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.”