Mystery 'Thorn' Mobile

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  • Greetings fellow travellers,

    I've recently acquired the beginnings of another interesting steed and wish to share and document this journey also. The big question being, what do I do with it - what direction should I take this build?!

    In the stable so far is the Trek (off-road), Schwinn (functionale/comfort), a newish All City Big Block build (street/commute), and the GF's steel all-road - so what is it that I really need?

    The obvious thing missing is a dedicated road bike (with gears), but I'm not hugely interested in being the fastest or the lightest. So to me it makes sense to turn this into more of a stripped back tourer with a twist?

    I'm thinking drop bars, 1x with a wide 10spd cassette, either with retro dura ace bar end shifter or a r/h sram road shifter and a jtek converter (+ matchy sram l/h ss lever). Some modern, narrow wide chainring with some sexy cranks (middleburn if I can afford) and some 32-38mm slickish tyres, probably with some hammered fenders...

    Cool thing about this frameset is that it's littered with braze-ons, even has 3 bottle cage mounts - which to me suggests it probably is a Thorn, albeit one that was restored and rebadged by Argos at some point. Anyone got any ideas about how I can find out a bit more about it, would be cool to know the age and tubing materials?

    Thanks y'all!


    4 Attachments

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  • Good looking frameset!

    Based on your other builds, I'm looking forward to seeing how this develops.

  • Update from the lovely Andy B at SJS:

    It’s always nice to hear that we have fans out there but I’m sorry to
    have to tell you that I’m unable to confirm or deny that it’s a Thorn.

    Back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, we worked closely with
    Argos, getting individual frames made for our growing number of
    customers. This looks like it could have been one of those frames.
    Back then such a frame would have been made from a mix of various
    Reynolds 531 tubes – different gauge tubes would have been chosen for
    each customer. Later we had Argos oversee a batch of Italian made 531
    light touring frames – it may have been one of these – or there again
    it could be a later copy by someone else.

    I don’t recognise the format of the serial numbers but we never kept a
    record in any case. Our opinion at the time was that, if the bike was
    insured and the owner took sensible precautions against it being
    stolen, then if it was stolen we never wanted it to be returned to the
    owner, as who knows what may have happened to it during the time it
    was missing?

    Aside from the hilarious anecdote about serial numbers, my takeaway from this is that it's 100% definitely one of Thorn's Italian built, 531 tubed, lightweight touring frames. Or at least that's what I'll tell myself :)

  • Purchased a White Industries chainset on eBay, couldn’t resist at £40!

    Not sure wether to use as a triple, compact double or 1x yet - whatever way though i think it will look gorgeous after a polish :)


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  • are there NW 1x rings available for that kind of BCD?
    I have similar cranks (but not as bling) and wondered if they exist and which position of the 3 you should put them on - middle? - for correct chainline

  • I think, will have to check when it arrives, that it’s 94bcd

    If so, Wolf tooth do a good but pricey option

    I’m fairly sure that race face and black spire do some cheaper options though...

    I’m hoping to find a silver one!

  • yeah, so pricey, especially with import tax.
    I thought J&L did one direct from china but cannae find.

  • Cheers mate - I mean these could work right? How necessary is the narrow wideness really when you have a derailleur for tension and tall ass teeth on the ring?

  • tall ass teeth

    You should see somebody about that

  • With a clutch derailleur (plenty available for 10-speed SRAM) I think you can get away with it for sure. I've currently got a single (non-NW) ring with a 9-speed non-clutch XT mech on 11-40 and it works fine. NWs are nice though, the chain never comes off, whereas it has once or twice on my single ring setup.

    Having said that you wouldn't want a 32t ring for a road bike I'm guessing...

  • This did actually get done :) some tweaks still to go, but pretty happy with the outcome...


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  • Nice wheels! Might as well fit mudguards though.

  • Thanks, yeh that's next - maybe some chonkier tyres too :)

    I think I have space for 35s, probably 40 in the back

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Mystery 'Thorn' Mobile

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