Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Thorn Nomad Mk2

Thorn has published a brochure for the new Nomad Mk2 (PDF, 13MB).

(Update: The suspension version of the Nomad Mk2 is detailed in this brochure: Thorn Front Suspension MTB and Touring Bikes (PDF, 11MB)).

I've had a browse and this is what I think has changed compared to the Raven Nomad (soon to be known as the Mk1, I suspect):

Nomad Mk2 is now suspension fork compatible

This seems to be the main design change focus. The Nomad Mk2 has been designed to accept suspension forks (either 80mm or 100mm travel) as an alternative to the twin crown plate 531 touring forks. The new frame has a more pronounced sloping top tube than the Mk1 to accommodate the greater stand-over height required when using suspension forks.

The Mk2 frame also has a reinforcing "open ended gusset" at the interface of the down tube and head tube to supposedly provide additional protection when hitting obstructions at speed with a heavy load.

Nomad Mk2 is available with or without S&S couplings

All Mk1 Raven Nomads came with S&S couplings. Thorn acknowledge in the brochure that they weren't really sure whether people were buying the Nomad Mk1 because it had S&S couplings or inspite of. So now the S&S couplings are a £400 option.

Nomad Mk2 has different sizing options

The 2009 incarnation of the Mk1 was offered in five sizes (497L, 512L, 537L, 562L, 587L). The new Mk2 has six size options (510M, 540L, 560M, 565L, 590L, 620L). The following is apparent:
  • The smallest frame size is now 510M. The extra-small frame has been deleted, the reason given that it would be incompatible with a suspension fork;
  • There are two 'medium' size frames with different top-tube lengths;
  • There is an extra-large frame (620L) suitable for very tall people (up to 2.03m / 6' 8" apparently). The 620L can't accept a suspension fork though, because of it's head tube length.

Nomad Mk2 has a new colour option

The Nomad Mk2 is available in a brand new colour Tonka Yellow and this appears to be a gloss coating. Matt Black is the only other option and both are powder coating finishes.

There's an interesting couple of paragraphs in the brochure, questioning conventional wisdom by discussing having a bike in a stand-out colour as a theft deterrent and as an aid to bike recovery!

Nomad Mk2 price

The Nomad Mk2 frame & forks package with S&S couplings is £899. This is £100 more than the 2009 Mk1. The frame & forks price without the couplings is £499. Interestingly, this option is exactly the same price as a Raven Tour.

The headline "complete bike" price is £1,899, reduced from the £2,099 charged for the 2009 Mk1 (included couplings then though).

Rohloff eXp continues, eXp R deleted

Thorn's "hand built in Somerset" eXp continues to be offered (with it's inevitable hefty price premium), but it is stated as not suspension compatible. The eXXp is apparently suspension compatible but the details are now contained in another brochure not available at the time of writing. (Update: That brochure has now been published: Thorn Front Suspension MTB and Touring Bikes). The eXp R appears to have been deleted.

New prices for the eXp: add £1,000 (without S&S), add £1,500 (with S&S). 2009 Mk1 equivalent prices were £700 and £1,200, respectively.

My comments

The Raven Nomad has been revised after three years and the changes, as they say, are evolutionary rather than revolutionary, perhaps indicating that the Nomad was already a pretty sorted expedition touring bike. Apart from the geometry change to accommodate the suspension fork option and an additional reinforcing gusset, nothing else appears to have changed materially.

It could be argued (and the brochure concedes this) that most Nomad Mk2s will probably be sold with conventional steel forks, thus making the most significant change the ability to specify the bike without S&S couplings, saving the customer £400.

It will be interesting to see if many customers go for the suspension fork option. I'm not sure suspension forks are desirable on a multi-month tour, but they could give you the flexibility to extend the Nomad's (already considerable) comfort range in some circumstances. I can see suspension forks being purchased at a later date perhaps.

I'm not sure why the custom build eXp isn't being offered with a suspension fork option? Maybe because of the 853 tubing? Maybe because the eXp and eXp R models have been merged and the eXp re-positioned slightly? The price premium for the eXp seems to have increased significantly as well.

I'm wondering about the apparent blurring of differences between some of Thorn's product range, the Nomad Mk2 and the Sterling in particular. Perhaps the Sterling is being re-positioned as a vanilla Rohloff MTB offering? (Update: The Sterling appears to be continuing in its multi-purpose format. See Thorn Front Suspension MTB and Touring Bikes). Also, the Nomad Mk2 and Raven Tour frames are available for the same price and both are described as capable of world touring.

Finally, I'd love to hear some statistics with regards to customers' decisions over suspension v. no suspension, S&S v. no S&S and most importantly, Tonka Yellow v. Matt Black!

Thanks to Stuart ( for the heads-up regarding the release of the new brochure!


Stuart said...

Great overview of the Mk 2 Nomad Shaun.

I like the idea of Tonka Yellow V Matt Black stats :-)

I did see the Tonka Yellow Nomad at Thorns and it was nice, but I would definitely go for a black one!


Anonymous said...

I purchased a Mk 1 late last year and am happy I did. The Mk 2 doesn't offer *me* anything more than the Mk 1 - I'm not interested in running suspension forks. Tonka Yellow - no thanks, I'm happy to blend into my surroundings with Matt Army Green :)

Anonymous said...

I'm also glad to have got a matte green MK1....I don't really need the S&S couplers, but I bought when the pound was really low compared to the USD so it ended up not being much of a hit.

I won't be putting a suspension fork on my MK1, but Thorn has sold MK1s with 80mm suspension forks...a fellow rider in my town has one setup that way.

Anonymous said...

I ordered by Thorn Nomad Mk2 last week. It's currently being built. I went for the yellow because I thought it was different and I was convinced by the website's views about theft recovery. My current bike is bright orange - so perhaps that's just the sort of person I am.

I can't wait to take delivery and go on my first ride. I'm going to live in Russia for three years at the end of this year, so I've got this dream about discovering rural Russia on my new Thorn.

Paul said...

Hi, I've just come back from Bridgwater having just purchased a shiny new Mk II Nomad in Tonka Yellow. The Buddha donned a yellow robe before leaving his old world behind and so will I. It will take more than a black frame for a fully panniered western cyclist to become invisible to thieves, so why bother trying. The yellow Nomad looks great, so what's wrong with that.

Shaun said...

I just clicked through to your website. Good luck with your mammoth 30,000 mile cycle trip!

Anonymous said...

My new Thorn Nomad mk2 (in yellow) arrived yesterday. You can see a photo of it on flickr by following this link:

Anonymous said...

MK2 or Sterling? I'm a Bangkok based cyclist who does some touring amouning to 5-6 weeks a year (whenever I can get off from work) and am looking at buying a Thorn Rohloff frame. Roads are rough in SE Asia and I like to mt. bike at some of the places I've been (northern Vietnam/Laos/Burma). So I'll be spec'ing a Magura Odur fork but am no longer sure whether to go for a Sterling or if the MK2 is the right frame. Any thougts/comments?

Shaun said...

There is a fair amount of cross-over between a lot of Thorn's bike models as you've undoubtedly realised! (That good for choice, but rather confusing to new customers IMO).

I think you can summarise the Raven Nomad Mk2 as a more 'heavy-duty' version of Thorn's Raven Tour (no suspension) and Sterling (with suspension), but even that is slightly misleading! Both the Raven Tour and Sterling are pretty robust bikes by 'normal' standards, so perhaps I'd only consider the Nomad Mk2 if you really do need the extra maximum luggage carrying capacity (the relevant brochures all say how much each bike can carry), the extra ruggedness the Nomad's thicker tubes should provide or you're a particularly 'heavy-duty' person yourself.

The Nomad Mk2 does have one feature the other bikes don't offer, though. That's the S&S frame splitter couplings. If this feature could be useful to you, that may be enough to sway towards the Nomad Mk2.

It might be worth posting your question to the Thorn Forums for more opinions:

Or talk to Thorn directly. If you're spending this amount of money, you'll want to get it right...

Anonymous said...

i brought a thorn nomad mk1 in matt green last year, with s s couplings and found without panniers its like riding an elephant with panniers you don't seem to notice. its super stiff and great for a long tours and with the rohloff hub becomes worry free, but if your just going out for the odd weekend try something lighter.
i think the matt green is a great colour and as for the s s couplings you can fit the bike in a box 26"x26"x10", but it does weigh 1/2 kg and remember to check it everyday, i thought my headset was wearing out and knocking , it turned out to be the bottom coupling coming undone imagine if it had and the frame folded in the middle of nowhere!!