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Surly Troll vs/or Thorn Sherpa

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Surly Troll vs/or Thorn Sherpa

Old 07-17-12, 12:45 PM
  #1  
AlanK
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Surly Troll vs/or Thorn Sherpa

I'm looking at getting a new general purpose rig, mainly for commuting, but also for ocassional touring on both pavement and dirt roads. I think I've narrowed it down to two options: Surly Troll and Thorn Sherpa (I want 26" wheels). Here are my perceptions of their +s and -s relative to each other:

Troll:

+ Less expensive ($1400 vs $2200-ish)
+ Better on rough terrain
+ More versatile (can be set as a capable mtb, tourer or commuter)
+ Disc Brakes (better in wet weather)

- Less suitable as a pure tourer (not as good on pavement and decent dirt roads)
- STI shifters (more complicated and less serviceable than separate shifters/brakes)
- Disc brakes (more complicated, less conducive to traveling and racks, etc.)
- Fewer options (unless it's built up from scratch)
- Only 32 spokes

Sherpa:

+ Generally better components with initial purchase
+ Built to order/more options (it's practically a custom bike)
+ Better as a pure tourer on both pavement and decent dirt roads
+ 36 spokes

- More expensive
- Less capable on rough roads and trails

I'd like to here from people who are familar with both bikes. I was all set to buy a Troll a few months ago, but exchange rates have made the Sherpa a very good value. While I doubt I'll ever hit the singletrack, I might encounter some rough dirt roads - how well will the Sherpa work for this?

For my intentions I think the Sherpa is probably a better bike overall, esp at it's current price. I'm tempted to buy the Troll-frame and build it up, but I doubt I could do it for much less than $2200, and it would still be less suited for commuting than the Sherpa. Do you think my perceptions are accurate?

Any insight, suggestions, etc, is appreciate!
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Old 07-17-12, 01:16 PM
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Rob_E
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Without having experience with either bike, I will say that I really enjoyed the process of building my bike up from the frame. By planning out the components ahead of time, watching for sales, eBay, and raiding my local bike co-op's stores, I was able to build the bike up relatively cheaply, or at least to spread the costs out so I didn't notice so much. If you have time to bargain shop, you could end up with exactly the bike you want. Of course if the Sherpa is almost exactly the bike you want, then go for it.
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Old 07-17-12, 01:31 PM
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I have a Thorn Nomad, not the Sherpa. My experience of buying from them was very good. FWIW I think your analysis is pretty sensible. Antokelly has a Sherpa, you might PM him. And I have a feeling that Rowan and Machka may have a couple. Try them, too.
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Old 07-17-12, 01:42 PM
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antokelly
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as chasm54 said i am that guy lol.
yeah great bike i bought frame n fork and built it up myself well actually my son done most of it.
what can i say about the sherpa,
super smooth,
solid as a rock loaded or unloaded,
all the braze on's you will ever need.
mine is gunbarrell color which is dark green in gloss lovely..
if you do go for one make sure you get the bottom bracket shell faced ..
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Old 07-17-12, 02:35 PM
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No experience with the Sherpa, but my write up on the Troll is here: https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ht=surly+troll

I use the Troll for everything except fast group rides. Primary use is commuting. Recently upgraded for offroad touring, and the bike performs very well when fully loaded. The cabability to run really wide tires is probably the main difference between the two bikes you are looking at. I use the 26x2.35 Big Apples mostly for offroad riding/touring, and the 700x28 Gatorskins for commuting.
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Old 07-17-12, 05:28 PM
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either one is perfectly capable offroad. I felt the sherpa was a bit "dead" feeling compared to a tout terrain silkroad, so I bought a silkroad...


Not sure about the spoke count issue...? explain?
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Old 07-17-12, 08:25 PM
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I own a Troll that I use as a commuter. It's a great bike. (I built mine from parts). Some of your concerns are misplaced. The location of the rear disc brake caliper makes it easy to mount standard rear racks. Also, cable actuated disc brakes are easier to adjust and just as tour worthy (if not more so) as rim brakes. Throw a set of brake pads in your panniers and you're good for a very long trip. The "STI" shifter concern is also overblown. Mountain bike shifters are quite robust and not all that likely to fail. If they did, the horizontal dropouts make it easy to turn the Troll into a single speed until you can get to a bike shop. However, those dropouts are the one big issue I have with the bike. They make removing the rear wheel a lot more difficult, especially if you put fenders on the bike.
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Old 07-17-12, 08:43 PM
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Well, UK brands for Seattle buyers, have the GBPound costing,
like, a buck -sixty USD..
thorn sells out of UK, in the more expensive currency..
international banking , that is just how it is..

Surly, QBP, ships out of MN, after importing from China/ Formosa..

I think SJS has TW sub contractors there too..

but you are in Seattle area ,Talk to R&E, Rodriguez
makes fine touring bike framesets..

Last edited by fietsbob; 08-06-12 at 04:04 PM.
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Old 07-18-12, 07:39 AM
  #9  
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I have never ridden the Thorn but I do own a Troll so I will only comment on that one, although I have heard nothing but good things of Thorn.

I use my Troll as a daily commuter, mountain bike and kid hauler. It does all of this great and I look forward to the day I get to tour on it, I am hoping to start sooner rather than later there. A bit selling point to me on the Troll since I do want to tour on it is the rear drop outs.

You do not need a special disc specific rack, you can mount fenders with a rack rather easily,

you have the option to run both disc and rim brakes, so if you plan to do some serious touring you can build up a wheelset that is happy with both disc and rim brakes and then run a mechanical disc brake and if somehow you trash the brake in the middle of rural China and can only find rim brake replacements you can use that to have a fully functioning bike again. All of the benefits of disc brakes without any of the "what if it breaks" worry.

the sliding rear drop outs can be a life saver if you trash a derailer in the middle of no where and need to convert to single speed to get to your destination.

Surly is certainly a company known to make a durable frame (not saying Thorn is not in any way)

The bike rides fantastic.

Quite simply I bought the troll because of versatility, hell if you are running disc brakes you can even run 700c wheels with fenders still.
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Old 07-18-12, 08:39 AM
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the above post makes a good point about using a disc 'till you go on tour, and then switching to rim if you wish. I would add...personally I would never tour with disc brakes. Commute...sure...but I loathe them when they get dirty and squeal and unless you get BB7 or others that can be adjusted on both sides I find them a serious pain to adjust. They are critical for winter use but in my experience that's about it. A tweaked rotor is a huge PITA and not easily straightened without three adjustable wrenches. If you go with disc, I would agree that cable discs are the ONLY option unless your touring is strictly U.S. based where bike shops or supplies can be reached easily since bleeding/refilling is more complex than a simple cable readjustment.
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Old 07-18-12, 12:06 PM
  #11  
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Alan,

Are you dead set on those two brands/models? Both are very nice indeed. I am curious, however, if builders in your neck of the woods (WA, OR) are not a viable option? You're lucky to live in one of hotspots for some awesome and reputable frame builders. When I looked last into a complete Thorn bike, it was something like USD $400 shipping to the U.S. + 11% duties & taxes. At that price point, a made-in-the-USA custom bike (with top-notch steel tubing plus all the frame features one's heart desires) seems like a better value. Things may have changed a little due to currency exchange, but I doubt it's major. Just because of this I would personally be inclined to build an awesome Surly Troll from the frame up or work with a closer-to-home custom builder.

BTW, you'll be really happy with mechanical disc brakes... No issues with rear racks with the latest designs, although the selection of front racks is reduced as many can be fudgy to install with disc brakes. Obviously, nothing beats the simplicity of rim brakes, but I find mechanical disc brakes (i.e., BB7) within the realm of brakes that are easy to work on. Remember that there are just a few rims that will allow you to run both disc and rim brakes should you decide to have the best of both worlds. As far as shifting, STI, bar-ends or downtube shifters (as stated in recent threads) comes down really to personal choice and amount of $ you want to spend. They all get the job done nicely.

Last edited by Chris Pringle; 07-18-12 at 12:13 PM.
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Old 07-18-12, 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Chris Pringle View Post
Obviously, nothing beats the simplicity of rim brakes
besides the simplicity of disk brakes and not wearing out your rims every time you slow down.... I build my own wheels at home and I still dont want to deal with that wear if I don't have to.

Originally Posted by Chris Pringle View Post
Remember that there are just a few rims that will allow you to run both disc and rim brakes should you decide to have the best of both worlds.
not true: any "rim brake" rim can be used to build a wheel on a disk hub. Viola: dual purpose rim. Just dont use a rimless "disk rim"

I have both Brake types on various bikes (in addition to centerpulls and sidepulls), they both work just fine. Again: non-issue.
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Old 07-18-12, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by positron View Post
besides the simplicity of disk brakes and not wearing out your rims every time you slow down...
That's exactly what I like the most about disc brakes. I would rather replace rotors than a whole rim while touring. Simplicity of v-brakes comes in the form of super easy adjustments, availability of pads and replacement parts anywhere in the world inexpensively, but at the expense of wearing out the entire rim. Decisions, decisions!



not true: any "rim brake" rim can be used to build a wheel on a disk hub. Viola: dual purpose rim. Just dont use a rimless "disk rim"

I have both Brake types on various bikes (in addition to centerpulls and sidepulls), they both work just fine. Again: non-issue.
Stand corrected. Yes, disc-specific rims cannot be used with rim brakes.

Last edited by Chris Pringle; 07-18-12 at 02:01 PM.
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Old 07-18-12, 04:31 PM
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AlanK
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First off, thank you to everyone for your input - you all make very good points!

I actually might've found a place in Portland that will build around the Troll frame. They seem to be a comprehensive shop that can probably offer lots of options for both new and used components. I'm looking for an ultra-practical/reliable build, so am absolutely open to getting used parts that are in decent conditions, especially those that aren't immobile and not mechanical (seatpost, handlebars, stem, etc.). I think they might be able to build very close to my ideal for about the same price as the Troll - complete bike:

https://www.joe-bike.com/cargo-bikes/...roll-frameset/


Originally Posted by positron View Post
besides the simplicity of disk brakes and not wearing out your rims every time you slow down.... I build my own wheels at home and I still dont want to deal with that wear if I don't have to.

not true: any "rim brake" rim can be used to build a wheel on a disk hub. Viola: dual purpose rim. Just dont use a rimless "disk rim"

I have both Brake types on various bikes (in addition to centerpulls and sidepulls), they both work just fine. Again: non-issue.
Originally Posted by digibud View Post
the above post makes a good point about using a disc 'till you go on tour, and then switching to rim if you wish. I would add...personally I would never tour with disc brakes. Commute...sure...but I loathe them when they get dirty and squeal and unless you get BB7 or others that can be adjusted on both sides I find them a serious pain to adjust. They are critical for winter use but in my experience that's about it. A tweaked rotor is a huge PITA and not easily straightened without three adjustable wrenches. If you go with disc, I would agree that cable discs are the ONLY option unless your touring is strictly U.S. based where bike shops or supplies can be reached easily since bleeding/refilling is more complex than a simple cable readjustment.
Again, very good points! I'm ambivalent about discs; while I like the idea that they greatly extent the life of rims, I'm partial towards absolute simplicity, esp for touring. I know mechanical discs are pretty simple, but I always remember Murphy's law. I'll definitely discuss it with the shop.

Thanks again!
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Old 07-18-12, 04:54 PM
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I have a Troll and I love it. Very versatile. The stock building is fully capable of touring, mountain biking, or commuting without any changes, although I made some - I replaced the Open Bar with a Torsion bar, the grips with Ergon GR-2's (which are a necessity for long rides for me), the saddle with my B-17, and I added a rear rack and fenders. But as long as it's not overly muddy, the stock tires can handle singletrack well enough, though not perfect of course.

Now that I've tried disc brakes, I'm never going back. The Avid BB7's rule. They do not stop you from putting on racks and fenders, because the Troll frame is built to allow all that.

It's a great bike. I don't know about the Sherpa, but I can heartily recommend the Troll. And yeah, you can put 29er wheels on it too - I haven't, but people have and they say it's fine. That pretty much makes this bike the ultimate in versatility outside the full-custom field. The only thing I wish it had is bottle-cage braze-ons on the underside of the down tube, and fork attachment points for Salsa Anything Cages - and rumor says there will be a new version at some point with that latter.
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Old 07-19-12, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Rob_E View Post
Without having experience with either bike, I will say that I really enjoyed the process of building my bike up from the frame. By planning out the components ahead of time, watching for sales, eBay, and raiding my local bike co-op's stores, I was able to build the bike up relatively cheaply, or at least to spread the costs out so I didn't notice so much. If you have time to bargain shop, you could end up with exactly the bike you want.
Yeah, right now that's what I'm inclined to do. I don't need a bike immediately: It's quite likely I'll move (same general region) in a couple years, and will very likely need a bike for commuting, etc. And because I'm not in a hurry I can take my time to plan everything and shop around. I've seen good-condition used Troll frames for around $250-300. With patience I can probably put together an ideal bike (or very close) for around $1300-1400. Since I'm not in a hurry, that's probably the best way to go.

Thanx again...
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Old 07-21-12, 08:41 AM
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I am very happy with my Sherpa, but if you are mainly looking at commuting you may be buying more capability than you need.

One plus to the Sherpa - the different frame top tube lengths for different handlebars. The "S" frames have shorter top tubes for drop bars. If you want flat bars, you can order the long top tube frame sizes.

Pictures of my size 610S with Schwalbe Marathon 26X1.5 tires.





I got very lucky and bought a frame and fork from someone that had bought the wrong size, but those are a once in a lifetime opportunities.
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Old 07-21-12, 09:58 AM
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To me it seems Troll is better suited for singletrack, dirt roads and some asphalt, while Sherpa is equally good for dirt and paved roads and a bit of singletrack. Just my opinion, don't own any of these two, but excited about both.
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Old 08-06-12, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
I have a Thorn Nomad, not the Sherpa. My experience of buying from them was very good. FWIW I think your analysis is pretty sensible. Antokelly has a Sherpa, you might PM him. And I have a feeling that Rowan and Machka may have a couple. Try them, too.
We have Thorn Club Tours.

See pics in our Round the World sets or Touring Bicycles set:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/machka-bb/sets/
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