Concours de Machines 2021: PechTregon Cycles’ Luguru
In part 1 of our coverage of the 2021 Concours de Machines in France, we check out PechTregon Cycles’ wild and feature-packed Luguru adventure bike, complete with its folding frame and handlebars, built-in stove fuel, integrated spare derailleur and friction shifter, and “octopus” Headshok-upcycled fork…
Photos by Aubin Berthe (@aubinberthe)
For our first post on France’s Concours de Machines, we’re zoning straight in on one of the most eye-catching bikes of the event.
We say “event” rather than “show” because Concours de Machines doesn’t follow the usual exhibition format, where a collection of gorgeous, spotless bikes are gathered together under a roof, and where they stay gorgeous, spotless, but unridden.
In fact, the Concours harks back to an era where the great French bicycle builders, the “constructeurs” of the 1930s and 1940s, pushed the envelope of a relatively conservative school of bike design at the time. The yearly event involved a series of demanding reliability tests, sometimes as long as 450 kilometres in distance on rough gravel roads, which ensured bikes weren’t just pretty to look at, but they were also suitably robust for the task of being ridden and raced. The winner of each Concours was determined by a combination of criteria, both objective and subjective, including considerations like weight and design features, with bikes marked down for gear failures in the aforementioned reliability rides! It was thus small builders, like René Herse and Alex Singer, who drove bicycle innovation in their efforts to create light, fast yet durable bikes, introducing the likes of sealed cartridge bearings and aluminum cranksets into mainstream cycling.
Whilst this new iteration of the Concours de Machines – reborn in 2016 after a long hiatus – has shifted its emphasis from its roots, it still includes a set of exacting criteria and the ethos of inspiring innovation. For 2021, this includes the requirement that all entries can be packed small enough to arrive car-free on site, and that they can be folded or broken down to a size easily transported by SNCF trains – which means fitting in a slim bag that’s 1.200mm long and 900mm high. They also have to include provisions to be ridden on trails at night, follow a GPS track, charge devices, carry a full complement of spare parts, a set amount of water… and have camping gear, of course.
For this reason, the weekend also includes two intense ‘shakedown’ rides and a communal campout before the judging even begins, a process that will be explained in our next post. This year’s meeting, held last week in the Jura Mountain near Switzerland, saw the focus revert to off-road bikepacking bikes, whereas last year it was more road-based.
Suffice to say for now that these are the reasons that PechTregon Cycles’ Luguru includes a fold in its design – allowing it to fit in a train or be carried over the shoulder – along with all kinds of crazy details, from the spare derailleur tucked into its truss-like fork to the gas stove port on the downtube, into which a conventional camping stove can be screwed in. Whilst we’ve seen this idea in custom bikes before with denatured alcohol, both with Tony Oliver tandems and Moots Ti fat bikes on the Iditarod, we’ve never seen downtubes used to stored compressed camping gas!
Bruniquel-based Matthieu Chollet of Pechtregon – who has both organised and won the even in the past – lists the standout features for this year’s entry as its easily folded frame, its integrated framebag, its fuel reserve for the stove, and the magnetic clasp that holds its 5mm Allen key in place. There’s also the folding multi-position handlebar that integrates luggage, the GPS support, and a front light – while protecting them – as well as the Octopus fork and its multiple luggage racks, its two integrated bottle holders, spare derailleur/shifter, and its lockable suspension fork.
The luggage is designed in collaboration with Studio Ricochet, in X-Pac VX21 fabric, with “simple, proven, and replaceable lashing elements.” Each bag has a capacity of 6 litres. As for the bike itself, it’s designed around 27.5 x 2.8″ and 29 x 2.5″ clearances, with an emphasis on off-the-beaten-path reliability.
But let’s jump in with some close-ups of that wild-looking Octopus fork!
A SON SL hub proves front and rear lighting, whilst a Sinewave Beacon headlamp is in charge of keeping onboard electrical equipment topped up, be it a GPS, mobile phone, a power bank.
See that nifty 5mm Allen key held in place with magnets? Easy to grab, it’s for adjusting the seat post and the handlebar-stem combo, as well as its disassembly and folding parts of the bike and handlebar. Remocing the wheel axles and folding the frame itself requires a 6mm wrench, and brake levers and transmission need a 4mm wrench, both stored in the tool kit.
Repairability is the name of the game for the Concours in 2021. The Luguru comes with its own custom tool kit that includes plugs, a needle and thread, patches, a spare air canister, and a high-volume pump. The freewheel body can be removed manually to access damaged spokes, with three spokes and nipples hidden away in the seat post. “A spoke wrench and knowledge of its handling allow you to put all the chances on your side,” says PechTregon. There’s also a cable, a cable cutter, a joker lever screwed to the frame on the down tube (Simplex), spare cable routing, and as mentioned, both a spare derailleur installed on the fork, as well as a spare derailleur hanger.
We asked Matthieu about how the mechanics of it all worked and he replied: “The manette (shifter) is located on the down tube, and is exactly an old road bike shifter. If you broke your modern XT 12 speeds shifter, by replacing your cable through the manette joker and routing it in the cable stop at the end of the wheelbase (on the leather chain protection), you can still use your derailleur in friction mode And if you broke your rear derailleur, you have a spare one in the octopus fork, that you can use too with the friction shifter, still non-indexed. A friction shifter can drive any derailleur on the market!”
Scroll through the gallery below to see where some of these tools are kept and for close-up images of how the ‘double’ bottom bracket is designed and implemented, as well as how the collapsible handlebars work. These are compacted down by removing the crossbar, so that the grips can be rotated inwards towards each other, so they won’t stick out awkwardly.
To fulfill other requirements set out by year’s Concours, the bike uses a combination of old and new parts, including the Simplex friction shifter, the replacement derailleur hanger from an old Campagnolo, and most visibly, the oil-pneumatic fork damper cartridge recovered from a ten-year-old Cannondale Fatty Headshok.
As you can imagine, there are also all kinds of custom machined parts, including headset cups, dropouts, derailleur hanger, the folding mechanism (the double bottom bracket shell and main pivot under the seat tube), spare bolts, and the folding rear light support, that tilts out of the way.
The carousel below is a step-by-step explanation of the fold, so the bike is ready to take on a TGV or slot under a bus.
Fore more on PechTregon, visit @pechtregon. And stay tuned for more about the Concours de Machines, including and a roundup of this year’s show bikes, coming up next!
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