Roughstuff or Nomad???
Been thinking lately of updating my well worn mt bike for a new, purposely built touring bike. Somehow I have found myself in the lucky position (after working many hours of overtime for the last 7 months) of contemplating over two possible touring bikes.
The first being the Roberts Roughstuff and the challenger being the Thorn Raven Nomad. I will confess that I am interested in the Rohloff hub but not completely sold. The bike will be used for a trip later next year to South America for 8 months (I prefer remoteness/altitude/little used routes) and have been planning a possible ride through Tibet again and still very curious about the Chang Tang region. So yes, the bike will be seeing wide tires and plenty of weight.
Both bikes are appealing and I am in no rush to purchase either. Rather a simple query, to pick your brains on where to go from here.
Thanks for the input, all if it is appreciated and considered.
Are you thinking about the S&S Nomad? It does look like a very sturdy machine, and I came close to buying it once upon a time.
The thing that eventually put me off a Thorn was the nuance in their marketing information that suggested that every single model is absolutely, precision-designed for its exact purpose. That doesn't sound like a bad thing, but the same marketing information suggests that if your application differs even slightly from that purpose, then the model you've set your heart upon will be completely unsuitable. I think they're a tiny bit too precious about the designs and characteristics of their huge range of models. In the end I was so anxious about buying something that was 'wrong', I never bought anything at all!
Instead I bought a bargain singlespeed bike (Orange P7) from ebay, a bargain built-up Rohloff wheel from ebay, year-before-last Fox forks from a cheap online shop, and put together a fantastic machine that I'm totally excited about. Sprung forks, mechanical disks, Tubus racks, Rohloff hub, Brooks B17 - oh yes. I've no idea if it's a mountain bike or a touring bike, or if it's precision-designed for any special purpose, I just can't wait to pile luggage on it and see where it takes me!
The Rohloff is a great thing. I love being able to shift into ANY gear while stationary, without having to faff about, lifting the back end and pedalling. I also love the simplicity of the external drivetrain - a single chainring and sprocket, and a totally bombproof SRAM singlespeed chain. My only slight gripe relates to the whirring noise in gears 7 and below which is a wee bit intrusive, but that's only an aesthetic issue. I wouldn't change back to derailleurs.
That is a wise move what you did. Can you put a picture of your assembled bike? And how much does it cost altogether?
Originally Posted by crock48
I have no familiarity with the Roberts so I'll just comment on the Thorn and the Rohloff. Having owned a Thorn [Sherpa] I can say that the design features, finish and attention to detail was superlative. The nicest of any bike I've owned. I wouldn't hesitate to buy another Thorn or recommend one to a friend.
I'm not sure I'd get the S&S couplers of the Raven Nomad....I'd be tempted to save the $$$ and get the Raven Tour, but that depends on how much use you think you'd get from the couplers. They could prove handy, but that's something I'm not sure is a given for most people.
I own a Rohloff and frankly I've been a bit of a Rohloff critic in the past. Part of the reason I bought one was to see for myself what all the hype was about - or if it was indeed hype. I just came back from a dirt road tour that ended in a mud-fest. I have to give the Rohloff credit...other cyclists I met were having shifting woes simply because the road was very dusty. Once it turned to mud the situation got worse. With the Rohloff on my bike I didn't notice any shifting changes from paved road at the start of the tour to dry dusty conditions to full on mud riding. I failed to clean my drivetrain after a day of riding in the mud and didn't realize it it until halfway through the second day as there was no detectable difference. When I got the bike home the mud packed around the Rohloff/rear wheel was so bad it took me half a day to clean up. So I can say the Rohloff certainly does have benefits when riding in challenging road conditions like these.
Just to balance the scales a bit about the Rohloff - when I was building up my bike I forgot to order a few small parts for the Rohloff I needed. It took me 3 weeks to get them - standard parts you might commonly need for a Rohloff install. Keep in mind I live in Canada with 24/7 phone/internet/fax service and I can receive FEDEX/UPS courier parcels easily. Imagine if I was somewhere remote and I needed a less common part or didn't actually know what the problem was? Also consider that if I needed a part for a MTB drivetrain I could have walked the 3 blocks to my LBS and been back in business in 30mins. Even in a small town in Mexico I could scavenge spares off a MTB and get rolling if my bike used ubiquitous parts.
The gamble with a Rohloff is that nothing will go wrong. Hopefully that's true.
My GF and I both have roughstuffs. We were lucky enough to get them secondhand for about 600 bucks each, with couplers installed- a bargain you will likely not find. I would certainly say that this is the nicest bike I have ever owned, in terms of finish, fit and ride quality (in a collection of not-shabby bikes too). Ours are from 199x, so a few things have changed, but not much- it has the newer fillet brazed 'unicrown' fork rather than the lugged fork, which I recommend.
Roberts know what they are doing with their frame design, and have done it well for years; they certainly know how to put together an amazingly stable, smooth ride, and the quality of the fillet brazing is better than an early Tom Ritchey I used to own, which is saying something.
The bike handles equally well loaded or unloaded, which was not the case with my 85 trek 620, nor with my roommates 26inch surly- both great bikes. The cost is high, because of the gbp-->usd conversion, but I can say with certainty that if 'value' is not your primary concern, you would be very hard pressed to find a better exped. touring bike. Having lived in Britain, I have seem a number of Thorns, and they are also great bikes, but in my opinion not in the same league. Josie dew, an accomplished world tourist and author rides a roughstuff.
I love mine so much I could easily keep it as my only bike (and im a bike nut). I ride it every day for commuting, for touring on weekends, to go to the store... on clubrides etc. All other bikes have been neglected...
After owning it for a while now I would likely sell my car to replace it at full cost were something to happen to it, and thats given the fact that I think they are quite expensive...
I have no experience with rohloff (would love one)... but my dérailleurs have held up just fine for many thousands of mile onroad and off.
Blimey! To go to the store? You've been away from Cambridge for too long! It wouldn't last five seconds here...
Originally Posted by positron
Many of the spots I frequent have lockable bike 'boxes' though, which helps me nerves...
A big thank you for all the input and words of wisdom. That said it still does not make the decision any easier. Yes I have been leaning toward the S&S couplings and have found myself a couple of time in the past wishing they were on the bike.
To be honest, I am slightly leaning toward the Rough Stuff because in the end I can build it using most of my old parts from my current tourer and go Rohloff if the curiosity strikes. But I like the idea of still having a read derailleur mount, where the Thorn does not. Somehow I sense the decision is still a long way off and sure that I will waver in either direction.
I am not looking to get the bike till December-ish. It is reassuring to hear that others are having trouble free experiences with their Rohloffs. Though I had no idea the lead time for Rohloff parts would be so long, that is definitely a fact to consider heavily.
Once again thanks for the input.
It sounds like you can't really make a bad choice between a Roberts or a Thorn. If you want a Thorn, but want to be able to use a dérailleur the Thorn Sherpa is a great deal. You can put a Rohloff on it or just use a MTB drivetrain and save the $$$ for something else.
Fitting a Rohloff as an afterthought isn't ideal, unless you have sliding, Rohloff-specific dropouts - you'd have to fit an untidy chain-tensioner and possibly one of their 'bone' things (an ugly clamp which attaches to the chainstay) to secure the hub from rotational forces. The Orange has sliding dropouts and a choice of dropout 'plates', including a standard derailleur hanger and a Rohloff-specific. Chas Roberts might be able to provide the same thing on a custom build, and that would keep all of your options open.
Regarding lead time for Rohloff spares, when I was building mine up I also noticed a couple of small bits which I needed, but I made one quick call to SJS cycles (the Thorn/Rohloff specialists) in Bridgewater (UK) and the bits arrived the next day. I'm sure they'll post overseas and bits would arrive in less than a week.
I've got a Rohloff on my Surly Big Dummy and the chain tensioner isn't a big deal at all - particularly if you want to be able to swap back and forth with a normal MTB drivetrain. The Rohloff torque arm is also not a big deal if you want that versatility. Sure the Rohloff specific bikes have a cleaner look, but at the cost of no other drivetrain option.
Originally Posted by Al Downie
As for the time to get spares - certainly you can get them faster than my one case - especially from Thorn, but it can also take a long time depending on where you are in the world and what you need. If you need to get something repaired or diagnosed you had better be prepared to wait a while. What isn't in doubt is that with a MTB drivetrain you can get spares/repairs much more easily in most parts of the world. If you are in rural Mexico and need some Rohloff parts I doubt you'll have them in your hand in a week even if you order them from Thorn. This is not to say touring on a Rohloff is a bad idea, but the limited availability of parts/service needs to be considered and weighed against what you feel is the likelihood of needing them.
Not necessarily true. My own bike has sliding dropout plates - I've chosen the Rohloff-specific plates, but I could also buy a standard derailleur-hanger plate to keep on a shelf just in case the mood took me to change. I might even go back too the simple single-speed plate that was on the bike when I bought it. This seems to be the ideal solution to me - I really don't like the look of the chain tensioner or the torque-arm (thanks - I'd forgotten what it was called!).
Originally Posted by vik
Sounds like you have a good setup with lots of options there. I haven't seen any production touring bikes with that option and I'm not keen on adapting a MTB to use as a touring bike.
Originally Posted by Al Downie