Author Topic: Time to say goodbye?  (Read 398 times)

RA1

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Time to say goodbye?
« on: June 13, 2018, 02:55:15 PM »
My Thorn Raven now sits in the shed more often than it gets to go out! After years of sterling service commuting, now that Iím retired and realistically will never go on a long tour, the Raven seems to be redundant.

And yet the Rohloff hub still appeals for its low maintenance and simplicity, especially in the winter.
That being the case, why is the Raven rarely my choice? Itís comfortable, itís totally reliable, but I canít deny that itís harder work than my derailleur equipped traditional tourer, especially on repeated climbs in the countryside where I prefer to cycle.

After 9 years maybe itís time to say goodbye. Unless, of course, thereís another way. Maybe itís the frame which accentuates a sense of ďdeadnessĒ in the bike when ridden lightly loaded. (When loaded up it comes into its own, but now I have different expectations).

Would the Mercury be very different? That is to say, would there be several thousand pounds worth of difference? Is the latest version of the Raven frame very much different from its predecessor?

Heretical thought, but maybe there are alternative Rohloff compatible frames better suited for day rides? Or is it just that the Rohloff really scores as a long distance go anywhere expedition hub, and therefore is not the best option for me?

I'd love to know what others think.

7

PH

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Re: Time to say goodbye?
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2018, 03:49:06 PM »
My Rohloff is in it's third frame, Raven > custom Ti > Mercury
The Raven served it's purpose, at launch it was the cheapest way into Rohloff specific bikes by a long way.  At the time I was commuting over 150 miles a week and a good chunk of that on rough tracks, it didn't take long to pay for itself, but like you when the commuting stopped it wasn't getting used much.  It was a grand workhorse, also probably the best four pannier tourer I've ridden, it took me to some great places, but didn't do much to improve the mundane.
The Ti bike was two years in the planning and everything I knew I liked about bikes, still very much a tourer, though 700c and lighter than the Raven.  A proper bike for life - except it broke :'(
The Mercury moved even further away from the Raven than the Ti, it's lost some of the armchair comfort and gained sharper handling.  I'm still at a bit of a loss where to place it, on the Audax spectrum it's still a fair way towards the touring end, as a tourer I find it a bit limiting.  That's not to suggest I don't like it, just that I'm still in the process of deciding how best to use it and what I need to go alongside it.
 
It's all opinion of course, your experience might well be different, why not go down to Bridgewater and find out for yourself?
I built my Mercury up from a frame after having SJS modify the hub.  After buying the stuff that wasn't transferable, I'm not sure it was the right way to go, If I'd sold the hub and bought a complete bike it's wouldn't have been that much more expensive.  With a complete Raven to swap, I'd have gone for selling that and buying complete.

Quote
Heretical thought, but maybe there are alternative Rohloff compatible frames better suited for day rides?
Better?  I don't know.  Van Nicholas do three Ti models,  I know people who are very happy with two, Amazon and Yukon.  They were on my short list, but some of the spec and more importantly the geometry weren't to my taste. 

« Last Edit: June 13, 2018, 03:54:42 PM by PH »

jags

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Re: Time to say goodbye?
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2018, 05:44:13 PM »
have you considered a lightweight bike Carbon. 8)

anto.

martinf

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Re: Time to say goodbye?
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2018, 05:56:08 PM »
Is the latest version of the Raven frame very much different from its predecessor?

When I got my first Thorn bike  in 2011, for use as a heavily laden tourer, I had the choice of Nomad, old model Raven Tour and new model Raven.

I was persuaded by the staff at Thorn to get a Raven Tour rather than a Nomad, which they reckoned would be overkill for my intended use. So far I think their advice was correct.

They also said that the difference between the old model Raven Tour and the new model Raven was very slight. I chose the old model Raven Tour, partly because I preferred the old-style twin plate front fork.

More recently I added a clearance Raven Sport Tour frame to my collection of bikes, which I built up to use for day rides. This frame is designed to be more "sporty" than the Raven Tour, and I consider it to be more or less a 26" wheel version of the Mercury without the disk brake and calliper brake options. No longer available new, but second-hand ones turn up from time to time.

If you currently have relatively heavy tyres you may find that changing to lighter, high performance tyres makes nearly as much difference as getting a different frame. You could also try and otimise your Thorn Raven for day rides in other ways - for example use a saddlebag instead of panniers and a rack, which saves a bit of weight on the hills, and, more important IMO, is more aerodynamic. 

RA1

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Re: Time to say goodbye?
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2018, 07:29:46 PM »

Thanks all for the advice. Itís really helpful to hear of others experiences.

I have experimented with lighter tyres, handlebars, mudguards...the Raven is great for trying things out. But, it really is a full on tourer and to be honest I feel I have never done it justice.

I definitely  agree that the Raven offered the most economical way into owning a Rohloff equipped bike, and I would still recommend it to anyone contemplating serious touring.

Some years ago I did ask on the forum about the RST by way of  comparison, and having had a chance to weigh them up at first hand I did come to the conclusion that the differences were not significant enough to warrant making a relatively expensive swap. Probably should have gone for the RST in the first place!

The Mercury, though, seemed to offer a substantial change and I had been weighing up the possibility of converting...but it was good to have my feelings confirmed by PH that there would be little financial incentive in doing so. Equally I fear that I would not really feel the benefit of such a significant  outlay. I am in awe of your exploits PH, and there seems little doubt that the Mercury is ideal for your adventures!

As for carbon  ;)...well, the old fogey in me is strong, and I do prefer steel. The Audax, though, continues to beckon and would probably be a better option financially and in terms of what I want to do, especially as my lovely Mercian was stolen a couple of years ago!

Decision making has never been a strong point, think I always want all the angles covered. ???



JimK

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Re: Time to say goodbye?
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2018, 10:29:28 PM »
Today, along with putting on new brake pads, I switched from Marathon GT365 tires to Marathon Supremes. I took my bike for a quick test ride afterwards. No handlebar bag, no saddlebag, no water bottle, no Security Level 15 lock... wow, what a sprightly bike my Nomad is!

Definitely worth playing with some of the other variables involved before making a big change!

But yeah, that Audax does beckon sweethly!
« Last Edit: June 13, 2018, 10:31:49 PM by JimK »

martinf

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Re: Time to say goodbye?
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2018, 11:07:46 PM »
The Mercury, though, seemed to offer a substantial change and I had been weighing up the possibility of converting...but it was good to have my feelings confirmed by PH that there would be little financial incentive in doing so.

The Audax, though, continues to beckon and would probably be a better option financially and in terms of what I want to do, especially as my lovely Mercian was stolen a couple of years ago!

Any possibility of getting down to Bridgewater and having a test ride on both a Mercury and an Audax?

martinf

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Re: Time to say goodbye?
« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2018, 12:30:12 AM »
Decision making has never been a strong point, think I always want all the angles covered. ???

Ignoring commuting and professional use of bikes on survey work, as I should be retiring very soon, and ignoring my Brompton folding bikes as irrelevant in this context, I basically have 4 different "requirements".

To fulfil these requirements I currently have 5 bikes. 3 would be enough, but when I got replacements for two of my bikes I kept the old ones. At the moment, I have enough space, neither of the old ones are worth much on resale, and I don't have any needy friends or relatives who would want that type of bike in a large frame size.

If for some reason I had to drastically reduce bike numbers, my 1st Raven Tour could fulfil all requirements. It would be slower and probably less fun for unloaded rides on good roads, and I would worry about leaving it parked outside the supermarket.

Requirements and bikes :


1 Day rides and short leisure rides on good roads, plus very lightweight touring (saddlebag only, no racks)
- Raven Sport Tour with lightweight build
- 1977 Woodrup 531 frame 700C lightweight derailleur tourer

2 Day rides and short leisure rides with significant use of tracks, paths
- 1st Raven Tour (heavy build tourer)
- old French 650B bike modified with 5 speed hub gear
- 2nd Raven Tour (set up as a utility bike with Nexus Premium 8-speed hub gear)

3 Utility transport (shopping, etc.)
- old French 650B bike modified with 5 speed hub gear
- 2nd Raven Tour (set up as a utility bike with Nexus Premium 8-speed hub gear)

4 Touring, with moderate to heavy load.
- 1st Raven Tour (heavy build tourer)



If you are leaning towards an Audax, I reckon you are close to my requirement 1.

For this type of use I currently have my light build Raven Sport Tour with Rohloff hub, plus my old 1977 Woodrup set up with a very light build, including 28 spoke front and rear wheels, Mavic Open Pro rims and Schwalbe One 700C x 28 tyres.

The Raven Sport Tour is slightly heavier than the Woodrup, with wider Schwalbe Kojak 559 x 35 tyres. Theoretically, the Woodrup should be a bit faster, but I haven't yet had the time or inclination to do a series of back-to-back rides to directly compare the two bikes.   

Subjectively, the difference between my Raven Sport Tour and my Woodrup seems to me to be much less than the difference between my Raven Sport Tour and my 1st Raven Tour.

Since getting my Raven Sport Tour I have hardly used my Woodrup, partly because it is more interesting to try out a new bike, partly because I have become averse to the frequent cleaning needed to keep a derailleur bike working sweetly.

PH

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Re: Time to say goodbye?
« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2018, 01:22:36 PM »
The Audax, though, continues to beckon and would probably be a better option financially and in terms of what I want to do, especially as my lovely Mercian was stolen a couple of years ago!

Decision making has never been a strong point, think I always want all the angles covered. ???
They're never easy decisions - For at least five years I've had one more bike than I have room for and a lot of overlap in their purpose, I'm just getting to grips with it!
It needed some thought on what I actually use the bikes for, rather than the idea of it.  For example, I liked the idea of having a bike to go for a quick after work blast on for an hour - the reality is I never do that!
I don't know your riding or the other bikes you have to use.  For me an Audax bike is still a tourer, intended for long days where both comfort and speed are important.  It's notable how few "Audax" bikes you see on the shorter Audax rides, they're no longer in the majority even on the longer ones.
For myself - I'm done with bikes that can only take 28mm tyres, they're just too restrictive to suite me and my riding.  My tourer set up light and not carrying luggage gives very little ground to a traditional steel Audax bike, with a fair bit more versatility.  If I was looking for a do it all sort of bike, that's the way I'd go -  tourer set up light, even one of those bikes now being marketed by the silly "Gravel" name.
As for Rohloff - I've never seen them as the answer to everything, it suites me, but they need a fair mileage to make it an economical proposition. 

RA1

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Re: Time to say goodbye?
« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2018, 01:56:39 PM »
Quote
Definitely worth playing with some of the other variables involved before making a big change!
Deep down I know you're right, Jim! It's interesting to see how Thorn are marketing the newer version of the Raven in just such a stripped down manner. I really don't want to let go of the Rohloff, especially in the winter when any maintenance is an exercise in self discipline on cold damp days.

I'm impressed with your analysis, Martin which in some ways mirrors where I'm at. While I believe the Audax would be a great addition I'm not  convinced it would offer much more than my derailleur touring bike (the Spa Tourer) which is more like the Club Tour and can take wide tyres. As you say, if you have the room it's possible to have a variety of bikes...as we also have a tandem to accommodate space is at a premium. I also like the idea of bikes being versatile.

I can see where this is heading...the N+1 crisis is, for now, put to bed and I experiment with what I have.

I really appreciate the opinions here, especially in helping me to get my thinking sorted out! Talk about first world problems!  :)

Wow...just as I was about to post this I see that Paul has also written. I am grateful that in so many ways you've confirmed my own feelings about the best route to take. Much appreciated!

energyman

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Re: Time to say goodbye?
« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2018, 01:59:09 PM »
I did the "New saddle, new handlebars and new pedals" thing and honestly it felt like a new bike.

Mike Ayling

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Re: Time to say goodbye?
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2018, 07:31:52 AM »
I have a Mercury. It is great for day rides but the short chainstays would make large rear panniers a bit of a problem with heel strike.

As others have suggested try and get to Thorn HQ and test ride a Mercury.

Mike

Swislon

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Re: Time to say goodbye?
« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2018, 01:19:40 PM »
I think itís clear this is not one of those financially sensible decisions.
You have to cycle many miles to justify the cost.
However I bet there are many of us who went the Rohloff route for other reasons. My wife new to cycling solo went for ease of use when changing gear. Loves her RST and is just as quick as friends on their carbon jobbies.
I used to have an RST but sold it a few years back. Thought Iíd stick to derailleurs. However I now have a Mercury. Life is too short for cleaning bikes after every wet mucky bike ride or even dry dusty ride which is just as bad for the sensitive components. (Sorry Anto!).
I still have two derailleur bikes but seem to go for the Mercury each time I go out so I canít see myself giving up the Rohloff this time. We do day rides in hilly country but arenít worried about speed just enjoying the ride.
If speed is not your thing then a stripped down Raven Tour might just work. You will see a difference on a Mercury but I doubt the cost will justify the difference. Youíll have to try and weigh up all the benefits to yourself and your kind of riding.
Good luck.

pavel

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Re: Time to say goodbye?
« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2018, 03:29:06 PM »
I used to think I was alone.  Then I found this place, and realized many people are just like I am - they overthink everything, and do it at least twelve times over.  It's great to be home.  :)

martinf

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Re: Time to say goodbye?
« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2018, 03:33:58 PM »
Life is too short for cleaning bikes after every wet mucky bike ride or even dry dusty ride which is just as bad for the sensitive components.

Unless you like cleaning bikes and fiddling with bike components.

Over the years I have grown lazier about cleaning, especially chain/sprockets/derailleurs, which is why all my recent bikes have hub gears and why I have fitted Chaingliders where possible.

I still like fiddling with bike components, so that is one potential disadvantage of the Rohloff. Normally it doesn't need much maintenance, and if it ever does need major maintenance, too complicated for me to try and dismantle the hub innards myself.