The Pendleton Drake is a female hybrid bike with an understated price of £249.99 (currently on sale at £199) available from Halfords that comes with some bold ambitions.
Its lightweight alloy frame is accompanied by alloy handlebars, seat post, stem, chainset, hubs and rims. All these light components help to seriously skim off the grams, so that the total weight comes in at a respectable 13.6kg. With the inclusion of a front wheel quick release, there's not much standing in the way to encourage the Drake into the boot of a car or onto a bike rack.
Aiming to be nimble and stylish the Pendleton Drake bike blends into an urban environment effortlessly. Its simple black step-through frame shape contrasts with the double wall oversized orange alloy wheel rims to cater up an overall spritely and mildly retro outfit. The 'mildly retro' touches don't just stop there though, the Drake features an old-school Sturmey Archer 3 speed Revoshift gear system - simplistic, but we found this to be effective and only assists in keeping the price low. It also allows for the drive chain sprocket to be encased around the chain, making a highly efficient chain-guard which cleverly avoids the chain being dislodged from the sprocket as well. Other cost saving initiatives have been made in areas such as the frame, where smooth welds aren't present; and there are also no disc brakes either, instead Tektro calliper brakes are found on the front and back wheels, which are more than adequate for city usage. But this is not all that contributes to the Pendleton Drake providing excellent value for money.
The main reason for this value is all down to the ride; it's one that yields excitement on asphalt that truly demonstrates the excellent value offered. It's a nippy bike, the acceleration seen from undemanding pedalling (forged aluminium chainset) is courageously light and rapid despite just having three gears to select from. You can zip through obstacles and tight turns on your way with fast stable response and plenty of grip. And when you reach speeds of over 30mph you can truly appreciate how well built this bike is - the ride is so confident that nothing shakes or rattles as you dart along, it just rolls ahead smoothly and is brilliant fun! But when you want a slower cruise the Drake is a winner too: all that can be heard is the gentle sound of the tyres rolling and air travelling through the rugged steel spokes.
All this means nothing without a comfortable ride setup though, and thankfully the Drake has it. Smooth rubber handlebar grips, which make the rider take an upright posture, are a delight to hold and the leather saddle is well-padded, allowing for a good hour or so's riding in comfort. The setup makes the Drake a superb commuting bike, perfect for people who'd like to cycle within an urban environment to and from work, etc. Instances where impact comes into play such as hopping off or onto a curb, are not in anyway knee shattering. The Kenda 700c tyres diminish such impacts so that they are far less harsh; this is nice to see as the Drake doesn't have any sort of suspension. These tyres also demonstrate tight grip on asphalt and on terrains such as wet grass. Characteristically the Pendleton Drake rides like a bike we'd expect to see within the £400-£500 price range.
Not to be thrown by hills, the Drake does have at least one gear to help with the task, but the lower degree of choice of gear selection also means the Pendleton Drake hasn't got much leeway in how much effort steep uphill climbs have to be met with, so be prepared for a workout. Mild slopes are no trouble at all though.
What makes the Pendleton Drake bike a hybrid is partly due to the handlebars that promote an upright riding posture and the steering forks that are fairly rugged, but most important are the tyres and wheels. For one thing the Kenda 700c's are oversized at 28 inches and have a textured tread in comparison to conventional road/racing styled tyres, so they have better stability on rougher terrains. Also the steel spokes and forks are strong and they can withstand reasonably dense continuous impacts. The ride can be forgiving on cobbled streets and over pot holes, but to say that this is a true mountain bike would be a stretch. It certainly rides perfectly satisfactorily on off-road trails, with the occasional dip and twist, but its first and foremost purpose is urban usage and any rougher off-road aspect is definitely secondary.
Overall the Pendleton Drake is a stylish bike you can rely on for your daily commute and to whip out for light off-road trails at the weekends. The price though, is the biggest standout feature about the Drake; realistically there are many bikes that are just as well made and specced, offering a similarly smooth and nimble ride to the Drake, but we can't find any that share its price of £249.99.