One of the huge plus points in favour of the Nazca Fuego when compared to practically any other lowracer is its ability to do many different jobs whilst not treating chain retention as an optional bonus. No-one likes a bike that seems to actively be trying to fall apart, and the Fuego is about as robust as recumbents get without building something yourself out of girders.
I’ve talked previously about the Fuego’s ability to tackle light offroad, so lets’s take a look at the luggage options. If you want to tour with more than just a credit card or be able to carry a change of clothes, lunch and a fresh towel into the office, the ability of your steed to carry bags is important.
The Fuego has three mounting points for conventional luggage (so excluding recumbent-only options like banana bags). You’ve got a rack attached to the back of the seat, plus space for two smallish pannier bags beneath the seat:
I’ve always used Carradice stuff, and their Super C gear works as well on recumbents as on uprights. Modelled above is a rackbag, and a pair of their front panniers. The rear are a little too big to be this close to the ground in my opinion – you don’t want to bottom out when you sling the bike into corners.
Seat suspended rack
My general commuting load fits neatly into the rack pack, so it’s this option that I use every day. The big plus point of the seat rack is that it keeps your luggage out of the wind (unless you have no head…). Less drag means faster, easier travel. There is a weight limit for the contents, but so long as you’re sensible you won’t run in to bother.
A hidden bonus is that being attached to the back of the seat means that both the bike suspension and the natural spring to the rack protects your luggage from vibration and bad road surfaces. So long as your fragile stuff is small enough to fit in the rackpack (the Carradice will take a Nexus 10 tablet perfectly), this is a great place to keep them safe.
As the rack is a little on the short side, I’ve modified mine with an extra strip of thick plastic extending rearwards. This supports the bottom of the bag (keeping the rear light pointing straight back) as well as helping to keep the muck off.
The Fuego’s pannier rack is an optional extra that takes about fifteen minutes to add or remove once you get the hang of it. It secures to two of the apexes of the silver central triangle that defines Nazca’s bikes, and includes two braces across the bike that prevent the panniers trying to fold together at the base.
The whole thing is as solid as a very solid thing. It would happily take the weight of anything you could fit in the panniers whilst staying nicely rigid. It doesn’t weigh a great deal, but you can always take it off when not in use.
As mentioned above, you’ll probably want to stick to the small size of panniers, although if you absolutely had to carry the kitchen sink you could always bump up the height of the seat (about five seconds work with the quick release bolt).
My only gripe with the rack is the removable strut at the bottom. The whole thing is basically one long bolt, so in order to secure a nut against the head of the bolt you’ve got to thread the thing along the entire length. A minor irritation.
Fully loaded handling
Like a freight train, but in a good way.
Most well-designed recumbents ride like they’re on rails, but with the additional low-down weight securely attached to the frame, a touring Fuego will take the line you pick and carve out corners beautifully. This is the main reason why I only use small panniers – the bike invites you to sling it over on the bends, and I haven’t got the willpower to ride slowly and steadily down any long descents I happen to come across…
The racks themselves don’t weigh a great deal, so the main added resistance to your forward progress is from the wind. Although the forward surface area is undeniably increased, the rack does a good job of tucking panniers behind the mass of your body, so it’s not as bad as you might think.
You’ll obviously notice the added weight when climbing, but overall it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. As an example, here’s speed information from a pair of rides completed within a few days of each other last year, the first with panniers on the rack and the second without. Note the horizontal scale is different between the graphs!
So there you have it. A good look at how you could re-use luggage you probably already own on a Nazca Fuego.
For a long term review of the Nazca Fuego, see here.
If this still isn’t enough space for all your crap, how about a trailer?