Review: Torker T300 for my commute

Following the theft of my beloved commuter bike – Toro – last summer, I had the good fortune to test ride some bikes…. and at long last I’m letting you know my thoughts on this Torker bike that I previewed for you.

T300_white

Torker graciously sent me their T300 step thru model to ride for review. (After a bit of a snafu, I was finally up and running on this great new ride!) Quite a snazzy set-up. Almost reminds me of a Dutch-style bike.

I must admit that I was initially a bit skeptical of the sloping step through configuration. While I have always loved the look and comfortable feel of the bike, I never bought one of my own. Both the heft and the awkwardness of carrying such a steed up and down the rear steps to my apartment have led me to prefer a bike with a diamond frame so I could haul the bike up by the top tube.

Now for the specs:

• Stylish alloy twin top tube frame in 2 styles.
• Sturmey Archer 3 speed internal hub.
• Dependable rear coaster brake.
• Includes fenders, chainguard, & rear rack.

Available sizes: 15”, 17”, 19”,
15” step thru, 17 step thru”.

Torker sent me a 15″ step thru to fit my 5’4″ stature. This bike also comes in a more “unisex” style diamond/mixte style frame.

You’ll notice that this bike comes with a rear coaster brake and front hand brake. Since this is a Friday review, I’m including a Friday musing with this review….. “how did I ever ride a bike with a coaster brake?” After many years of riding free wheel bikes with hand brakes, I missed being able to reposition the pedal after I stop so that I can push off again (known as the power pedal position). And I think I’ve forgotten “how” to get started (without some awkward shove off) after I do stop when I ride with coaster brakes. Oops. Is there a trick I’m missing or have forgotten?
Note: I didn’t let this forgetfulness slow me down with my riding and I did adapt.

But this bike is fun and riding it around Chicago made me feel like a lady.

Riding in style (and value)

My friend rides the T300 around the parking lot; the 15″ frame bike accommodates a wide range of heights and even comes in a larger size.

Its upright riding position is suited for city navigating and being able to see around traffic.

the cockpit

View from the saddle (riding along Chicago’s first 2-way protected bike lane)

This bike already comes standard with fenders, rear rack and chain guard, so you could wear your suit or dress to the office without worry. Its plush saddle means you don’t have to worry about needing padded shorts; plus, the rear of the saddle is reflective, which is a great safety factor after dusk. The pedals also nicely work with any shoe – even dress shoes – as they are not made with sharp metal edges that could scuff or damage nice shoes. As an added bonus, the pedals also have reflectors built in, so they’re noticeable in headlights when out pedaling after dark.

plush saddle with reflective material facing rear and pedals with reflectors

The upright position maybe slowed me down from the speeds I’d grown accustomed to attaining on Toro which was more of a road bike. For my usual sub-5 mile bike commuting route there wasn’t a considerable time difference. I did notice the difference when I pedaled to a further work location and it took longer.

With 3 internal speeds this bike is suitable for most conditions, especially in the flatlands of Chicago. But the gearing gaps are sizeable and I sometimes struggled with finding the best gear. In most cases I stayed in the middle gear (the usually “just right” sweet spot).

Internal gearing and rear coaster brake

Front rim brake

For carrying my work necessities, the rear rack accommodated my panniers – and I tested out multiple brand panniers with this bike’s rear rack – without an issue.

The Detours Ballard Bag easily clips to the rear rack

Out of the box, it was such a convenience to not have to worry about equipping the T300 with the necessary commuting accessories of fenders, rack and chain guard, plus reflective accents on the saddle and pedals.

Ready for urban riding right out of the box – with fenders, chain guard and rear rack

At the pricepoint of $439 for this Torker T300, I recommend it to anyone seeking a comfortable entry level urban bike.

While it was challenging at times to haul this bike up and down to my apartment, I did find a manageable way to carry it. By simply grabbing the bottom of the sloping tube with one hand and the handlebars with the other to steady the bike, I could lift it just high enough to carry it down the steps.

Some evenings I was able to haul it back upstairs in the same manner. Other nights (maybe I was too tired) I had to implement the technique I used to use to haul my old Schwinn mixte frame upstairs — by turning the bike around and hauling it upstairs rear wheel first; in this case I would grab the seat tube and the sloping down tube and be lifting the heavier rear end up first.

Bottom line — I have enjoyed riding this Torker T300 bicycle around town, especially for its comfort and style. And that makes this bike a winner for me.


13 Comments

  1. Ghost Rider June 14, 2013 3:11 am 

    That’s a nice looking frame, and I dig the turnbuckle stays on the rear rack…never seen that before.

    There IS a trick re: the coaster brake. Grasp the front brake lever, push forward on the handlebar until the rear wheel is unweighted, then spin the crank forward to your preferred “power position”.

  2. Elizabeth June 14, 2013 5:27 am 

    @ Jack… good idea (re: coast brake) but not so feasible when weighted down with a heavy pannier. 😉

  3. Tony June 14, 2013 5:51 am 

    My old Raleigh 3 speed with coaster brake (Sturmey Archer) has a “neutral” gear in between 2nd and 3rd that allows the crank to spin freely but it takes some practice to be able to hit it. It was meant for adjusting cable tension and I don’t know if modern internal hubs have the same setup.

  4. Jason June 14, 2013 12:16 pm 

    How much does the bike weigh in the size you had?

  5. Elizabeth June 14, 2013 12:43 pm 

    @Jason – here is a photo of the box with the weight on it (approx. 18 kg, so about 40 lbs) – ? I can get report a more precise weight to you later.

  6. Joanna June 14, 2013 3:45 pm 

    Just came across this review at the perfect time! I’m looking for a commuter bike and the Torker T300 and T800 are on my list to try. As far as I can tell, they have the same frame but a few components are switched out, and after reading your review, I’m thinking the T800 might be a better option since it seems to address two issues that you had — first, it has 8 speeds instead of 3 (and my commute is a little hilly, so those lower gears would be nice), and second, it has V brakes instead of the coaster brake. (Though I honestly don’t know how I’d feel about a coaster brake since I haven’t ridden a bike with one since I was a little kid!) Obviously I will try to test out both bikes, but do you have any thoughts?

  7. Ghost Rider June 14, 2013 3:50 pm 

    I have ridden neither, but I’d go for the T800 between the two. I prefer Vs and more steps in my gearing for hilly commutes.

  8. Elizabeth June 14, 2013 8:58 pm 

    @Joanna – for hills I’d probably go for the T800. After test riding each, only you’ll know your preference. Seems the T800 has a few extra features/upgrades. Let us know which you choose.

  9. 2whls3spds June 18, 2013 3:51 pm 

    Torker makes some pretty good stuff. I have a Redline R530 which is the same as the Torker T530, neither bike is still being made, but if they are representative of the Torker line they are well built bikes. I bought my R530 based on a review on this site. So far the only upgrades were saddle, seat post, front hub and rear hub. The front hub was upgraded to a dyno the rear to 8speed because I got a good deal on a gently used one.

    Love my upright “comfort” bikes.

    Aaron

  10. Mir.i.am June 19, 2013 8:11 pm 

    Oooh, E.. Did you end up keeping this as your full time commuter? Or did you opt for a more Toro-esque bike frame/position? I like the all the built in goodies like fenders and chain guard, what a steal for a flat and level commute. Perfect for a Honolulu, ground floor, downtown office type.

  11. Mimi July 28, 2013 8:59 am 

    Elizabeth, I am 5′ 2″ and am shopping for a step-thru bike that is LIGHT. I have 11 steps up to my stoop. Short commute with minor hills. Would love all the attachments. Racks, fenders, guard etc. Can u recommend a couple bikes under $800.

  12. Joanna September 8, 2013 12:56 am 

    It’s a few months later but I wanted to post a quick update here, since there still doesn’t seem to be a lot of info online about this bike! I did eventually decide to buy the Torker T800, and I LOVE it. Compared with the T300, I liked the additional speeds and the hand brakes — I could probably get used to coaster brakes eventually, but I found them sooo awkward on my test ride. The T800 also has a “sportier” looking saddle, which is less cushy, but seemed to encourage a slightly more aggressive riding position. And the rear rack is SUPER sturdy, it’s rated for 25 kg but I am almost convinced a person could sit up there while I ride around no problem.

    In the end, my decision came down to the T800, Breezer Uptown 8, and Novara Transfer. All had 8-speed IGHs, racks, fenders, etc. with similar riding positions and tires. The Breezer and Novara also came with a dynamo hub, but I decided it wasn’t worth the extra $$ at the time, and neither of the bikes were as comfortable or aesthetically pleasing to me as the T800.

    Anyway, sorry for the long comment, but thanks again for pointing me in the direction of Torker! So happy with my new bike!!

  13. Elizabeth September 8, 2013 4:31 am 

    @Joanna, Thank you for letting us know about your T800 choice and reasons for making the choice. We’re happy to have helped point you in the direction of the Torker and glad you love your new bike! :-)
    Enjoy your ride.

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