Category: Bikes

Our good friends at Redline just sent us their R530 urban bicycle to test:

Say, what’s in the box?

Here’s a bit about the bike from Redline’s website…

European Sophistication

Lightweight 6061 aluminum frame that is specially designed for utilitarian use. Shock absorbing Suntour front fork with 50mm of travel. Quiet, “maintenance free,� easy shifting Shimano Nexus 7 speed drive train & highly efficient roller brakes. Easy fit handlebars & stem adjust for comfortable upright riding positions. Sturdy aluminum double wall rims with stainless steel spokes, with flat resistant tubes for trouble free adventure. Comes fully dressed with fenders, rear cargo carrier, full chainguard, & shock-absorbing seatpost. Available in a step thru & 4 diamond style frame sizes (S-XL).

The wheels are 700c for smooth rolling, and this bike is absolutely packed with features, including a couple things I’ve never played with before, such as the Shimano hub-mounted roller brakes.

The bike was well-packed for shipping…bubblewrap and zipties galore:

ready for unveiling

Stay tuned for our first impressions next week and a full review to follow in about a month…but let me leave you with this: this bike is CUSHY and a blast to ride (I took it on its maiden voyage to work and back today)!

ready to roll

Kona Smoke 2-9 out of the box

Has the venerable Kona Smoke improved by sporting 29″ tires? Let’s find out:

Riding the San Gabriel River Trail

About me:I’m 37 yrs old, 5’7″ 165 lbs. My commute is 21 miles round trip and it is mostly flat. I usually ride with panniers and about 15lbs worth of cargo.

Kona Smoke with accessories.

About the Bike:

Frame sizes: 14″, 16″, 18″, 20″, 22″. 16″ Tested
Frame tubing: Kona Cromoly Butted
Fork: Kona P2 29er Disc
Headset: TH
Crankarms: Suntour CW-XCC-T208
Chainrings: 48/38/28
B/B: CH-46
Pedals: Kona Jackshit
Chain: KMC Z-72
Freewheel: SHIMANO HG-30 (11-32, 8spd)
F/D: Shimano Altus
R/D: Shimano Altus
Shifters: SRAM MRX
Handlebar: Kona Riser
Stem: Kona Control
Grips: Kona Mooseknuckle
Front Brake: Tektro 855AC
Brake Levers: Tektro RS-384A
Front hub: Formula
Rear hub: Formula
Spokes: Stainless 14g
Tires: Continental City Contact 700 x 47c
Rims: Rigida Cyber 10
Saddle: Velo Comfort
Seatpost: Kona Thumb
Seat clamp: Kona Clamp
Color: Smoke Grey
MSRP: $369

Weight with rear rack, top tube bag, mirror and light: 34lbs

Highlights: Obviously, the price of this bike is a huge selling point. For the price of about 6 gasoline fill ups you get a bicycle that is very well-equipped and ready to take you to work right out of the box. The combination of the steel frame, 700X47c tires and the Velo Comfort saddle made this bicycle very comfortable and a pleasure to ride on a 21 mile commute.

Velo PLUSH saddle, plush indeed.

I’m a stickler when it comes to saddles, but just like the saddle from my old Kona (I still have it), it is very plush and what I would call ‘beginner commuter’ friendly.

Kona Jackshit pedals.

Most entry-level bikes feature cheap pedals. Not the Smoke 2-9; you will be riding on Kona Jackshit pedals that are very sturdy and those little studs really grip the soles of your shoes.

Sram Gripshift Max 8 speed shifters

SR Suntour Triple Crank/Altus front derailleur

Altus rear Derailleur

Since most of my commute was flat, I found myself riding the big ring most of the time with occasional downshifts . The Gripshift/Altus combination worked rather well; the shifting is not the smoothest or fastest, but it was definitely reliable. If your commute is rather hilly, I have no doubt that the gearing of this bike will conquer most of the ugliest hills.

Loaded Smoke

Lowlights:I don’t really have anything bad to say about the Smoke 2-9 — the only thing that annoyed me was the occasional noise and vibration that came from the fenders. If you buy this bike from a shop, make sure that your mechanic really tightens up the screws and adjusts the fenders so they won’t rub against the tires. I wished that a rear rack would come standard with the bike; there are a few other bikes that come with one as a standard feature.

Final thoughts: I still believe that the Kona Smoke 2-9 is an awesome commuter bike for the money. It is comfortable, reliable and well spec’d. Did the 29″ inch wheels improve the bike? Oh yeah, the bike is faster and the geometry was not radically affected. So if you are looking for a bike that will not break your bank or your back, the Kona Smoke 2-9 is it.

For more information, go to

One of the few drawbacks to being a product tester is that sometimes you’ve got to give whatever you’re testing back to the manufacturer. This is especially the case with bicycles — we’re usually given just a few weeks to run a bike through its paces.

And so it went with the Dynamic Crosstown 7 shaft-driven bicycle that we reviewed a few months ago. I got to ride the bike for about three weeks…and in that time developed enough “feel” to write a credible review of the machine. Sometimes, though, a longer testing period would reveal even more about a product.

Faithful reader and fellow blogger Tim Diller comes to the rescue for this one — he purchased a Crosstown 7 and has ridden it over 1200 miles since he bought it. Check out his review here, and enjoy the rest of his blog — Chubby Grum Grum — as well!

Product: Trek Soho S



Sizes 15, 17.5, 20, 22.5″
Frame Alpha Black Aluminum
Fork Cro-Moly w/lowrider mounts
Wheels Alloy flip flop high flange hubs; alloy rims
Tires Bontrager Race Lite, puncture resistant, 700x28c; 60 tpi
Shifters n/a
Front Derailleur n/a
Rear Derailleur n/a
Crank Bontrager Nebula 44T w/chainguard
Cassette Shimano 17T freewheel/16T cog
Pedals Nylon body w/alloy cage
Saddle Bontrager Select City
Seat Post Bontrager Satellite Nebula
Handlebars Bontrager Crowbar Sport, 25mm rise
Stem Bontrager Soho, 15 degree
Headset Aheadset Slimstak w/semi-cartridge bearings, sealed
Brakeset Alloy dual pivot w/Tektro alloy levers
Extras Chainguard

Sweet chain guard to keep your slacks free of grease.

I really dig the matte/flat/gloss finish. Gives it character and makes it less of an attention whore for thieves.

First Impressions:

The Trek Soho S retails around $549…not bad for this kind of bike. It’s a single speed/fixie with the flip flop hubs. The setup of the Soho S reminds me of how I’ve set up my Redline 925. I’ve never been a fan of drop bars, and flat bar road bikes have always been my favorite because of the geometry and overall riding position that tends to be more comfortable. One of the comforting aspects of this bike is the Bontrager Race Lite tires that are puncture resistant. I HATE getting flats and having these type of tires not only peace of mind, but it will also prevent you from being late to the office because you didn’t have to hassle with a flat tire.

The sidepull Tektro brake and levers provided enough stopping power without any strain on my hands.

One of the other small details that I liked about the bike was the bar ends. Check out how they have a reflective sticker on it. I thought that was pretty cool. Oh and the bell is an added bonus!

The gearing ran at 44/17t on the freewheel and it was easy enough to start at a dead stop and get on cruising speeds within a few seconds. I rode with the fixed gear for a bit, but when I did try it, the lock ring slipped. I quickly fixed that but rather than riding it as a fixed, I opted for the freewheel since my knee has had problems from stopping fixed gear bikes.


I actually liked the Trek Soho S. I rode a 17.5, which made it just right for my height, 5’7″ on a good day. The bike felt comfortable, I didn’t feel that I was leaning over too much or had that aggressive race geometry. But don’t get me wrong, the Trek Soho S can dish out some good speed. Just a few pumps of the pedals, then this baby is hauling.

trek soho s

There was one thing I didn’t particularly care for about this bike, its the pedals. They had these weird open cage design that felt like my foot was falling off. I think a good pair of platform pedals or even clipless pedals(even better) would have solved this issue. Other than that, the bike is fun to ride, it would make a great commuter and is relatively priced low.

Beautifully designed, affordably priced canvas and leather bicycle bags.