Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Helen Pidd on the Pilen Sport

The big question is why? Why has Helen Pidd moved from Berlin to Hackney? Personally, I'd have stayed in Berlin. What a great city! Surely a million times better than (ahem) Hackney. Still, each to their own and I'm sure she has her reasons.

Helen's writing in the Guardian's Weekend Magazine (26 May 2012 edition) and this time she's reviewing a Swedish bike, the Pilen. It costs £995 and is made of an 'indestructible' Chromium-molybdenum, not stainless steel.

The bloke's version of the Pilen Sport. I'd love to test ride this bike.
Pidd quite rightly points out that 'it's always dangerous to advertise something as indestructible'. The Pilen, however, is a handmade bike that's supposed to last forever. One of Helen's friends, we are told, managed to snap a Le Creuset while making a moussaka (God! she must be posh, Helen's friend. I can't afford Le Creuset cookware) proving that there's always somebody around to disprove the indestructibility of anything. Good point. But can Helen succeed in destroying the Pilen?

Well, she left it out in the rain (sinful!). She abused the paintwork (bikes have rights too, you know, Helen) and she dares to admit that she treats her partner better than her bike! She even confesses that her bike has never slept in her bedroom and that she treats her bikes like workhouses, not ornaments, but secretly enjoys cleaning them.

The Pilen sounds like a great bike: expensive steel frame, zero-maintenance brakes, an Abus rear-wheel lock, a dynamo instead of battery-powered lights (now that would do me fine) and mudguards (ooh! a luxury!).

It all sounds great but Helen's not happy. Perhaps, she suggests, a Swedish bike is for Swedish terrain in the same way that a Sarah Lund sweater (who? what?) looks better in Copenhagen than Croydon. Well, at least NoVisibleLycra's hometown gets a name-check! Yes, we're based in sunny Croydon. It's not that bad, but Copenhagen's probably a little better.

Mind you, if I lived in one-bedroom flat like Helen, I too would not like to hump an 18.1kg bike up two flights of stairs. I too wouldn't fancy leaving it outside either – it might be indestructible, but that doesn't mean it's thief-proof.

I liked the sound of it. An indestructible bike with unscratchable paint and a Brooks saddle. Helen describes the bike as 'Scandy' and it probably is (I'd love to ride the bloke's version, see above). Mind you, if I bought a bike that I thought was made in Sweden and discovered that the forks were made in Taiwan, I  too would be a little pissed off...but not for long.

For more details on Pilen bikes, click here.

For Helen Pidd's article, click here.

In addition to writing regularly for The Guardian Weekend, Helen Pidd is also the author of Bicycle. For a copy, visit the Guardian Bookshop webpage by clicking here.


  1. great post- I like the Singer Cycle still being made in Paris. very retro, beautifully hand crafted and traditional. As if technology stopped in the 1970's. They are expensive too which puts them out of my league...sadly..

  2. I've seen the Pilen bikes up close and they are gorgeous - truly a bike that will outlive the owner! Magnificent quality that justifies the investment