Thorn Club Tour ‘upgrades’

Update October 2013: This bicycle has now been sold.

Over the last couple of weeks, my Thorn Club Tour has been going through its annual service. This involves cable checks, hub servicing and the like… and I’ve taken the opportunity to make one or two upgrades.

Chief among these have been the brakes. I had been running some pretty basic Shimano cantilevers that were salvaged from my old Dawes Galaxy. These had been OK, but the bike merited better.

I have now fitted Shimano R550 cantilevers, which are a marked improvement. These were very easy to install and configure, although I did find the springs a little slack on the rear set, yet too tight to mount on the third hole of the cantilever bosses. A little bit of gentle ‘realignment’ with some pliers soon remedied the issue, though.

Other changes include a new Deore chainset. I have no reason to ‘upgrade’ to XT or other variations here. Deore has been solid and reliable in the past and I see no reason why this won’t be the case in future. The new ‘set is supplied with an external bearing bottom bracket. Although I was initially sceptical of this technology on my Audax, it has proved to be very reliable.

Finally, I have added a layback seatpost to provide a bit more cockpit flexibility. This is a ‘Zoom’ post supplied by SJS Cycles. It offers a slightly more stretched out position, which I now prefer after making one or two tweaks to the Audax.

Anyway, here are some pics and the spec:

Frame: Thorn Club Tour 620S, Reynolds 725 tubing
Forks: Reynold 531st
Bars: ProLT 44cm (c to c)
Brake levers:  Tektro RL340 black
Shifters: Shimano Dura Ace 9 spd bar end
Stem: Ritchey adjustable
Headset: FSA Orbit XLII
Brakes: Shimano RL550 cantilevers
Rims: Rigida Sputnik
Hubs: Deore LX 36 hole
Spokes: Double butted Sapim, plain gauge ‘strongs’ on drive side
Tyres: Panaracer Pasela Tourgruard 35mm
Crankset: Shimano Deore M590 22 32 44
Front mech: Deore
Rear mech: Deore
Chain: Sram PC971
Saddle: Brooks Champion Flyer B17
Seatpost: Thorn Zoom layback, 400mm, 27.2mm
Racks: Tubus Ergo front, Tubus Cargo rear.

7 thoughts on “Thorn Club Tour ‘upgrades’

  1. How much does the bike, as set up. weigh? I’m on the fence between the Club Tour and Thorn Audax. The Club Tour lures me with its reputation of being a bike that wants to go straight, but I wonder how for spirited rides with little load it would compare in Comfort and Weight with the Audax. Thanks for posting the photos – they make it very hard to hang onto any money! 🙂

    1. Hi Pavel,

      I’m asked the difference between the Club and the Audax on many occasions. There are so many things to consider save for weight. I’m almost certain that my Club Tour would bottom out my 30lb scales, but then the wheelset is overbuilt and heavy, and those racks add to the overall figure. The Audax feels much lighter, but with similar specs, the difference in ride between the two would be hard to detect for me, I think.

      However, I am a relatively heavy rider which brings other factors into play. The Club Tour frame is stiffer than the Audax and, hence, for me at least, the Club can feel that bit more sprightly even if the tubes are that bit heavier. That said, my Audax spec is not particularly ‘light’ either. I’m sure you could make the Audax feel very different if you were to spec a lighter wheelset, some better hardware and some carbon forks perhaps.

      Other things to consider: you would only be able to use cantis on the Club for a ‘road spec’ machine, while the Audax supports calliper brakes. The design of the Club Tour means it is more geared to carrying loads across panniers so you may feel, as I do, that the weight distribution is a wee bit ‘front heavy’. I haven’t attempted to prove this, but this makes the bike track very straight and it carries camping kit beautifully. My Audax would not be able to handle these loads (particularly with my big ass on it!) and Thorn are very clear (almost painfully) about this in their extensive marketing material.

      However, I don’t want to give the impression that the Audax is a fidget… far from it. Both machines are very neutral and this is a real boon when you’ve been in the saddle for six hours.

      I hope that helps a bit… I think you need to consider your own weight, what you wish to carry and your riding experience. If you are used to aggressive road frames, then the Audax and Club with feel ponderous. If you’re used to MTB, then the Audax will feel like a spring chicken, the Club more of a migrating Canadian Goose!

      Let me know how you get on. If you have any more specific questions, please get in touch.



  2. Marvelous! Thank you for that detailed description. Getting a bike has been a journey for me. I first bought a Fuji touring bike, for a planned two month trip and the choice was a disaster. The bike could handle up to about 28 pounds, but any more than that and it began to earn it’s moniker
    “Squidward” and the ride became dangerous. Lesson learned, that a good bike build is more than just a marketing blurb I went to set things straight. I purchased a Thorn Nomad mkII and it has been, in every way, a pleasure and a revelation of how a well designed bike built to a purpose can “make” the ride.

    So now I have the touring part well in hand (except for the state of MY legs and lungs), and so now I’ve been wondering about a bike that would be more suitable when I want to pick up my pace from my typical touring speed of 16 to 18km per hour to something more brisk for two or three hour training rides. Now the Nomad can of course handle that as well, but men being men needing “new” – I’ve been looking at the Club Tour. I also am finding that fast can be fun when you don’t have all day to ride and so am slowly becoming drawn towards a bike more optimized for the task and thinking as well that I’d like to have a machine that could join in on Audax events when I get more fit. The Audax by Thorn would seem the ideal fit, but I am drawn to the Club Tour built up with lighter components as well. The crux of it for me is trying to imagine which bike is more supple over the bumps with my 95 kg 1960 model body. I imagine that part of going the longer distances in the Audax events is a bike that tends to handle neutral and has some flex to it. I also imagine that a slow response to the steering must be nice to have when one gets tired, right? Does the Club Tour, with its reputation for rail like steering shine above the Audax even if one never carries a load of more than perhaps 5kg, or does its stiffer frame make it less comfortable with my weight but no luggage? I suppose my worry is mostly that the Audax may require more attention and I will wind up in some ditch 😉 and I had it imagined that it would be less comfortable somehow, but from your description the case may be the reverse, right.

    Seeing that I have a bike built for extreme loads and one that is wonderful at a slow pace, I’m left staring into space for hours at a time, daydreaming, trying to decide which of the two contenders, the Audax or the Club Tour, if built up with moderately light wheels and supple 28cm tyres would be the better compliment to the Nomad. I’m encouraged by your description of yourself btw, as a big bloke and then by the fact that you have the Audax and enjoy it apparently without it having split in two! 🙂 Thorn must build these things mighty well and while I”m only 182cm tall I was getting worried about weighing 95 kilos and torturing an Audax stye bike. Faith restored!

    If the Audax is not a bike with a light front end, when with no load at all on the forks and has a neutral feel as I think you are suggesting, I think then perhaps that may be the best choice for me. Excuse me now, while I go and stare off into space and daydream some more waiting for either a ticket to the UK or that decisive balance tipping detail. And thanks again for your blog!

    1. Hi Pavel,

      You are very welcome. Given what you say, I think the Audax would be the better choice… Not least that you can make it even more sprightly with lighter components down the line. It’s a very versatile machine to be honest. As you probably know, the rear drop out is splayed in such a way that you can run MTB (135mm oln) and road (130mm) hubs giving you loads of options for hand built or off the shelf racing hoops. A guy rides one around here completely stripped back with no guards, carbon fork, skinny tyres etc in the summer and then beefs it up for winter training.



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