Last weekend, I rode my bike 170 miles across Florida on the industry’s newest recumbent bike, the carbon fiber Pelso Brevet. It has been a decade since I have ridden the Ride Across Florida (back then it was called “Race” Across Florida and about 30 miles shorter). I have now done it on three different recumbents: the Corsa, the Carbonaero and now the Peso Brevet (Also Carbon). All of these bikes did great but as we have not done a comprehensive review of the Peslo, I thought it worthwhile to offer my perspective now that I have experience training and riding it.
Before I begin, a little blurb on why Bacchetta is distributing and selling the Pelso. The Pelso is a derivative design of the Euro-style S curve bikes and its designers were Adam Novak from Hungary and well known “Recumbentian”, John Schlitter. Adam was looking for worldwide distribution support and sent Bacchetta an email last spring to see if we were interested. After riding it, making several revisions and performing a comprehensive frame test we decided to bring it in; primarily because #1 it is a really good bike worthy of the Bacchetta name, and #2 it really complements the Carbonaero well.
General. The Pelso has three main differences from the Carbonaero and Corsa. One, the S-frame curve offers a different riding profile that fits shorter people better than the CA3 and lowers your body position by almost 2 inches. This allows for an easier reach when you take your feet off the pedals – something that helps a lot when you have to stop at lights. Two, the softer carbon frame lessons the road buzz as it has been designed to provide some built-in suspension. For long rides, this makes a difference because your bike (rather than you) take the road vibrations. Three, the bike is unique as it offers a removable derailleur tube giving you the option to run with a single crank gear on the front. For flat-landers like me in Florida, this is a great option as I don’t need the extra complexity and weight. (Note: there are some hills in central Florida, so I did not choose this option on my ride)
Now for some specifics: I will focus on are five areas to give you a better idea of the bike: Comfort, Gearing, Wheels and Tires, Drive Train and Frame material.
1) Comfort. Comfort is a top reason people ride recumbents in the first place. Getting comfortable is primarily a result of the right position; your reach, handlebar drop, seat (type, angle, padding, etc.) Most ultra distance recumbent riders favor a more laidback, less extended (i.e., less reach) but there certainly are exceptions. For the Cross Florida Ride, I set my Pelso seat angle to 22 degrees – a position that was both comfortable as well as aerodynamic. I used the standard Bacchetta “tweener” handlebars (18.75″, 280mm). Bacchetta offers five different handlebar sizes ranging from 18.75″ -22″ wide and 260 – 300 reach. There’s also the option for the J-Bar which many of our dealers carry. In regards to the handlebar position, I highly recommend using the Bacchetta B-Pivot to adjust the stem angle. The good news is Bacchetta is including this as a standard on our Pelso (its a $70 upgrade on the Corsa and Carbonero). I found that using the B-pivot allows me to position my hands for a longer ride. Shorter rides, straighter arms, longer ride, arms in a more relaxed position. In terms of seat foam, I used the standard 2″ foam with no cover. Last but not least is seat adjustment – very important! Seat adjustment is the same as our other recumbents and Here’s an excellent post on how to measure your X seam and then fit your recumbent bike: https://bacchettabikes.com/support/recumbent-bike-fitting/.
2) Gearing — I am a big fan of the newer two-by crank systems on the front. I ran the standard gearing SRAM Force 22 Carbon Double- 50/34 Front crank and a SRAM 11/42 on the rear. This worked great for Florida but I would probably get a Garbaruk 10 x 50 if riding up north. There is no gold standard for gearing but for longer rides, it generally is lower than needed for racing.
3) Tires and Bags -My main consideration was not getting a flat. My default tire these days is the 25mm width Schwalbe. I was going to put 28mm on but we were out. Bacchetta offers Kenda 23mm but I don’t notice much difference. Would love to hear some feedback on if we should change the standard. All of the Bacchetta accessories fit the standard Pelso. I used the OFA seat bag for all my refreshments and the X-Eyed tool bag for tools and spares. I really like both these bags as the OFA is compact yet big enough to handle a 64-ounce water bladder, and the tool bag is a perfect size as well as very easy to get to as it is right between my legs. Depending on your preferences and conditions, you may want a front and/or rear rack with a bag or the larger “brain-box” bag which will hold more stuff. In my experience, the weather drives many of these decisions. If it is wet and/or cold, you are likely to need more clothing and a place to store it when it gets warmer.
4) Drive Train. The shift feel of the Pelso SRAM rival drive train is slick and positive, with an action that never missed a beat. I am not a bike mechanic but I found it extremely easy to adjust. I love the new 11-speed Rival gearing and found no problems with the 50/34 rings and 11-42 cassette. Thanks to the Yaw front feature, there was no rub in any gear combination. I have had problems with sweaty hands turning grip shifters but even at mile 169 it was easy to shift and functionality was flawless. With the standard disc brake option, the stopping power is noticeable… I almost flew into the handlebars on a quick stop to avoid a turning car! Braking had a refined feeling, with subtle initial engagement building to progressive power. I love the disc breaks and my control over peloton speed corrections, rounding corners, managing steep descents and sudden stops along with an easy hex adjustment to ensure no rubbing means I will never go back to calipers.
5) Frame material — Carbon – What can I say. It is lighter, stiffer (if you want), highly durable and gives one the ability to create elegant designs. I think this last point is important. Bacchetta has been known for well-designed bikes and I think the bike is beautiful. I have heard the same things from many others as Bacchetta has brought it to several shows this past year and I have heard many, many comments about the styling as well as the superb ride. In addition, because we load test all of our bikes, we are confident that this bike will last. Like all other Bacchetta’s we offer a lifetime frame warranty.