After years of deliberation and countless hours on the road in the UK, New Zealand and Tasmania dreaming of a new bike 🌏 I settle for an English number!

I arrived back to Blighty from Tasmania in May 2013. One of my first port-of-calls was to cycle up to Bridgwater, Somerset from Poole, Dorset, to test ride a Thorn bicycle. Thorn Cycles.

WOW… look at all these fabulous bicycles. There’s a bicycle heaven 🚴‍♂️!

A decision had to be made on what gearing to opt for. A Rohloff or not a RohloffA Thorn with a Rohloff is a ‘Nomad’ and with a standard derailleur, it’s a ‘Sherpa’!

Why? It’s down to how the frame is designed around the gearing ⚙ Apart from that, the frame is the same specification. With a Rohloff, the rear dropout and bottom bracket (eccentric) are different to a normal rear derailleur and square tapered/hollow tech bottom bracketsThe Rohloff with ancillaries would set me back near £1,000 plus alone … ouch! 

I couldn’t justify the cost. Also considering, Ive components on my ‘Orange P7’ that still had countless miles left and could easily be swapped over. It’s a no-brainer.

small box arrives from Thorn Cycles in no time at all. Thorn certainly pack the frame well, and it’s in a box no bigger than the frame  bugger! I need to get a whole bike in there for the flight/s. And it’s not like I’ve bike shops anywhere near where I live in very-rural-Cornwall.

Box 📦 contents:

565L Sherpa frame (fits my 5’ 11.2” height) and FSA headset bearings. 

Thorn ST1 forks

Thorn saddle-stem, with touch-up paint

Shimano Pro Riser handlebar 31.8mm

SKS P65 mudguards

50 and 100mm Thorn T-Bars (not sure which one is going to work!).

First things first cannibalise my ol’ Orange P7 bicycle. Needs must!

Components to migrate over:

Shimano Deore XT groupset, including crank-arms

Brooks B17 saddle

Tubus Logo rear rack

Rigida Sputnik, SAPIM spokes hand-built rims (Spa Cycles), LX hubs and Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres

Bike Buddy bottle cage

Taxc bottle cages

Some new Gucci kit!

Shimano Deore XT brake levers

Shimano Deore XT brakes … NICE!

Ergon GS3 grips (The GP5’s were overkill)

Bontrager 5W Trip computer (the Sigma failed!)

Crankbrothers Iodine stem 100mm

Tubus Tara front low-rider rack

Shimano M520 clipless pedals 

Now the part I’ve been looking forward to for a long time … ASSEMBLY. I’ve never had the comfort of all the components to hand in one go. So nice. Feels like a real bike shop!

Things move swimmingly. Only hitch, for some reason my used Shimano UN55 bottom bracket will not thread. I’m not going to force the issue, as I might end up re-threading the Sherpa’s bottom bracket ... eecckknew one is ordered from Chain Reaction Cycles. It’s screws in perfectly … phew!

Next, a part I always fear, cutting the handlebars to length. I don’t like wide bars. Shoulder width to the palms works well for me. As my Grandfather (carpenter) used to say, mark twice, cut once 🔪 I mark a dozens times, cut once. Then think, hmmm … may be should’ve been wider! Just have to watch-out I’m leaving enough room for the handlebar furniture, due to the rise of the bar. Sweet, all fits, just! As with any bicycle build, adding the handlebar makes for exhilarating times, as one can see a huge transformation.

The task of feeding the cables through brings life into the build. Don’t want them too long or too short. If too short, the bars won’t swing freely. Too long, just catches everything.

The largest-rear-cog is a 36T and the front-small-chainring is a 22T. Ample low gearing for BiG hills. Rohloff can’t match that!

I’ve yet to add the SKS mudguards. No fine tuning of brakes or gearing also, this can wait till I get to New Zealand.

I’ve done away with the Topeak Turbo Morph pump. Served its purpose, but the floor-footplate is relatively fragile. Eventually snapping off in Tasmania. I’ve gone with a Lezyne Micro Floor Drive HV ABS Pump with  gauge. Initial impressions, very BLiNg and well-built!

I’ve only enough time to take her round the houses a few times before she goes back in the box. The ride is ‘SWEET’!

I set about extending the lid of Thorn’s frame box 📦 The real skill is packing a full touring bike into a smaller than normal bike box! But with a bit of jiggery-pokery, it goes in. Along with my MSR Hubba Hubba tent. The tent equally serves as a core component between the racks. Create’s rigidity. With a roll of packing tape applied, jobs a good’n!

Combined weight 22.5 kg’s. Not bad, considering a tent is in there too.

Next stop New Zealand and the ‘Thorn Sherpa – Final Build.

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