A few weeks back, a loud knock came at my door! I was slightly startled at first, so I peeked outside and noticed a large box outside. On the box in BOLD letters was the name: TORKER
“Merlin’s Beard!”, exclaimed I! (Blogger’s Note: I had recently watched a Harry Potter film with my family)
The 2011 Torker Interurban had arrived! I had the day off from work, so I used my idle time to build this commuting machine. Now, I have ‘some’ bicycle assembly experience… The Torker was a breeze to assemble and dial in! This is a GOOD thing because it means that down the road, if anything should falter it won’t be a major chore to repair. There aren’t any frivolous gimmicks or unnecessary ‘fanciness’ here. This is as straight forward as you can get with a chromoly bicycle.
Here are the nitty gritty details & what they mean for a bicycle commuter:
Frame: Torker DB Chromoly: A chromoly frame is great for a ‘work horse’ bicycle. It can withstand the rigor of daily commuting with a loaded set of panniers and a frantically pedaling employee trying to get to work on time! This frame comes equipped with two sets of water bottle mounts; handy for carrying two bottles of water during those warmer Summer months or that hefty NiCad headlight battery. There are also rear rack mounts and threaded eyelets for those using full fenders to brave the wet weather.
Fork: Hi-Ten 1-1/8: Hi-Ten (High Tensile Steel) is the grungy, “portly” brother of Chromoly steel. This material is heavier than chromo but is still strong. When fabricated correctly, a bicycle fork of this material will perform just as well as a chromo fork only, it will be heavier.
Headset:: Steel Threadless 1-1/8: This headset uses steel bearing cups instead of alloy cups found on more expensive models. Steel cups are inexpensive to use, which helps keep the cost down for price conscientious shoppers. Alloy cups are lighter, but not necessarily more durable. With regular maintenance, a steel headset can last the life of the bicycle.
Frt Der: Shimano 2300: The 2300 series of Shimano components is basically non-badged SORA level componentry. For the amount of shifting a front derailleur actually does, a ligh weight model isn’t necessary. Most manufacturers spec a lower level front derailleur to save a few bucks at the bottom line. This derailleur does a wonderful job!
Rear Der: Shimano 2300: The 2300 component line works well. I have replaced more Shimano Ultegra & 105 derailleurs in my time as a mechanic than I have 2300. Maybe it’s the light weight of the former that helps their demise, but the 2300 derailleurs are like that battery bunny, they keep going and going and going and going…
Shifter; Shimano 2300 8 Speed: Like previously mentioned, the 2300 series components work. I almost prefer the short, stubby thumb shift ‘peg’ found on the 2300 shifter than I do to the smaller, inboard lever found on higher level Shimano shifters. For the recreational rider, the ergonomics of this shifter makes sense.
Crank: FSA Tempo Compact 34-50T: Compact cranks are AWESOME! They give you the same range of gearing as a triple crank set, but without the weight and the difficult shifting! Weight is dropped because you don’t have the 3rd chain ring, you run a shorter chain AND you can use a short cage rear derailleur.
BB Set: Sealed Cartridge Square Taper: The standard in BB technology dating back a-ways. Square taper is what everyone used before Mega Exo, Isis, Octolink, Hollow-Tech 2, Outboard bearing, BB30, BB90. Square taper, sealed BB sets are available from any bike shop.
Cog: Shimano HG 50 13-26T: Shimano HG 50 is about as low on the component line as I would go for commuting. The material is quite durable and the finish puts up a fight against the elements and regular wear of the chain.
Pedal: Alloy w/ Steel Toe Clips: This combination make sense… On paper. Out in the wild, it’s a different story. Now, I haven’t used toe-clips & straps since my first mountain bike back in 1988. The steel toe clips that come equipped are quite durable, they have to be since they spent alot of time being scraped on the asphalt as I would begin pedaling from stop signs and traffic signals. When I did remove the toe clips to ride the pedals just as flats, the bite of the pedal on my shoe’s sole was lacking. Here in Portland, wet weather is abundant. I did ride in the rain with these pedals and had the sensation that my foot was about to slip any moment… I installed my SPD pedals soon after.
Rims: Alex DA 16 Double Wall: Alex Rims have become the standard on many bicycles as original equipment. This is because of their quality. They look pretty good too! When choosing a decent set of wheels, always look for DOUBLE WALL rims. These will provide miles and miles of trouble free riding.
Hubs: Ft – Alloy 32H QR/ Rr – Alloy Cassette: Alloy hubs make for lighter, durable wheels. Steel hubs are just plain heavy and not very durable. A cassette hub is ALWAYS more favorable over a freewheel style hub…ANY DAY.
Spoke: 14 G Stainless: They hold up better than galvanized steel spokes.
Tire: Kenda 700 x28C: For commuters, I wouldn’t recommend any tire narrower than a 700 x 25c. The Kenda 700 x 28 rubber has been holding up quite well on the asphalt and gravel roads in and around Portland.
Bar: Alloy Drop 420mm: Bar width is a very personal thing. It really depends upon the rider’s shoulder width. If the bars are too narrow, you (as a rider) will not be able to open up your chest to maximize air intake. I personally prefer a 44cm wide bar. Since the bike size I chose is near the smaller of the sizes available (50cm), Torker spec’d an appropriate sized bar.
Stem: Forged Alloy “A-Headset” Style: Stems are an item that can make or break the fit of a bike. The stem that comes on the Interurban is a ‘recreational’ stem; meaning, the rise is very upright. It puts you in a rather comfortable position and not hunched over the front wheel like on a road-race bike.
Saddle: Torker Racing: The most personal item on a bicycle is the saddle. It goes where NO ONE ever goes. This saddle has been quite comfortable. I still need to fiddle with my saddle fore/aft positioning, but I think I may keep this saddle on the bike for a few more miles.
Seat Post: Alloy 27.2mm x 350mm: SOLID. ‘Nuff Said.
Brake: Pro Max Alloy Dual Pivot Caliper: Pro Max makes a full spectrum of braking systems. The dual pivot calipers have been working flawlessly from day one. I have almost worn out the stock brake shoes, but that is primarily due to the fact that I am almost constantly braking in the rain… Rain takes it’s toll on brakes here in the Pacific NW.
Brake Lever: Shimano STI: Shimano 2300 Shifters… You click, they shift. SOLID. The only thing you should worry about with these is keeping your cables and housing clean.
So, there you have it folks! The 2011 Torker Interurban. Broken down, piece by piece, component by component. It’s been ridden hard and casually. It’s been my sole ride to and from work for the last 7 weeks. The drive train is holding up. The wheels are spinning true and smooth. The shifters are nearly as crisp and precise as when I first shifted them. The steel frame is holding up tremendously! With ample tire clearance, I may try a narrow cyclocross tire and see how it rides off road…. I’ll let you know.
Thanks Torker, for spec’ing a solid bike for a good price! MSRP for the Interurban is $569. You can find the same spec on bikes costing $200 more!
To find a dealer in your area, check it out right HERE!