Now approaching it’s second birthday, my red Thorn Sherpa has carried me around the North Sea Cycle Route and the Atlantic Seaboard. Time to reflect on the quality and performance of a dedicated touring bike after a fair amount of abuse. I would estimate it has covered 10,000km over 100 long riding days, perhaps as much as 50% off-road.
I purchased the bike with a few sensible modifications and added an Alpkit Frame Bag and Ortlieb panniers:
- Thorn Sherpa Mk3 frame 600L – straight bars
- Shimano Deore hubs, 10-speed triple chain-set (48/36/26) / cassette (11-36) with XT 9-speed rear derailleur and Dura Ace thumshifters
- Andra 30 wheels, standard front and CSS rear, with XT V-brakes/levers, standard brake blocks front, Swiss-stop blue pads rear
- Schwalbe Marathon Dureme 26 x 2″
- Brookes B17 saddle
- Shimano T780 SPD pedals
- Thorn expedition racks front and rear and a T-bar extension for the handlebar bag
- Ortlieb Front Loader Plus and Bike Packer Plus panniers
- 20-year old Ortlieb front bag
- Cateye Volt800 front and TL-1000 rear lights
- Bordo 6000 lock
Over a period of 2 years I have changed:
- 3 chains – replaced with Shimano HG-X 10-speed
- 1 Marathon Dureme tyre (rear)
- 5-6 front brake blocks
- Shimano T780 pedals for Shimano T8000
- Front hub outer cones and bearings
- Complete chain-set for an XT M780 triple (42/32/24), including Bottom Bracket
- 11-36 cassette
I was expecting greater durability from the transmission, but given the wet, gravel, cinder and off-road tracks I frequented, I am happy with the 6,000km the original set covered. Finding HG-X chains at bike shops proved difficult, as they tended to cater for road bike transmissions. I changed these every 3,000km. After the major service, I replacing the entire system with lower gearing XT chain set. The 42/32/24 front chain rings gearing are my preferred my choice now – they are more durable and ideal ratios for pushing heavy loads up steep hills.
The Dura Ace thumb shifters are great and changing gear becomes second nature after a while. Gear changes have been faultless and accurate on the whole.
The bottom bracket came loose after 2,000km due to a broken spacer shim, easily fixed. But the bearings were a wreck shortly afterwards as water had found it’s way into the frame and bottom bracket cavity.
The tyres are superb, offering grip and durability and tackling loose gravel and heavy conditions easily. However, the replacement pair doesn’t seem to be lasting as long, perhaps they are using a different compound. Continue reading