I’ve wanted a Pashley Princess Sovereign for many years, so moving to Denmark and giving up my car seemed like the perfect time to scratch that itch.
Getting my Pashley to Denmark was no easy feat! There’s only one Pashley dealer in all of Denmark and they didn’t reply to my inquiries, so I went straight to the source and focused my search in the UK. Most UK shops won’t ship to Denmark and the few that would were out of stock with no known ETA, but I finally found my Pashley Princess Sovereign at Fudges Cyclestore.
Miss Pash shipped within a couple of days, but it took over two agonizing weeks for her to get here. I’ll spare the details, but the shipping and delivery process wasn’t what it should have been.
She arrived in pieces, with a generic instruction sheet that pretty much didn’t apply to any part of the assembly process. But, thanks to the Dutch bike, I’ve been honing my bike mechanic skills and I managed to put her together.
My Pashley Princess Sovereign Bike Review
I’d like to ride her everywhere, but I’m not comfortable locking her up at the bus stop, so I use my Dutch bike for that, and the Pashley for errands.
One of the questions a lot of people have is about the weight of the bike. Yes, she’s heavy. I’m 5’2″, 30″ inseam and I ride the 17.5″ frame. I keep her in the basement and get her in and out through an outside door that has 4 steps up and down. It’s a struggle, I wish she were lighter, but then she wouldn’t be a Pashley!
Pashley Princess Sovereign Bike Review: The Good
She rides like I’d hoped the Dutch bike would, but I guess you don’t get that in a $300 bike ;) The Princess has 5 speeds, which is plenty, more than enough in Denmark, actually. Once she gets going, she just rolls along, which I suppose is an upside to her weight. And she’s solid, there are no issues with rattling or shaking when I ride over cobblestones or curbs, the drum brakes stop on a dime, and I could stare at that Brooks saddle all day!
She of course has an enclosed chain case, skirt guards, fenders, lights, and a rear cargo rack, which are pretty standard on European city bikes, so there’s not much to say about those.
She came with a very large basket on a metal frame that holds a lot and is well supported. I’d like to find a nice wine crate for the back, but for now I have a basket that attaches to the rear rack with spring clamps, so I can haul plenty.
And the bell! It goes “ding-dong” and sounds more like a doorbell than a bike bell, but riding in traffic, I want something that gets attention. And it’s pretty :)
Pashley Princess Sovereign Bike Review: The Not So Good
Overall, she’s everything I thought she would be, but there are some disappointments…
The chaincase is plastic, which I did not expect on a bike of this pedigree. Actually, I’m pretty sure that the chaincase on the Pashley is the same as the chaincase on the Dutch bike :(
All of the Pashley branding marks are stickers and they’re not even under the clear coat, just slapped on top like an afterthought. I don’t think they will hold up :(
She has an O-lock, which is standard on European city bikes, but my Dutch bike actually has a better lock because I can keep the key on my keyring with the rest of my keys. On the Pashley, I can only remove the key from the lock when it’s locked, so any sort of keychain would rub and scratch the paint, while I’m riding it, and I have to carry the key loose, which makes keeping track of it kind of a hassle.
There are some scratches on the paint and handlebars that I’m not thrilled about, but can live with, but there’s a dent in the back fender that’s definitely not cool and Fudges has not gotten back to me about it, so next, I will take it up directly with Pashley because a bike in this price range should not come dented!
And finally, most Dutch bikes have 28″ tires, the Pashley has 26″ tires, which is the British standard, but I think they’re less efficient for commuting and would prefer the larger tires.
Pashley Princess Sovereign Bike Review: A few words about frame size…
The 17.5″ fits up to an 31.5″ inseam, the 20″ frame starts at 30″, which is my exact inseam. Inquiries to several dealers as well as to Pashley directly all confirmed that the 17.5″ is the correct size for me. It felt too small at first, but I was used to a 50 cm Dutch bike with 28″ tires.
My seat post is showing about 2.75″, mathematically, 2.5″ would be just enough to make me fit the 20″ frame. After much stressing, I’m happy I got the 17.5″ frame because a smaller bike is easier to maneuver and a quarter of an inch isn’t much to play with, so I have more room for adjustment with this frame.
I still wish I could’ve taken both frames for a test ride to know for sure, but I really do think that the 17.5″ frame is the safest and most suitable size.
Pashley Princess Sovereign Bike Review: My Conclusion
Before I moved to Denmark, I drove both a Toyota Yaris and an Audi TT. My Dutch bike is light, tinny, and gets me from point A to point B in an economical way, much like the Yaris. The Pashley Princess Sovereign is a solid stunner, and a pleasure to ride, much like the TT.
I don’t regret buying a Pashley, but it looks best from afar, it can be impractical due to its weight, and I don’t think I’d buy one again.
Awesome photos, Sage! I especially like the blue sky reflection on the bike Bell.
Great review of the Pashley, glad that all the hassle paid off and you are happy with the princess.
Thank you :)
Hi, I am enjoying your blog. I’m in the US and I just picked up a very old Batavus Flying Dutchman probably late 60’s early 70’s. The frame is similar in style to your princess and I was wondering if men rode this style of frame where you are, or is it more for women. I ask because I don’t actually see different styles of this particular bike. Thanks for your input.
Congrats on your find! I’d love to find a vintage Batavus, Gazelle, or Raleigh :)
Lots of men ride the women’s step-through frames here. In fact one day as I was sitting in the park I casually observed frame types and the majority of men were riding this type of frame.
I also saw a fair amount of men riding step throughs in Amsterdam. But Amsterdam also had a generous proportion of opa fiets.
Most of the Dutch bike manufacturers make the step through frames in 2 sizes, the larger of which works for tall women and average size men.
Cycling culture here is much different in the US and people are more concerned with comfort and reliability than “rules.”
Sage – Wonderful informative blog.
I collected my new Pashley Sovereign today and like you mine is 20″ and while a little on the larger size suited my frame better than the 17.5″ now I am wondering whether I should have gone smaller. Anyway nevermind 5-hours drive home from picking her up (I am yet to name her – it’ll come!) I love her I did take her for a short ride fell off on stopping (it has been a long time since I rode a bike) but all is okay – I was a little disappointed in the chain case being plastic as was I the front light being plastic casing as well. I am looking forward to bonding with her – and naming her appropriately.
Congratulations on your new Pashley :)
I actually have the 17.5″ and wonder if the 20″ would be a better fit… too bad we can’t trade ;-)
I’ve since bought a red Batavus Old Dutch, which I ride everyday. It’s a 50″ frame and I think the Dutch geometry fits me better than the Pashley, but Miss Pash is a looker and I’ll be forever smitten!
Enjoy your new Princess…
Leigh Ann says
Hi, I was wondering if you still own this bike, and how you feel about her after a few years? (I do feel I need to refer to it as “her.”) I have fallen in love with the Princess, and want one in the worst way, even though I’ve never even seen one in person. I don’t want to buy one sight unseen and unridden!), but the closest dealers are 400 miles in either direction, and even they don’t have one in stock, though one of them is expecting a 20″ before Christmas. I’m also 5’2″, and thought I would need the 17.5″ frame. I am a bit disappointed to read about the plastic chain guard and the stickers. But still, when I look at photos of the Princess, my heart goes pitty-pat! Do you feel she has held up well? It’s a lot of money, so I am reading everything I can to see what others think. Thank you!
Hi Leigh Ann,
I do still have the Pashley, but I would’t buy it again. It’s beautiful, but because of the plastic chain guard and stickers, I don’t think it’s worth the price. I’d expected an heirloom quality bike, and the Pashley isn’t. I much prefer my Batavus Old Dutch, or one of the classic Raleighs.
Definitely go and see it before you decide. Best of luck with your decision.
Leigh Ann says
Thank you! I will look at the others also.
I have always ridden three speed roadster type bikes and my ideal bike has an upright seating position, north road handle bars, three speed gears and a sprung saddle. My old Raleigh superbe has seen better days, so I test road a Pashley Princess. I did not like the mans Pashley Classic. In addition I wanted a step thru bike. The Pashley princess classic rode like a dream and I was smitten. I found the princess very comfortable and a joy to ride, so I ordered the 22.5 inch princess in regency green. I am looking forward to some nice long rides in the summer on my new Princess.
Enjoy, her! They really are beautiful bikes :)
I collected my princess classic just over a week ago. After a pleasant journey to Stratford Upon Avon by train, I rode my new Pashley princess the 20 miles home through rural Warwickshire. I am delighted with my new bike and I have ridden it every day since. My princess is actually lighter than my old Raleigh and the gearing lower. The net result is a much more comfortable and enjoyable ride, I even use top gear. There is one thing for sure, I will not be leaving her unattended locked in any public places as the components on Pashley bikes would be attractive to a thief.
As a 63 year old male, I was a little apprehensive of buying and riding a step thru or woman’s bike, but I’m glad made the choice, it is a joy to ride.
Many thanks Sage for an excellent review and lovely photographs, these undoubtedly helped me decide to buy what is a lovely bike.
That sounds like a lovely ride… I look forward to getting Miss Pash back to England where she belongs! Plenty of men here in Denmark and also in Holland ride step-thru frames, so you’re in good company.
I’m happy I was able to help in you decision making and hope you’ll enjoy your Pashley on many more beautiful rides :)
ROBERT McDONALD says
GREAT SAGA, LOOKING AT ONE OF THESE PASHLEY’S FOR MY DAUGHTER. BUT WILL LOOK AT THE BATAVUS OLD DUTCH, TOO. MY DAUGHTER IS NOT HAPPY WITH HER COMMUTER BIKE, GREEN RALEIGH, MODEL.