Author Topic: alternative to thorn bike :tout terrain silkroad  (Read 12316 times)

rohloffadmirer

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alternative to thorn bike :tout terrain silkroad
« on: October 07, 2008, 10:15:06 AM »
I joined the thorn website when I was researching a bike to buy. I have ended up buying an alternative to thorn. After considerable research I ended up buying a German rohloff equipped  bike called the silkroad by Tout Terrain based in Freiburg.
There are a number of differences to a thorn.
the frame is columbus but has a reinforced fork on the left side as the bike has XT disc brakes. I have not ridden a thorn so I do not know if this affects comfort. i have schwalbe marathon supreme 26x2.0 tyres that provide significant comfort.
The specs of the components is very high. Head set is chris king, cranks middleburn, stem+handlebars syntace VRO system (adjustable), seatpost ritchey pro, chain is wipperman connex stainless steel (doesn't rust).
The brakes are XT disc brakes. i know that there has been discussion regarding the advisability of discs for touring. All I can say is that if you use disc brakes, you will not want to go back to V brakes, with perfect braking in all conditions. I use my bike for a daily 30km commute and not heavy touring. Hwever, i am over 100kg and have had no problems with the brakes at all.
there is also an integrated rear rack made of stainless steel. Very robust but needs ingenuity to avoid scratching from panniers.
i use a nabendynamo and stronglight front and rear LED light which are excellent.
Rohloff works well and the cables are via stainless steel fittings.
Paint is fantastic, a deep lustrous racing green powder coat with tough clear coat. I have heard a lot about the enamel paint on the thorn being soft although Robin Thorn says the paint is fine.
The bike was an ex demo and cost me 2550 euros.
More expensive than a thorn but I believe a better deal.
It is interesting to see that there are a number of German and Swiss alternatives but that they are not easy to access for non English speaking people.
Would be interested in feedback and thorn owners comments. Cant figure out how to down load photos but there are a couple of photos on the tout terrain website.

freddered

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Re: alternative to thorn bike :tout terrain silkroad
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2008, 10:44:36 AM »
2550 Euros is a lot of money, almost double what I paid for my Raven Tour 2 years ago.

Here is a Silk Road from 'Peter White' web site Peter White


They looks nice and rugged but I have to say I do not like the integrated rack at all, I want to have the choice of removing my rack (5 minute job). The asymmetrical fork looks ugly also.  Basically these 2 parts (rack and fork) are necessary because of the use of disk brakes.

I like the eccentric bottom-bracket clamp, that looks easier to make small adjustments and it's nice to have a 700c wheel option but it seems like a lot of money.

Tell me, do you get a 100 day warranty?  For me that is the most incredible part of the Thorn raven 'equipment list'.

Looks nice though, I like 'chunky' bikes.  I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

 

jags

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Re: alternative to thorn bike :tout terrain silkroad
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2008, 03:40:29 PM »
it sure is a beauty i hope you tour the planet trouble free on that beauty,but it would not be my choice sorry,okay if i had the money i dont proberly never will ,well the bike i would buy having spent months drooling over this would be the thorn exp-r ,i think thorn said they spent 3years dreaming this fantastic machine up ,this is english craftmanship at it's best class ,but in the mean time i hack along on my sherpa (only jocking )until i win the lottery.enjoy your bike whatever your riding keep safe.

vik

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Re: alternative to thorn bike :tout terrain silkroad
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2008, 05:17:03 PM »
In Canada it would cost me about the same to get a Thorn Nomad S&S or the TT Silk Road [both frame and fork only] and I spent some time looking over both bikes.  Having used disc brakes on tour [still have them on one of my touring bikes] I'm not a huge fan and only offering discs is a deal breaker for me.  When I first became aware of the TT bikes I posted a query on a popular North American touring forum asking who had one and what they thought - I got zero replies.  The same forum has quite a few reports about Thorn bikes.  It is very hard to order an expensive frame set sight unseen when you can't find anyone who is riding one in your part of the world. 

« Last Edit: October 08, 2008, 02:50:10 AM by vik »
Safe riding,

Vik
www.thelazyrando.com

geocycle

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Re: alternative to thorn bike :tout terrain silkroad
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2008, 05:31:56 PM »
Looks like a great bike and I am sure you'll love the rohloff.  I'm not keen on the integrated rack but otherwise very nice.  The clamp-approach to the EBB looks nice and simple.  My only experience with disk brakes has been at the cheaper end of the range and they were rubbish.  There is certainly a logic in using high quality discs to avoid rim wear as long as you can be sure to keep the rotors straight.  I'd like to see them as an option on more of the thorn bikes, but would probably stick with v's in the end.
 

freddered

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Re: alternative to thorn bike :tout terrain silkroad
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2008, 04:55:28 PM »
The future for me will be V-Brakes and Carbide rims fitted to Raven Tour when existing rims wear out.

Unless you are in some extremely remote part of the world then you aren't far from someone selling a 26" wheel rim and a V-Brake type brake block..  You may be a long way from someone selling a disc rotor though (or even pads).

I'm unlikely to be cycling outside of Western Europe so it's not an issue either way but there's nothing more simple than a V-Brake and I like simplicity in brakes.

I can lock my wheels up in the dry or wet, I don't need any more power than that.
 

pastafarian

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Re: alternative to thorn bike :tout terrain silkroad
« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2008, 09:08:03 PM »
The future for me will be V-Brakes and Carbide rims fitted to Raven Tour when existing rims wear out.

Agreed, keep it simple :)

Although for the kind of offroad touring done on a Nomad or Tout terrain I would consider a pair of regular cantilever brakes for increased mud clearance and modulation. Some of them use V brake pads for compatibility. Here is an article (written by another bike shop) explaining the benefits of cantilevers over discs and V brakes, when it comes to loaded touring. I can't confirm this myself, but my local bike builder did. http://www.rodbikes.com/articles/brakes.html


freddered

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Re: alternative to thorn bike :tout terrain silkroad
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2008, 10:42:35 AM »
I've got Avid Ultimate V-brakes on my Raven Tour and Avid Shorty Cantilevers on my lightweight Tourer.  The V-Brakes are better at braking.

I've also fitted Suntour Self-Energising Cantilevers (from SJSC) to a converted MTB and they are not very good.

The nicest brakes I have for power and feel are Shimano 105 deep-drop side-pulls, I had no idea how good side-pulls could be.

Also, I think disc rotors look hideous on road bikes.  This shouldn't be, but is, a factor I'm afraid.
 

rohloffadmirer

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Re: alternative to thorn bike :tout terrain silkroad
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2008, 09:15:03 AM »
I am enjoying the comments. Its always fun to stir up a bit of a conversation.A few responses:
For remote touring I would choose v brakes for simpicity.
I agree that  a separate rear rack is less of a worry regarding damage but suspect that the integrated rack would survive a major tour better than a separate rack. There are quite a few posts on the net of observations regarding failed racks in remote places. Who knows which is better?
Everyone is correct in saying that the design of the tout is specifically for discs. To me, the design shows considerable forethought and is an example of good engineering. nothing on the frame is an afterthought.
It would be interesting to compare the costs of replacement of discs versus rims/brake blocks....anyone have any idea. i have none.
another positive about my bike is that while it cost 2550 euros to me as an ex demo tax free,  the full price is 3600 euros....far too expensive for me.
if anyone can direct me about posting photos I can show details of the bike that are superior in construction to the thorn. Rear drop outs etc.... while I love the forks on the thorn, the rear dropouts are very ugly to my eye and undermine the beauty of the rest of the frame. The paint job is also poor, enamel is not as environmentally friendly or as good as a powder coated frame. I like the EX box as I think it is tidier. i think the thorn paint job lets the bike down....the one person I have met with a thorn in NZ says the paiint is soft and see this comment often on the web.
A few other interesting sites that I discovered include velotraum, patria, norwid and aarios. The aarios expedition is an interesting bike. When I spoke to aarios they said they could see me at the factory outside of Zurich, fit me to a bike, paint to my specifications and deliver in a week....the expedition model is a nice bike but again very expensive.
When I was trying to make up my mind I wondered about thorns concern about disc brakes. germany is an incredibly litiginous environment concerning health and medicine. if disc brakes were reallly a health hazard, one would think that they would be banned if accidents occured even if not commonly. Anyone have real evidence of their danger apart from extreme examples? I wonder if thorn dont want to use discs because to the esthetic beauty of the current forks? rather than any practical concerns.
I agree that the 100 day return policy of thorn and the life time warranty are great. Coming from New Zealand, the return policy is not so good given the high cost of returning a bike.
NB: I'm using time MTB pedals and have sore knees at the end of the week. Which are the best knee friendly pedals. Been thinking about the frog speedplays?


bobs

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Re: alternative to thorn bike :tout terrain silkroad
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2008, 10:34:08 AM »
I don't think that any of the good tourers are any better than each other. Its all about compromise whether its cost , weight, equipment etc. The main thing is enjoy it. I built my Sherpa from parts I had after spliting a mountain bike, would have gone for a Stirling if I was prepared to spend the money. Instead i have a Thorn Sherpa for heavy duty touring and an Airborne Lucky Strike for off road, (2 bikes for the price of 1 , if you know what I mean). 

PH

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Re: alternative to thorn bike :tout terrain silkroad
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2008, 11:27:01 AM »
I think bobs has got it spot on, it is all about compromises.  My definition of a good bike is one that lives up to expectations, an excellent bike is one that exceeds them, after nearly five years my Raven is definatly an excellent bike.
For me;
I don't care who manufactured the tubes.
An integrated rack is too big a risk.
V brakes and Carbide rims are the best braking compromise.
Disks on the rear are completly unnessessary and need frequent adjustment to stop rub, my MTB drives me mad and it only does a few miles a year.
Disks on the front require a stiffer fork, I want maximum comfort through the handlebars.
If you do have a front disk the cable needs securing, just hanging like that is an accident waiting to happen.
The higher profile rims used to stiffen the disk braked wheels will be less comfortable.
The light fitting on the Silkroad is too low, I have that E3 light in the photo, it needs pointing down to be effective, which will cast a big wheel shadow.
The rear mudguard on the Silkroad looks badly fitted, does it need cutting down to fit the chainstays?  That has to be both weaker and less effective.
You've been miss-informed about the Raven finish, they are powder coat (Well mine is)
I hope you've found the right size from the Silkroad's four. I had twice the choice from Thorn.
If I'd wanted to spend that much money on a steel frame, I'd have had Longtaffs or Mercian custom build one to my exact requirments.
Though for that sort of money I'd have gone for titainium.

None of which matters a jot if you're happy with your bike, though maybe you'd be better off reserving judgment till you've done a few thousand miles.  My bike's better than yours does seem childish... but you started it ;D

To be positive, that headset stop is a brilliant idea, it's the only thing I'd transfer from the Silkroad to my Raven.
 

 
« Last Edit: October 11, 2008, 11:36:42 AM by PH »

PH

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Re: alternative to thorn bike :tout terrain silkroad
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2008, 11:36:07 AM »
Agreed, keep it simple :)

Here is an article (written by another bike shop) explaining the benefits of cantilevers over discs and V brakes, when it comes to loaded touring. I can't confirm this myself, but my local bike builder did. http://www.rodbikes.com/articles/brakes.html


Most of the disadvantages in that article are about the unsuitability of Vs with drop bar levers, which I'd agree with, but not relavent when using straight bars.  They also point out the difference between canti and V pads, maybe true a few years ago, now not only have V pads improved, most cantis now use the same ones.

freddered

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Re: alternative to thorn bike :tout terrain silkroad
« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2008, 01:41:58 PM »
Tektro's new Drop Bar lever has fixed any issues with V-Brakes and Drop bars.

All the Taiwan-made frames are Powder coat, I think the Bridgewater bikes (ie. the very expensive ones) are Enamelled and have been prone to chipping.

The rear dropouts are...well, to be honest, not something I ever look at.  I suppose the anti-torque dropout is a bit agricultural but then again it's right next to a big black lump of Hub so it's never going to be pretty back there.

The Ex-box hub looks even uglier but I'd definitely get it for remote tours to make for easier servicing.

If a rack breaks on a tour then I'll buy another, I never want an integrated rack as it limits my options, I see this as a design fault in fact.

Again I like the look of the Silk Road but maybe that's becasue it looks just like a Thorn Raven in the photo. 

Unfortunately we aren't comparing apples with apples here, the Silk Road is a (normally) very expensive bike. 3600E is just crazy money and would enable me to get a Thorn Raven Tour for heavy duties/Winter and a Thorn Audax 853 for fun.

Bottom line though, it looks great and will give you years of pleasure.  That's all that matters.

 

john28july

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Re: alternative to thorn bike :tout terrain silkroad
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2008, 11:48:06 AM »
Most of the disadvantages in that article are about the unsuitability of Vs with drop bar levers, which I'd agree with, but not relavent when using straight bars.  They also point out the difference between canti and V pads, maybe true a few years ago, now not only have V pads improved, most cantis now use the same ones.

If you take a look here      http://www.pbase.com/john28july/only_bikes      you will see that two of my Thorn bikes have Diacompe levers and Campagnollo V brakes. They work superbly. I have a pair of Tektro levers for the Sherpa to be kitted out the same-but-am unable to do so, as the Tektros do not come with cable adjusters. Be wary of this.
John. 

freddered

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Re: alternative to thorn bike :tout terrain silkroad
« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2008, 12:19:49 PM »
If you take a look here      http://www.pbase.com/john28july/only_bikes      you will see that two of my Thorn bikes have Diacompe levers and Campagnollo V brakes. They work superbly. I have a pair of Tektro levers for the Sherpa to be kitted out the same-but-am unable to do so, as the Tektros do not come with cable adjusters. Be wary of this.
John. 

I don't understand.  Don't you use 'in-line' cable adjusters at the V-brake noodle?