Algoz And bike preparations

We took our Scott bikes on of their hibernation spots in my sister’s loft today and started to ready them for the trip ahead.  We treated them to two new rear tyres – Tour tyres from Continental.  Nothing very special, but with some puncture protection built in and so hopefully a little less prone to flats than the originals.  When fitting them I noticed five repairs to the original tubes and so we also nipped out and invested in a couple of new tubes, bought locally.  The tyres we bought online and took out with us as checkin luggage.


All the Scotts needed additionally was a touch up to the brakes and a light lube and they were ready to go.  We took them for a wee jaunt down to the beach and back just to check all was well.  Mind you, it was hot out there!

After months or riding the Thorns at home, the Scotts felt very odd in the first few moments of riding.  Obviously, the riding positions are not quite as good.  By the time we had 25K in we were both complaining of sore wrists, backs and bums.  However, what else could we expect?  All three complaints will lessen over time on the road.  The first three days are always the worst in our experience and luckily this time we can break ourselves in gently.

Tomorrow we set off for Alvor on the first leg of our micro-tour out to the west and then north to Lisbon.

The Bicymple – just genius!

I suspect it is never going to make anyone a fortune, but I have got to say that I love the bicymple and the thinking that goes into it.  Too many people take things too seriously these days and this looks like a nice corrective.  Good luck to her and all who venture forth on her.

Stephen Bilenky’s bike building is truly inspirational

Apparently Stephen Bilensky has been building bikes for over 30 years. He certainly builds beautiful bikes.  Just look at this:

Art and craft combine beautifully
Art and craft combine beautifully

But there is more to these bikes than skin deep beauty. Bilensky starts from a belief that every bike is a worthy soul and nothing ought to be thrown away if it might one day be restored or re-purposed. He offers a challenge to the current view that bikes are mass market consumer products with built in obsolescence. Watching this wonderful video interview brought me up short and gave me lots to think about.




New Bikes in Portugal

We picked up our new bikes from Bikeland on the N125 near to Quarteira on the Algarve. Our previous bikes in Portugal were a Trek and a Specialized, both having seen better days and both pinched in the aftermath of Jacqui’s accident a year ago.

We went for a pair of Scott’s – hybrid bikes, suitable as road runabouts and for light touring duties. We bought them sight unseen, on the assurance that they were similar to Trek 7100 models, so it was a relief to find they looked the part when we first set eyes on them.


They are nothing special, but the 35km ride back to Algoz was enough to reassure us that they ride well and are more than up to the light duties we will expect of them on our trips here in the south of Portugal. Just nice relaxed runabouts and all the better for that. I will be interested to see how they hold up over the next few weeks as we micro-tour along the coast to Spain and back.


Thorn Raven Tour Review

I came across this review of the Thorn Raven tour.  Nice to see a 10/10 rating.  I wonder if they are as pleased now as they were then?

Kit Review: Thorn Raven Tour Bicycle

Our Rating: 10/10


Thorn Raven Tour

Purchased August 2008


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.


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 26×16 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.





Low maintenance

Smooth ride

Excellent customer support


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

via Thorn Raven Tour Review.