Great Touring Bikes

My Trusted Thorn Sherpa

My Trusted Thorn Sherpa

If you’re looking to buy or build a new touring bike then I’m pleased to say there are now a good range of off the shelf models produced by various companies as well as a good choice of quality frames too. I conduct all of my rugged terrain and long distance tours on my Thorn Sherpa. It’s a terrific frame that I ride with confidence in the comfortable knowledge that I will probably break before it does.

I intend, later in life, to strap child seats front and back and carry the next generation of my family on this trusty steed. I use it shopping, picking people up and ferrying them around New Plymouth; my current city of residence and generally use it as a utility bike for moving microwaves, bread mixers, compost and gardening supplies. I’ve even taken it off some intimidating drops when mountain biking, which is a little rough due to no suspension but surprisingly capable and agile due to a balanced frame geometry.

Thorn
Thorn is a UK company based in Somerset that specialise and produce a number of great touring bikes suitable for any kind of cycle touring. Whether you’re credit surfing on a light and fast tour of France or embarking on a transcontinental epic adventure Thorn have a suitable frame for you. Thorn bikes are made from various blends of steel that are all heat-treated, cold drawn, butted and selected for specific purposes.

Notably Thorn’s range of bikes includes options for Rohloff equipped internal gear hubs as well as the more common derailer (deralleur to some) and cassette drive trains. They offer 26” (559mm) and 700c (622mm) wheel sizes as well as front suspension mountain-bike tourers and tandems. The range, quality and value of Thorn’s frames are remarkable and they’re deservedly one of my favourite brands of touring bicycles.

Thorn Audax Mk3
Thorn’s fastest and lightest touring bike is the Audax Mk3, its designed for shorter trips with a light to medium payload where hostels, hotels and B&Bs are expected to replace tents and camp-sites and where cafés, bakeries and restaurants are expected to replace cooking stoves and utensils. It’s designed for smooth asphalt roads rather than washboard mud and rocks.

But that’s not to say that the Audax Mk3 is a fragile bike, it will still handle surprises and can easily carry up to 15Kg, says Thorn.

Thorn Audax Mk3

Thorn Audax Mk3

Wheels Size: 700c
Frame Material: Heat Treated  Steel
Gearing: Road derailer equipped

Notes: an excellent light to medium touring bike, good for commuting and training, will take road as well as MTB hubs/wheels, optional carbon fork.

 

Thorn Sherpa
The Thorn Sherpa is a great value touring bike that’s more than capable of circumnavigating the globe whilst carrying heavy loads. I’ve had this frame for three years and over 11,000 miles at the time of writing (11/2013) and I can’t find fault with it at all. Any of the CycleFar galleries that are post 2011 will have photos of this frame and I expect it will be my frame of choice for many years to come.

Thorn Sherpa

Thorn Sherpa

Wheel Size: 26”
Frame Material: Heat Treated  Steel (Fork is Reynolds steel)
Gearing: MTB derailer equipped

Notes: multi-purpose, great value, “go anywhere – do anything” touring bike.

 

Thorn Nomad Mk2
The Thorn Nomad Mk2 is the company’s most ambitious touring bike. It’s specifically designed to use the Rohloff gear hubs, includes a model fitted with S&S couplings and can carry loads over rough terrain equal to that of any other frame on the market. The frame geometry also makes the Thorn Nomad compatible with suspension forks of 80 or 100mm of travel.

Thorn Nomad Mk2

Thorn Nomad Mk2

Wheel Size: 26”
Frame Material: Heat Treated Steel
Gearing: Rohloff internal gear hub, 14 gears

Notes: super heavy-duty touring bike, Rohloff and S&S equipped and compatible with front suspension forks.

 

Dawes
Dawes had a great heritage in bicycle design, it produces many types of bike from folding and children’s models to tandem, classic, mountain, road and trekking and touring. They really do it all. Their prices vary to reflect their products as they produce medium to high-end bikes in most fields. With regards to touring Dawes, based in Birmingham, England, has very attractive entry range bikes starting with the Vantage and leading up to great road touring bikes such as the Ultra Galaxy. Also among their ranks is the new Nomad 26” which marks Dawes first protrusion into the more rugged mountain-bike geometry touring frames utilising the smaller 26” (559mm) wheels that are, in-turn, usually accompanied by more robust 1.5 – 2.0 (this number refers to the width of the tyre in inches) tyres.

Dawes Vantage
The Dawes Vantage, is a great entry-level bike, it uses a steel front fork with a 6061 touring geometry aluminium frame, for the price it’s well equipped with Schwalbe Marathon tyres and double wall rims that are sure to provide lasting durability.

Dawes Vantage

Dawes Vantage

Wheel Size: 700c
Frame Material: 6061 aluminium with Steel forks.
Gearing: MTB derailer equipped

Notes: Good value, frame better than some of the components. Could be upgraded over time to a better specification.

 

Dawes Ultra Galaxy
The Dawes Ultra Galaxy is Dawes top of the range cycle touring road bike, it has all the trimming you’d expect from such a build using Shimano Deore XT gears and a brooks B17 saddle as standard. The frame uses Reynolds 853 double butted, heat-treated steel tubing with triple butted chromolly (steel) forks.

Dawes Ultra Galaxy

Dawes Ultra Galaxy

Wheel Size: 700c
Frame Material: Heat Treated Steel
Gearing: Road/MTB mix derailer equipped

Notes: Luxury road touring  bike. High-end components built around a solid tried and tested Reynolds frame.

 

Dawes Nomad 26”
Dawes’ Nomad 26” is the companies first 26” (559mm) wheel sized mountain bike geometry rugged tourer, it uses a Shimano Alfine 11 speed internal gear hub and a Reynolds 631 (same as Reynolds 853 but without the heat treatment) frame with internal cable routing and a triple butted chromolly (steel) forks. The Nomad 26” comes with the excellent Schwalbe Marathon tyres and double walled.

Wheel Size: 26”
Frame Material: Steel
Gearing: Shimano Alfine 11 speed internal gear hub, 11 gears

Notes: Low maintenance due to gear hub, slightly limited gear range, well-balanced frame and component quality.

 

Carrera Subway
Another great frame that’s capable of light to medium weight touring is anything from the Carrera Subway line. Carrera is a Halfords brand and should be treated as such. They’re not the best by far but when building bikes for people (students) that want a capable bike for £200 or less I often look for non-disk brake versions of these frames on eBay and build them up with old parts. Ellie tours with one of these bikes and you can see pictures of her riding it in any of the 2011 and onwards CycleFar galleries.

Carrera Subway 1

Carrera Subway 1

Wheel Size: 26″
Frame Material: Aluminium
Gearing: MTB derailer equipped

Notes: Cheap and effective entry touring bike that punches well above it’s weight.

Leave me a note . . .