The bike cupboard currently contains three bikes and a trailer, meaning that the cupboard is in fact more of a small room. Firstly we have the crux of this blog; the Nazca Fuego semi-low recumbent. This garish orange machine covers the bulk of the monthly miles and is only really defeated when the traction gets dicey (ice, sand or offroad) or if security is an issue. Next is a heavily modified Kona Sutra 2010, usually paired with a Carry Freedom large Y-Frame trailer for hauling stuff around. I did cycle it round the western coast of Scotland in 2010 though, so it does get about a fair bit. Finally, £20 worth of Raleigh Twenty Stowaway from 1980, used primarily for going to the pub or locking up overnight.
Delving into the detail…
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.
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.
Raleigh Twenty Stowaway
Recently acquired to provide a cheap alternative to lock up outside without attracting too much attention from tea-leafs, this has 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 goes offroad…