The Gentleman's Choice
Rob Toon, professional Lancastrian, beer drinker and management consultant explains his peculiar love for the one and only Ascender
We have no idea how much this is worth. It probably can't be valued in monetary terms
In the dark days of the eighties when England was convulsing under the impact of Thatcherism and the horror that was Bucks Fizz a quiet revolution was taking place. In a dark chasm of a pie mine somewhere in depths of middle earth between Cleckheaton and Barnsley a single large piece of the rare and valuable metal “unobtainium” was accidently discovered by a team of synchronised onion picklers working nights to supplement their meagre income.
Sensing that they had “struck gold” they smuggled the ore out under cover of darkness and took it to the local allotments where it was buried under the calibrese pending sale to the highest bidder.
That bidder was the Raleigh Cycle Company who seized the opportunity to convert the ore into a limited-edition bicycle known as “The Ascender”.
Image Dave Land 2017
Aficionado’s will know that only two hundred and 75,000 of these highly collectable precision machines were made and I am proud to say that one still resides in my garage at home (almost) untouched by the passage of time. The cable brakes (and I use the term brakes in its loosest sense) are a factory fit and it was only last year when, after many thousands of miles the original chain cried enough and a new one had to be purchased at a considerable cost of £12.57. Resplendent with a gentleman’s saddle complete with a deep centre groove for the comfort of elderly genitalia is a joy to settle on bringing a wry smile of relief to the rider. Lycra is to be scorned with such a steed.
Eighteen bespoke gears facilitate high speed cruising with crank pressure being delivered via the plastic pedals (one of which has developed an alarming click). It may dismay other owners to know that pedals can only be purchased in pairs and that is not good news for those on a tight cycling budget. The tyres are mature in years, displaying signs of perishing but still effortlessly hold a steady eighteen psi for up to ten days.
This icon of the cycling world has secured a place in my affections as my go-to mode of transport when the local pub beckons. Like a classic car or an elderly Labrador it is a cause for comment and I receive many a knowing nod from those who understand real quality. It also has the rare quality: a homing cycle being able to guide me, safely back to my front door, when a surfeit of ale has taken its toll on the inbuilt human gps. On occasion, I have awoken to find the Ascender in the house with me such has been my gratitude for its services after an arduous night on the tiles.
I resist all attempts to be talked into an upgraded machine. It would be wrong to cast it aside dismissing its years loyalty as if it were a mere machine. The Ascender stays where it belongs, and that my friends is that.
Even standing still, with their innovative and unique paint finishes, these bike really look the business.
But it's when you mount up that you know what excitement is all about. Because, if you've got it in you, then these are the bikes to bring it out.
With features like 'energiser seat stays' to give extra rear frame triangle strength ands stiffer flex-free braking, you ride more confidently.
Bike 'test' facts
Bike: Raleigh Ascender
Fork: Rigid, steel
When: A long time
Test terrain: the road to the pub and back
How can we really offer three alternatives? What would be the point. Roy's Ascender is a review of love, we aren't going to try and spoil that. But, have you got a bike that's stood the test of time of you, even if no-one else gives it a second glance. Can you tell us about why you love it? Email us and lets have a conversation.