1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Challenge Mistral

Discussion in 'Recumbents, Trikes and HPVs' started by thewrinklyninja, 6 Nov 2007.

  1. thewrinklyninja

    thewrinklyninja Active Member

    Anyone here had any experience with the Challenge Mistral's. From what I have eben reading they seem to be a more upright/budget version of the Hurricane and was wondering people's opinions. They seem nice and light. My main use for a bent would be the pdd commuting and sunday club rides with maybe a little weekend camping up in the lake district in the summer.
     
  2. Seamus

    Seamus New Member

    Location:
    Rotheram
    Challenge Mistral.

    When I first saw the Quantum Toxy, in an Open Road publication, I knew it was the bike for me. SWB and a capable tourer, just a couple of things held me back; all that metalwork to position the rear carrier over the back wheel exactly where it would be on a conventional touring bike ( Why? On a conventional bike the panniers are as far forward as they’ll go without ones heels hitting them but that’s not an issue on a recumbent.) and also I had no money.

    Later, I had a brief infatuation with the M5 20/20 ( currently available directly from M5 at a surprisingly low 1150 Euros, which is not reflected in UK prices )with similar layout to the Toxy but things soured between us when I realised the impossibility of using my Ortleib panniers with it and worse yet the ridiculous choice of 20” wheels. 451’s instead of the almost industry standard 406’s. Du-uh!

    Last year I came across the Challenge Mistral with, yet again, the sensible SWB touring layout. This time I’d got the money so after a little research I’d got as far as writing out the order, signing the cheque, sticking it all in the envelope but, Pestis! Furcifer! , I’d got no stamp. That night, over several pints of Sam Smiths with friend Ian Beever, I got talked out of it.
    During the summer of 2002, I found myself visibly drooling over Hermione’s Mistral at Spokesfest and Cyclefest in spite of it’s appalling silver colour scheme. Later yet, in Germany and Holland I found that a new-bike fantasy was taking hold; 36 spokes in a 20” wheel would be a lot stronger than a 700C, better luggage layout and weight distribution, easier to fit in the house, and so on. When I got back from the holiday I checked my savings, saved for some months, sold the Peer Gynt and ordered the Mistral from Bikefix (because they support all the cycle shows letting people try out the bikes) then waited, and waited and waited. Eventually it arrived but the weather was too cold and wet and dark and then I was very poorly (enteritis followed by flu, the Real Mogy, not that non-sensical, “take one of these and and you’ll be relieved of all symptoms,” carp you see in adverts either) and then I got back into hill walking in the Peak District until eventually in March I would become a cyclist again.

    During this down time there were few little jobs that had to be done to personalise the bike before hitting the road; cycle computer, lights & dynamo, bottle cage and a few reflectors.

    The reflectors were easiest; stick-on patches of yellow Reflexite on the back of the seat and on the rear mudguard. Neat braze-ons for light on the front of the boom and for a dynamo on the top of the left chainstay. Unfortunately the dynamo braze-on was fitted too far to the left so I had to mount the dynamo on the inside with a big washer. Although it’s possible to route the dynamo cable (twin wire, none of that earthing through the frame nonsense) through the frame tubes, I felt it would have been too much hassle removing the boom to feed it through so instead I ran it along the chain tube. Keeping things simple, the front light (Hella Micro) uses a 3W bulb. For the rear I have a battery powered LED. Later I made a bracket to mount a Cateye EL-200 off the same boss as the front lamp and above it. Unfortunately I found that the lamps release mechanism fouled the chainset so it’s mounted below and upside down where doubtless it’ll let in the rain.

    Next up was the cycle-computer and, of course, the cable was too short. I cut it, carefully stripped back the cable then soldered about a foot (3000mm) of cable in the gap which gave me just enough length to fit it onto the bike. The clamp for the sensor is barely enough to fit around the diameter of the suspension fork but it works.

    I tried using a Platypus drinks system but I didn’t get on too well with it. I found it awkward to use with the bottle in a rack bag and the tube forever getting in the way. Also I found it difficult to determine how much water I’d got left without getting off the bike and having a look so I decided to stick with traditional water bottles but there’s nowhere obvious to mount them on the Mistral. Behind the seat seems the most obvious place but the angle is such that it would be impossible to reach the bottle. After much thought I noticed that my knees are well clear of the handlebars so I’ve mounted a cage on top of the handlebar stem which seems to work OK. Another possibility is to attach a Minoura Spacegrip to the front of the underseat carrier and fit a bottle cage to that though on reflection, cantilevering a bottle of water off the carrier probably isn't a good thing.

    After the big lay-off, I finally got back onto the shiny-new bike with a Saturday day ride in the surprising March sunshine. At first the Mistral felt twitchy with a tendency to lunge suddenly sideways with no apparent provocation and I found myself thinking seriously about Nigel Bradder’s C5, currently up for sale at a bargain 600 pounds, but by the end of the first hour I’d started to relax into it. I found it strange to be using such high gears though with the 20” wheels top gear isn’t so high at all (100” or 4m).

    The following weekend I was out on it Saturday and Sunday, all wobbly tendencies gone. I’d fitted a bottle cage on the front of the handlebar stem so I could drink on the move. I’d also removed then replaced the handlebars so that I could reset the brake and gear levers to the correct positions. Also I moved the boom out a bit more.

    The next Saturday (28th April) I was off to Lincoln youth hostel to meet a couple of friends, rear bag and a pannier fitted to one side. I’d expected a bit of wobble or a tendency to lean to that side but noticed nothing awry. On the way home I decided the boom need to be out even further but when I came to do it I found the chain a bit too short. Luckily the bike came supplied with a substantial length of spare chain, just a few minutes of work to add the necessary links then extend the boom. It feels alright now but I haven’t yet ridden it.

    Have to pack for next week with an early start on Friday (11th April) to catch a train to Berwick on Tweed for Bike Right 8½ then either a week pootling around the Borders or cycling home through the Pennines. The bike will be fully laden with camping kit for the first time so it will finally get to do a proper tour.
     
  3. Seamus

    Seamus New Member

    Location:
    Rotheram
  4. squeaker

    squeaker New Member

    Location:
    Steyning
    My Mistral

    Take a look here.
    Currently I am using it as an occasional Audax bike, having removed the rack, and fitted an air shock and lighter tyres (Stelvios = 'harsh').
    FWIW I'd probably go lower (Hurricane?) or maybe 26/20 (Fujin, Fuego?).
    PM me if you want to discuss specifics.
     
  5. Johnny Thin

    Johnny Thin New Member

    Is it suspended? That would be my main concern with a 20" rear wheel, otherwise probably fine for everything you've listed.
     
  6. squeaker

    squeaker New Member

    Location:
    Steyning
    Mistral

    Yes, and quite elegant with it, IMHO :biggrin:
     
  7. NickM

    NickM Über Member

    The Fujin is not really a bike for camping trips. The Nazca Fuego would be better suited to that.

    I see nothing wrong with a 20" driven wheel for non-racing use. I'm quite happy with the 92" top gear on my (touring/day-riding) Kingcycle, a ratio achievable on a 20" wheel with 55 teeth on the chainring and an 11 tooth sprocket. A 22" low gear is much more important!

    The ICE 20/20 (bike, not trike!) might be worth waiting for...
     
  8. squeaker

    squeaker New Member

    Location:
    Steyning
    Fujin vs Fuego

    Curious: why not? Both have suspended rear sus., with rack options and similar seat heights....
     
  9. NickM

    NickM Über Member

    Ah, well I'm thinking Fujin SL - no suspension or carriers on that!

    I had kind of forgotten that there is a "heavy" Fujin as well... I think a semi-lowracer is probably less well suited to our road conditions than a machine with a somewhat higher seat, though. The Fuego (in medium size) has a 39cm seat height versus the standard Fujin's 35cm. I would prefer something at about 45cm plus for touring/day-ride use (the Mistral is 49cm, my Kingcycle 47.5cm). But then there is a further complication, in that you are almost into high racer territory, and can start to think about using 559-33 tyres (e.g. Vredestein Perfect Moiree) at medium pressures and doing without the extra weight and complexity of suspension.

    I'm currently torn between getting a suspended 20/20 wheeled machine like the Mistral and a non-suspended 26/26 like the Bacchetta Giro 26. My much-loved Kingcycle (which has a 20" front wheel - it's been updated) is a bit uncomfortable on the grotty tarmac of Kent and Hertfordshire.
     
  10. squeaker

    squeaker New Member

    Location:
    Steyning
    Storage size

    IME a 20/20 is about the same overall length as an 'upwrong' so will fit OK on trains, and more importantly, in my garage :blush:
    Re: suspension: my Grasshopper positively eats speed bumps; the Mistral a bit less so (less front suspension travel), but to reduce high frequency road buzz you need wider tyres - the Mistral on Stelvios down country lanes at high speed was surprisingly harsh:sad:
    ICE 20/20 looks nice....
     
  11. thewrinklyninja

    thewrinklyninja Active Member

    Hmm, I do like the look of the Fuego. It looks nice and zippy but still capable of carrying some luggage. But thinking of the Fuego makes me look at the Baron a bit more as well. Although I think overall I may be leaning more towards a hurricane sport as this seems capable of some small touring and still able to keep up on sunday club rides.
     
  12. thewrinklyninja

    thewrinklyninja Active Member

    Gahh! now I am looking at the Nazca Fuego pro sport model! mmm shiny.......
     
  13. squeaker

    squeaker New Member

    Location:
    Steyning
    More confusion?

    FWIW, use of a 26" rear gives you a longer bike with less space to tuck luggage behind the seat (especially with a lower seat height), but is easier to gear (less need for large chainwheels) and probably gives a faster ride on rough surfaces. Whereas a 20/20 gives you a nice space behind the seat for a BIG rack bag, which may be all you need. (Mind you, a tailbox is a cool solution...., but again a 20" rear will give you more usable tailbox volume.)
     
  14. stevew

    stevew Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Orpington
    Do you guys know where there is any info on the ICE bike ?
     
  15. NickM

    NickM Über Member

    Well, the development machine looks like this. Rather like a two-wheeled, rear wheel drive, trike! But it won't be available to buy before next spring at the earliest. And don't tell anybody about it, will you? It's a secret...