Category Archives: Preparation

Steps taken in preparation for a tour

Protecting your Bike Racks

Ortlieb panniers come with small plastic inserts to allow a snug fit to a variety of bike racks. There have been numerous reports from other cycle tourists that these inserts can come loose and get lost resulting in a rattling rack set up.

On a long tour the pannier mounting hooks can also get a lot of wear and tear as can the pannier racks themselves. Repeated rubbing against the rack rails can damage the powder coating and steel racks can begin to rust. Having seen other bike tourers’ attempts to reduce this with gaffer tape or other material with some success I decided to try a more robust solution to address both problems.

After scouring the internet I found some reinforced clear plastic tubing with an internal diameter of 10mm (the diameter of the tubing used on Thorn steel racks) and an outside diameter of 15mm (slightly smaller than the 16mm Ortlieb pannier mounts without an insert).

Reinforced tubing used to protect rack

The tubing and tools required … oh, and add some zip-ties

Thorn Low Loader Mk V with protective tube

The finished front Thorn MkV Low-Loader

Rear rack covered in tube protection

The finished rear Thorn Expedition rack

After the North Sea Cycle route tour of about three months in 2013 there was little noticeable wear on the protective tubing. After the second trans-Europe tour in the Summer of 2016 there was still little wear on the rack tubing.

It works well and is not an expensive solution!

The Birth of an Idea

Hearing about Thorn bikes while idling on the internet one day, it seemed to be the perfect touring/general purpose bike. I needed a bike. The Sherpa looked like a good choice.

Some time passed before one day while travelling through Somerset I chanced across SJS Cycles in Bridgewater and walked through the door. I was given a guided tour by a friendly staff member and shown the Thorn Sherpa. When I was introduced to the Rohloff hub on a Raven Nomad MkI via a test ride round the local park, I never looked back. This was the set-up! Dreams of doing a big tour took flight. I bought some books about world bike travel and became fascinated.

Time passed and dreams grew and grew – maybe a short tour round Scotland? I would be able to relive that first bike tour when at the age of fifteen years and with three friends from school we nervously set off to do a tour of Scotland. What an adventure that was! Rain, wind and steep hills through stunning scenery. I wanted to get back some of that adventure, and, to be honest, some of my lost youth! Why not more … maybe the North Sea Cycle Route  – yes, that looks interesting. Maybe more?

It was over two years later when one day in Edinburgh I visited a bike shop and spontaneously bought a pair or Shimano bike peddles. But I didn’t have a bike! They were SPD on one side, flat on the other. The perfect touring peddle.

A few days later, again the dream in my head, by chance a second-hand Thorn Raven Tour was on sale from SJS Cycles. Strangely it had all the components I had researched as the ideal build. It came with a Rohloff 14 speed hub gear so revered by experienced long distance cyclists. It was exactly the right frame size too. The dream sparked to life, I bid for the bike never really expecting to win but soon it became a reality when a few days later a huge cardboard box arrived containing the Raven Tour! Within minutes it was unpacked, checked and taken for a ride. It was solid, comfortable and sweet. It needed few adjustments.

I had joined the Thorn Club!