Now approaching it’s second birthday, my red Thorn Sherpa has carried me around the North Sea Cycle Route and the Atlantic Seaboard. Time to reflect on the quality and performance of a dedicated touring bike after a fair amount of abuse. I would estimate it has covered 10,000km over 100 long riding days, perhaps as much as 50% off-road.
I purchased the bike with a few sensible modifications and added an Alpkit Frame Bag and Ortlieb panniers:
- Thorn Sherpa Mk3 frame 600L – straight bars
- Shimano Deore hubs, 10-speed triple chain-set (48/36/26) / cassette (11-36) with XT 9-speed rear derailleur and Dura Ace thumshifters
- Andra 30 wheels, standard front and CSS rear, with XT V-brakes/levers, standard brake blocks front, Swiss-stop blue pads rear
- Schwalbe Marathon Dureme 26 x 2″
- Brookes B17 saddle
- Shimano T780 SPD pedals
- Thorn expedition racks front and rear and a T-bar extension for the handlebar bag
- Ortlieb Front Loader Plus and Bike Packer Plus panniers
- 20-year old Ortlieb front bag
- Cateye Volt800 front and TL-1000 rear lights
- Bordo 6000 lock
Over a period of 2 years I have changed:
- 3 chains – replaced with Shimano HG-X 10-speed
- 1 Marathon Dureme tyre (rear)
- 5-6 front brake blocks
- Shimano T780 pedals for Shimano T8000
- Front hub outer cones and bearings
- Complete chain-set for an XT M780 triple (42/32/24), including Bottom Bracket
- 11-36 cassette
I was expecting greater durability from the transmission, but given the wet, gravel, cinder and off-road tracks I frequented, I am happy with the 6,000km the original set covered. Finding HG-X chains at bike shops proved difficult, as they tended to cater for road bike transmissions. I changed these every 3,000km. After the major service, I replacing the entire system with lower gearing XT chain set. The 42/32/24 front chain rings gearing are my preferred my choice now – they are more durable and ideal ratios for pushing heavy loads up steep hills.
The Dura Ace thumb shifters are great and changing gear becomes second nature after a while. Gear changes have been faultless and accurate on the whole.
The bottom bracket came loose after 2,000km due to a broken spacer shim, easily fixed. But the bearings were a wreck shortly afterwards as water had found it’s way into the frame and bottom bracket cavity.
The tyres are superb, offering grip and durability and tackling loose gravel and heavy conditions easily. However, the replacement pair doesn’t seem to be lasting as long, perhaps they are using a different compound. Continue reading
It was a revelation when someone introduced me to Zinc Tape for blister protection and recovery. I have been using this for many years and it has saved the day on many occasions.
Then someone told me about Hypafix tape. A few youtube videos later and I realise this is used by runners and extreme athletes for blister prevention.
This stuff really works and is very easy to apply, maintain and remove. It is useful stuff for improvised plasters – just add lint and disinfectant to a wound and seal in place with Hypafix. If you do get a blister, you can build custom solutions with this tape quite easily.
But for me, it’s all about prevention. I tape up any part of my foot, which is beginning to feel it might blister beforehand; usually my heels, but everyone will have their own blister hot spots. A good covering of 1-2 layers really works wonders.
All the gear together, just need to tune the engine.
I’m now at the dangerous stage of adding things I don’t need and removing things I do. Pleased to see the gear weight is 13kg. Bike weighs 21kg including tools, lock, lights and fitted bags. Add another 8kg for consumables. I shan’t say what the engine weighs, but the fuel consumption is terrible.
“Hey mate! where’s the ski slope?” is one of the more polite comments I get using walking poles on the National Trails from unenlightened bystanders. So why do I love my Leki trekking poles? My conversion to the walkers equivalent of 4 wheel drive has been a gradual process over many years. Initially, I used a only one pole on my early heavy weight backpacking trips and now use two carbon Leki poles on all my adventures.
After a while, using the poles becomes second nature to the point where you forget you are using them, especially when they are light weight. I perhaps have 4 walking modes, depending on the terrain:
- Level easy going – difficult to describe, but the pole placement is every 2 steps, about half my walking cadence. Emphasis is on stability. Placement is approximately level with the leading foot, driving the pole gently rearwards.
- Uphill, easy terrain – pole placement is every step, right foot with left hand pole forward, driving purposefully up the hill with arm and leg. Placement is ahead of the leading foot.
- Uphill, difficult terrain – pole placement is more random for optimum balance, but using my arms to pull up my weight, trying to imitate the uphill, easy terrain mode, as best I can.
- Downhill – palms on the top of the pole, controlling my descent, usually with hands outside of the straps if the descent is very steep. Placement to give security and stability.
A Canadian skiing friend of mine Continue reading