New Hampshire’s Thorn Cycles?
There aren’t a great many cycle shops who specialise in what you might call ‘Traditional Touring Bikes’. Fewer still who sell bikes designed to work with the Rohloff Speedhub gear system. There’s our own beloved and eccentric Thorn Cycles selling their own brand, there’s a few specialist outlets who sell the Dutch Koga and Santos, and….errr…That’s about it. So, I was very interested to pick up on a niche bike shop in the States called Peter White.
Situated in the rolling backwoods of ‘Noo Hampshire’, this shop keeper seems to be a Stateside version of our own Robin Thorn. He sells certain desirable bits and pieces, mainly for sensible, touring-type activities. However if you delve around on his website, you find that he sells the range of bicycles made by German builders ‘Tout Terrain’.
As you can see from the photograph above, the ‘Tout Terrain’ is a handsome machine with a steel frame and a look similar to a Thorn Raven, and in the example, a suspension fork. It is designed to run with disc brakes, and….look….no derailleurs….but instead, a Rohloff!!!
What I find interesting about the Tout Terrain cycle is that they have taken the rear rack not as a ‘nice to have’, but as an integral feature of the frame. Now I don’t have a rear rack on my bike, simply because I don’t have any need for one – unless you’re carrying panniers it’s simply excess weight to haul around. But I kind of admire this design concept – the bike becomes a two-wheeled version of the ubiquitous American pick-up truck out of the box! It also means that there are none of those issues with loose M6 bolts and rusting braze-ons on a well used frame.
The bike has some other neat features, such as the ‘Headset Stop’ which prevents the handlebars from turning at more than 90 degrees from the frame when the bike is picked up. It has a slightly heavier fork blade on the side opposite the disc brake, to counteract the torque of stopping. It also has a neat eccentric bottom bracket fitting, similar to Thorn’s, but more engineered, as shown below:
The elegance of this solution is that it gets around the problem we Thorn owners have – the two grub screws on the Thorn dig into the alloy shell of the bottom bracket, and if a small adjustment is needed, the resulting indentation can prove a problem in lining up the shell. It also looks rather gorgeous, which is another consideration, I guess. As Mr White himself observes –
“Why all frame builders don’t do it this way is a mystery.”
This looks like a bike worthy of serious consideration, if you are not already seduced by the thought of a belt-driven Santos with Rohloff. Have a look at this beauty, sporting a nice honey-coloured Brooks saddle and Gilles Berthoud stainless mudguards – pure bike porn!
But hark – it’s not all traditional. Check out the whole range of TT bikes, and you’ll see that he also sells the belt-driven ‘Metropolitan’ which has a Rohloff hub and a belt drive!! Truly fabulous German engineering!
When the blurb says this:
“You can choose between a Shimano Alfine 8 speed hub or the Rohloff 14 speed hub. The frame is designed for use with dynamo lights powered either by the Schmidt SON or a Shimano Alfine hub dynamo. The integrated rear rack will accept a dynamo powered taillight and the wire runs through the rack, just as on the Silkroad and Boulevard.”
You can’t really resist, can you???