Pendleton is the brand developed by the eponymous Olympic champion-turned-jockey Victoria Pendleton in collaboration with high-street retailer Halfords. Focusing on bikes for leisure and commuting rather than road or race bikes, the overall range includes some rather good-looking Dutch-style city bikes, of which the Pendleton Ashwell is one.
The alloy frameset comes in a fetching British racing green colour, with a low step-through frame and full mudguards in a matching shade. Not a fan of green? No problem at all — the Ashwell comes in gloss black, too.
The classic hybrid look continues via the leather-look sprung saddle and matching grips. Disappointingly, while the saddle’s comfortable for shorter journeys, on longer trips the chunkiness starts to chafe a little. On the topic of the grips, ensure that the raised seam detail isn’t positioned towards you as it can dig into your hands.
The full chainguard, covering the system from chainring to rear hub, vanishes the chances of a skirt or scarf meeting the bike chain, while the built-in mudguards are handy for unpredictable British weather. They do a good job of keeping spray from body and face, though they rather irritatingly rattle when riding on uneven ground. It’s a loud distraction to an otherwise pleasant experience.
Another component that’s well suited to the British climate is the five-speed Sturmey Archer hub gear. A well-established name in the world of hub gears, the sealed system is more protected from the elements — and hence wear and tear — than external chain and cassette systems.
V-brakes on the rims are effective enough to elicit decent braking ability, but need a good bit of pressure behind them when you pick up speed on city descents, particularly if you or the bike is heavily loaded.
Rattly mudguards aside, for a bike under £350 you get some excellent components and a fair degree of style, albeit the saddle could do with an upgrade. It might not be quite as sleek as some of the similar yet pricier bikes available, but it’s more than a match for getting around town. We’d maybe add a basket on the front for extra storage, but the rack gives some good luggage-carrying options.