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Kit Review: Thorn Raven Tour Bicycle
Our Rating: 10/10
Model
Thorn Raven Tour

Purchased August 2008


Description
Thorn Raven Tour bicycle
Built by touring bicycle specialist SJS Cycles in the UK, the Thorn Raven Tour has a steel frame, a Rohloff hub and strong 26 inch wheels. For full specifications refer to our kit list. When we ordered our bicycles we requested a few upgrades including more durable Rigida rims, Brooks leather saddles and Thorn steel front and rear racks.
Review
Bicycle trouble is one of our worst fears, especially in remote locations. Fortunately the Thorn Raven Tour has risen to every challenge we have thrown at it, it truly is a well thought through touring bike. We have spent countless days slamming into potholes at speed, riding through thick mud, torrential rain, extreme heat, nothing seems to worry them. After about 15,000 km of intense use, the only maintenance we have done was to increase the chain tension once in a while (10 minute job), complete an oil change on the Rohloff hub every 5,000km (half hour job), and replace the brake pads once (half hour job). At about the 17,000km mark we will reverse the chain ring and sprocket and fit a new chain, effectively giving us another 17,000km for the purchase of just one chain (cost of £10).

The ride is smooth and predictable under heavy loads and also manages well for light weight commuting, a tribute to the versatility of the frame. The ergonomic Mk2 comfort handle bars offer a natural upright position that we find comfortable however drop bars were not presented as an option at the time of purchase if you also wanted the Rohloff hub.

We have full confidence in the Raven, and we believe the Rohloff hub is an integral part of this as it simplifies our bike setup (no derailleurs) and gives us extra strength on the rear wheel (refer to Rohloff hub review for more information). In countries like India where locals like to fiddle we had no concerns with roaming hands and we happily check in our bikes un-boxed whenever the airlines permit it.

Customer support is fast and very comprehensive, and SJS Cycles will quickly answer queries by email or phone. They will also ship parts all over the world. Fortunately we have not had to make use of this service so far, as it can be quite expensive and sometimes unreliable to have parts shipped to a faraway country.

Initially it took us a while to get the setup spot on, as we both felt the bikes were a bit too big for us. Replacing the stem with a shorter one fixed these issues. On very steep hill climbs when fully loaded we sometimes feel as though we could do with one more gear. A slightly smaller chain ring than our standard 26x16 size would have been beneficial as we would happily forego one of the higher gears. Of course this depends on the terrain you are riding in and your ability to push the bigger gears. A chain ring is easily replaced and relatively cheap.

If in doubt, try out the Thorn Raven Tour bicycle, SJS are so confident that offer a 100 day moneyback guarantee.
Pros
  • Reliable
  • Comfortable
  • Durable
  • Low maintenance
  • Smooth ride
  • Excellent customer support
Cons
  • At 15kg the steel framed bikes are reasonably heavy
  • The inner tube valve holes only fit Presta and not Schrader (car valves). It would be nice to have the option for both so ask SJS to drill larger holes into the rims to support both types.
Reviewed On
28th March 2011

Comments
Comment by matthew newton on Sunday, January 20, 2013  1:05 PM  

Hi guys I have just decided to buy a Raven for a long tour from UK to China. Any further thoughts on the Raven and would you change any of the parts? Thanks matt

Comment by Guy on Sunday, July 14, 2013  2:33 AM  

Hi Matt, Considering we have had no issues I would be reluctant to change anything. A dynamo hub on the front wheel would have been nice for power generation, but that's a real nice to have. I still ride mine to work each day, still no issues, not even a broken spoke! Cheers, Guy

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