detail in the manual supplied to explain how to secure the crank which is held by pinch-bolts, so I emailed Sugino and Pashleys. Pashley sent me a new manual which covers the torque and tightening instructions, but Kozo Sugino himself emailed me by return and sent me a brand new left hand crank, lest the original one had suffered any damage in becoming loose in the middle of a ride. It arrived five days later from Japan with full instructions and the kind of apology only the Japanese can manage. I was very impressed with Sugino’s response, since the fault was in assembly, and not in manufacture by their company. All is fine now, as was the original, since I realised what was happening long before any damage could be done, and worked out how to correct the problem while on the road.
So – at 345 miles ridden, it’s early days, but I love the bike and am only fearful of finding the thing stolen. It’s a great bike I’m sure and I’m riding further and faster than in a good long while.