The damned n+1

I realise I’ve been quiet on here (again!) Rest assured, I didn’t decide to pedal off the side of the earth but life has taken yet another turn – a much happier one this time – and I’ve been distracted.

More news on this in the New Year.

That said, I haven’t been in hibernation. Just before said life-changing news broke, I acquired a mutant-friendly Surly Disc Trucker frame from those fine folks at Keep Pedalling. I’d planned some kind of roughish-stuff light tourer using this steel, something folk now like to call a ‘gravel bike’, or an ‘adventure bike’. I don’t buy this marketing garbage of course… it’s a touring bike, without mudguards.


I’m being a little disingenuous here, though. While modernist marketing may have me reaching for the sick bucket, post-modernist grumbling from those bearded tree- worriers at Surly does resonate. I’d wanted a Long Haul Trucker for a while just to remind myself how good a purpose-built, modern touring frame can be. So I decided to buy one, but eschewed the cantilevers in favour of some fancy rotor-rubbers.

The frame had been sitting in my spare room for nearly six months. A couple of weeks ago I reached that now-or-never stage of a build project when the small, mischievous voice inside my head says ‘sod it’ and I shake the Internet for bike components and burn the plastic.

The resulting new addition to the fleet has a name of course – Yorkie (boom boom!) – and I’m very happy with the result. I’ll post some more (betterer) pics when the weather improves in grizzly Glossopdale, but I include a build list for all you bike nerds out there (come on in, the water’s lovely).

Suffice to say, this bike is far more nimble than my heavyweight Ogre and is a joy to ride. The raked fork soaks up the bumps with aplomb while the overall compliance of the steel makes for a very comfy ride indeed. Things are far more taught than my rather splendid Bob Jackson, though, which is handy given my heft and the fact that I will be carrying bags on this bike at some point… no doubt in search of ‘multi-day adventures’ or ‘bikepacking’ if that’s what the cool kids are currently up to.

trucker-2Build list:

Frame: Surly Disc Trucker 64cm
Wheels: Shimano Deore Hubs, 36-hole, laced onto KinLin XD-230 rims (Built by Spa Cycles)
Tyres: Schwalbe G One 38mm
Bars: Salsa CowChipper 46cm
Levers: Sram Force CX1
Brakes: TRP HY-RD
Stem: Salsa Pro Moto riser (to be changed)
Headset: FSA Orbit
Chainset: Sram Rival 1 (42T)
Rear cassette: Sram 11-42T
Rear mech: Sram Rival 1 (long cage, obvs!)
Chain: Sram 11 spd
Seat post: Deda Rsx 02
Saddle: Specialized Toupe Sport (a bit of a test)
Extras: Problem Solvers downtube shifter boss cover, Bontrager bottle cages, Easton cork bar tape, Velo Vitality Metro Porteur Steel front rack, black (to be fitted)


10 thoughts on “The damned n+1

    1. That’s a very nice offer. I haven’t been up there for a while but it would be grand to get something in the diary. Life is set to become rather hectic after January but I’m sure there’ll be an opportunity.

  1. Thanks for the update Northern Walker. Your comments about marketing made me smile, but I’d be interested to know what you make of disc brakes on your new bike- it seems everybody who gets them doesn’t look back to rim brakes but I haven’t yet decided if it’s worth splashing the cash….

    1. By and large I am a fan but I have to say the Ultegra rim brakes on my Woodrup always impress me when swapping from one if my disc machines. If it’s helpful, I’d rank them in the following way: in the wet: 1. TRP 2. AVID BB7 3. ULTERGRA CALLIPERS . In the dry: 1 ULTEGRA CALLIPERS 2 TRP 3 BB7

  2. I am wanting to build up a bicycle for my 17 year old daughter. I’m down to about five frames to choose from and the LHT, the Thorn Club Tour and the Thorn Audax are among the contenders. She weighs 128 pounds ( ~ 60 Kilograms) and wants to do some touring. I think that her total luggage weight will be about 30 – 35 pounds ( 14 – 16 kilo). I’ve ridden the Surly LHT and like it for how it wants to track in a straight line, but I find it a dead and heavy sort of frame by feel. Mind you I weigh a lot more at 95 kilos and I tend to carry about 50% more weight. I’d very much like to hear your thoughts on comparing these three frames, as you are one of the few, rare people who has been on all three. I especially want to focus on straight line stability and predictable handling, but would like to find a nice supple frame that can still carry her and her gear. Any advice and thoughts about the differences between these frame choices for her situation? I”m leaning towards the Club Tour, but worry it will be a harsher ride than need be and that I may lose that predictable truck like handling that I seek for her. Thanks. 🙂

    1. The Audax will be the nicer riding frame and would handle the luggage if you opt for the steel fork with lowriders. Of all the frames you mention, my favourite is the Trucker. I don’t find it dead, but I have been riding an xxl ogre for a while now and that is a tank in comparison! Given my weight and the luggage I carry, the Club was my least favourite of the three. I found it too ‘squashy’ when loaded. I think the tubes on the 64cm Trucker are better suited to the larger frame and, consequently, larger rider. My advice would be to try both Thorns if possible.

  3. Thanks very much for that explanation. I have two thorns, a Nomad and a Raven Sports Tour. The Nomad is perfect for carrying the loads that I’m now too old to carry, but it’s such a good design for expedition use that I like to have it just for it’s “look at and dream” value. without a heavy load however the bike feels a bit like my old Moulton with it’s trigger like steering. The RST is what I putter on but it’s too is too responsive for my tastes. Too sporty, and responsive but comfortable, where it soaks up road vibration and bumps. I blame the 26″ wheels for it’s ills.

    Now of course when I rode the LHT is WAS unloaded, so I suspect that putting even a light to moderate load on it may make a fundamental difference and might the necessity of 26″ wheels for the LHT in her size.

    In reality, I think I’ve waded into this post, ignoring the portent of the title. Can the N+1 law even be fought? Should it be? Or is wondering “which is best” pointless, seeing the quest never ends?

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