Thorn Cycles Forum

Community => Thorn General => Topic started by: Tokumeino on May 02, 2018, 09:35:09 PM

Title: Is the Sherpa for me ?
Post by: Tokumeino on May 02, 2018, 09:35:09 PM
Me and my bike (please let me introduce myself : 1st post)

I'm not a tourer hero, just a basic commuter using his bike for almost everything. My commuting is 15 km (9 miles) one way but I often add several kms for various small rides. I'm living in the center of Paris (France) and I'm working in the suburbs. My commuting involves :
I'm also using my bike once or twice a week for shopping (like 10-15kg) for my familly of 4.

I'm currently riding a 80's racing Columbus Aelle frame with 1x7 gears and a flat bar (all used, gathered here and there for very low prices). I'm not super fit and I normally ride at 30km/h when I accept to sweat, and at 25km/h max if I have an appointment and want to remain dry. My bike use is very utilitarian but I like to have a bit fun while riding.

What I want

I really love my bike but several things are annoying :

So I'm looking for a new bike with larger tires (like 35-37mm), with various mounts for fenders and racks with moderately heavy bags (front). I want a curved bar or very moderate moustache (no flat bar because it harms, and no drop bar because I need to frequently brake on emergency). I'll probably use an Apex 1x11 drive for convenience and versatility. And the more fun and responsive the bike, the better, so I'm after light wheels and tires.

Why am I here ?

I'm forward buying parts and assemble by myself.

As far as frames are concerned, I quickly went to compare Genesis Croix-De-Fer, All-City Space Horse, Surly Straggler and Velo Orange Pass Hunter. But during my research, I went aware of Thorn and the Club Tour or Gravel. I've downloaded the Mega Brochure and even if the Club Tout and Gravel look great, there is a bike comparison matrix page 14 which tends to indicate that the Sherpa would be the best for my own usage.

I have to admit that for some reason (snobism ?) I never would have thought about a 26" bike but the Mega Brochure is really full of interesting information and after more reading, I think that it would perhaps make sense.

What do you think ?
Title: Re: Is the Sherpa for me ?
Post by: Danneaux on May 02, 2018, 09:56:33 PM
Hi Toku', and welcome to the Thorn Cycling Forum!

After carefully reading your brief, I think your needs might be well met by a lightweight Sherpa build much like member Lewis J. Noble's. Here are some links relating to his machine so you can see what it looks like and can better assess if it would meet your needs:
(Nice photos on pg. 3 of this link:)
...and here:


Title: Re: Is the Sherpa for me ?
Post by: jags on May 02, 2018, 10:55:15 PM
imho  i would say no.its to heavy  steering is terrible heavy.but panic not i'd say the Audax is the perfect bike for you .ligh fast very responsive take racks front and rear looks cool .
mine only takes 700x28  but the mark 4 as far as i know takes wider tyres .
i had the sherpa great bike for sure but didn't like the 599 whels and hated the steering.
my new Audax suites me way better.
no idea how to post photos but there's plenty of photos on the forum.
best of luck with your choice .

jags better know as Anto.
Title: Re: Is the Sherpa for me ?
Post by: Tokumeino on May 03, 2018, 07:32:40 AM
Thanks for the (quite contradicting) answers and the instructive links. The agility of the bike is relatively important to me. It doesn't need to be super unstable-agile, but I find displeasant to ride a sluggish bike (I'm commuting, but I prefer if my commute is a bit fun). So one question is : with a light setup (light wheels, marathon supreme tires) and a curved straight bar, how does the Sherpa behave ? Is it agile enough to get a bit fun ?

About the Audax, it is not suited to me because of the 700x28. 28mm is not enough. On my commute path, there are many occasions where I ride 30km/h and face a field of small holes. Then I need to brake a lot, go through the degradated road, and start again. I'd like to just go through this. And I'd like to be comfortable on pavement as well (many in Paris). I'm currently riding a 700x28 and I know it's not OK for my useage, event if my bike is fun and very good looking (IMHO).

About the Thorn offering, my primary information source is the Mega Brochure : ( Page 14, there is this matrix :

( (

Besides, the C2 receipe page 122 shows a light Serpa setup, rated below 10.5kg. The A1 receipe (Audax) is 500g heavier and the Bx receipes (Club Tour) are 1 more kg heavier.

I'm not confusing handling and weight. I feel quite relaxed as far as weight is concerned (especially non rotating weight). If I need to spare 1kg, I'm sure that stopping beer would do the trick very easily  ;) But weight is nevertheless an indication of how the bike has been designed.

Since I live in France, I won't have the opportunity to try a Thorn so I'm asking questions on a forum.

I mentioned bikes such as Genesis Croix-De-Fer, All-City Space Horse, Surly Straggler or Cross Check and Velo Orange Pass Hunter. As far as handling and agility is concerned how do Sherpa and Club Tour compare when not loaded with bags ? ... provided the wheels would be on the light side. Typically, I wouldn't buy a Surly Long Haul Trucker but in the Surly lineup, I would prefer a Cross-Check or Straggler. But I'm not to the point of prefering a Pacer (which I would compare to my current bike, or the Audax.
Title: Re: Is the Sherpa for me ?
Post by: martinf on May 03, 2018, 07:43:45 AM
For this kind of use I have a Thorn Raven frame (more or less the equivalent of the Sherpa, but designed for hub gears). Mine is built with "heavy" wheels, because I sometimes haul up to about 70 kg in my trailer and may have up to 40 Kg of shopping in front and rear pannier bags (not at the same time!). I also use this bike occasionally for mild off-road riding.

I have a Shimano 8-speed hub gear and Chainglider to reduce maintenance, which I found was a nuisance with derailleurs for wet-weather commuting. I chose light but fat Schwalbe Marathon Supreme tyres in 26" x 50 mm, these have been very good so far, very easy rolling, long-lasting and only 1 puncture in about 10000 kms, but you might need something more puncture resistant if you have a lot of glass or metal road debris in your area. I live in southern Brittany, where there is not too much glass on the roads.

I'd say for your use a Sherpa frame if you prefer derailleurs, with either a good rear rack (Thorn own brand or Tubus), or a good front rack (the only good one I know is the Thorn own brand low-loader). For 15 kg max I would personally choose just a rear rack. I don't think you would need heavyweight wheels, and would recommend light but reasonably fat tyres run at fairly low pressures, for example Marathon Supreme in 26" x 42 or 50 mm width, or maybe the slightly heavier and slightly slower but more resistant Marathon Dureme, only available from SJS/Thorn and only in the in 26" x 50 mm width. 

I have had both 42 mm and 50 mm Marathon Supreme tyres on one bike. 42 mm was very marginally faster, but 50 mm was significantly more comfortable and gave better traction on loose surfaces (towpaths, sandy tracks) and better braking.
Title: Re: Is the Sherpa for me ?
Post by: jags on May 03, 2018, 10:33:08 AM
dont believe 599 wheels are stronger than 700c  good pair custom 700c will take what ever you throw at them  tyre with is down to skill thats a fact.
at my age i want to make cyclinf as easy as possible  light bike light gear .
if you do go with the sherpa change the fork it weighs as much as the frame  get a carbon fork sjs sell them.

Title: Re: Is the Sherpa for me ?
Post by: PH on May 03, 2018, 11:27:02 AM
Form the description of your usage there's many bikes that would easily fulfil the criteria, but IMO if you're looking for something like your current bike that will also carry your modest luggage and take wider tyres the Sherpa isn't it.  I had the original Raven, which looks on paper to be the Rohloff twin to the Sherpa, it was a fine bike in every respect, really couldn't fault it, it did many thousands of miles commuting (160 @ week for 4 years) and some camping tours, but if all I wanted was to go out for a relatively short fun ride it was never the first choice, I preferred my Cannondale Hybrid for that, despite it having cost a third of the Raven's price. 
When my commute changed so did the bike, taking the things I liked about the Raven and the 'dale and combining them in a custom Ti frame, when that failed last year, the Mercury was a natural replacement (Had it been available ten years ago, I'd have gone straight to it from the Raven)
However rational or not, I dislike 26" wheels, I've had three bikes with them and compared as far as possible with similar bikes they just seem to be harder work. 
In your position, from the Thorn range, I'd choose the Club Tour in a light build, but many of the benefits you're paying for are not going to be needed.  An ideal model would be a derailleur Mercury, though they don't have such a thing (Yet) From other brands the current trend for "Gravel/Adventure" bikes (Who thinks these name up!) might offer something suitable, light, fast, good tyre clearance, luggage and guards... from your list, I've had a Cross Check  (Rim brake Surly Straggler) flat bar and SS, it was a lot of fun, more so than a tourer, though I wouldn't have wanted to be out on it all day and I certainly noticed if I'd overdone the luggage. 
I'm a little concerned by your handlebar choice, bikes designed for such bars are likely to have a different steering geometry.  It isn't something I've really looked at, but I'd be reluctant to spend a lot of money without understanding it.
Title: Re: Is the Sherpa for me ?
Post by: lewis noble on May 03, 2018, 12:18:38 PM
Sorry for delayed reply, unable to log in using laptop for some reason, and unable to reset password or receive email re new password, so writing from phone.

My Sherpa is almost identical to menu C2 bike near end of megabrochure. Brilliant bike in my view for commuting, agile in lightweight spec, excellent on moderate loaded tours. Mine has straight bars, st brakes, excellent in traffic. ST Swiss rims, Tunis Vega rack (too narrow for  racktop bag, thorn rack more practical but heavier. 26" wheels or 700? Depends on stature and personal choice I think. I prefer 26 for urban / mixed riding. Happy to post more once I can get access on computer. If need be I will re-register
Title: Re: Is the Sherpa for me ?
Post by: lewis noble on May 03, 2018, 12:30:43 PM
Finally got sorted, re-validation emails had ended up in junk in an older email a/c. 

Not much to add to above, my Sherpa weighs c 12.5 kg including pedals, rack mudguards, and all fittings.  I have thumbie shifters, much prefer them because of arthritic finger / hand joints. 

Happy to answer further queries if need be.

Title: Re: Is the Sherpa for me ?
Post by: Tokumeino on May 03, 2018, 03:02:04 PM
Thanks you so much for your answers. I'm deeply sorry but I'm afraid that I slightly underestimated the load when shopping : it'll be more like 20 or even 25kg max rather than only 15 (I can fill a cart like this one : ( plus a backpack. And I'm not sure that a bike like my current one would stand this weight if it was possible to hang it on the frame. My current bike is actually the following, so you can get an idea :
( (
Perfectly horizontal top bar with no slopping, with a front carrier, heavy saddle, lock, Abus secured wheels, with lights and equipment, I'm not sure it is the most light and agile and responsive bike ever. I could actually stand to loose a bit of agility if it was to improve sturdyness. Indeed, I'm 1m80 and 85kg and when I push hard on the pedals, the whole thing twists significantly.

I also used to own a 15kg gear-hubbed (Alfine) Creme Ristretto. It's been very helpfull to carry my daughters as well as groceries, but I didn't enjoy it and sold it (very boring bike IMO, and unbalanced because of the rear hub). Now, I also know that I prefer a derailleur (really a matter of taste, no argue about that) but I have to admit that I really enjoyed the hydrolic disc brakes !
( (

I'm looking for something half way between both, probably a closer to my current yellow and red one, but with every kind of eyelets to be future-proof, larger tires and sturdier, without being too much boring (I think that PH perfectly gets my point). And I'm now open to 26" (that's why this post) while a week ago, I just even wouldn't have through about that : a bike is 700c, isn't it ? ;)

@Anto : my point about larger tires is not about 26" beeing strudier : it is more about pinching-flats occuring frequently if I ride more than 10-15km/h on some portions of my commute, and I want to avoid that without needing to brake and start again every 50-100m.

@Lewisjnoble : 12.5kg sounds ok for me. Did you own bikes which could be compared to the ones pictured above, so as to get a reference point about agility ?

@PH : do you think that a Club Tout is more fun than a Sherpa (both with lightly builds) ? And you are right, I have to think about the bar thing. My point is that I find flat bars uncomfortable (during  longer rides, painful hands and forarm exterior) and drop bars are out of the question when in dense traffic (I've been the witness of an accident where in the same situation, another biker couldn't brake in time while it's been OK for me, hand constantly on the brakes). So I'm looking for something comfortable, but accessible brakes. Any idea ? I dislike comfort cushions and like to handle round bars because I feel more "involved" this way.

Important : due to room constraints (collective and small bike room for the whole building), I only keep 1 bike, so it needs to be very versatile, just not too much boring.

Title: Re: Is the Sherpa for me ?
Post by: PH on May 03, 2018, 04:35:58 PM

@PH : do you think that a Club Tout is more fun than a Sherpa (both with lightly builds) ? And you are right, I have to think about the bar thing.
For fun?  I wouldn't like to say, unless someone can come up with a reliable way to measure fun!  I can say it would certainly suite my riding more and all else being equal would be my choice over the Sherpa.
With your up rated luggage requirement, you can dismiss a lot of what I wrote earlier, the Cross Check with 25kg would probably be close to your current bike in terms of flex. 
My preferred bars are flats with 6 degree sweep and Ergon G5 bar ends, I've been using these for at least ten years, long before they became the Thorn default option,  love 'em, but they're probably as personal as all the other choices.  I also note your preference for front loading, again this isn't something I know a great deal about other than the trail of bikes designed for this is different.
Title: Re: Is the Sherpa for me ?
Post by: mickeg on May 03, 2018, 04:37:27 PM
... I'm deeply sorry but I'm afraid that I slightly underestimated the load when shopping : it'll be more like 20 or even 25kg max rather than only 15 ...

I have a Sherpa and a Velo Orange Pass Hunter (the older cantilever brake version of the Pass Hunter), along with several others.

I would not want to put a 20 to 25 kg load on the Pass Hunter, that would be a bit much I think.  The frame is heavier than it needs to be for a rando bike, but that model was not really designed to carry a load like 20 to 25 kg.  The Sherpa can handle that amount of weight rather well.  But, if you really are putting 25 kg on it, it would handle it better if you had a front low rider rack and put some of that load up front too.  Putting a 25 kg load on the back without any extra weight up front could be asking for difficulty.

Regarding tire size, I often use the Schwalbe Marathon (with Greenguard) in 1.5 width (40mm) on my Sherpa on trips where it is paved, but if on gravel I am more inclined to use 2.0 (50mm) width.

If I was shopping for a bike to be my only bike and that bike also had to be the grocery getter, I would put more emphasis on the ability to carry the load that it will frequently have to carry and less emphasis on the "fun" aspect.  You need it to be able to safely carry the load without it handling like a wet noodle.
Title: Re: Is the Sherpa for me ?
Post by: lewis noble on May 03, 2018, 04:58:08 PM
Lewis again, hopefully fewer typos now than I have put on other posts!! . . .

I agree with Mick - if carrying 20kg + regularly I would have a front loader as well, which of course rules out the 853 fork - in reality, the weight saving of that fork is not all that much, I bought it for comfort and good ride on irregular tarmac surfaces - great for that.

On my tour in France in 2016, I carried around 17 kg in rear panniers - handling was fine.  On occasions I have carried around 30kg in rear panniers - short slow rides from shops to campsite - but few bikes are happy with an unbalanced load like that.  The Sherpa would be fine with that load spread between front / rear 1/3 : 2/3.  I would consider 2" tyres as well unless good surfaces. The Sherpa can only take rim brakes, of course, whereas the current Club Tour can be specced up to discs.  I have found rim brakes fine, I use XTs with removable cartridge shoes, and I fit Koolstop Dual compound. Wet braking good, and the brakes have been 100% trouble free, in contrast to lots of problems with family bikes with discs . . . .tho' I guess better quality brakes would be more reliable. 

The bikes pictured above perhaps resemble a Club Tour more than a Sherpa I guess??  but I remain delighted with my Sherpa for the work I do on it.

As noted elsewhere on this Forum, I now have an Audax as well . . . . and I have been riding that for the last 3 - 4 months.  I much prefer the Sherpa in traffic (quicker to accelerate, brakes to hand etc) but have been riding the Audax to iron out any faults/problems with it (none . . . minor adjustment to gear limit screw only thing needed!) and to get the posture sorted after not riding drops for the last . . . 50 years. For mixed commuting and urban use, my preference is still for 26" wheels - each to his own view. 

Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

Title: Re: Is the Sherpa for me ?
Post by: martinf on May 03, 2018, 08:26:49 PM
With 25 kg, I prefer to split the load between rear panniers and front panniers, it makes for better handling than having all the weight on the rear. My Raven Tour utility bike handles very nicely with 8 kg on the front and 32 kg on the rear. Downside is that this method adds the weight of a second rack and another set of panniers. Although Thorn only recommend a maximum of 20 to 22 kg (depending on frame size) for a rear-only load on a Sherpa, my experience with the similar Raven Tour suggests that you could get away with a 25 to 30 kg rear-only load on the large frame sizes of a Sherpa if you are prepare to ride carefully.

According to the Thorn brochure, there is not much difference between the maximum recommended loads for the 26" Sherpa and the 700C Club Tour Mk4, as far as I can see the main differences are that you can fit wider tyres on the Sherpa (in my opinion better suited for load carrying/going fast over bad road surfaces), and you have the choice of fitting disc brakes to the Club Tour (for me, V-brakes are good enough).

I am lucky in that I have the space for several bikes. I have a Thorn Raven Sport Tour built up with light components, including 26" x 35 mm Kojak tyres. It is no good for serious load carrying, but is several kg lighter and also more aerodynamic as it has drop handlebars and doesn't have racks and panniers (only a saddlebag). The Sport Tour is therefore faster than my Raven Tour utility bike on good road surfaces, especially on hilly routes. On flat routes I don't notice so much difference, and on bad surfaces (tracks and paths), the Raven Tour's fatter tyres are better. 
Title: Re: Is the Sherpa for me ?
Post by: Tokumeino on May 04, 2018, 11:44:01 AM
Thanks for the inputs. I now have a lot of information and need to digest it.

What I mean by "fun" is mostly fast accelerating, responsive braking (best with larger tires) and efficient cornering. As far as I understand your input, 26" seems very appropriate for that and I'm more and more inclined to consider it. If I summarize the pros :
I'll probably loose something (probably speed and inertia on flat and good surfaces) because there is no such thing as a free lunch. But I'm no racer, just a modest commuter who can stand a 5% speed loss, if the ride remains decently fun and comfortable.

For sure, a Sherpa does not resemble my current bike but I'm open-minded : since I'm looking for a bike replacement, I have to accept change, otherwise I just wouldn't replace my current bike in a first place ;) I'll also ensure a fork with eyelets so as to carry part of the load on the front. I saw in the brochure that with diskbrakes, no more than 5kg is recommended on each side, compared to 8kg with rim brakes. Since the Avid Shortly Ultimate seem so nice, It should be a better tradeoff in my very own case.

Now my remaining question is about bars. But I'll look at other thread. I don't want a flat bar for ergonomic issues, I want something narrow to dodge cars when the traffic is heavy, and I want the brakes ready when I'm in an upper position (visibility). Not that easy actually, but I've just realised that there were such things ...


... probably a solution for me.
Title: Re: Is the Sherpa for me ?
Post by: martinf on May 04, 2018, 12:34:42 PM
I have auxiliary brake levers on my drop handlebar bikes, precisely to be able to sit upright and see better (over the tops of cars) when cycling in traffic, while still being able to brake.

However, I consider the braking from these levers as being a bit less effective than with flat-bar levers on straight or "sit up and beg" bars and less effective than braking from the main brake levers on drop bars.

My utility bike currently has straight bars (bought originally to do trials before finally deciding on drops for my Thorn touring bike).

I shall probably convert this bike eventually, either to drops or to what I call "sit up and beg" bars, as I am not a great fan of the hand position on straight bars. 

The photo shows "sit up and beg" bars on a recently completed bike for visitors to our island flat. On this bike they are set high and fairly close, but can be set up for a more sporty position by using a longer stem fitted lower, or for a very sporty position by inversing the bars "moustache" style as often used on fixies. These bars are fairly narrow at 480 mm.

Title: Re: Is the Sherpa for me ?
Post by: Tokumeino on May 04, 2018, 03:33:42 PM
Thanks. I've just started a dedicated thread about Handlebars here :

The point with the bar you picture, is that it is nice to have that angle, but it is also rised a lot, preventing a moderately sporty posture.
Title: Re: Is the Sherpa for me ?
Post by: martinf on May 04, 2018, 06:34:01 PM
The point with the bar you picture, is that it is nice to have that angle, but it is also rised a lot, preventing a moderately sporty posture.

Just turn the bar upside down, and adjust the height/reach with a suitable stem.