Author Topic: Frame availability  (Read 1519 times)

PH

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Re: Frame availability
« Reply #15 on: June 15, 2024, 11:29:31 pm »
The examples you have given seem to be of gravel bikes rather than touring bikes and on a gravel bike weight is perhaps more critical?  Thorn bikes are more built for Touring.
I'm in the " A bike's a bike" camp. Touring covers so many things that it's almost as vague as Gravel.  I'd consider all the bikes I listed to be touring bikes, they're the sort of bikes that are increasingly popular with riders going on multi day rides.  The sort of bike that I grew up calling a touring bike is going the same way as the Audax bike.  Thorn's Club Tour is a fine example, but judging by how infrequently it's mentioned here, I doubt it's a big seller.  many such bikes have already disappeared, like the Hewitt which was regarded as the touring bike to have 20 years ago.  Or they've evolved into something else, compare the current Surly LHT with the original. Even Thorn's other mainstay, the expedition bike. seems to have been replaced in many people's eyes by the growing range of more MTB derived tourers. The Nomad is Thorn's only offering to cover a demand that used to warrant at least four diverse models.
I have an opinion about which fork is best for me.  Someone with different criteria and priorities is likely to form a different opinion.  That's how it should be, but if I'd based my opinion on some inaccuracy I'd hope someone would point it out to me.

Moronic

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Re: Frame availability
« Reply #16 on: June 16, 2024, 12:37:17 am »

In the past I was under the impression that the ‘best’ touring forks were steel and designed for rim brakes to avoid the stiffness needed for a disc brake.  Of course it is difficult to quantify what ‘best’ is - but strength / long term reliability / ability to absorb small road imperfections (comfort) would seem high on the list, with weight perhaps less important?

Is that still the case, or is a carbon fork now ‘better’ in these respects on a touring bike - or just cheaper to make and lighter?
If carbon was ‘better’ I would expect that some people here would have by now thrown away their steel forks and bought lighter, comparatively cheap carbon forks.

I think you're right about what's best from a ride perpective and I don't think that's changed.

What has changed is the development of disc brakes. We're used to thinking of these as a superior design - they've replaced drums on just about all cars and motorbikes. A caliper squeezing a wheelrim looks primitive by comparison.

Plus discs are actually good. The brake does just one thing, it's elevated away from mud, it doesn't wear out the wheel, etc. And you can play with wheel sizes.

I imagine many sophisticated cyclists would follow Andy B and yourself (and me), and prefer a well constructed steel fork with rim brake. But that's not necessarily representative of the market.

A lot of buyers would be sceptical of the idea that any steel fork could have enough spring in it to make a difference. And they're balancing that against the current tech benchmark of a disc front end.

Durability is another question, of course.

Andyb1

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Re: Frame availability
« Reply #17 on: June 16, 2024, 07:53:04 pm »
I think this discussion shows how difficult it is for Thorn to continue selling new bikes.   All of us here are existing Thorn owners, tuned into the bikes that Thorn built (in the past).  We are not the market that Thorn would be selling to, with all the variations people now want.
I totally take what PH has said about bikes being bikes…..but the Thorn niche was rugged, reliable touring bikes - which are not modern gravel bikes.
 
My personal thought is that if Thorn want to continue making new bikes then they will EITHER have to be able to manufacture frames in UK as one-offs to suit exactly what the customer wants.  With a turn around of maybe 2 months from order to delivery?  A top end niche market.
OR
Invest a lot of money in ordering a lot of foreign built frames (with long lead times) and hope that customers will buy the range of sizes / colours they have.  With a big risk of having frame sets hanging on the wall for many years.

The other option is to do nothing.  Everything has an end point.

Also to consider, a very capable steel Touring bike is the Ridgeback Expedition.  Available new at £999 (list about £1350) with 3 x 9 gearing, 26” wheels, flat bars, cable disc brakes, rack and mudguards.  And a bracket for a rear stand.   Difficult to compete with.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2024, 08:09:44 pm by Andyb1 »

Moronic

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Re: Frame availability
« Reply #18 on: June 17, 2024, 02:42:44 am »
The discussion led me to look again last night at the 2020 Thorn Megabrochure. Lo and behold, offered there for sale was an Audax Mk 4 - with disc front end and carbon fork.

And designer Andy saying he and wife Fiona used carbon forks on their Mercuries (there are pics) until he decided to design a steel fork in 853, which he said brought more comfort.

But the key thing this brought back to me was that I would not myself have chosen a rim brake front end at that point except that I had read Andy's comments in the brochure, and credited them.

Now that I have the bike I find he was spot on, as expected. But the comments also aren't true for just any steel fork. I imagine the commonplace unicrown items with straight blades ride pretty roughly.

So much of Thorn bikes has been Andy designing and manufacturing what he knows works rather than what's fashionable for non-functional reasons. And then explaining why he's done what he's done in a way that enough people find convincing.

And of course, keeping down costs by outsourcing the frames. Without skimping on quality, which is superb.

I hope they find a way forward that preserves their legacy.


PH

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Re: Frame availability
« Reply #19 on: June 17, 2024, 01:22:33 pm »
Also to consider, a very capable steel Touring bike is the Ridgeback Expedition.  Available new at £999 (list about £1350) with 3 x 9 gearing, 26” wheels, flat bars, cable disc brakes, rack and mudguards.  And a bracket for a rear stand.   Difficult to compete with.
That looks a lot of bike for the money and I'm sure anyone who wanted to tour on it would be well served.  To the uninitiated they could look at that against a more expensive bike and consider them comparable. What steel is the Ridgeback?  I'm not particularly interested in labels, but I'd put a value on heat treated and double butted.  Handbuilt wheels are worth the £100 over machine built ones, and the list goes on.  I hope I don't come across as a bike snob, I quite frequently recommend people go to Halfords, but if someone wanted a quality touring bike to last them well, they are likely to get better long term value from a quality brand.
Quote
I totally take what PH has said about bikes being bikes…..but the Thorn niche was rugged, reliable touring bikes - which are not modern gravel bikes.
I consider Thorn's niche over the last twenty odd years to have been Rohloff specific frames.  I've had three different Thorn models (Raven, Mercury, Nomad) in between those I've also bought derailleur bikes and although I've considered the Thorn offerings for these, I've decided elsewhere. there's plenty of options.  The Rohloff specific choices are far more limited, and all in the higher price bracket. In the UK I've seen more Rohloffs in Thorn frames than in all the other bikes put together. 
« Last Edit: June 17, 2024, 01:24:33 pm by PH »

PH

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Re: Frame availability
« Reply #20 on: June 17, 2024, 02:04:00 pm »

In the past I was under the impression that the ‘best’ touring forks were steel and designed for rim brakes to avoid the stiffness needed for a disc brake.

What has changed is the development of disc brakes....
...and tyres. This isn't an issue with flat bars and V brakes, but the touring market in the UK and US has always been closely aligned with the road bike one. It's a chicken and egg scenario - Have disc brakes promoted the move to bigger tyres or did bigger tyres drive the uptake of disc brakes?  Even if you've stuck with rim brakes, you've benefitted from this.  For decades the standard touring tyres were 1 1/4" (32mm?) and 650B had fallen well out of fashion.  There's always been 40mm+ tyres, but it wasn't till the Gravel type bikes came along that anyone was putting the effort into producing lightweight supple ones. 
I've also be dipping into the mega brochure, I note this from Andy
"When considering SPORT TOURING, in my opinion, Schwalbe 700 x 35c (or 40c) G-One tyres and our 853VC, forks are as comfortable as 650 x 50b (or 57b) G-One tyres and a steel disc fork."
Turn that around the other way and it's what I've said previously, wider tyres on a stiffer fork can be as comfortable as narrower tyres on a more yielding fork. Of course we can now have both, a supple tyre and a flexible fork, but the point at which it stops being an advantage is subjective.  My Nomad frameset is a stiff beast, it's a much plusher ride on 650B 50's than it was on 700c 40's.  It's a very different sort of ride to my Mercury, which is superbly comfortable. I'm quite happy to say that, it's my experience.  if I start saying it's due to the tyre, or fork, or tubeset or... it's just guesswork.

WorldTourer

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Re: Frame availability
« Reply #21 on: June 17, 2024, 02:42:31 pm »
What steel is the Ridgeback?  I'm not particularly interested in labels, but I'd put a value on heat treated and double butted.

Definitely agree with you on the importance of handbuilt wheels. However, I think that the demand for quality steel seems rather old-fashioned in the current market. Steel frame failure on a touring bike is rare indeed even among these entry-level brands. Moreover, younger generations of riders simply aren't loading their bikes with as much weight as much as in decades past, broadly speaking, because fashions have turned towards sleeker setups.

PH

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Re: Frame availability
« Reply #22 on: June 17, 2024, 04:27:25 pm »
I think that the demand for quality steel seems rather old-fashioned in the current market. Steel frame failure on a touring bike is rare indeed even among these entry-level brands. Moreover, younger generations of riders simply aren't loading their bikes with as much weight as much as in decades past, broadly speaking, because fashions have turned towards sleeker setups.
Maybe, though we're moving into the realms of subjective...
However the purpose of heat treating isn't ultimate strength but hardness, which means you can build a thinner walled tube without increasing the risk of denting it.  Thinner walls also means you can increase diameter or manipulate without adding weight, and most of a steel tubes strength comes from it's shape rather than it's composition. You can see this from a Reynolds tube list, 725 is heat treated 525 and 853 is heat treated 631, the HT versions are offered in a thinner gauge. 
Varying the gauge, butting, is even more subjective, you can measure the effect it has on a tube, you can't isolate that on a bike.
Couple of bits of interesting reading, for anyone curious, best read with an open mind as IMO is most such literature including Thorns:
https://www.bretonbikes.com/homepage/cycling-article-blog/163-steel-tubing-for-cycle-tourists
https://www.cyclingabout.com/frame-materials-for-bicycle-touring-aluminium-vs-steel-vs-titanium/

thenandrins

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Re: Frame availability
« Reply #23 on: June 21, 2024, 12:45:21 pm »
Thank you for all the comments.
I was merely looking for stock! Thorn is a business and it currently does not have frames to sell. uumm....
I know that they offer many frame types, in many sizes and in many colours, all with minimum orders qualities to think about, but I think it is true that  -
* most frame designs are up-to-date, audax, mercury, club tour and nomad.
* not all colours would be necessary, 1 or 2 would be fine.
I would have bought not only the frame, but specced up the whole bike - I've stopped checking and will now look at other brands. Shame, because I quite fancied (another) one.


PH

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Re: Frame availability
« Reply #24 on: June 23, 2024, 02:10:28 pm »
I was merely looking for stock! Thorn is a business and it currently does not have frames to sell. uumm....
In which case, it might be worth giving them a ring.

Moronic

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Re: Frame availability
« Reply #25 on: June 25, 2024, 04:03:54 am »
I was merely looking for stock! Thorn is a business and it currently does not have frames to sell. uumm....
In which case, it might be worth giving them a ring.

Yes, I don't think their website indicates frame and fork stock very accurately. And in a reversal of the usual case, I think they have more stuff stacked away than they show.

Edit: Hmm, maybe I'm wrong about that. It looks like they got a bunch of Merc Mk 3 52L frames in various colours, and no forks with the right offset for them in any colour. Might explain why they're still there.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2024, 04:35:25 am by Moronic »

Andyb1

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Re: Frame availability
« Reply #26 on: June 25, 2024, 09:48:56 am »
Could you buy a set of carbon forks that would have the right offset?

PH

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Re: Frame availability
« Reply #27 on: June 25, 2024, 10:55:39 am »
Could you buy a set of carbon forks that would have the right offset?
If you can find one at the right dimensions, though if you could find it in carbon, you could probably also find it in steel.
Due to set up cost and the need for mass market appeal, carbon forks don't tend to vary much.  Those intended for wider tyres will have an axle/crown of 400mm and an offset of 45mm, slight variations you'd get away with, but not much.  If a bike is designed with the intention of it being suitable for carbon forks, it'll be designed around the fork.  If frame and fork are designed together, as with Thorn touring bikes, it wouldn't be so restricted. 

UKTony

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Re: Frame availability
« Reply #28 on: June 25, 2024, 01:22:31 pm »



It looks like they got a bunch of Merc Mk 3 52L frames in various colours, and no forks with the right offset for them in any colour.

There appear to be some forks available, viz

Unfortunately not the 700c/650b MER853VC.

The super tourist with lo loader bosses admittedly in Matt black which might not suit all tastes,
https://www.sjscycles.co.uk/forks/46-700c-650b-thorn-st-700-650b-steel-fork-primer/

The steel twin plate disc fork in 53mm offset for the 52L
https://www.sjscycles.co.uk/forks/48-offset-a-700c-650b-26-inch-thorn-mk3-steel-disc-fork-gunmetal-imron/

And the carbon fork
https://www.sjscycles.co.uk/forks/evo-carbon-iso-disc-audax-fork-700c-1-18-ahead-a613d/


Also, i think if you’re not bothered about being able to fit wider (650b) tyres then there might be some predecessor Mercury forks that might be ok on the Mk3. The geometry/dimensions of the Mk3 and Mk2 frames are similar apart from small differences which I think PH mentioned in an earlier post.





Moronic

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Re: Frame availability
« Reply #29 on: June 26, 2024, 01:19:26 pm »
Yes I was looking at the 52L for my SO. One day. The ST fork I have and it's fantastic, but I didn't see that in the right offset even in black.

The disc fork I'm not sure is right for the bike, in part from the disappointment in a disc forked Merc expressed by a member here. But Lizzy would probably love a disc front brake, and with big tyres the stiffness might be okay.