Bristol Bicycles assembles its bikes to order in Bristol, giving you some individual attention and allowing you to specify its models as you want
Bristol Bicycles was founded in 2015 by Jake Voelcker with the idea to sell hybrid bikes designed for commuting in the UK. It says its goal is to get more people cycling by making it easy, fun, reliable, affordable and normal to cycle every day.
The company assembles its bikes to order in the UK with an emphasis on rideability, reliability and light weight without being too expensive. As well as the Park Street hybrid, the company also makes the Burrington tourer complete with front and rear racks and an e-bike version of the Bristol Park Street.
Bristol Bicycles offers 0% finance, try-before-you-buy test rides and bike hire from its Bristol base along with free mainland UK delivery when you buy a bike.
The Bristol Park Street hybrid has an aluminium alloy frame with a steel fork. Its bottom bracket is quite high which, along with its high bar position gives good visibility of the road ahead. Bristol Bicycles says that its frame is UK designed, although it is made in the Far East.
As you’d expect, you get a full set of mounts for mudguards and front and rear racks, so the bike can be set up for all-weather use. You can specify mudguards as a £40 option and add front and rear racks when you order the bike. The frame has mounting points for disc brakes, which can be specified as an upgrade from the base model which we’ve tested.
All the cables are routed externally, for easy maintenance. As well as the model with a crossbar, there’s a step-through frame option. Like a Ford Model T, you can get the bike in any colour so long as it’s black. There are a total of five different frame size options between the top tube and step-through versions.
As you’d expect from a bike at this price point, you get one of Shimano’s workhorse groupsets – in this case Altus 8 speed, an MTB gruppo. You also get a triple chainset with a 28 tooth smallest sprocket. Married to an 11-32 cassette, there’s plenty of range for tackling Bristol’s steep uphills.
Wheels have Weinmann rims – a name from cycling’s past – and Quando hubs, with 36 spokes which Bristol says that it hand trues. The rear wheel is quick release, while the front is bolted on – a good combination to discourage wheel theft from a bike that’s likely to be locked up in public places.
Tyres come from Mitas and have a pronounced tread, while the inner tubes use Schrader valves. Bristol Bicycles says that the tyres have good in-built puncture protection. They also have a reflective strip around the sidewalls – a nice touch for a bike that may be ridden for night-time winter commutes.
On the standard build, you get Shimano side pull V-brake calipers, although you can specify hydraulic disc braking as a £100 option. There’s a choice of multiple bar options, including a Comfort Touring butterfly bar. The standard bars come with lock-on ergo grips – again a well thought-out feature.
You can also spec extras like dynamo or battery lights and more robust pedals than the standard issue plastic. The Bristol Bicycles waterproof saddle is available in standard width or wide and the bike also comes with a full set of reflectors.
Riding the Bristol Bicycles Park Street hybrid
The Bristol Park Street feels very leisurely to pedal through leafy lanes and city back roads. It doesn’t feel like a bike that wants to be hurried and I was content to take relaxed excursions and enjoy the countryside. You get to see a lot more too, as you’re perched much higher up than on any drop bar bike, giving you a view out over the hedges to the fields beyond.
The combination of quite a high bottom bracket and a very upright riding position does affect stability though. Along with the short effective stem length of not much more than 6cm, this led to a more twitchy ride than we’d expect in a bike of this type.
The bike will glide silently between the hedges and cope with the ups and downs. With a huge gear range that extends below 1:1, you can happily sit in and pedal up pretty much anything. Indeed I took on arrowed hills without needing to use the 32 tooth largest sprocket, despite the Park Street’s not inconsiderable weight.
On descents, the braking feels very assured too, at least in the dry conditions in which I rode the bike. It’s not a machine I’d relish carrying up more than a few stairs though, due to its weight and high bars.
Value-wise the Park Street hybrid looks about on a par with offerings from much larger brands, which is something of a coup for Bristol Bicycles. Its standard spec is very comparable, but you’ve got the option to make some significant upgrades if you’re looking for something specific or want the confidence of disc brakes.
The Bristol Park Street is a nice machine for more gentle rides through town and countryside. It gives you an upright riding position for great visibility, although this does compromise stability a little. Bristol Cycles has made sensible spec choices for the bike’s likely use, without blowing the budget. There are plenty of options to up-spec the bike for your specific needs too.