We bumped into this jolly chap a few days ago while riding around Ilhabela, a postcard-perfect island just off the coast of São Sebastião. He was intrigued when we told him about our travels, but not half as fascinated as we were by the enterprising bike modifications he was very keen to demonstrate to us.

To ease the strain on the island’s hills, which are few but sometimes fierce, he’s taken a small sprocket from his cassette and moved it to his front chainring, giving him a preposterously low gear that allows him to spin up the steepest slopes. In the absence of a working front derailleur, he changes gears manually with a metal hook plugged into the end of a broomhandle, which he stores on a home-made bracket that sits where most bikes have a water bottle cage (you can glimpse it in the top right corner of the first picture below). We’ve seen a fair amount of bike-related ingenuity on the road so far, necessity being the mother of invention, but this might be our favourite so far.


from Santos, Brazil