Thorn Nomad S+S, Trek 520 - 2007 (out on loan), and a crap Repco MTB
The Sherpa was designed to be a cheaper replacement for the original Thorn Nomad, a steel-framed 26' rim touring bike. The original nomad was built on site in England, whereas the Sherpa is a Taiwanese frameset using Thorn branded steel tubing (T9.6.9 If recall). Still a bloody strong bike. So much cheaper than any of the other Thorn models, because it is derailleur driven. If by different builds you mean Sherpa build options, then the only difference is componentry and more money means better components, so I guess it does make a difference, but the standard setup is designed for touring so it will hold up fine, I'm sure.
Surly LHT, Surly Big Dummy, Surly 1x1, Surly Pugsley, Bike Friday Tikit x 3, Bike Friday NWT, Bow Cycle 24, Santa Cruz Nomad
Originally Posted by cosmicsurfer
Is this a bike that can go anywhere?
What do you mean by "go anywhere"?
Any touring bike can go anywhere on the planet there is a paved road. Those with wider tire clearance can go anywhere there is a decent gravel/dirt road.
If you want to ride over rough/broken roads and carry a decent touring load you'll start to have control issues on a lot of touring bikes and start breaking standard touring parts. However, this is a type of touring that is not very common and is extremely demanding.
If you want to tour on very very loose surfaces you need huge tires like a Surly Pugsley.
So I think you need to be much more specific about where you want to go, how much weight you plan on carrying [incl yourself] and any specific expectations you have of the bike.
Thorn Sherpa, Co-Motion Custom Road, Salsa Fargo, Mercian King of Mercia and Motobecane Fantom Pro 29er
If you are looking for a great do all touring bike that takes tires up to 2.25 tires (w/out fenders 2.0 w/ fenders), for the price, I don't know if you could do much better.
I recently purchased one to replace my Nomad which never quite fit me. I talked w/someone at Thorn before buying it and asked if it was suitable for the Carratera Austral. They said the bike could handle my 235lbs plus gear but it wouldn't be a fun ride w/out suspension up front. They never heard of one breaking.
Along w/ what Vik said, most quality touring bikes will survive w/ the right wheels and components, it just depends on how much the rider is willing to endure. People have done some pretty amazing tours on bikes that most wouldn't consider appropriate for the terrain.
I love mine and the fit is perfect. As far as I know, Thorn is the only manufacturer that provides different length TTs to accomodate the type of bar a rider is using. That makes way too much sense.
I went to their shop a few weeks ago intending to buy the cheaper (£999) drop handlebar Sherpa.
However, on seeing the cheaper one and the world tour one (£1499) I was convinced enough by the better components to get the expensive one. Everything just looks better- the wheels are better, they have the best shimano components, the brakes are way smoother and more responsive- you can tell that even when just squeezing while stationary.
Also, I had intended to buy the racks (£70 each) and bottle cages and bottles (£35 for the 3 lots I think) and a couple of other extras for the cheaper one, which come as standard on the expensive one. It ended up being about £300 more for the one I got, which I think was so, so, so worth it for considerably better components that will last longer.
It should be said that they're a great company. They spent more than an hour with me, answering my questions and giving advice. I wanted drop handlebars because I like the range of hand positions but I was keen to be as upright as possible for comfort. They suggested that they build the bike but don't cut the handlebar tube. Then when I go to collect it, we can start with the bars really high and keep lowering it until I feel comfortable, then they'll cut it in that position. Genuinely nice people.