Challenge Fujin SLII £2300

Recumbent alternative

BikeRadar score 3.5/5

Recumbents don’t get much leaner than Challenge’s SLII, a 20lb machine that’s firmly in the road bike weight bracket.

  • Frame & forks: Alu frame and carbon boom and forks make for a very lightweight recumbent (9/10)
  • Handling: On the right routes, the SLII is a seriously fast bike (8/10)
  • Equipment: SRAM componentry works well and the carbon seat proved comfortable (8/10)
  • Wheels: Small wheels are naturally stronger than their larger equivalents, and Velocity rims have a good reputation for toughness. This 20in front, 26in rear combo really flies (8/10)

The SLII's lightweight aluminium frame and carbon boom combine with its small, light wheels to provide bullet-like propulsion.

Without being able to honk out of the saddle, hills are tougher than on a standard road bike, though with practice there’s not actually as much in it as you’d think. This feathery weight has other benefits – despite the shape, it’s easy to carry up a flight of stairs.

Handling is extremely snappy, requiring caution at low speeds, and even though the ride is on the taut side, the comfy carbon seat helps to take the edge out of road buzz. In fact, if you suffer from a bad back, a recumbent’s riding position could be just what you need.

On the SLII this position is particularly aerodynamic, with your elbows tucked in tightly around your chest. It's noticeable how easily it slices through even strong headwinds.

Being seen on the road didn’t prove as much of a problem as you might imagine, as the Challenge is such an eye-catching sight that everyone gives it a wide berth.

It's not very practical for day-to-day riding or commuting because of the lack of luggage options – you can’t wear a rucksack and there’s nowhere to put a rack – but for well surfaced, near-flat routes there’s little that will beat a recumbent for all-out speed.

The Fujin SLII will appeal to the all-out, laid-back speed merchant – if that’s not a contradiction in terms. If you’re don’t mind sacrificing a little speed, you might want to look at a higher, rack-friendly model like the Mistral SL or the standard Fujin SL, which will also take mudguards and a rack.

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