Meet Homer and Winnie. These are the machines that are supposed to take us around the globe. Apart from being radioactive yellow, they don’t really look like anything special, do they? After all, they have two wheels, pedals and a seat, just like any other bikes you see.
Unfortunately, my knowledge of bikes is very limited, so the process of researching and choosing these bicycles for Monika and myself, was a long, tiresome one. I spent countless hours reading blogs, bike websites, review websites, books and long complicated emails from my Dad, who is a bike whizz and a very patient man (as the concept of sprockets, chain rings, chainsets, cranksets, cogs and gear ratios all got a bit much for me at one point). Finally I came to the conclusion that the Thorn Nomad MKII built by SJS Cycles in Somerset, UK was the only way to go.
Anyone reading this, who knows about the Thorn touring bikes custom built by SJS Cycles, you will know that they cost an arm and a leg, but you will also doubtless be aware that they are built to last. I sincerely hope they do last. I barely know one end of the bike from the other and so I will not be particularly confident when it comes to fixing anything more serious than a puncture. Being stuck in the Mongolian desert with a broken thingybob doesn’t really appeal to me.
SJS Cycles are so confident in their product that you have a 100 day no questions asked money back guarantee if you are not satisfied. The frame has a lifetime guarantee and the Rohloff hub also has a lifetime guarantee – try getting that anywhere else! So hopefully, there will not be any major breakdowns – especially in the Mongolian desert!
Both bikes are virtually identical, apart from the size (Monika’s is a 510M frame whilst mine is a 540L frame) and the fact that Monika’s bike has S&S couplings. For those of you who are interested in the nitty gritty, below is the detailed specification of our bikes – although as far as I know, it could be hieroglyphics!
Winnie – Monika’s Bike – weighs in at 16.8 kgs. This is the weight straight from the factory, before we start bolting all our gadgets and devices onto it. Homer – Geoff’s Bike – comes in at 17.1 kgs.
Components – 11.4 kgs
I spent an inordinate amount of time looking at locks and how best to secure the bikes when we are not on them. There are many great locks out there, but the downside to them all is the fact that they are between 2 and 3 kilos of dead weight. A lot of people I have spoken to said that they very rarely used a lock – after all you shouldn’t be leaving your fully loaded bike with all your worldly possessions, out in public anyway. So I decided to go for a plain simple 7ft cable lock & padlock. This will lock the two bikes together and go through all four wheels. Hopefully this will be enough to deter the opportunist thief.
One of the coolest items in this section is the ‘click-stand’. The issue of what do with your fully loaded bike, while getting off to take a picture or to have a snack (if there isn’t a conveniently placed tree or wall) has baffled touring cyclists for eons! SJS Cycles would not put a traditional stand on any of the bikes that they sell, for two reasons:
1. They would have to drill big holes in the frame to attach this stand to and this weakens the frame. I think they described this as ‘lunacy’.
2. No matter how good the stand is – it will always break.
A very friendly chap named Tom in the USA has invented the click-stand. Its design is similar to folding tent poles. You stop your bike, take this gadget out of your handlebar bag, unfold it and lean your bike on it. Simple! The pack even comes with brake bands, which will stop your bike from rolling away if you park on a slope. Genius!