By BRYAN J. BALL
Managing Editor, Trike Asylum
Azub is a fairly well known manufacturer in Europe. They started out building low cost bikes several years ago. Over those years, the company has expanded and now builds a wide range of bikes and trikes in several price ranges. They’ve worked long and hard and have built themselves a very good reputation overseas.
Azub isn’t exactly a household name in the United States but that may be changing …>>>>>Read On
BRC: “With the advent of the new Adventure ICE has made some improvements with a bombproof rear rack, improved componentry, new seat, and most of all front suspension. The Adventure is the updated model of the older Trice “T” that I used on two long distance solo self supported trips. One trip was 800 miles around the state of Florida and the other was from Florida up the east coast to Pittsburg. The last 400 miles were on dirt trails (the C&O canal towpath to the GAP rail trail) and I found the T with rear suspension to be the ideal trike for loaded touring.
From my experience having owned both a Catrike road and the ICE “T”:, the comfort of having suspension makes riding day after day as one does long distance touring a much less fatiguing experience in the long run, as opposed to getting beaten up riding an un-suspended aluminum frame trike.
Riding back roads very often means rough chip and seal surfaces and if you read any tour journals of folks who have ridden coast to coast on an un-suspended trike like the Catrike, they will very often write about the harsh roads they encounter. This can really take the fun out of that day’s tour.
I recommend that you consider going with the Sturmey/Archer drum brakes for an Adventure as the drum brake requires virtually no maintenance and is immune to mud, sand, water, and icing up. All of these attributes are a plus for someone touring and possibly riding dirt roads.
The other attribute that the ICE trikes have which makes them the premier choice for the touring triker is they have the only trikes on which you can mount a handlebar bag next to the seat. I found this feature to be invaluable to me on my trike tours for my wallet, phone, sunscreen camera, and most importantly, my route map.
The folding feature is very important to the convenience of owning a trike, especially when on a long tour. Unless you start and finish your adventure from home, you must consider the logistics of transporting your trike to the beginning and back home at the end of your trip. With a non-folding trike you really limit your transport options to a pretty big vehicle.
The Adventure sits up higher than the Sprint or the Vortex and so is slightly less aerodynamic riding into a headwind, but the higher seat makes it easier to get in and out of and provides a slightly more elevated view over tall grass and guardrails at the roadside that may obstruct the scenery. We ride trikes mainly because they are so very comfortable and full suspension extends that range of comfort even further.
We have an ICE Adventure FS in stock currently and can order any configuration that ICE makes the Adventure in that you may want. I spec-ed this one out for loaded touring and riding off paved surfaces.Come in for a test ride and see what I mean. If you considering doing loaded touring with your Adventure we can even load it up with 35 lbs in some Ortlieb panniers so you can see how well it carries a full touring load.”
BRC: “Prior to riding one of these myself, I assumed that the crank forward design being between a recumbent and a regular bike would be a compromise that offered the worse of both worlds. However, after riding no more than 100 feet, I was sold, big time! This design offers so much for the rider that either can no longer ride a traditional mt. bike or someone who just wants to experience the fun and exhilaration of off road riding without the attendant discomfort of a regular mt. bike.
Come on in to take a test ride on Phil’s trail or the River trail to see for yourself what it can do! We ordered a Rans 26 crank forward mountain bike in for our shop and I finally got it built up and took it for a test ride on pretty challenging single track today.
I went out with a group of local mt bikers (a couple of them are recumbent riders) that were all pretty advanced riders mostly on high priced carbon fiber full suspension late model bikes. There are some pretty smooth easy single track here around Bend, but this was not one of them. Steep climbs, tight turns, intermittent steep rocky technical sections were the order of the day.
When I showed up with this weird cycle I’m sure everyone was thinking, “Who’s the nerd on the comfort bike and I hope I’m not the one who has to peel him off a tree or rock today!” I really didn’t know what to expect out of the bike on real mountain bike trails given the radically different geometry from my usual rides but since I had just had a hand condition called Dupytrens contractions repaired recently and was told to stop riding regular mountain bikes unless I want to keep having it recur, I am seeking an alternative that takes the weight and pressure off my hands so it’s less likely to come back.
Long story short, the Alterra exceeded my wildest expectations. I was not at the back of the group struggling to keep up, I was at the front or near to it for the whole 3-hour ride. Because the seat tube is such a laid back angle you are more over the rear wheel so I could climb sections that most there’s had to walk and descend steep drops without having to move back over my rear saddle because I was already there. Much less of a feeling I was in danger of the dreaded endo, and because the wheelbase is longer than a normal mt. bike, very stable high speeds on the descents.
The one drawback I found is a bad tendency to chain suck because of the very long chain stays, but found if I just kept pedaling, it would unstick and be fine.
Bottom line is, as the ride progressed, more and more of these very mainstream mountain bikers were impressed at how well I was doing on the Alterra and wanted to give it a try.
Oh, and one last thing, when I got back to my car after a 3-hour ride my rear end had never felt so pain free after riding a hard tail on rocky single track.
This bike is an under-rated and undiscovered jewel. Fully single track capable and especially well suited to doing a long distance tour like the Great Divide Mt. Bike route. I know because I have ridden the whole route and this would be one of the two perfect bikes to use on it. The other is a Lightfoot Ranger, a great recumbent bike we also have in our shop for test rides. I will post another review of the Lightfoot and its capabilities off road soon. A great bike but would have been un-ridable on what we rode today. An awesome bike for less technical riding though. More to come on that.”
BRC: “I originally became interested in recumbents because of the comfort factor. Lately, because of a genetic hand problem called Duypetrans contractions that is made worse by riding upright mountain and road bikes, I’ve decided to sell all my regular bikes and go entirely to riding recumbents. Just so you know, I’m not a recumbent fanatic who thinks that anyone who rides a Diamond Frame (DF) bike is crazy. I loved my Rivendell Allrounder and my Velo Orange Randonneur and my Bike Friday Pocket Expedition and my Surly Big Dummy that I used on the Great Divide Route two summers ago and I will miss them all.
I have been a little conflicted with being enclosed in a VM body because I too love the experience of riding an open un-faired bike and trike.
The velomobile for me is an experiment. I started becoming curious about them because I picked up a Easy Racer Tour Easy with a Zzipper fairing. I found mine to be substantially faster than my normal touring bike on most roads. So my thinking was, if just a fairing on a Tour Easy can make this much difference, how much more would a full fairing on a velo body do? The more I read actual accounts from people riding them, the more intrigued I became.
I like to think of myself as being not so goal oriented that high mileage days matter, but when I am on a tour and find that I’m riding into headwinds and only netting 50-60 miles per day, I feel like I’m crawling compared to days when my miles are 80-90. My route this summer will start and finish from my house in central Oregon, 15 miles from the Trans Am route, and will be 3000 miles. I have 3 weeks to do it away from my two businesses. So being able to ride an average of 140 miles a day is a big plus!
I have toured extensively on regular DF touring bikes and many types of recumbent bikes and trikes so I know from personal experience the pros and cons of each. I have only ridden two velomobiles for a short time but I am curious enough to find out for myself how well they work for long distance touring. Based on my own experience touring and much research about the reality of velomobiles, here’s why I took the leap to try them for myself and sell them in our shop:
Safety: body protection in a crash, more consideration from drivers, more visibility, crashing feet-forward into anything is preferable to smashing headfirst into it or joining the “over-the-bars-club,” a built-in roll bar, an electrical system that powers turn signals, brake light, taillight, headlight, horn & GPS.
Weather (sun and rain) protection: I have Basal cell carcinoma on my face, but I hate wearing sunscreen and so frequently don’t. The Quest will be fitted with a soft roof called a Flevobike roof that can be stowed away below when not used. This provides sun protection as well as rain protection. ( I HATE riding in rain gear, you get wetter from the sweat usually than the rain). Most ROAM riders (Roll Over America Ride with 40-50 riders riding from Portland, OR to Wash. DC) said they were cooler using the roof than without it in hot sunny weather. I find riding in western US arid sunny environs to be really draining day after day.
No panniers: All gear fits beside and behind the seat (about 100 liters capacity).
Speed: Most fit cycle tourists average 11 – 14 MPH; a VM will up that to 17 – 23 MPH (regularly hitting 60-70 on descents) over the same routes and will definitely be more comfortable doing it. I didn’t mind the slow climbing speeds of my un-faired trike but it wasn’t as fast as a velomobile. This will more than make up for the uphills but most of all headwinds don’t exist to a Velonaut. I HATE HEADWINDS! All climbs eventually go down but headwinds can go on and on.
Enclosed drive train: Chains last practically forever and only need lube once every couple thousand miles.
Durable: Some Dutch riders have put over 200,000 KM on them over the last 8 or 9 years.
Really freakin’ Fun!: Like a bobsled with wheels as I’ve said!
Expensive: As pricy as some cars, but a lot cheaper to own, healthier and more fun. Would you rather buy a new car and not have a velomobile, or buy a cheaper used car and spend the difference on a velomobile? Think about it.
Hard to transport: (Actually, no more than dealing with my motorcycle, but a lot lighter!) Tour “green” to and from your own house using no fossil fuels for your trip. Ride clean!
Sidewinds: Velomobiles will actually go faster because of a sail effect in a crosswind but once the wind speed hits 30 or 35 MPH they can blow over from gusts. Probably not a biggy as I don’t like riding in crosswinds that strong anyway.
Fragile: (See expensive) Keep the rubber side down just like a nice custom upright bike.
Can Flip: (See fragile) A new rear shock in development should help with this very infrequent problem.
Cops: They pull you over because they think it is an unregistered motor vehicle. This happens frequently I’ve read.
Noisy: Wear earplugs, an Ipod or get used to it.”
BRC: “Comfort. Ease. Safety. Recumbents take the pressure off the two main points of contact on a traditional diamond-framed upright bicycle–the butt and the hands. They do this by taking the majority of your weight off of the small point of contact with your rear end and distributing it over the much larger surface of your butt and back. Being in this more sitting/reclining position also removes the bulk of the pressure off of your hands, wrists and shoulders and places your posture in a position that allows for eyes forward, rather than eyes down, means of riding. This new position takes the stress completely off your neck and shoulders and for the cycling tourist, that means that you’ll be able to spend more of your day taking in the scenery you’ve worked so hard to travel through, rather than just being oh-too-intimately aware of the pavement beneath your front wheel.
Because the reclined position of the recumbent bike or trike has less frontal surface area presented to the wind generated by riding, the recumbent needs less power to one degree or another to ride on the flat or downhill than a traditional bike. Most will agree that recumbents are usually slower uphill than a regular bike, but the degree to which some recumbents punch through the wind on the flats and downhill can be dramatic! Traditional bike racer types may perceive a low racer recumbent bike or trike as a cycling alternative best suited for the timid or faint of heart, until they find themselves pasted like they are standing still on a long downhill.
The author’s personal experience of recumbent trikes is more akin to a street luge or a human-powered go-cart. The majority of your pedaling energy goes toward overcoming wind resistance and the more cleanly and comfortably you can move through the air and down the road the more miles you can cover in a given day and arrive at your destination painlessly.
Another factor that should not be dismissed is safety. Long wheelbase recumbent bikes are much less prone to doing an endo, that is, going over the handlebars. The most serious injuries on a regular bike result from forward impacts, resulting in head, neck and collarbone fractures. With the feet-forward position and the frame and/or crankset in front to absorb the impact, recumbents clearly are the safer choice. Trikes offer even greater safety due to the inherent stability of three wheels on sand and/or gravel and can hold a precise line at the edge of the road. Because you don’t need to balance a trike, there’s no wobble. Climbing a hill on a trike also means that you can go as slow as you like, or even come to a stop if need be to take a break. (This is a real plus when climbing a long, steep pass with a full touring load!)
A recumbent, like a traditional bicycle, is a human-powered vehicle. Human-powered vehicles exist to take the power of your muscles and convert it to speed, a speed greater than that which can be achieved by walking or running. Which machine you use is relative to where you ride. A traditional bike has a slight edge where there are a lot of steep climbs, or stop-n-go urban traffic. Everywhere else, however, when you factor in the comfort factor, the nod goes to the recumbent corner.”
BRC: “Comfort. This is mainly the reason I first considered a recumbent cycle. Having been a cyclist for most of my life (racing and touring) and riding traditional diamond framed racing or touring bikes, I, like most cyclists, had a certain attachment to my identity as a “serious” cyclist. And “serious” riders only ride “serious” (i.e. normal) diamond framed cycles. As I grew older and began to experience more discomfort on longer day rides and multi-day tours, the boundaries around the compartmentalization of what I considered “acceptable” in cycling began to expand a bit.
I think compartmentalization like this is as normal for most folks in sports as in any other area of our lives. We define ourselves by what we do more often than not and we define what we do as measured by what others do (those we look up to or hang out with). If you look up to racers like Lance Armstrong, you will want to (or need to) play by the same rules of that particular subculture. The subculture of recumbent cycling is, for the most part, less narrowly defined than that of mainstream upright cycling, as seen in the broader diversity in cycle design. Most of what constitutes cyclesport in the US is related to racing, and racing has rules. What you can ride (or not) and even what you can wear (or not). The degree of absurdity that this can reach is nicely illustrated in “The Flying Scotsman,” a movie about a bike racer who dared think outside the Establishment’s box.
Recumbents come in all shapes and sizes because there are no rules or limitations–except for imagination and the laws of physics. Whatever works for a given approach to riding is relative to your personal values. One way to look at evaluating which cycle is best for you is by considering where the following attributes fall in terms of importance to you and what you’ll be using it for:
Number of wheels
Some of these 13 attributes are concrete facts (i.e. # 1-5). These are indisputable. The other attributes are not so clear cut. The relative merits of one design can be, and are, argued ad infinitum on recumbent forums. After experiencing the all-important test ride you will be able to arrive at some general sense of where a given machine lies within the spectrum of all these broad criteria.
However, a short test ride will only reveal so much information. Unfortunately, sometimes a deeper experience of how a machine behaves only becomes apparent after several hundred miles of riding. So buying a recumbent frequently involves a leap of faith—not always easy as good rides don’t come cheap!
Backcountry Recumbent Cycles’ commitment to you, our valued customer, is to act as a guide. Based on our experience with a broad range of the options out there, we will always do our best to make sure the ride you choose will be the one that most closely reflects the tools you need to travel richly and wide, under your own power.”
BRC: “Backcountry Recumbent Cycles has become the newest dealer for Azub recumbents on the west coast. Azub has been producing quality bikes and trikes for 13 years and is very well received as a manufacturer of quality recumbents throughout Europe. They are known for making extremely comfortable, well designed touring bikes and trikes. I’ve had a personal interest in Azub for several years. A few years ago they posted a number of Youtube videos showing the dual 26” Max being ridden on challenging singletrack and got my attention, as well as that of others interested in the possibility of a competent off road capable recumbent.
Having read several journals from around-the-world recumbent cycle tourists, I was curious to see for myself how these cycles rode. This November, we headed down to Pomona and the Recumbent Cycle Con–our quest was to ride the elusive Azub. And ride we did. Azub brought over all the models produced in their factory in the Czech Republic; long story short, we were so impressed, we left with 5 of their show bikes and trikes to take home for shop demos. I spent a good part of my time at Recumbent Con parked at the Azub booth, talking to many of the dealers and consumers. I asked what their impressions were after their Azub test rides and the response was the same from every person I queried, ” Solid” and “Excellent handling.”
If you are looking for a rugged, comfortable, well-made bike or trike for long distance loaded touring, commuting, or just recreational day riding, the Azub line should be one of the first to check out. At Azub, they listen to expedition tourists who are using their recumbents on some of the most punishing roads in the world and take those recommendations into account for possible improvements. Consequently, they are leaders in design, handling and innovative, unique accessories and rack options.
Give us a call, or stop in for a test ride–you’ll see for yourself what all the hoopla is about!”
BRC: “Our local recumbent riding group has been gathering momentum and last week there were 7 of us on a 40 mile ride out east of town. Just as we were leaving our meeting spot to begin our ride a local peloton of bike racers rolled through and I just had to test my theory that even a moderately fit older guy in a velomobile is faster than a pack of category one and two bike racers on flat to rolling terrain. Well, theory proven, because I dropped them immediately and they faded into the distance until two highly motivated riders broke away in chase. I could see in my mirrors that they were able to close a little of the distance on a small hill where my speed dropped from around 30 mph to about 17, but I quickly recovered most of the distance. When I stopped at a crossroad after about 5 miles of this to wait for the rest of the recumbent group, it took the 2 breakaway riders about 45 or 50 seconds to reach me and and about as long again before the peloton rolled by.
I personally don’t believe speed in cycling is the end all and be all of riding because I really just enjoy the simple act of moving under my own power, but riding the velomobile at speed is so exhilarating it could be considered an illegal drug. The combination of efficient pedaling and sun/rain protection for long distance touring means longer distances possible for a limited tour time and greater ease and comfort on the way. The new Flevobike roof keeps me wonderfully cool on the hot days that we just started to get. I have found that on long summer tours I feel more exhausted riding in the sun all day from the constant heat and UV than the riding. The roof also channels air in and directs it to my upper body for cooling better than without. We recently became dealers for the Flevobike roof and there’re almost no dealers that I know of in the US that sell them.”
I’ve only had the MetaBike since late July, but as it’s had a silly distance put on it since then courtesy of London Edinburgh London and the regular commute, it seems high time to write up my thoughts on this racing recumbent.
Again, where I haven’t been able to steal photos from other people I’ve taken them myself. Which means they’re rubbish.
The MetaBike, as it looked at Edinburgh during LEL2013. Photo by Laid Back Bikes
MetaBike are a Spanish company who churn out an array of difference recumbents all based around an identical frame. Each of these recumbents takes a different name depending on the fork and wheels that are supplied: the MetaPhysic is a dual 622mm wheel rim braked ‘road bike’; the MetaPhrastic mates equally large wheels with disc brakes to create a fast tourer; the MetaMorph has discs, front suspension and a variety of wheel sizes for some light off road action; etc. >>>>>Continue to Article
BRC: “If the Adventure is the SUV of trikes, The Sprint is the Sport sedan. It’s a little bit lower to the ground so it cuts through the wind a little bit cleaner. The added side benefit is it also corners a little faster since your center of gravity is lower. Like the Adventure, the Sprint has an adjustable seat that allows you to change the angle as needed. I find as many people have that a more upright angle is slightly better suited to climbing and a more reclined angle for less air resistance for faster riding on the flats or downhills. If you are sticking to paved roads, the Sprint also makes a great touring trike. Don Saito rode his Sprint around the entire circumference of the United States! With the 26 rear wheel option you can use a standard heavy duty touring rear rack like a Tubus, or Surly.
We currently have a Sprint 26 with no suspension. I ordered it with a more sporting rider in mind so it has disc brakes for a little more aggressive braking, a 26 rear wheel which rolls a bit smoother over rougher pavement than a 20″ and higher gearing than a 20″ rear wheel so can cruise at a higher average speed if you have the motor for it.
The chromoly steel frame has a much more comfortable ride than an aluminum frame. The main cruciform portion of the ICE Sprint and Adventure are Chromoly steel and the rear portion/swing arm is aluminum as well as the boom. The aluminum helps to keep the trikes light while the steel in the cruciform lends a substantial degree of shock absorption.
So if you are looking for a light, fast, sporty trike for day trips, fast workout rides or a cross country tour, come in and try out the the Sprint 26.”
BRC: “We received our Lightfoot Ranger demo in March but only recently have I had a chance to ride it off road. I took it up to a lower section of the Dechutes river trail that’s accessed by a gravel road to see how it rides in the dirt. On the gravel road and smooth single track it was a blast and is perfectly suited. On the steeper rocky sections that are not ride-able (by most anyway) it was too long and unmanageable. For riding the thousands of miles of gravel, dirt, forest, and fire roads in this state it is ideal. Smooth easy single track is easy and fun. This would be an ideal recumbent to use on long tours like the Great Divide Canada to Mexico route, the Katy trail, the C&O trail–basically any tour that is non-technical dirt where you need to carry gear for self supported touring.Most folks don’t consider a recumbent for mountain biking but the Ranger is one recumbent that can fit that bill. While not practical for technical single track, on dirt roads, gravel roads, fire roads, rail trail routes, and easy to intermediate singletrack without serious rocky sections or steep climbs, the Ranger is a blast. If you are looking for a recumbent bike that can do the Katy trail or the Great Divide Mountain Bike route, or the C&O canal trail in full, back supported comfort, this is your machine. Rod Miner at Lightfoot designed this bike to haul an enormous load if needed. You can use a standard heavy duty rear rack even though it has a disc brake because of the unique design of the rear dropouts that move the rack about 2 inches to the rear to clear the brake caliper. You can also order an under seat rack the can actually hold 2 front panniers giving you a total capacity of 6 panniers!
Having a dual 26″ wheel bike means the front wheel rolls more easily over rough terrain than a 20″ front wheel will. The long wheelbase means lots of high speed stability when descending long alpine passes.
The stock wheels are superstrong 26″ Sun Rhynolite rims with knobby tires and if you have a second set of lighter wheels and tires, the Ranger can double as a quick road and touring recumbent. The seat some have said is the most comfortable recumbent seat for the long haul out there because it has an adjustable mest back as well as an air cushion base that can be fine tuned for air volume.
Come in and take this easy-to-ride bike for a spin!”
Lightfoot: “The Ranger is a go-almost-anywhere recumbent bike. It is both a road bike and an off-road mountain bike recumbent. It has a long wheelbase, large diameter wheels and a high seat–combined characteristics which give it enhanced slow-speed and off-pavement handling. It is strongly-built, efficient, capable, pleasant to ride on the road, a fun cruiser around town, and a great rough-country touring bike.
The World Traveler is a super-comfortable recumbent road bike with a wide range of capabilities. The Traveler was designed specifically to inhabit a ‘sweet spot’ where two sets of characteristics overlap; those that enhance fast road riding, and those that permit efficient long-distance touring.”
BRC: “We became Azub dealers in a big way after Recumbent Cycle Con 2013, returning home with 5 of their show recumbent bikes and trikes. Over the last month, I’ve gotten out on many rides on the dual 26″ Max and the 20/26” Six. What I personally find most exciting about these bikes is I am getting back to the multi-terrain cycling I used to do on an upright bike.
Adventure touring means different things to different folks. To me, this brand of riding is inclusive of a wide range of back country roads. From the uniformity of paved roads to the infinite variability of dirt roads, stopping short of technical single track mountain bike trails. Roads suitable for this kind of riding usually are mild enough to drive over with any low clearance 2-wheel drive car and so are perfect for cycling on with something that doesn’t require very fat tires. Adventure cycling to me can mean anything from an afternoon exploring the logging roads within a couple miles of where I live to an expedition tour riding the length of the Great Divide Mountain Bike route. It’s about travel in out of the way, somewhat more wild places.
The United States National Forest Road System consists of more than 380,000 miles of roads. The types of roads range from permanent, double-lane, paved highways to single-lane, low-standard roads intended only for use by high-clearance vehicles, such as pickup trucks. At this time, a significant portion of this system is closed or use-restricted to protect resources. (USFS website)
Furthermore, 1.3 million miles, or more than one-third of all road miles in the U.S., are still unpaved gravel or dirt roads.
Since 1977, the year I first discovered the joys of cycling off the beaten path, I’ve had the opportunity to use many different bikes and trikes, uprights and recumbents in a variety of multiday touring and day riding venues on backcountry roads. I think the Azub Max and Six rank at the top of my list for ideal all round adventure cycling tools.
-are relatively fast
-have superb handling at 40 or 50 mph downhill on pavement or packed dirt
-have unsurpassed durability and are built to take offroad abuse better than almost any other recumbent on the market
-offer the most rugged, best designed rack systems out there and, on some models, offer up to a 6 pannier carrying capacity for really isolated tours.
-have full suspension designed into the frame from the get go, not suspension jury rigged as an afterthought. This makes for a dreamlike ride, floating over rough pavement and dirt surfaces for increased speed and decreased fatigue
-have the widest range of drive train/component options of any other recumbent manufacturer
-have the most adjustable seat system of any recumbent with adjustments for both seat angle and seat position between front and rear wheels; this makes fine tuning weight distribution a 5 second proposition for riding condition and handling
-on USS models, Azub orients the brake and shift lever so they are ergonomically correct, meaning the levers and shifters face down with the cables coming out the top, which feels more natural in the hand
-are expedition proven by countless around the world cycle tourists on the most messed up roads on the planet
If you are touring, Azub bikes also provide the most rugged, integrated design rack systems available anywhere for carrying gear over rough terrain.
For adventure expedition cycling, racks comprise the one of the most vulnerable components, next to wheels and tires. When I rode the Great Divide route a few years ago, a mechanic at Absolute Bikes in Salida, CO., on the Divide route, told me that the majority of tourers on the route had rack failure by the time they reach the shop at the halfway point through the tour.
Mixing up day rides to include pavement AND dirt is just more fun for me. This means I ride right from my house to access dirt rides, rather that using the car. Riding dirt usually means few or zero cars. I will ride when there’s high traffic volume when I have to, but I always prefer the peace, beauty, solitude and challenge of riding the road less traveled when I have a choice. Going from pavement to dirt roads is like traveling back to a time when all roads were dirt. It’s when cycling began, back to our roots. I always feel more a part of what I’m riding through on those dirty out of the way thoroughfares. Unlike riding singletrack,which focuses all of my attention on the narrow track I’m negotiating lest I punch a rock or tree, on wider less technical roads, I have the space to open my attention to include a wider focus and just be a tourist.
There are many recumbents that will work just fine for this type of cycling. You may already own a recumbent that would work adequately for dirt rambles. Rigid framed bikes can give a good turn of speed if roads don’t get too rough. David Cambon has taken his Tour Easy to Inuvik on the nightmarish Dempster Highway, John Schlitter has raced Gravel Grinders on a Bacchetta Corsa, Metabikes have done numerous randonneuring events that include gravel and dirt. But remember that there’s always a balance between comfort and performance. Generally speaking, when you bias your gear toward comfort there will usually be a cost on the performance side of the scale and visa versa.
The Azub bikes weigh in more toward the comfort side of the scale, so if your goal is comfortable touring with well designed gear carrying capabilities, then a full suspension Azub would be a good choice. Once the road surface gets really rough, the comfort of suspension can begin to add to performance. In deteriorating conditions you can fly over rocks and ruts that would have a rigid bike tiptoeing through. One thing I’ve decided is a necessity is a rear shock that has a lockout feature. Even if a suspension is designed to minimize pogo or squat, there will always be some measure of energy loss when pedaling smooth roads hard. Especially when climbing steep grades.
I’m posting this in the hope that more recumbent riders here on this side of the pond gain a tad more insight into a brand that, in my opinion, deserves to be better known and recognized. Azub is definitely the equal to any of the more familiar recumbent manufacturers and, in many regards, superior.
Also underrated are the many thousands of miles of dirt forest roads just waiting out there to be explored.”
Azub: (Edited) Among bikes from Azubs special edition models, you can find also an expedition recumbent. Over the years of riding our recumbents on roads in different countries and selling bikes to long distance cyclists we think we have realized the optimal bike for serious expeditions. Of course, it depends on your budget and the conditions in which you will ride, but some basic rules should be followed when specifying the bike.
AZUB 6 – we think it is better to have a combination of 20 and 26″ wheel as the bike is lower and you have better stability when you stand. Also balancing the bike with heavy load is easier. And the disadvantage of the smaller wheel is not that big compare to all those advantages.
ASS – Under seat steering is known as the most comfortable and the best choice for expeditions. But over time we have realized it is important to have a maintenance-free and virtually indestructible bike–the problem with USS is it can be damaged when dropped. Most of the riders who went for long distances with USS usually came back with bent bars at least. So we prefer to use the above seat steering instead as it is bomb proof.
MEKS front fork – with 20″ front wheel it is good to have front suspension. And the best available at the moment is the MEKS carbon fork.
V-brakes – simple, easy to adjust, efficient, with spare parts all around the world.
8 speed chain – it is more durable than the 9- or even the 10-speed chain. And it is also easier to find a spare chain on the way. The problem is that Shimano, like SRAM, continue in increasing speeds for all their component groups. At the moment the only available component group with 8 speeds in the rear is Shimano Alivio. Many feel it is too low a quality, but we think it is still good enough for long distance tours as it is simple, not super light and it shifts well. In past years we combined the Alivio 8 speed shifter with Deore or XT other components, but our experience is that this is not idea. So we use only the Alivio now.
Expedition extension and super expedition carrier – you need to have a lot of things for long distance touring and to transport these things you need to have lots of bags. For lot of bags you need to have good carriers.We have developed the expedition extension of our standard carrier for another pair of bags and also the super expedition carrier so you can have all the bags as low as possible, keeping the center of gravity low. This makes the handling of the bike very easy and the ride is even better than with our standard carrier.
If you have any question regarding the best set up for your future bike, please contact BRC: (541) 323-3460.