The snappily named FW Evans 90th Anniversary Special Edition Touring Bike aims to blend the traditional feel of a lightweight steel tourer – a popular model of Evans bike in the 1950s and ’60s – with more modern touches like bar-end shifters and up-to-date drivetrain components.
The ride quality of traditional non-oversize Reynolds 531 steel tubing, matched with some large but not obese 32mm tyres on good quality 36-spoke wheels, makes for a bike that glides along no matter what the road conditions. It’s stiff enough to make good progress on the flat, light enough to be of little hindrance on the climbs, and the handling is just the right side of sharp to be able to have fun on the downhills without ever feeling nervous or unstable. If you’ve never ridden a well built, old school steel frame then you don’t know what you’re missing.
Made in Britain (it’s not often we get to write that) by Pashley in Stratford-upon-Avon, the frame and fork are based upon Pashley’s own popular Clubman model. Hand-built from Reynolds 531 tubing brazed into investment cast lugs, the frame is basic in a traditional sense, but works well when built into a bike.
The component choice is along the same lines: basic but dependable. Evans haven’t tried to make this bike something it shouldn’t be, nor have they tried to source components to make it look overly pretty; instead it’s specced with parts that work and are easy to look after. Evans haven’t jumped on the retro bandwagon and made a pretty bike that doesn’t ride well just to sell a lifestyle accessory – this is a simple and elegant bike that rides wonderfully and works brilliantly.
It’s not all perfect, though. For a start, it’s a lightweight tourer yet it doesn’t come with a rear rack, nor is there any provision for front load carrying – low-rider mounts are absent from the fork. It would have been good at the price to have even a simple saddle bag included, or at least some way of carrying something. Also, if you want to fit a dynamo lighting system and run the wire to the rear internally, you'll have to drill your own holes (unlike most Evans lightweight tourers of the ’60s which came pre-drilled). It’s such a nice bike to ride, though, we forgive Evans that rather large oversight.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine.