Category: Bikes

Ooh, the Xootie is lookin muy caliente with this Glamour Shots photo filter!

Hola Bike Commuters!  The Xootr Swift and me, (or as I refer to him as the “Xootie” because it rhymes with “cootie”) and I go way back: to August of 2011!  Xootie arrived at my sister’s place in L.A. by ground shipping in a shorter than average cardboard companion.  Just in time to liberate me from the four-wheeled nonsense of my vehicluar-obsessed family in L.A.  Digression: Last year, they insisted that they drive me seven blocks from Grandma’s house in Santa Monica to Auntie’s house in Santa Monica. I took my jugular hostage with a plastic Taco Bell spork in order to escape a 3-minute trip in an oversized SUV driven by my crazy half blind aunt and took off on the Xootie.

Okay, back to the REVIEW: So what does Xootr have to say about the Swift?  For a company that usually makes scooters, I was impressed!  For $749, you get a good commuter bang for your buck.   Here is the obligatory spec list with bullet-points, because they do it better than I can on the website:

Xootr Swift Fold Bicycle Features

  • A folder that rides just like a regular bike
  • Nearly all parts are industry standard…no weird and incompatible stuff.
  • One of the lightest folders out there (25lbs.)
  • Ready to go out of the box. We’ve made the hard choices for you.
  • Super stable, rigid TrusFold frame system
  • Available as either an 8 speed or single speed (black only)Note:Single speed version is sold out.

Some things I’d like to +1 include extra-sturdy frame, solid as a rock!  As the seat post is the pin that locks the rigid frame, it’s a larger diameter than normal.  So, I often locked it with a cable knowing that if some lolo decided to steal it, I’d be SOL.  Another +1 for the fact that it has similar geometry to a “regular” bike with full-size wheels.  Even though it has 20″ wheels, it doesn’t feel crunchy or cramped up like you’d think.  In fact, here’s a craptastic photo of the Xootr next to my Bumblebee Scott road-monster at home:

Due to lack of photo-taking skills, I had to edit in pink. Handlebars and seat height real close to the road bike set up.

Also, in as well as, in addition to, the Xootr Swift folding bike proved a worthy travel companion, as I have stuffed him into everything except the overhead compartment for carry-ons: the back of a Toyota Corolla trunk, large rolly wheeled suitcases, under the tables at a booth in a craft fair, the back of an eight-passenger State vehicle, tiny apartment elevators, and a dingo.  The trick with this folder is that the seat post acts as the locking mechanism for the bike, making it as easy to collapse as fainting baby goats.  The handle bars also have a quick release pin making the bike even midgier for the back of my co-worker’s Subaru.

No need to fold down the seats with this spectacular Xootie nugget!

The Xootie Swift has been tons of fun around town!  I’ve used it for every commute day and even lent it to a visiting friend (who complainted of taintal discomfort, but I blame that more on a weak sack than the engineering of the bike).  With it’s BMX-sized “bulletproof” wheels, it is a whippy mo-fo.  I’ve casually bunny hopped some spam musubis and quickly detoured from road to sidewalk to bike path in order to avoid traffic congestion during rush hour.  With the 8-speeds it’s golden for cruising on errands or commutes up to 12 miles and taking Diamondhead uphill! Hook me up with an easy gear ratio any day: I’ve got nothing to prove!

Curbs or Spam musubis, nothing stands in the way of Xootie Swift's BMX wheels.

I have had all kinds of comments shouted to me in downtown while waiting at lights or turning corners, “Nice blue on your bike” or “Cute, your bike!” or “Fancy bike, where’d you get dat?”  Confessional Digression: I have grown fond of the Xootie, but due to it’s small size  I felt like a clown on the way to a kid’s brthday party at Chuck-E-Cheese the first couple of weeks. I have always wanted to commute on a folding bike but never had a small enough apartment that it didn’t make sense to get the big kid wheels for the same price.  I’d been eyeballing origami cheap $200 single speed or 3-speed suckers since the original purchase of the Kona Dew back in 2007.  Claiming no technical expertise on the subject of bikes but lightyears of experience in good old-fashioned bikey fun, I was won over by the Xootie as it’s a mini-wheels are nostalgic of childhood, and it’s a very practical commuter choice.  Oh, the SHAME.  It’s like hanging out with my dorky little brother who is actually a lot of fun and more like me than I’d like to admit.

Spark Notes: The Xootr Swift comes in S,M,L and XL sizes, and looks more like a scooter than a bike.  Surprisingly, it’s a quick commuter considering the size of the wheels.  Eight speeds makes tackling hills a no brainer! Three months of commuting through Chinatown, with it’s streets shimmering with crushed glass vials, and no flats is a good sign for the stock tires!  I give it five thumbs up for portability, easy to fold, assemble, and carry, flashy blue color, and whippy maneuverability like Willow Smith.  I give it one big toe down for initial dork factor of riding a bike that looks like a scooter, and grip-shifters (yucky to fix when they get stuck!).  If you like rooting for the underdog, go for the Xootr Swift!  For a more tech-savvy review, check out this one from Velo Bike Parts in October 2011.

Xootie in the sky with diamonds.

Before we start with this review, BikeCommuters.com realizes this may not be a traditional “commuter bike,” but it may be of interest for folks who have no need for racks and fenders and want to throw in some fun while riding their bikes to and from, school, work, coffee shop and etc.

One of the things I wanted to accomplish with it was to bridge a generation gap between teens, 20’s, 30’s and 40 year old riders. We chose to do this with the Redline Urbis. At first glance, some may think this bike could be labeled as a “hipster” or a “fixed gear” bike that couldn’t be used for bike commuting. The goal with this review was to see if a single bicycle model from a large manufacturer could reach out to 4 age groups. With that in mind I recruited additional riders to help me with the review.

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The first is my nephew Ethan A. of Southern California. He’s a 15 year old high school student and has been riding fixed gear bikes for over a year. I figured he’d be perfect person to review this bike from a teen’s perspective. By the way, Ethan is a bike commuter who rides his bike to and from school every day.
Ethan

Here’s his take on the Redline Urbis:

Most fixed and or singlespeed bikes that I’ve ridden come with the standard [rim] brakes. However, the Urbis does not; one reason this bike is unique is because it comes with a front disc brake that allows a rider to do tricks such as bar spins and stoppies. Not only does the disc brake make this bike unique, it comes with deep V rims which fit 35mm tires; this design makes the wheelset more durable than standard wheels. The solid chromoly frame and fork with these tires makes the bike almost impenetrable.

The things I loved most about this bike are its standard fat tires. Obviously there are fixed gears with fatter, but most of those bikes are customized. Unlike customized bikes this one comes with some pretty fat tires. I also enjoyed the BMX cranks and low gear ratio; it made the bike run smooth and easier to perform tricks on.

This bike is probably one of my favorites to ride. However, there are a few things I didn’t like about it. Probably one of the more exciting components of the bike disappointed me the most. The disc brake in the front was neat, but because of the geometry of the bike you can’t get full clearance when doing bar spins.

I’m giving the Redline Urbis 8 out of 10. A few things could be changed to the bike, like making the bars out of steel instead of aluminum. It’s light, but can break easily especially if you’re tricking on the bike. Overall this bike is great; I would recommend it for any
fixed gear newcomer that is serious about tricking.

Next up is Corey Pond of Costa Mesa, Ca. He’s in his mid 20’s and is a member of the MtnBikeRiders.com Race Team and is an Expert Downhill Racer who is also a bike commuter. Sorry for the bad photo, camera wasn’t working all that great…
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I’ve never been one for fixie bikes. They always just struck me as the next weird trend; one which I never cared to wrap my head around. Here is a brief walk-through of my mindset.

RL wants me to ride a fixie objectively? I’ll do what I can to help…but I’m not going to like it. OK so I don’t like fixed bikes but that one’s pretty cool looking. It’s some awesomely burly combination of a road bike and a BMX bike, and it looks like it could handle a North Shore drop.

Dang, this thing feels as solid as it looks. I bet it’s obnoxious to ride though. I’ll probably run into a parked car or something. Haha, I’m doing a track stand like all those tightly-pantalooned, bearded fellows do at stoplights. Oooh, these things wheelie quite nicelyyahhgeezhowdoyastop!?!

I’m just gonna use the hand brakes until I get used to this thing. So this thing sure is fun to ride. I wonder how much I can use it before one of my friends see me on it.

Well, I can’t really hold out any longer because this thing was pretty fun for short stints at a time. I think the first thing that really drew me to the bike was how awesome it looks. The deep rims, the crossbar handlebars, the BMX stem, all these things made this bike look like it could rival the skills of a cockroach when it comes to surviving a nuclear bomb. The front brake line is routed right through the stem for some limitless barspin action, and guess what’s connected to the end of that brake line? Yup, it’s a rotor.

Maybe in the hipster world you lose a few cool points for having that, but I don’t know because I never read the rulebook. In my opinion, the disc brake is a much needed supplement to the back-pedal braking and it accents the aesthetics of the bike really well…not to mention, it makes for some good stoppies. This bike was undoubtedly built to throw-down on some rough freestyle sessions. I had a lot of fun riding the Urbis and I can’t wait to get my hands on another one soon to work on some new fixie skills.

The next person to review was yours truly. My name is RL Policar, of Southern California. I am 34 years old and I too am part of the MtnBikeRiders.com DH Race team, by the way, I’m am a Bike Commuter.
Redline Urbis

Much like Corey, when I first laid eyes on the Urbis, I was genuinely impressed on how well this bike was put together. From the wheels to the BMX parts and even down to the tires, the Urbis looked rugged. To my surprise, the bike rode exceptionally well. It has to be one of the smoothest fixed gear bikes I’ve ever ridden. The gearing on it is great for snapping out of a dead stop and getting across a busy intersection. However, I found my self spinning out and couldn’t maintain a speed faster than 20 mph. Then again, on my commute, I rarely get over 15mph on the streets. But I’m guessing that a smaller cog in the back would have fixed this issue.

The geometry of the Urbis was very comfortable. It wasn’t too aggressive nor too much like a comfort bike. I found that it was just right for my work commute or even short trips around town. Stopping power was pretty powerful considering you’re on a 4″ rotor using mechanical Tektro disc brakes. Though I’m not that great at it, I was able to easily execute stoppies (apply front brake, lift up rear wheel).

I wish I had a photo of this, but one of the things I did to test out the durability of the Urbis was to take it down some stairs at a local park that had an amphitheater. On a regular single- or multi-speed bike this task wouldn’t be too hard. But on a fixed gear, it was down right scary! I couldn’t level out my legs so it could absorb the bumps, instead I had to pedal as I hit each step. A total of 30 steps I rode and once I hit the bottom, I checked the wheels if they were still true…sure enough, they were.

For bike commuting, one of my favorite bikes to ride is my Redline 925; I simply love that bike. But when I was testing the Urbis, the 925 never left my garage. Not only was I having a blast riding the Urbis, but I tried to find any excuse to go out with it….”What hunny? You need some eggs from the grocery store?” Before she could even respond, I was already on the Urbis riding towards the market. It really is a fun bike to ride. My only gripe would be the saddle. From what I can tell, the Redline Pivotal saddle that comes with the Urbis is something that you’d traditionally see on their BMX bikes, thus less comfort since BMX riders seldom “sit” on their saddle. Other than that, its a FUN bike that I’ve used to commute with.

Our last review is Art Aguilar, of Costa Mesa, Ca. Art is in his 40’s, an Expert DH Racer for MtnBikeRiders.com. He too is a bike commuter. We wanted to get his perspective on the Urbis since he was the older of the product testers. We weren’t sure if this genre of a bike would fit well with a more mature rider.
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Well I was once again asked for my expertise on testing our next bike, and thought “alright, what will it be: a new kick butt DH bike, some new 6 inch all mountain bikes, or a ultra lite XC bike?”

Team rider Corey and I were asked to meet RL at this ultra cool coffee house in the OC where he was to give us the bike for testing, but what was presented to us was a single speed bike. I’m like thinking to myself “Ok this is no cool DH, AM, or XC bike — this is a single speed fixie for crying out loud! I don’t ride these things; they’re for kids that wear Capri cut offs or jeans so tight the boys can’t breathe!”

Ok, I like all things bikes and fixies as they call them; they are kind of cool if they are on a oval track doing pursuit.

I am NOT wearing tight jeans and a super tight shirt to look the part for this test — no way, no how. I have spoken!!!


THE TEST LAY OUT

This is what RL wanted for the test: one from a teen guy, one from a guy in his twenties, another in his thirties and one from the “OLD GUY” — gee, thanks buddy. Why an old guy? Does anyone my age ride these things, oh and by the way RL thanks for giving me the age of 42, it made me feel good ( I’m 46).

I always told myself secretly I will never ride one of these things, I mean come on these guys ride a bike where its all about cutting down the bars to where there is none and personally I think its a fad ( A 4 or 5 year fad so far.)

As I said the bike is cool looking and it has a front disc, cool paint job, and I like the parts that are spec’d with it. The ride was very smooth and it accelerates out of track stands. I really liked the way it sprinted, and when I got it up to speed it cruised well, climbing was pretty decent thanks to the gearing. Stopping was adequate, the front disc had to break in a little and it doesn’t have that great full stopping power of a hydraulic brake, but it works and for around town I say they’re great. The riding position is an upright one and this is good for commuting especially with the mini BMX bars for those riding attacks between cars.

What I didn’t like about this bike (Well it’s not the bike, it’s me): I don’t ride fixies! I almost killed myself coming to a couple of stops forgetting there was no freewheel and nearly threw myself off the bike. SCARY.

The thing I had to do was install a freewheel cog, seeing that the Urbis comes with a flip flop hub ( $12 buck investment); I then went on another ride on the same route and felt way better on the ride.

There are only two things I would change on the Redline Urbis: one I did (freewheel) and the other is a more comfortable seat for commuting and general riding.

All in all do I like this bike? Well, yes I do. Would I buy one? Well, maybe. It’s still the last type of bike I would put in my quiver, but I do have a better liking for bikes of this genre now and I do like the Redline Urbis.

“YOU WILL NOT SEE ME IN SKINNY JEANS!!!”

Well, there you have it — a unique take on a unique bike. We figured having four age groups of bike commuters who have different riding styles could ultimately enjoy the same genre of bike. I think there’s a possibility. Don’t get us wrong, fixies or singlespeed bikes for that matter aren’t for everyone. Bikes without fenders cause such a stir with some of our readers, let alone a fixed gear bike. To make this simpler, we’ve broken it down to bullet points on the highs and lows of the bike.


Why would you get the Redline Urbis?

Durable wheels
Great styling
Flip Flop hub, ride fixed or single speed
Simple, no nonsense bike
Conservative color doesn’t scream “LOOK AT ME!”
Smooth ride
Price-within “affordable range” of $549.

Why you wouldn’t get the Redline Urbis?

Not your genre/style of bike
Doesn’t have fenders or racks
You don’t like to ride single speed or fixed

As you read from all riders, they all took in something different. Some observations were almost identical such as the great gearing for coming out of a stopped intersection. The saddle was a universal complaint, but the wheelset was one of the biggest plus factors for the bike. Between the four riders testing the Urbis, not a single mechanical issue arose during the testing period. The wheels are still true, none of the bolts came undone, bearings are still spinning nice and smooth, no drive train issues. The Urbis is pretty bombproof for a “commutable bike” and don’t forget, it’s super fun. We understand that there’s not a single bike type made for every rider out there. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not saying that a fixed gear bike is the right one for a 50 year old woman nor is a cargo bike the best choice for a teenager. It all comes down to personal preferences. Go with what you like, but keep your mind open to other genres of bikes, you never know, you may end up liking something totally different from what you’re used to.


FTC Disclaimer

Meet my other commutable-bicycle, its my Redline Proline 24 BMX Cruiser. I typically use this bike at the local BMX track and I love it!
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But it got me thinking, why limit the use of this awesome bicycle to the BMX track? Why not use it for in-town commuting and bike-errands?
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The Proline 24 is pretty light, around 25lbs, its quick, nimble and very FUN to ride.
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One of the great things about riding the BMX bike as my in-town commuter is that it makes me feel young as I pedal it around. It totally reminds me of my youth and I consider that a plus because I can escape the stresses of the world and for a brief period, I can forget that I am an adult, business owner, father and husband. When I’m on the BMX, I’m just a kid riding a bike and that puts a smile on my face.
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Anyone else here use an unlikely commutable-bicycle?

As promised a couple of weeks ago, here’s the full review of the Breezer Uptown 8 bike that the folks at Breezer (thanks Paul and JT!) were gracious enough to let me borrow for a few months.

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Here’s a good look at the specs from Breezer’s website:

SPECIFICATIONS

Sizes: (17.5″), M (19.5″), L (21.5″), XL (23.5″) Low-Step: XS (15″), S (17″), M (19″), L (21″)
Color(s): Black Satin/Mineral Brown, L.S.: Black Satin/Cobalt Blue
Main frame: Breezer Custom Aluminum, Single Water Bottle Mount
Rear triangle : Breezer Custom-Tapered Aluminum, Horiz-In Dropouts
Fork: Breezer CrMo w/ CrMo steerer, V-Brake Mounts
Crankset: Shimano Nexus FC-NX75, 38T
Bottom bracket: VP-BC73C Cartridge Style
Pedals : Wellgo CO21 Aluminum Body w/Kraton top and CrMo Spindle
Front derailleur NA
Rear derailleur NA
Shifters: Shimano Nexus Revo, 8-speed
Cassette: Shimano, 18T
Chain: KMC Z-51
Wheelset: Shimano Dynamo 3N20 6V-3W Front Hub, Shimano Nexus 8 Premium Rear Hub, Alex DH19 36H Rims
Tires: WTB Freedom Cruz Elite w/Reflex, 26×1.5″
Brake set: Tektro 857AL V-Brake
Brake levers: Tektro CL530
Headset: VP-H692W
Handlebar: Breezer Aluminum, 26mm Rise
Stem Breezer Aluminum, Quill Style
Tape/grip: Breezer Open End Ergonomic Kraton rubber
Saddle: Breezer Comfort Saddle
Seat post: Breezer Suspension Aluminum 40mm Travel, 350×27.2mm
Fenders: Polycarbonate w/Integrated Lighting Conductors
Headlight: Busch & Muller Lumotec Fly LED w/Standlight Feature
Taillight: Basta Riff Steady LED w/Standlight Feature
Rear Carrier: Breezer Tubular Aluminum w/Spring Clip
Other: Axa Solid Ring Lock, YWS Chime Bell w/Black Anodized Chime

Breezer packs a lot of features into a bike set at an MSRP of $999.00 — everything a dedicated commuter could possibly want. This is truly a turn-key commuter bike…no scrambling to purchase and install needed accessories because it comes stock with ALL OF IT!

The frame is configured in step-through fashion (the Uptown 8 also comes in a more traditional top tube model). I chose the step-through to test because I haven’t spent any time aboard one since my wife’s Biria was stolen lo those many years ago. I wanted to a) try a little something different and b) see if I noticed any flex or unusual handling without a top tube. With the stout aluminum frame and reinforcing crossbar down at the bottom of the step-through, I noticed nothing untoward in the handling behavior of the bike. Nor did the bike feel chattery or dead as many aluminum frames can. I attribute this to the fairly wide tires that come stock on the bike. Breezer thankfully avoided putting a suspension fork on this model, bucking the unfortunate trend of other manufacturers adding in the unneeded complexity and substantial weight of a “boingy” fork.

Breezer does include a suspension seatpost, but frankly I didn’t notice anything positive or negative about it. It sure didn’t “travel” under my skinny hindquarters, even with the notoriously rough roads of Tampa’s urban corridor. The stock saddle has enough cushion to absorb road chatter. Breezer could consider skipping this seatpost in future models — saving a few ounces along the way.

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The wheelset was nothing fancy — perfectly serviceable Alex rims and high-count spokes, just the way a commuter bike should come. No silly paired spokes or low-counts here…the Breezer wheels are designed to take the punishments typical of urban commuting, and they did so without a whimper. Obviously, the hubs are rather special: a Shimano 3N20 dynohub up front and a Nexus Red-Band “Premium” 8-speed rear. We’ve discussed the Nexus hub at length in other bike reviews here and they’re a familiar sight to many commuters…it’s just about a foolproof system and doesn’t require a lot of fiddling to perform flawlessly. The front hub is Shimano’s basement-level dynohub, and it shows in that it feels “draggy”, even with the lights switched off. A smoother, less drag-prone dynohub is a lot more expensive, though, so Breezer chose this one to keep the final price out of the clouds. Despite the drag, it was easy to set up and it worked without any hiccups — pumping six volts (or three watts? I’m no electrical engineer) to the included head- and taillights every time I turned the pedals.

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The braking comes courtesy of some Tektro V-brake arms. One might wonder, “why wouldn’t Breezer spec disc brakes on an all-conditions commuter like this?” and the answer would be “price point”. A disc-compatible dynohub is a pricey thing indeed…and the only disc-ready IGH is the substantially more expensive Alfine. I’m willing to sacrifice the benefits of disc brakes in trade for avoiding sticker shock, and I think many commuters would agree. Besides, disc brakes might be overkill in some conditions. Take a look at our friend Doug’s well-reasoned argument against discs in the following article on MN Bicycle Commuter.

The lights that come with the Uptown 8 are bright and stable — both with “standlight” feature that keeps them illuminated for a couple of minutes once they’ve built up a bit of a charge. That’s a great feature. Breezer didn’t skimp on the lights — sure, there are stronger dyno powered lights on the market, but we’re talking about urban commuting where there is usually some additional lighting available to the rider (in the form of streetlights and the like). The Busch & Muller headlight neatly split the difference between “to see” and “to be seen” lights — I could negotiate my route at a reasonable pace with the illumination provided. Both front and rear lights had built-in reflectors, too, which is a nice touch. Gotta stay legal!

Did I mention the chaincase? This thing is n-i-c-e. Breezer brand manager JT Burke told me that he hasn’t had to service his bike’s chain in over three years because the chaincase deflects crud like a champ. It’s sealed on both sides, with a small removeable “window” at the back to allow simple adjustments of the Nexus hub. I dig this chaincase — no greasy pant legs or silly trouser clips when riding this bike.

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One other really cool feature about the setup on the Breezer was its conductive fender arrangement. Rather than a continuous wire running from the front hub to the taillight, the Breezer’s rear fender serves as the conductive path. Two buttons at the front of the fender and two buttons at the rear clip to wire ends and the aluminum stiffener inside the fender itself carries the electricity. Neat!

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The bike’s handling is stable and upright — perhaps a little too upright for my personal taste (decades of riding road bikes builds in a lot of muscle memory that is difficult to overcome). You’re not going anywhere fast with this bike…but as I mentioned in our first impression of the Uptown 8: this bike isn’t designed for speed or serious distance. It’s a point a to point b bike, predominantly for short-haul urban commuters. Have a long distance to travel and a limited time to do so? This probably shouldn’t be on your short list of bikes to consider. Do you want a bike you really don’t have to think about — simply get on and ride around town to errands, the workplace or social events? Then the Uptown 8 might be right up your alley.

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Overall, the Uptown 8 provides a ton of commuter-friendly options at a reasonable price point. If you’re the kind of rider who lives in an urban area and you’re looking for an all-conditions machine to serve you, this is a great choice. If it were up to me, I’d be willing to pay a bit more for a less-draggy front hub, but that’s the only real gripe I have with the Breezer. Breezer successfully avoided my other “commuter bike pet peeves” — eliminating the gimmicky and questionable add-ons and specifying this bike with pretty much everything an urban commuter could ever want. Bravo, Breezer!

Now, would you please consider developing a “go-fast” version with many of the same features — something with drop bars and a more aerodynamic stance but with the cargo-hauling and low-maintenance attributes some of us crave? I’ll be first in line if you do.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

We received the Torker KB2 to test out a few months ago and after a few hundred miles, the review is ready to go!

Price: $399

Torker KB2

There are a few things that I really enjoyed about this bike and basically it comes down to the simplicity of it all. The Torker KB2 is as simple as a fixed gear bike, yet versatile like a geared bike. Here’s what I mean by that description; just by looking at it, the KB2 looks much like any other fixed gear bike. No brakes to mess with, no other bells and whistles that could potentially become a problem. All you have to do is get on this bike and ride it.

However, because of its 2 speed rear, kick back hub, I can easily climb the tough hills on my commute and still get some speed while on the flat sections of the road. Having a coaster brake on the bike makes it a no brainer, just reverse pressure on the pedals and you stop.

Specs:
MSRP $399
Frame Torker Tri Moly 116mm Rear Spacing
Fork Hi-Ten 1-1/8
Headset Steel Threadless 1-1/8
Frt Der
Rear Der
Shifter Kick Back
Crank Alloy 42T W Guard
BB Set Sealed Cartridge Square Taper
Cog 22T
Pedal Nylon W Alloy Cage
Rim Alex DA16 Double Wall 36H
Hubs Sturmey Archer Alloy 2sp Internal Rear, Hi Flange Alloy Nutted Frt.
Spoke 14 G Stainless
Tire Kenda Kwest 700 x 38
Bar Steel All Rounder
Stem Forged Alloy
Saddle Torker Racing
Seat Post Alloy 27.2mm x 250mm
Brake Rear Coaster

But I gotta be honest with you, my first few rides with the Torker KB2 weren’t all that great. It actually took me some time to get used to the idea of kicking back to get to another gear and by habit, I found myself reaching for the non-existent brake levers. But after 10 miles on the bike, I found my groove. The Sturmey Archer Alloy 2sp Internal Rear Hub turned out to be something very simple to use. You basically have 2 gears, 1 is for starting or climbing hills and the other is for cruising at speed.

Fantastic paint scheme, sparkle green:
Torker KB2

Braking on the Torker KB2 was a non-issue — meaning that all I have to do is apply the brake and the bike stopped. I was kinda worried about the braking power on it since I do weight 206lbs, but even riding the local hills and having to engage the brake throughout the ride, there was no brake fade at all.

Torker KB2

Check out these tires; the spec sheet shows them to be Kenda Kwest 700 x 38 but after checking the bike and the Kenda USA website, I couldn’t find the model name. However, these tires have resisted flats during the time I’ve been riding on them. The tread pattern on them is actually pretty aggressive, so I think you should be able to get some decent traction if you were to ride them through fire roads or unpaved bike trails.

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The Torker KB2 shows off its classy styling in various ways; for one, the rivet style saddle which nicely complements the sparkle green color.

Torker KB2

I really liked the bridge used on the KB2:

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One thing I have to mention about the Torker KB2: though it is a simple bicycle, it does offer mounts for fenders/racks.

Torker KB2

The Alex DA16 Double Wall 36H rims have been bombproof. No truing needed during the testing period.

Torker KB2

Overall I was very happy with the smooth riding and easy to use characteristics of the Torker KB2. I like that I didn’t have to worry about this bike. I just got on it and rode off. No brake cables or levers to hassle with, no dynamo-hubs, no fancy bells and whistles and because of its humble appearance, I wasn’t too worried that thieves would target the bike.

The KB2 rides a bit slower than my other 700c cyclo-commuter bike. I’m suspecting it has to do with the lower gear range and possibly the wider tire selection. On average, it was taking me 3-5 minutes longer to complete my 6 mile, one way commute to the office. Where the KB2 lacks in speed, it certainly makes up for it in its durability. I had way too much fun on this bike and there were times I’d look for little jumps to take because I knew that the combination of the fat, high volume tires and its beefy rims could withstand the abuse.

When people ask me how the Sturmey Archer Alloy 2sp Internal Rear hub works, I basically give them the following description. I pedal like normal and when I get enough speed to shift to the next gear, I do a quick kick back, but nothing too hard where it would activate the brake, but just enough to hear and feel a slight “click” then continue your pedaling.

The gear engages effortlessly and you will feel the difference between gear 1 and 2. Just imagine it to be like going from cog #4 to cog #1 on a 9 speed cassette. If you mistakenly shifted to gear 2 while trying to stop, the gear isn’t too tall that you couldn’t get started, you just have to put more effort onto the pedals.

The only downside to this bike were its funky pedals. I’ve never been a fan of that style. It felt like the outer portion of my foot was slipping off. Other than that, the Torker KB2 is fun, reliable and very affordable ($399). To add a quick note, I never experienced any type of mechanical issues with the bike during my test. With that being said, if you’re in the market for a simple, yet totally unique and durable commuter bike, make sure you check out the Torker KB2, you’ll dig it!

Torker KB2

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