Disc brakes, dynamos, full suspension... recent developments in recumbents have meant increasing complexity, but the Bacchetta range from the USA is taking them back to what some would argue are often overlooked ideals: simplicity and speed, allied with user-friendliness.
Like most Bacchetta models, the Giro 20 is based on a strikingly simple monoframe. As far as short wheelbase recumbents go - as opposed to their easier-to-handle but slower, long wheelbase cousins - the Giro is pretty unusual; with its combination of comfort, relative ease of handling and pacy performance it has few natural rivals. While most other companies seem to aim for either utility/comfort or ultra lightweight performance bikes that are more difficult to handle, with more extreme riding positions, the Giro combines both aspects, and at the same time keeps things simple.
Comfort comes partly from the choice of a steel frame but lies largely in the highly luxuriant Re-Curve seat. This features plenty of padding and an anatomically curved mesh back which fitted my spine contour perfectly (I could happily use the bike for sipping beer and watching TV as well as riding).
Ease of handling comes from the stretched wheelbase as well as the rider's slightly upright posture (though you can recline the seat if you like - see below), while speed is a combination of free-rolling tyres (90psi rated Kenda Kwests, 26x1.25 and 20x1.25) on 32-hole Alex rims, a decent overall weight of 13.5kg (many touring recumbents weigh several kg more) and a smooth-changing, efficient drivetrain - Truvativ crank with 52/42/30 chainring, nine SRAM SX5 rear derailleur gripshift gears and a very precise yet simple Microshift front derailleur. The gear range is also pretty impressive - from around 21.5 up to 116 gear inches.
Comfort and handling are also helped by the many adjustments possible on the Giro. The seat base slides along the main tube by means of a QR clamp made of Delrin plastic (it sticks under pressure and slides when not), and the bar position can be adjusted by means of Bacchetta's own Top Load Riser (clamp adjustment via two allen bolts) which takes the bars up or down, with a screw on the stem hinge arrangement which swings the bars away from or towards you. You can also rotate the bars within the stem. All this means the Giro will accommodate riders between 5ft 3in and 6ft 5in and up to 19.5 stone in weight (two frame sizes are available). It also means you can fine tune your position to avoid clipping your knees on the U-shaped bars which extend towards the body, further helping the extremely relaxed and comfortable ride. You can recline the seat to a more aerodynamic position if you wish by using the removable two pins in the sliding seat supports - though you'll probably want to leave this until you're comfortable riding in a more upright position.
If you're heading off on an adventure, the Giro's rear and underseat pannier options plus bespoke Bacchetta seat back bags should enable you to carry a full touring load, and bespoke mudguards and kickstand are optional extras.