Updated April 2014!
Currently, I trundle around on a highracer MetaBike recumbent when I need to go somewhere far away quickly and in comfort. When I need to carry luggage or lock up somewhere for any length of time, I use a Kona Sutra upright tourer.
I’ve also got a large Carry Freedom Y-Frame trailer for the occasions when the full set of panniers on the Sutra can’t cope with whatever I’m attempting to carry. I part-exchanged a Nazca Fuego low-racer recumbent for the MetaBike in spring 2013 – scroll down for info on that.
Delving into the detail…
Bikes I currently own (hurrah!)
I love this thing.
The MetaBike is one of a growing number of highracers which use a pair of normal-sized road bike wheels and go like stink. Punishingly rigid (you want big tyres and a comfy seat) and with blindingly quick steering, this will reveal your inner child. Or deposit you in a hedge; it’s probably even odds either way.
Reviewed here. In August 2013 I also rode it 1420km from London to Edinburgh and back in a week, raising £700 for Yorkhill Children’s Hospital in the process. Read about that here.
Bought using the Cycle To Work scheme, this has become a real workhouse of a bike. Off the shelf it’s fairly well equipped, with only a few odd choices of kit. The front rack was pants and was swapped after failing spectacularly in the Scottish hinterlands for an Old Man Mountain alternative. Crankset was also a rather weird road triple which didn’t give the spinny granny ring you’d expect, so that was eventually sacked for yet more goodness from Deore. Other than that the saddle has been swapped for a Brooks B17, and the handlebars for the Midge by On-One (which I enthusiastically describe as ‘gull-wing’).
This also carries the mounting peg for the Carry Freedom trailer. Combined with a full set of five Carradice panniers, you could certainly carry enough stuff to make slowing down somewhat exciting. Disc brakes reduce the chances of heating the rims sufficiently to blow off the tyres.
Tern P24H folding touring bike
Watch this space. Or nudge me if it’s after May 2014 – I might’ve forgotten to update this page…
Bikes I don’t own any more (sniff…)
The Fuego is Nazca’s nod towards the lowracer, although it retains a number of features which improve comfort and practicality at the cost of a bit more weight. It’s certainly not as racey as some offerings from Challenge, Optima or Velokraft, but it also has rear suspension, the option to carry standard panniers and a chainline that doesn’t foul the front wheel when turning.
This model came to me second hand and I’ve added some additional tweaks to improve it further / satisfy my endless urge to fettle. In particular, the drivetrain has been completely updated to a mountain bike (Shimano Deore) triple at the front and a SRAM road cassette at the back, with a Terracycle idler connecting the two. The original sprung suspension has been swapped for air, and a hub dynamo powers Supernova lighting front and back.
It’s great. I reviewed it here, and was sad to see it go when I upgraded to the MetaBike.
Raleigh Twenty Stowaway
Acquired to provide a cheap alternative to lock up outside without attracting too much attention from tea-leafs, this turned into a bit of a find. The fold doesn’t really reduce the size a great deal, but does allow it to fit in the back of a Renault Clio without much bother. It’s fairly nippy, appears to have survived the last thirty years without much maintenance or anything going wrong and still looks good for at least another thirty. If you’re considering breaking into cycling on a budget please go for something like this rather than a shiny alternative off the shelf of your local supermarket. I promise you’ll have more fun.
It even went offroad, although I probably enjoyed the process significantly more than it did…
Passed on to Laid Back Bikes to make way for an incoming Tern 24H folder. Shiny.