Author Topic: Thorn Raven Report back  (Read 162 times)

j-ms

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Thorn Raven Report back
« on: November 04, 2017, 05:30:34 AM »
We have just finished six months of touring through Asia on our Thorn Raven's and so I felt it was time to give a report back on how they performed.  I am neither a cyclist nor am I particularly mechanically minded so this report may be a bit superficial for the techies.

After a four month cycle trip through south-east Asia last year, I was convinced that we needed something better than our old entry level mountain bikes which we had used on that tour.  This was re-enforced by the repair bill we faced on our return and by the repairs needed while on the tour.  Even though we only did a bit more than five thousand kilometers, we had to replace almost the entire drive trains of both bicycles.  While on the tour we endured lots of frustration caused by having to re-tune derailleurs because of wear and tear (and also rough handling from getting onto ferries, buses and trains) and suffered a failed freewheel hub necessitating a full wheel re-build. 

The whole Thorn plus Rohloff seed had been planted in our brains a few years earlier when we had a Polish cyclist stay with us.  He had cycled from Poland to Port Elizabeth (our home town at the time) and was riding a Thorn Nomad II.  My wife took a bit of convincing but we eventually placed our order with incredibly helpful and knowledgeable staff at SJS Cycles for two Ravens, my wife's being a Step-Through.  After a short tour through the winelands of South Africa and now six months of cycling through Asia I can happily report that, after 10,000 Kms (more than 8,000 of that being loaded touring), both bikes have performed as required. 

From a ride perspective we found the bikes very stable with no suggestion of shimmying (max speeds just short of 60km/h on some downhills).  My wife did have one "speed wobble" after hitting an object in the road coming down a hill in Malaysia from which she recovered within a few seconds.  Unloaded, the bikes seem far more frisky and sometimes needed a few seconds of mental adjustment if riding unloaded after a long day touring.

We seem to have got our gearing right for our style of riding with a 40/19 combo.  This meant at our normal touring speed of around 17-18 km/h we were in usually gear 11.  We spun out at anything approaching 30 km/h but this only happens going downhill which meant it was time to stop pedaling and have a rest.  I pushed one hill in Korea but handled the rest spinning along at about 5 km/h.  All in all I am happy with combo we chose.

I was initially dubious about our choice of tyres (2" Schwalbe Marathon Duremes) after the number of punctures we suffered in South Africa (too many to count) but we have not had a puncture since early on in Thailand almost three months ago, the last of four punctures over close on seven and half thousand kilometers since leaving South Africa.  At the end of the day I think they weren't the worst choice.

The only maintenance required during the first ten thousand kilometers:
  • Puncture repairs (not really maintenance),
  • Cleaning and oiling chains (less often than I should),
  • Adjusting brakes,
  • Greasing the cable box of the external gear mech,
  • Adjusting the eccentric bottom brackets to tighten the chains (done twice so far), and
  • Gearbox oil change at just over 5,000km.

Apart from the that the bicycles have been hassle free.  The gears have shifted when asked to shift.  The brakes have stopped the bikes when called upon to do so.  There have been no snapped spokes, despite me carrying more than 25Kgs of luggage and traveling in some rough conditions.  To my untrained eye the chain-rings and sprockets show some wear and the chains probably need replacing to minimize further wear on the chain-rings and sprockets . 

On our return to South Africa I will do the next oil change and probably fit new chains and reverse the chain-rings and sprockets (any knowledgeable comments on my intentions would be most appreciated). 

I suspect that touring long-term places very different requirements on what a bicycle should deliver to that of a sports or recreational cyclist.  Before we hit the road more than eighteen months ago, I guess we could have been called recreational cyclists and I was quite happy to spend time adjusting here and tweaking there.  However, once we were touring, all I wanted was the bicycles to do their job with minimal interference on my part and minimal risk of failure. 

mickeg

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Re: Thorn Raven Report back
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2017, 12:53:48 PM »
From a mechanical perspective, sounds like a very uneventful trip.  That is the best kind.

PH

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Re: Thorn Raven Report back
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2017, 03:00:16 PM »
I am neither a cyclist
That made me laugh!
I don't know how anyone would define a cyclist, but it's hard to imagine how you wouldn't meet that definition!!
Interesting stuff, I had a Raven, I didn't doubt it's capabilities but never really put it to the use it's best designed for, which you obviously have.

John Saxby

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Re: Thorn Raven Report back
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2017, 05:18:54 PM »
Thanks, Jean-Marc. That's a very good report, and for sure, "Uneventful is good"!

So pleased for you that your original specs have done the necessary for you both. I've mostly enjoyed a history of regular tweaking of my Raven, although a fair amount of my tweaking has been camping gear and panniers, etc. (See the last section of my report on my mini-tour of East/Central Ontario.)

A followup question: You mentioned
Quote
Greasing the cable box of the external gear mech
.  Do you have an EX box on your Raven(s)? I thought that they were available only with the internal-shifter Rohloff.

Cheers,  John

j-ms

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Re: Thorn Raven Report back
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2017, 11:53:36 PM »
Hi John

My wife's step-through has the EX box because of cable routings (Andy Blanche explains the reasons in the Thorn Mega Brochure).  Mine has the old internal shifting mech.

Jean-Marc

John Saxby

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Re: Thorn Raven Report back
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2017, 12:57:04 AM »
Thanks, Jean-Marc -- I thought that might be the case.

Good luck with your planning for your next Great Adventure!

Mike Ayling

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Re: Thorn Raven Report back
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2017, 09:26:57 AM »
Nice report Jean-Marc.

Have you also posted on CrazyGuy to stick it to all those Rohloff haters there?

Mike

j-ms

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Re: Thorn Raven Report back
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2017, 09:48:05 AM »
Mike, I don't think CGOAB is full of Rohloff haters although there do seem to be a lot of folk less aware of the facts.  However, I'm still waiting to Anto to stick it to me on this forum ;D ;D ;D.

Matt2matt2002

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Re: Thorn Raven Report back
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2017, 09:16:44 PM »
A Raven man myself.
Great to hear about your lack of maintenance issues.
Mine has taken me on 3 long tours and never missed a beat.
Also carried quite a bit of kit at times.
I've run both 2" & 1.75's.
I guess there were rougher roads I could have taken but found the Raven coped with anything thrown under the front wheel.

I have 5 weeks booked next Jan/ Feb for Ethiopia and am confident of a smooth ride.
Never drink and drive. You may hit a bump  and spill your drink