The Bike

I’ve finally put my money where my mouth is, and laid down the dollars for a Thorn Raven. Not a cheap bike, especially once I added a few extras – XTR brakes, XT front hub, rear carrier and Brooks Saddle. My one regret is that I couldn’t get a red frame, and had to settle for black. I did try explaining that red ones go faster…

It’s not that pretty a bike, but that doesn’t matter – it was built to ride around the world – i.e. it’s tough and simple. I plan to be riding this bike in 10 years time. I didn’t originally think I would do one massive long trip on this, but I ended up doing it anyway. And the bike is still more or less in one piece, obviously with a few changes along the way.

Full specifications now uploaded, more for my future reference than anything else.

Perhaps most importantly though, I think I’ve finally come up with a name for her – Maria – as in “… there’s a piece of Maria, in every song that I sing…” Took me a while to settle on Maria, but now I’m quite happy with it. “If you’ve never stared off into the distance, then your life is a shame”

It still looks pretty good after 35,000km, although it is showing a few knocks. It has all held up pretty well, apart from a few minor issues. One was the cable outers breaking at the head-tube guide. This wasn’t originally a problem, but I change the stem for a shorter, steeper one, and this caused a problem, until I just bypassed the first guide. After that, no problems. I have changed the saddle three times – from Brooks to Selle Royal to WTB SpeedV to Brooks again – this time a different model. Before going to South America, the bike had a fairly major overhaul – new stem, bars, grips, shifter, rear rim, sprocket, chain ring, cables, bottom bracket and headset. Some of those bits weren’t too bad, and could have gone further, but it was convenient to get a lot of work done in one go.

The hub worked well – no issues with it, apart from a short period near 16,000km, where it was missing a few gear changes. I was a little bit overdue on an oil change, and Rohloff recommended I change the oil for kerosene, ride for a few days, then put oil back in it. That seemed to deal with it. The only issue was obtaining replacement oil. Few places sell it, but since it’s a planned maintenance thing, it’s something you can deal with. FedEx delivers anywhere, afterall.

I did have some rim problems, but that’s no big deal. See the specs page for more about that.

Overall the bike was very solid, and never felt like breaking, even with the rough roads I went over. Perhaps my only complaint was that it’s a fairly heavy bike. One day I’ll weigh it unladen – it’s certainly no titanium racer. I’m happy with Thorn as designer of touring frames, and would recommend one to someone else with the money. If I didn’t have the money, I’d probably just take an old steel MTB frame, and put some decent components on it. Rohloff is an expensive option, but it does give you some nice things. If you don’t have the money, don’t worry about it though.