I spotted this awesome shopping bike outside the supermarket yesterday, it appears to be an ex-Royal mail postal delivery bike complete with the black bucket on the front. I thought I might write about these bikes and the ones I've seen around London. This one looks like it's been repurposed as a shopping bike which they are really well suited to. With some big panniers you can fit quite a lot of shopping in combination with the front rack.
This one is an actual Royal mail bike used for deliveries, it used to be parked next to the station all the time at around lunchtime, until one day I actually saw a postman using it. I figured he was either collecting mail to deliver or out at lunch.
It's a nice example with Sachs drum brakes and hub gear with battery lights and a large super wide Hebie kickstand. It's also still got the original factory Pashley sticker.
The great thing about these bikes is that they are proper utilitarian cargo bikes, the front rack is attached directly to the frame, not the fork. This means that the load does not turn with the handlebars and makes handling easy when loaded up on the front. It appears to be some variant of the Pashley Mailstar which they made purposely for Royal mail for quite a long time. You tend to see a lot of these around London, more often than not you see them in roles other than mail delivery. The Domino's Pizza in the City of London uses them for delivery because they ended up being faster than any other delivery method in congested streets, not a surprise to me at all.
|Photo: Rain Rabbit|
They make great utility bikes, quite often you see them equipped with SRAM or Sturmey Archer hub gearing and drum brakes. Some models have a smaller front wheel which lowers the center of gravity of the basket in the front which helps with stability. I've seen a few of them with factory dynamo setups too, if only I followed my calling to be a pizza delivery boy in central London I would get to ride one of these.
As you can tell, I have a lot of love for cargo carrying bikes, there is just something so satisfying being able to move so much stuff with so little energy on one of these types of bikes. The only negative I can really think of is that they front basket/rack isn't easily removable, however I guess that is really quite minor as these Mailstar bikes are pretty lightweight and stripped back compared to their German cousins. As it is I already have two bikes and it would be really tempting if I was able to find a Mailstar for not much money, one can dream.