Trying Out the Expedition Bicycle

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I have had the new expedition bicycle for a couple of weeks now, and have taken it on several rides in order to break it in and see what I think to it. The fact that the weather has slightly improved, and the days are longer means that not only can I ride at the weekends, but I can also do a reasonably long ride after work on some week nights. I have been keeping track of my rides with a great little app called MapMyRide, and the maps shown in this piece were recorded using that on my Samsung Galaxy S4 phone.

 

Thorn Nomad
My expedition bicycle – A Thorn Nomad
    The expedition bicycle itself is a Thorn Nomad, which I had built up for me after visiting Thorn Cycles in Bridgwater. It wasn’t the cheapest bike in the world, and looks deceptively simple, but in reality it is a virtually bombproof bike which should (I hope!) take me around the world several more times at least. Its key features are a steel frame made out of high quality heat treated steel, and a Rohloff Speedhub, and whilst these are not the lightest of items, they certainly help to make the bike what it is – An expedition quality workhorse that can stand the rigours of cycling anywhere around the world.
969 steel
Cro Mo  969 Steel – It doesn’t get much tougher than this!

Northamptonshire is quite a nice county to cycle around, as there are some great country lanes as well as some wonderful public spaces such as Pitsford Reservoir. I choose to take these routes rather than long distance road routes, as quite frankly, the traffic in the UK is terrible for cyclists! A typical route is shown down below.

Create Maps or search from 80 million at MapMyRide

 

Mountains are in short supply in Northamptonshire, which is a bit of a shame as I really enjoy pushing myself to go harder uphill, but there are several routes which at least take in minor rises. Rough roads are also in short supply, although there are some if you know where to look. Below, is a spur track leading from Brixworth back to the Brampton Valley Way.

 

Brixworth
There are rough tracks in Northamptonshire if you know where to look! 

So, how does the bike perform? I have to say that I am really impressed. The Rohloff hub provides a range of gears that do not “double” as they do on regular derailleur bikes, and also have the added bonus that it is possible to switch between gears whilst stationary at traffic lights. One thing I have noticed, is that in the lower gears going uphill the hub is a little noisier and also feels noisier through my shoes (if you know what I mean). I often call these the grinding gears, and those words definitely apply to the Rohloff, although i should mention that this is not a defect. When freewheeling, the hub is also slightly noisier than a derailleur. Another feature of my expedition bike that I am very impressed with, are the CSS rims and brake pads which provide incredible stopping power on even the steepest downhill section. This is all very important, especially when carrying heavy loads on the bike through the mountains, and during my time in Peru, I wore out countless pads and even rims.

Overall then. I am extremely impressed with my new expedition bicycle, and it really is a joy to ride. Taking the plunge to fork out the cash for it was a big step for me, but it is apparent even now, that it is a well made decision which I hope will continue to be the case when I embark on my next cycling trip around the world.

 

 

 

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