Advice please on a terrible connundrum- Hewitt Cheviot SE or Thorn Raven Tour?

Discussion in 'Touring and Adventure Cycling' started by Joe in Moscow, 15 May 2010.

  1. Joe in Moscow

    Joe in Moscow New Member

    Niether bike is cheap and I want to be sure, if that's possible. I was completely sold on Paul Hewitt's Cheviot SE based on the rave reviews in the cyling press about his bikes and the service and character of the man himself, his personal touch and attention to detail. He has been very helpful so far with my enquiries. I'm also truth be told a bit conseravtive when it comes to bikes, just over 40 I think of Tourers in the traditional way, with drop handlebars. They're the bikes I've had since being a boy, in the 70's, when I was the proud owner of a Raleigh racer and jealous of my neighbour friend who had a Falcon. ( He also wore cool shoes while I had Clarks).
    Anyway, my sure decision to start the ball rolling on a Cheviot SE build was knocked off track yesterday by reading some reviews of the Thorn Raven Tour and its Rohloff hub and straight bars. It does look and sound like a lovely machine. I recentlt came back from some touring in the Alps and found myself a few times off the beaten track a bit. I'm wondering how the two bikes would compare in these situations, and is the Cheviot SE REALLY a bike for smooth European roads while the Thorn Raven might be a more reliable workhorse for out of the way places where the terrain might not be pristinely tarmacked or even surfaced at all? I like the idea of being sure of my bike in ANY situation, not just ideal ones, which hardly ever exist when touring anyway. I appreciate any comments from owners and people who know more than I do, to help me make this decision. I usually load up quite heavy, for me that means up to 20 KG distributed on rear and front wheels. My recent Alp venture was on a rented KTM Fun bike (Pedal Power, Vienna), hardly top of the range but I got quite used to riding with straight bars in the end. I'm not a "racing tourer" - I HATE to rush and can't stick to planned miles and routes. I'm a star gazer, always hopping off to take photos and explore what's around. I can make a 3 day trip last a week. etc etc. Cheers, Joe.
  2. Garz

    Garz Squat Member

    I would go with the Hewitt as you have had help so far and he can offer extra support which I'm guessing the other option wont?

    Do you live near leyland?
  3. rich p

    rich p ridiculous old lush

    Hewitt for me. I tried and didn't like the shifters on a Rohloff Thorn. The attention to detail reputedly from PH would sway it for me. I would have bought one myself but it would have required a trip too far for me and I settled on an Ultra Galaxy.
  4. toekneep

    toekneep Senior Member

    Definitely Hewitt in my opinion. Watching Paul carry out the first service on my wife's Cheviot was a pleasure. Pure professionalism and attention to detail.
  5. Percy

    Percy Well-Known Member

    I had the same decision a few years ago, before going on a long tour. I went with the Hewitt for the following reasons:

    -The fitting and attention to detail when planning and making the bike up.

    -The general feel of the place and how they dealt with me - Hewitts feels like a proper bike shop and they talked through my options with me in an informed but reasonable manner. I found Thorn (who I also visited) to be rather dismissive and slightly arrogant - 'you need this, this and this and anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong' was the basic feeling I got from them. I don't doubt they make a decent bike but then so does Hewitt, and this was something that really swayed me.

    -I test rode a Thorn with a Rolhoff and straight bars and didn't much like it, simple as that. I thought the shifting was awkward and, a bit like you, I liked the idea of a 'traditional' style bike - with drops and a 'normal' drivetrain.

    I spent just over 10 months away on my Hewitt a year or so after I bought it - 8,000 ish miles through 18 countries in eastern and western Europe. Most of the time I was on nice tarmac roads but when I wasn't (bloody German cycle paths leading me through fields!) I didn't lose faith in the bike and it performed well throughout.

    I did have a few problems with it - the rear hub failed, for example, but I put that down to bad luck with components rather than anything Hewitt did - in fact, the basic make up of the bike is the same now as it was when I first picked it up from his shop and it still rides like new.

    5/6 years on I am glad I went with Hewitt - I ride it 3/4 times a week now and it still makes me feel good just to be on it - I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have that with the Thorn.
  6. betty swollocks

    betty swollocks large member

    I have a Thorn Raven Tour, with the straight bars and the Rohloff.
    It's given me over 35,000 trouble-free miles, apart from routine maintenance: it's been great.
    I like the way Thorn have taken care of issues like chain tension and rear wheel dropping out, which can be a real pain on hub gear bikes and have made these as easy as pie.
    Granted the Raven Tour is quite heavy and feels like a tank unladen, but it all comes to life, feels right and somehow makes sense when loaded up.
    I don't find the gear changing a problem at all and with bar ends I have plenty of variations of handholds.
    If you want a tough-as-old-boots workhorse, The RT is the one for you.

    Don't know about the Hewitt.
  7. betty swollocks

    betty swollocks large member

    .......and welcome to the forum :biggrin:
  8. Andy in Sig

    Andy in Sig Vice President in Exile

    Both my bikes have got Rohloff hubs and I will never go back to derailleurs. I'd be very surprised if Mr Hewitt couldn't build a frame to take a Rohloff and so give you the best of both worlds.
  9. gwhite

    gwhite Über Member

    Auchtermuchty Fife
    I find it strange that two bikes so dissimilar, should be compared. The Raven is a well-engineered bike which is ideal for expedition work in that it's solid, stable, heavy and has a transmission which is ideal.
    The Hewitt is an entirely different beast as it's a bike suited to tarmac and is responsive, reasonably light,while at the same time capable of carrying a touring load. The wheels are made by Hewitt himself and are a good selling point.
    I think that in the end it comes down to your intended purpose, as both bikes are superb in their own way.

    Re the above post: Paul Hewitt doesn't build frames but imports these from Taiwan.
  10. Gerry Attrick

    Gerry Attrick Lincolnshire Mountain Rescue Consultant

    As do Thorn.
  11. Gerry Attrick

    Gerry Attrick Lincolnshire Mountain Rescue Consultant

    Joe, where are you based? If you are not tied to a specific area, I can wholeheartedly recommend this man. He makes frames/bikes to your specific size and specification. Not cheap but superb. Mrs A and I have one each which been the best investments we have made. All made by hand in the UK.
  12. toekneep

    toekneep Senior Member

    I went to DY for my tourer. I considered Hewitt's first but didn't like the sloping top tube. Having watched DY build a frame I have every confidence in my tourer. It is, without doubt, the most comfortable bike I have ever ridden.
  13. Madcyclist

    Madcyclist New Member

    Trust me to throw a spanner in the works, i had a similar conundrum and opted for a Thorn Sherpa mainly due to being able to run 26 inch wheels and Deore gearing. My reasoning for this was availabilty of spares and condition of roads in the india Himalayas.

    I'm well pleased with my choice, i find it heavy and sluggish but so comfortable and predictable either ladem or unladen. I truly believe it will come into its own once my tour starts late June.
  14. geocycle

    geocycle Veteran

    I faced the same decision 3 years ago. I went for the thorn because I wanted the rohloff. The bike gets used everyday and has 11000 miles on the clock from tarmac and offroad. Like many others I'd not go back to derailleurs for the reliability and limited maintenance.

    BUT, it is a bomb-proof bike for carrying heavy loads over every sort of terrain with excellent reliability. If that is what you can see yourself doing go for the thorn. If you want a bike primarily for the sunday run then the hewitt is very good indeed and rides very well. These excellent bikes share about 80% of the same basic touring role but there are differences at the margins.
  15. TheDoctor

    TheDoctor Resistance is futile! Moderator

    I can't believe anyone would think of spending that much on a bike and not test ride it!!
    Give them both a go. One will call to you.
    Of course, if they both do, you're in trouble :smile:
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