For Australian Cyclists travelling and touring OS
Hi everyone, am looking to get a Thorn Nomad MK2, but am having trouble with a couple of things. Firstly, sizing is a bit of an issue cause there is no way of me being able to try the bikes as no one in Australia imports them. Furthermore, I dont have a comparable MTB/Touring frame to base any assumptions off (just got a racing bike). I was wondering if anyone in Sydney had one of these bikes (preferably in the 565M or L variation) and would let me go for a just a little spin so I could get an idea of size. Secondly, as any Thorn owner knows, the type of handlebar also determines what size frame you get. I've pretty much decided I'll go for the regular straight bars with bar ends, but does anybody have any opinions on the Thorn Comfort bars?
Why buy a bike from the other side of the world? I know Thorn are good quality touring bikes, but there must be something suitable a bit closer to home. Alternatively you could put something together your self.
Send Thorn Cycles or Sjscycles your measurements and the type of handlebar youâ€™d like to use and theyâ€™ll be able to help you. Iâ€™ve recently bought a Thorn Sherpa frameset from them and they were very helpful with suggesting the right size for me.
When I purchased my Surly Long Haul Trucker I purchased it sight unseen/unridden. I based the sizing decision on my Look 555 and the Sheldon method of measuring the frame size, i.e., developed a score based on effective TT lenght and angles. Worked out for me and hopefully will work out okay with my Kenesis Racelight Granfondo which I am building up now.
I've just completed a Thorn Raven Nomad build using the Mk 2 frame. I chose a frame after thoroughly going through Thorn's Nomad brochure download and also bought my own Rohloff hub and the full complement of parts from various on-line stores (most notably SJS themselves, bike24 and starbike). I estimate this has saved me $500-$800, maybe more. And I've had the great satisfaction of building the bike I wanted.
I'm 5'11' and found the 565L to be the right size (using straight bars, bar-ends and a 110mm stem). These size measurements were determined after closely measuring my existing MTB tourer which I have been riding for 17 years and is very comfortable for me over long distances. If I was using drop bars I would probably be better with the 560M - shortens the reach to be able to get to the hoods in comfort. The Thorn Raven Nomad brochure has all the measurements IIRC, for the different frame sizes so check it out fully. Use your road bike as a starting point eg. for seat height and reach to the hoods, if it is a bike you have ridden for a while and are comfortable on for long rides.
As for comparable local bikes.... there are none, unless you go to a good LBS and get then to customise something like a Surly LHT. A friend of mine has done this through St Kilda Cycles using a Rohloff, but with a chain tensioner. I believe it may have cost him a good bit more than mine, and the Surly is not as good a frame. Baum in Geelong do build up a Rohloff-compatible bike I think. Another friend has had one built - not sure if it was from their range or custom-built.
 Ahah, it seems it was one of their models. They call it the Cappuccino, but they no longer list it on their website. Here are some photos, no idea of the $$$$. Nice rig, mine looks very similar, except for colour and I have V-brakes.
[edit #2] The Thorn is a lovely bike to ride and fits me to a tee. Very happy with the results. Photos of the build here.
I'm not sure there really is something more suitable closer to home. From all reports, Thorn build some of the strongest touring bikes out there. I'm looking to travel extensively through the 'Stans, China, India and Nepal, and from some of the photo's I've seen, it looks like it'll involve some pretty rough terrain. Furthermore, the Thorn Nomad (with S and S couplings) comes out cheaper than a Rohloff Surly LHT, so it seems a bit of a steal really.
Great to hear your so happy with the bike! After speaking with Lisa from SJS cycles, I went with the 565L too (I'm 5' 10''), also with the straight bars, bar ends and v's. I went with the black though. Got a call the other day saying it's all ready to be sent and they only now require payment, so they've been real quick piecing it together too. Very happy with the service. Will post some pics when the bike arrives...
Hi Sam, any updates on how you went with the Thorn?
Particularly keen to know if the sizing worked out for you?
We have a couple of Thorn Raven Tour bicycles with the comfort bar purchased directly from SJS back in 2008. We have had no trouble with the bars and the slight bend gives you just that added bit of relaxation so you can push out long hours on the road with minimal discomfort. We have recently posted a 15,00km review about the Thorn Ravens which you might find it interesting.
Guy & Freddie
Yeh, everything went fine. It arrived a couple of months ago and the size is great. Really comfortable to ride, but because my cycling experience has only involved racing bikes (and steel frames at that), I've found it noticeably slower. Obviously, I'm hardly going to be racing the thing, its just one of my first impressions. I also beefed it up with the Rigida Andra 30 rims, so there is a weight penalty there, but one I'm happy with for the piece of mind they offer. Ultimately, the thing is for touring and thats something I'd like to take my time doing.
I'll post up some phone pics asap, but sorry in advance for the crumby picture quality - a decent camera is next on the list.
As promised, here's a photo of the Nomad (I really need to take that stem sticker off...).
My boyfriend and I are new to cycle touring and looking to buy our first bikes and ride off into the sunset in the British Isles. My b/f who has done most of the bike research has come up with buying Thorn Nomads. He's the kind of guy that if we're gonna do something .. we might as well do it properly from the start. I don't mind making a good investment, but the price seems to go up - especially due to the freight.
We live in a remote area outside of Darwin and therefore don't have the opportunity to test out different bikes etc, so buying online is probably our only real option. We've been tossing around the idea of having the bike sent out here - a much more expensive option but obviously more sensible to run the bike it, make sure its set up well and practice; versus picking the bike up outside London and riding from there - much cheaper but perhaps not so sensible?! (I would at least get some good seats in advance to wear in)..
How easy was the build? Did you save a bit of money doing it that way? Did you just have Thorn arrange the freight, or use another delivery service?
Do you have any other suggestions or ideas that might help us figure out what is our best option?
Thanks in advance,
The Thorn would be a very good choice, however importing them complete or in parts then hauling them back again probably doesn't make economic sense. Bought as parts you should be able to avoid customs duties by making multiple small orders, but it will cost you in shipping charges.
Bought complete you will pay 5% customs duty on the purchase price plus 10% gst on the landed price (purchase price + customs duty + shipping & insurance), and there will also be a customs agents fee. Thorn will arrange the shipping for you and I'd expect to cost around $400.
If you pick them up in the UK you will be able to get the VAT refunded upon your return, and since they will be used you should be able to depreciate them enough not to pay Australian customs duties.
It might make better sense to buy a couple of cheap secondhand MTB's to train on and break- in saddles etc.
That said, building your own bike is a rewarding experience and provides an invaluable understanding of your bike when it comes to maintenance. If you choose that route then there is already much information here to help you source components.
I bought a Nomad earlier this year and have no regrets, but would make these comments:
1) If you intend doing lots of off-road extreme touring they are excellent.
2) The Rohloff hub gears are magnificent.
3) For cycling around the British Isles on sealed roads they are probably over kill.
4) They are seriously heavy machines and arguably over built for the purposes of most touring cyclists.
With the benefit of what I know today I would probably go with a Thorn Raven Tour instead or even a folding bike.
It's getting more difficult and expensive to take bikes on planes these days and freight is a killer. It cost UKP 440 to ship the Nomad to Melbourne plus AU $450 in GST / duty. BTW Thorn's SS coupling doesn't get the Nomad into an airline regulation box. It's for putting your bike into the boot of a small car or persuading truck drivers in outer Mongolia to give you a lift. Bottom line, it's very unlikely that my Nomad will ever leave Australia.
I would also be wary about buying online if you don't already own a comfortable well sized bike to use as a benchmark. Despite the froth in the Thorn brochure the sales people will want to know about the size of your existing bike. If you can only give them height and inside leg measurements your taking a punt.
Putting myself in your shoes I definitely wouldn't buy without riding. Thorn is based in Bridgwater, Somerset. Why not book lodging in town for a couple of nights compare the Nomad and RT options. They've both got Rohloff and from what I can see on the Thorn forum the poms go for the RT every time. If you are concerned about securing a place in the queue I'm sure they will take a deposit subject to a decision between the options after a ride. While in Bridgwater you might also cruise up the road to Bath and visit http://www.foldingbikes.co.uk I believe you will find a number of folding touring bikes that will do the job and several also have Rohloff.
Thanks RonK and Slim.
Yeah, we understand that most of our riding on this tour will be in pretty good conditions (road wise anyway.. who knows about weather!), but the thought is the next tour will probably be South America or Europe/Scandinavia or something a bit more challenging - possibly with the idea of doing 3-4 day hikes at the same time..
I have been reading over the Raven brochure and thinking this might do me..
We currently have a couple of old MTB's that I've started doing some riding on.. my b/f has a (even more than normal) remote posting until mid nov, so he wont be able to really ride until then.. Our latest thought is to buy one and have it sent over, and pick up a second over there. He's only an inch or so taller than me, maybe 30kg heavier though, but this might be a good compromise price wise and getting to know/learn to pack the bike wise.. Would get us a good seat each to wear in tho..
Slim - why would you choose the Raven over Nomad? Is it due to the surfaces you are primarily riding or other reasons also?
RonK - are there decent manuals/instructions etc around for someone who has never built (or pulled apart) a bike? Would it be easy enough for a newby to manage without forgetting anything?!
There are some great threads on here about good quality parts and people getting good deals online.. but nothing I can see tells you how easy it is to fumble thru if you've no experience..
Also, I am a little paranoid about spending that kind of cash if it's going to get nicked. Do many people have issues with their Tourer (or parts) getting stolen? Most threads on here indicate more road bikes or MTB's.. I can't imagine the frustration of being in a different country, losing your wheels and everything on them!
This may get a reaction from other Nomad users but here we go:
1) The Nomad is a seriously heavy machine, but if you want to pass a bike onto your kid's, grand children ... it's the one to get.
2) In my opinion it's over built for the needs of most tourers. Even Thorn seems to have had a re-think. They just brought out a light weight tourer - the Mercury with some interesting options that seem at odds with much of what is said in their Nomad and RT literature.
3) It seems to me that there are more tourers in Europe, South America etc riding RT's than Nomads, but that's only an impression.
Whether you go with a Nomad or an RT you will have a great touring bike that is very dependable and requires hardly any maintenance other than tightening the chain (4-5 minutes) and an annual oil change for the Rohloff (60 minutes +/-).
You might consider putting your questions on the Thorn forum. I would be keen to see the responses myself.
Tan, if you have no experience at all - i.e. you have never performed basic maintenance tasks on a bicycle, then I would not recommend that you attempt to build your own. I have a mechanical engineering background and many years of experience riding and maintaining my own bikes, so I am very confident about building my own bikes, and I have acquired the essential tools.
There are a number of web sites which are helpful for home bike maintenance. One I refer to from time to time is the Park Tools web site. Park Tools make bicycle tools, although they are generally too expensive for the home bike mechanic. They also produce the Big Blue Book of bicycle repair.
If you decide to build your own Thorns, whatever the model, then it's probably best to order the frames prepped and wheels built up, unless you have a reliable wheel builder in Darwin. If you can get the wheels built locally, then you can probably save quite few dollars by buying the Rohloff hub from Bike24. Then you can source the rest of the parts from Thorn or wherever else you prefer. BTW, Thorn's shopfront is St John Cycles (SJS).
Yes, touring bikes do get stolen. In a recent incident in South America, two bikes where stolen from a hotel courtyard while the owners were taking their baggage up to their room. I don't bother carrying heavy u-locks, just a light cable lock. I have a simple security solution - I never, ever let my bike out of sight unless I know that it is securely stored. Since there are two of you, this should not be a problem, one can always keep an eye on the bikes while the other attends to whatever business is necessary.
Last edited by RonK on Mon Sep 19, 2011 12:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
If you want to go international I'd seriously consider the Roughstuff from Roberts Cycles, beautiful handmade frame or if you have lots to spend then maybe a Pangea from Co Motion in the US.
If you want to go local (Oz) there are several such as Ewen Gellie/custombikes or Bobo Bicycles. These guys will do custom with Rohloff etc & there not made in Asia like Surly & Thorn if that makes a difference to you...
Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk...
Thorn are actually quite proud of their Taiwanese frame-maker.
Cheers for the input Wingnut, I'll have a look at those couple and mention them to the b/f.
Another lazy nooby Thorn question tho.. The b/f thought he read the Raven can take tyres up to 2 inch with no mudguard or 1.75 with guards..
B/f as mentioned previously wants to go all out get top of the range Nomad and run 2.25inch wheels on a Nomad.
I'm happy not to do the overkill (hence me thinking the Raven is more than good enough for me) but i've also given up on trying to talk him out of overkill... it'd obviously make sense if we could both run the same tyres which would save on (more) extra spares etc .. Is he right in thinking the above is true?
Thanks so much for saving me the hassle of reading.. my eyes can't take much more of reading spec papers yet another night.. it's all starting to look the same at the moment!!
If your long term intention is to do lots of touring and visit places like South America, then the Nomad is a good investment, even if it is more than you need for the trip you are currently planning. I don't think b/f is just lusting after a fancy toy - it's the pragmatic choice.
And if it to be South America next tour, here is a link to a little light reading which will whet your appetite. And if that is not enough, let me know and I provide a couple more - these are journals I've been researching to plan my own trip to Patagonia.
There is not much point in going all out with the widest tyres unless you are actually going to be riding on unsealed roads. I'm also currently building an expedition bike and will equip it initially with 26" x 2.0" tyres, but if they have too much rolling resistance for sealed roads I'll switch to something narrower.
BTW Tan - I grew up in Darwin (a long time ago) and spent a lot of time beating around the bush in the Top End. Where are you located?
Ah Jabiru - in the early 80's I worked for Bridge Autos. The company had a dealership at Jabiru and I visited quite often. But before there was Jabiru township, my mates and I knocked around places like Nourlangie, Jim Jim, Twin Falls and UDP Falls well before the Kakadu National Park was declared. Back then the road was no more than a rutted muddy track, and the black soil plains were impassable during the wet. We went shooting for magpie geese at Humpty Doo - the CSIRO used to hand out boxes of cartridges to encourage us to keep the geese off the rice paddies (yes, there were rice paddies). Huge buffalo and wild pigs were every where then, and went well on the barbie. I was apprenticed to the Department of Works during the construction of the road - there was a construction camp at the Mary River bridge and we went there often to service the earthmoving equipment (and go fishing). The Skewes's pub at Humpty Doo was just a tin shed. I went to school with one of the boys - Neville I think. Shady Camp was one of the most memorable places I've ever visited as far as best fishing goes - I caught my best Barra there. Big crocs too.
Yep yep to all of the above! I've been a tour guide up here for years, so done all my history, sourced a heap of old photos and old research papers (bought a couple of 1948 National Geographics from the earliest Scientific Expedition) and now work for the Land Council, so get to hear stories from the Traditional Owners regularly! But, back to the thread, do you know per my earlier post if the following is true? -
The b/f thought he read the Raven can take tyres up to 2 inch with no mudguard or 1.75 with guards..
B/f as mentioned previously wants to go all out get top of the range Nomad and run 2.25inch wheels on a Nomad.
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