Firstly, a quick confession. I haven’t owned a ladies’ bike since I was eight and my parents bought me a Raleigh Bianca from a jumble sale.
I’ve always written off ladies’ bikes as impractical and a triumph of style over substance. Then I saw and fell in love with the Pashley Poppy. I don’t know whether it was the fabulous blush-pink shade, the elegant shape or those stunning creamy tyres that convinced me, but it didn’t take long before one was on order. After all, if a pink bike is good enough for Sarah Michelle Gellar, it's good enough for me.
Suddenly instead of hurtling into work feeling smug about my practical choice of boy’s mountain bicycle, I was resentfully slugging around counting down the days til my Poppy arrived.
At nearly £400 the Poppy isn’t cheap, but Pashley is a quality brand and you get what you pay for in workmanship. Depending on your views, it’s probably worth the £400 just for the immense amount of male attention a Poppy commands.
Even just picking my bike up, I was flirted with to within an inch of my life. Polite and uber-charming male assistants flocked around me, painstakingly talking me through every possible aspect of my new wheels.
Considering when I bought my mountain bike I was ignored for 20 minutes, then patronised so heavily I actually left the store and only came back when a female assistant was on duty, this was a definite improvement.
Pedalling home, I was conscious of all eyes on me. Apparently it’s not every day you see a bright pink bike on the streets of Streatham. Again, I’m taking this as a good thing if it can persuade motorists to occasionally allow me right of way and not simply try and push me and my fellow cyclists into the gutter.
The Poppy isn’t just a pretty face. The large, thin tyres mean it can pick up speed a good deal easier than a clunking mountain bike with wide, grippy tyres. It’s also exceptionally comfortable, largely thanks to the wonderful sprung saddle.
But the biggest surprise to me is how user-friendly the Poppy is.
I was a little apprehensive it would be too fragile to cope with the demands of a daily commute, especially as my journey to work takes me down a rather bumpy riverside towpath. In fact the Poppy is solidly put together, and it doesn’t just whizz down the towpath a treat, it actually gets me to work quicker than my old mountain bike.
And did I mention that it’s beautiful? It genuinely is a stunning looking bike, right down to the polished silver wheels and adorable matching silver pump.
There are a couple of negatives. Firstly, it’s a heavy bike, especially if you have a rack fitted for panniers. It’s not the kind of bike you can sling over your shoulder and haul up two flights of stairs, but on the plus side, it’s so pretty it’ll probably charm a nice strong man into carrying it for you.
But the biggest risk of the Poppy is the amount of money you’ll end up setting aside for accessories. Instead of bog-standard lights, I’ve got my eye on a set of Knog Frog lights in ice blue. My old grey panniers will have to make way for a far prettier cherry blossom pannier. The lovely curved silver handlebars are just begging for a traditional wicker basket to be fitted. And the idea of keeping my Poppy outside in the cold and the rain just doesn’t bear thinking about, so until the budget can stretch to this cute little garden shed, she’ll be kept indoors overnight. A bike this gorgeous deserves the best.