Showing posts with label Torker. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Torker. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Torker T-800

Torker offers these 8-speeds with internal Shimano Nexus hubs for $650.

Let's note everything that Torker got right here: comfortable, upright ride; fenders; chainguard; bell; and rear rack with bungee.  I'm not going to quibble.  For $650, this is an affordable, useful bike.

Here are the specs:

FRAMETorker 6061 Alloy Twin Top Tube Design
FORK700c Steel Rigid
Sizes14", 17", 19' / Step Thru 14”,17"
HEADSETThreaded 1-1/8
SPACERSAlloy (2-10MM, 2-5MM)
STEMAlloy  Quill 
HANDLEBARSteel Comfort 610mm, 26mm Rise
GripKraton/Gel 92mm
SADDLEComfort W Dual Density Foam
SEAT POSTAlloy 27.2mm x 350mm
SEAT POST ClampAlloy 31.8 
RimsG2000, Twin Beam Construction, 36H
Front HubAlloy 
Rear HubShimano Nexus 8 spd Internal Geared Hub
Spokes 14 G Stainless
TIRESKenda 700 x 38
CranksetAlloy 38T
Bottom BracketSquare Taper 68mm
Shifters/Brake LeversShimano Nexus Revo
ExtrasAlloy Rear Rack w/Bungee, Integrated Bell, Fenders, Custom Chain Guard
PedalsAlloy City Pedal

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Year and a Half with the Torker Cargo-T

Back in 2009 I was looking for the perfect transportation bike. I needed something that I could ride to work, a 7+ mile ride one way that's fairly flat. I wanted to be able to commute in my work clothes, so it had to have full fenders and a decent chain guard. Another requirement was a grocery getter since we have three grocery stores within a 3 mile radius. I ended up with a Torker Cargo-T ordered from a local Torker Dealer. 

The Cargo-T is a copy of the Batavus Personal Delivery Bike minus the galvanized frame, chaincase, wheel lock, dyno hub, rear roller brakes and other Dutch goodies. The Cargo-T was a discounted 2008 version that came with a Shimano 3 speed and coaster brake with a front roller brake.

What's worked:
  • The lack of rim brakes is great for the rain (and those lazy with bike maintenance). The front brake can lock up the wheel and just requires a little grease every 6 months or so.
  • I've thought about swapping out the 26x 1.95 Kenda tires, but they've held up well, soaked up bumps and are generally forgiving
  • I'm completely spoiled by the headset lock (keeps the front wheel fixed when parked)
  • The front and rear racks are beefy and they're used to carry adult passengers in Europe, so they shrug off bags of ice and gallons of milk.
  • The step through frame is great for mounting with a full load. I guess I'm spoiled now by being able to do sidesaddle moving dismounts.
Components that were replaced:
  • The double kickstand failed on the first use. Torker sent a beefier-looking replacement and has worked flawlessly since.
  • The pedals that came with the Cargo-T were plastic with a nubby rubber surface. The nubs were ground to a pulp after a few months. Apparently they were not made to withstand hiking boots in 20 degree temps.
  • The plastic rim tape was installed incorrectly that caused a flat. I've been meaning to replace the tape in both wheels but haven't gotten around to it.
  • The rear wheel was missing a spoke nipple. I'm told this *never* happens, but yep, I was missing one.
  • The chain guard has cracked so now the bike is missing part of it (see photo). It looks, um, not so great, but it works. I would like to replace with a full chaincase if possible.
Things I've added that work well:
  • I got the ultralight mirror after seeing it on Dotties Rivendell.
  • The tiny black bell that came with the bike is now on my folder. I've added a proper Crane brass hammer strike bell that really is louder with a nice long sustain.
  • I was excited that the Cargo-T has frame mounts for a wheel lock; however, I had to zip-tie my Velo-Orange wheel lock in place because it's too narrow for the mounts. Wheel locks are great on a big heavy bike like this one. I can't image fetching carryout with a U lock.
  • The bike now has three baskets... a Wald mountless basket zip-tied to the front and two Wald folding baskets on the rear rack. All are zip-tie mount. I can carry 4 bags of groceries now.
  • The MKS RMX pedals look great and do a better job of gripping tennis shoes than rubber-topped pedals.
  • I used the light mount on the front rack and some stainless hardware to make a Planet Bike Blaze mount.
  • The sprung vinyl saddle that came with the bike worked OK, but was a little, ah, swampy in the summertime. I'm (still) breaking in my VO Model 8 saddle. It's a little squeaky at this point but it looks fantastic.

Two questions I always get: "How much does it weigh? Isn't it slow with the three speed?" OK, so it's heavy, about 50 lbs with the current array of baskets. It isn't particularly slow unless your climbing. I've had people on road bikes, after catching up with me after a stop, comment on how I was riding "faster than expected for the bike." They may have meant "for someone not wearing lycra" but I'll let that go. I like the three speed, but have often wished for a 7 or 8 speed. You'll just be in a sub-optimal gear sometimes and have to push harder... not the end of the world.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Torker T-530

This isn't your average US-Market bike. It doesn't pretend to be hip and urban. It doesn't evoke any sort of competitive race. Does it have a fancy colored chain? You can't even *see* the chain!

Now outside the US this kind of Bike For The Rest Of Us is a common sight. Internal-hub gears (7), roller brakes, full chainguard, fenders, rack, etc. Torker does things a little differently with the T-530. It has an Aluminum frame, which can be stiff and unforgiving. They make up for it with a suspension fork, suspension seatpost AND fat 700x38 tires. Overkill? Maybe. You could probably sip a coffee while riding it one-handed though. 

Specs (from Torker):

Friday, January 1, 2010

Torker Graduate

The Graduate is low-key commuting bike that comes fully dressed with internal hub gears, drum brakes and fenders. The frame is steel and the ride is fairly upright as it should be on a commuting bike.

The internal hub gears (SA 5-speed) with drum brakes really stand out because they work well in wet weather and require almost no maintenance. You just don't see that combination with typical mass-market commuter bike. Drums require even less maintenance than disk brakes and don't call attention to themselves when the bike is locked up and lonely.

The best part about the Graduate is that it retails for less than $500 and can be ordered from almost any LBS via Seattle Bike Supply. You can read more about the Graduate here and here.


FrameTorker Tri Moly 130mm Rear Spacing
ForkHi-Ten 28.6mm
HeadsetSteel 28.6mm Threadless
Frt DerN/A
Rear DerN/A
ShifterSturmey Archer 5sp Twist Grip
CrankAlloy 42T W Guard
BB SetSealed Cartridge Square Taper
PedalNylon W Alloy Cage
RimAlex X 2100 Double Wall 36H
HubsSturmey Archer Alloy 5sp Internal
Spoke14 Gauge Stainless
TireTioga Gritty Slicker 700 x 32
BarAlloy All Rounder
StemForged Alloy
Seat PostSteel 27.2mm x 250mm
BrakeAlloy 70mm Internal Drum F & R
Brake LeverAvid Speed Dial
FendersPlastic Full Coverage

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Elusive Chain Guard

There isn't a feature on a Bike For The Rest Of Us more essential and elusive than the chain guard. 

Why elusive, you ask? 

Just walk into your local bike shop and count the number of bikes with chain guards. Yes, plenty of kids bikes have them, but they seem to vanish when you get to wheel sizes over 12 inches. And if you do happen to have a chain guard sighting it will probably be a partial coverage one that just covers the top half of the chain.

Torker T-300 Partial Chain Guard

On some new bikes the chain guards are so tiny that you'll probably miss them at first glance. These 1-inch strips of metal are very much the thong of the chain guard world providing only the minimal amount of coverage and not obscuring the circular lines of the front sprocket and chain.

Electra Tincino's Low Profile Approach

Now there's no question in my mind that chain guards are essential. They keep your pants clean and remove another barrier from just hopping on your bike and riding. OK, so there are other solutions that people have suggested like cuff rolling, pants strapping and knicker wearing. But a BFROU is about using your bike for transportation. You wouldn't think about special clothing modifications for driving your car, so why should your bike be any different?

Chain guards have other functions like keeping the lube on your chain and the dirt off of it. If you're really lucky you'll find a bike with a chain case. Chain cases enclose the chain on both sides and keep the weather out, extending the life of the drivetrain. Dutch bikes are commonly equipped with chain cases because, like our beloved cars in the US, are made to sit out in the weather for many years without frequent maintenance.

Mighty Batavus Chaincase
Chain guards and chain cases are not without their drawbacks. They add an extra step to removing your rear wheel. Access to your chain for inspection, cleaning and lubrication will be hampered as well. At one time chain guards were fashionable and made to enhance the appearance of the bike; however, now the bare lines of the chain are the desirable visual cue thanks to the dominance of fixie and track bikes.

I'll mention that if you want to add a chain guard to your existing bike they're hard to find and can be a challenge to retrofit. They range from the very functional and plastic
(SKS) to the handcrafted and unique (Velo-Orange). Soma even has a modular one that they say works with front derailleurs. With the resurgence of internally-geared transportation bikes we hope to see more chain guards and more BFROU along with them.

Friday, March 20, 2009

U-District, from Torker

Looking again at the Torker website, I noticed another BFROU, well, some of us. Here it is:

MSRP $349!

This is Torker's bid to cash in on the too-cool-for-school fixie clique. All the social politics aside, this looks like an inexpensive bike that is probably still quite functional and fun-to-ride. 

Torker bikes are distributed by a ubiquitous national distributor, so any shop can order them for you. Most shops already have open accounts with the distributor, so it shouldn't be a huge problem. Of course, any shop would prefer to sell you something they have on hand--it's just business, and the bike biz has slender margins--but I think it's ok to press gently, especially if you are a regular customer. Let's get back on the topic at hand...

The U-District seems tailored to the DC crowd, since U Street is a once-and-again famous DC landmark, and because the Chocolate City is one of the few Districts in the country. I don't know if there are any other official Districts at all. I'm sure some kind reader will let us all know.

The U-District offers basic transportation, quickish handling, and non-descript, only-slightly-stupid, fixed-gear-track-bike-styling.
The retail price listed in Austin, TX, is $349. If you can get that price for this bike, assembled professionally by your local bike shop, that's a deal! If they tack on a build fee, since it's not a bike they typically stock, maybe you'll pay $400. It's still a deal, and it's a much better choice, in my opinion, than getting a schmancy "custom" $350 fixie from say, It's nothing personal, here's how it breaks down:

They BOTH have:
  • Dual purpose rear hub for fixed gear or freewheel use,
  • Front and rear brakes,
  • Hi-tensile steel fork, (...chromoly would be better...)
  • Generic parts in most other places, such as adjustable-bearing hubs, stem, etc.
Here are the differences (the winner in bold font):
  • Bling factor: SURPRISE! [Torker: black is always in fashion] v. [Republic: you'll think you look like one of those cool-kid couriers, but they'll all be laughing at you behind you back, seriously]
  • Company: [Torker: around since at least 1977, operates through independent bicycle dealers (IBDs)] v. [Republic: not sure, no way to trace, buyer beware, slender return policy]
  • Hidden Costs: [Torker: the bike will be assembled and adjusted by your local shop] v. [Republic: requires assembly and adjustment, so you'll end up at your local shop anyway, handing over some bread] Warranty issues are also a PINA with mail-order companies. I think they count on it being more trouble than it's worth, and it often is. Torker's warranty works through local shops, so there's a person to look you in the eye, and a reputation to keep!
  • Frame sizes: THIS IS A BIG DEAL! Game's over, I could just stop right here... [Torker: 44, 48, 50, 52, 54, 56] v. [Republic: 52, 54, 59]
The Torker has good frame sizes to fit folks who are between ~ 5'-0" and ~ 6'-0". The lowest stand-over height is 72.5 cm (28.5 inches). The distance from saddle to H-bar is determined mostly by the "length" of the frame (aka top tube length). On the U-District these vary from 518mm to 594mm, in proportion to the frame size and stand-over height. Likewise, the U-District's angles change through the size range, as is appropriate for a reasonably designed frame.
Republic theoretically has sizes to fit folks between ~ 5'-6" and ~ 6'-2", but the top tube lengths are 535mm, 540mm, and 540mm, and the angles are all the same! Tall folks are likely to feel cramped, and have significant toe-front wheel overlap. Changing to a longer stem can do only so much. A reasonable fit can probably only be found for folks shorter than 5'-10".
  • Frame: [Torker: Chromoly main frame] v. [Republic: all hi-tensile]
  • Frame attachment points for rack and fenders: [Torker: YES] v. [Republic: no]
  • Enough room for fenders and/or wider tires: [Torker: YES, comes w/700x28 tires] v. [Republic: no, comes w/700x23]
  • Crankset: [Torker: not sure] v. [Republic: Sugino]
  • Pedals: [Torker: plastic] v. [Republic: alloy]
  • Spokes: [Torker: stainless steel] v. [Republic: not sure]
  • Rims: [Torker: Alex double-wall aluminum] v. [Republic: no idea]
  • Brakes: [Torker: ok, not great] v. [Republic: dual pivot, but unknown quality] No winner
  • Seatpost: [Torker: straight post w/ separate clamp] v. [Republic: single-bolt adjustment]
  • Chain: I've seen multiple reports of chains breaking on Republic Bike bikes, but I have no experience with them myself.
The winner: the U-DISTRICT, from Torker.
You know why:
  • You get what you pay for, most of the time;
  • There's no free lunch, ever; and
  • A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
What you might save by going online for you bike or bike bits, you will likely end up spending anyway on unexpected issues. Republic had to cut costs somewhere, and we just don't know exactly where. The sad truth is that neither riding bikes, liking bikes, nor selling bikes is enough to ensure honesty and integrity. You'll be better off giving you business to the local shop initially. They know you can get stuff online for less, so they know you're choosing them, and appreciate it, even if they seem grumpy sometimes. 

Aside #1
I'm a bit concerned that Trek will bring wrath and vengeance on Torker. Trek has been working on a fairly swanky fixed gear bike called the District (we posted about it a while back). The District arrival date seems to be getting further away rather than closer, however. A rabid District fan started an independent (really?) blog called, where you can go for unofficial (really?) info. Any-who, the U-District is a different animal, and less than half the price. 

Aside #2
A reader found a shop in Austin, TX, that has a posted a list of retail prices for the whole Torker line-up. The T-300 that I wrote about a few weeks back is listed at $379.00, which sounds like a deal.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Torker Cargo-T

First, the Cargo-T:
This seemingly innocuous (except for the color, obviously) utility bike has loads of bloggers jumping up and down. Why? Because it's being distributed in United States of America, and just about any local bike shop can order one for you.

This is basically a grocer's delivery bike. These haven't been seen stateside since I dunno, the '50s maybe. Why? We were too busy inventing the tract-mansion and the Hummer, and killing off corner grocers with Chilean strawberries and high-fructose corn syrup.

Here's the deal:
  • Massive front and rear racks, for carrying what you need to carry;
  • 3-speeds, via an internally geared hub;
  • Upright position for good traffic visibility;
  • Low step-through frame, for easy mounting (this is important on a heavily loaded cargo bike);
  • Double kickstand and a headset lock, for keeping things stable while you load up;
  • Full chaincase, for keeping your chain and your pants clean, and shoelaces from getting shreaded; and
  • A bell, of course.
The manufacturer's suggested retail is $640.00.

Second, the T-300:
Don't you want one? It doesn't look stupid. It looks like a bike should look. I want one. I don't know the MSRP, but it can't be all that much. Love it!