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Tag Archive: bicycle commute

Give up driving for Lent?

“I thought there’s probably a lot of things where I really don’t need my car. I could use my bike or just walk, so I think that is what I am going to attempt to endeavor,” Father O’Brien explained. “I can put up with the sacrifice of walking, or the challenge of walking to certain places or riding my bike.”

For Lent, could you give up driving?: MyFoxTAMPABAY.com

Torker KB2 Review

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.

Torker KB2

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:

Torker KB2

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

Review Disclaimer

I Got My Second Wind

This morning I was on my way to work with a new test bike (more on that later) that we received and as I am riding, I noticed to my left was my neighbor’s car. She honked the horn, I waved. We approached Cal State Fullerton, traffic gets a bit heavier. With hundreds of students on the streets, the road can become a parking lot really fast. As I was rolling along, I kept tabs on my neighbor’s Dodge Neon. I wanted to see if I could either keep up with her car or beat it. With all the street traffic, I was able to keep moving on the right side the of road as she sat stuck in her lane. The stretch of road we were both on was about 1.5 miles long. At a certain point I was leading the way. But when the road opened up and the speed limit went from 35 to 45mph, she took off leaving me behind.

But the story doesn’t end there. When I got to my office, I checked my watch and saw that I had actually arrived 5 minutes faster than I would have if I drove. I began to think, “could my bike be faster than my car?” The obvious answer to that is YES. Well, technically its not. But for my commute to work it is. Plus its cheaper too!

I’m sure most of you already know this, but I’ll say it again. Bike Commuting is way cheaper than car commuting. But before I get on my tangent, let me give you some background. I’m an IT 2.0 big wig for my employer. I oversee various locations in SoCal as well as throughout the US. On any given day of the week, I may have to jump in my car to take care of things at our Factory or retail stores. So that leaves me in the car most of the week. If I want to bike commute, I’d have to do some careful planning on my schedule and in the event I have to drive somewhere, I’d have to make sure the company car is available.

Ok now back to the whole bike/car cheaper thing. Recently, my aging car has been in need of some major repairs. My clutch needed to be replaced, that was $500, then my suspension is going out, another $550, my brakes, $100, a wheel bearing $50 and I had to replace my tires at $300, that’s friggin’ $1500!!!! With that in mind, I’ve come to the conclusion that my bike is cheaper than my car. That doesn’t even include the cost of gas, maintenance, and insurance.

Now that the initial sticker shock of the cost of repairs has subsided, I’ve decided to start relying less on my car than I normally do. I’m not about to sell my car. Why? It’s because I do need it to make a living. So don’t start ranting and raving that I should go car-free and all that jazz. Some people can do it, but personally I can’t (due to my profession). Anyhow, I’m getting all side tracked. What I’m trying to say is that I’m going to start limiting my time with my car.

For starters, if I can get on the bike at least 2-3 times a week, then that should make some sort of difference in my wallet as well as my health. I told my wife about my idea and she was all for it, she even said, “Wonderful! You can lose weight at the same time!” Not sure if she was implying that I am fat….regardless, I have her support.

I know that my efforts aren’t as grand as some of you who are on bikes 10 days out of the week or the kind like Ghost Rider and Russ Roca who don’t actually own a car, but this has invigorated my bike commuting spirit once again. Funny thing is, as I was riding in this morning, I kept singing to myself with a made up Adam Sandler-esque song…”I’m riding my bike…oooh yeah, I’m on my bike and you’re not! (as I pass cars in traffic)….I couldn’t believe how happy I was on the bike. It felt like I was high! Not that I’d know what that feels like since I’m a good boy, but I think you can relate.