Tag Archive: commuter bike

2011 Redline 925 Review

Meet the 2011 Redline 925. I’ve been testing this bike for the last few months and I’ve finally been able to compile my review below.

First impressions of this bike: beautiful styling, classic color mated with chrome and aluminum. Geometry provides a very comfy yet aggressive-ready ride (more on that later).
Redline 925 Brown

Headset Threadless 28.6mm
Frt Der
Rear Der
Crank Redline Alloy 42T W Guard
BB Set FSA Square taper 68 x 110mm
Cogs 16T Single
Pedal Alloy Track W Toe Clips
Rim Alex G 2000 Aero Double Wall 32H
Hub HI Flange SB Nutted
Spoke 14G Stainless
Tire Kenda 700 X 28
Bar Alloy Crescent
Stem Alloy Forged, 10 Degree
Saddle Redline Racing
Seat Post Redline Forged Alloy 27.2 x 350mm
Brake Tektro Dual Pivot Caliper
Brake Lever Tektro New Alloy Flat Bar

Redline 925 Brown

The official name for the color used on the 925 is “Pearl dark brown.” Simply beautiful.
Redline 925 Brown

Classic toe-clips with leather strap. No need for special riding shoes or pedals.
Redline 925 Brown

Redline did a great job by pairing this bike’s color with aluminum and chrome parts which gives the bike a very distinguished look.
Redline 925 Brown

Best stopping power I’ve seen on any commuter bike I’ve tested. The Tektro Dual Pivot Caliper and Tektro New Alloy Flat Bar Levers can and will stop on a dime.
Redline 925 Brown

Dual Pivot Caliper
Redline 925 Brown

Fender mounts, radial laced wheel.
Redline 925 Brown

Flip Flop Hub.
Redline 925 Brown

The 2011 Redline 925 is a very smooth riding bike. Aesthetics wise, its a gorgeous bicycle and what makes it great is that it meets many of our reader’s requirements when it comes to what a commuter bike should have; fenders, chain guard, rack mounts and simplicity. One of the things I enjoyed about the 925 is the geometry. The crescent handle bar provided me with the right amount of relaxed riding position. However, when I needed to sprint or get up and off the saddle for more power to the pedal, the bike is very nimble and responsive.

During the testing period, I made sure I rode it through my pot-hole filled route and would, on occasion, jump the bike off curbs and over parking lot blocks. The wheels stayed true to their form. The frame took all the abuse that I presented and to no surprise, the bike rode as if it was brand new. It all comes down to this; I could not find anything wrong with the 2011 Redline 925. It is a well designed/built bike, the parts spec on it is perfect for commuting and I still can’t get over how awesome the stopping power is on this bike.

I have to mention that we’ve reviewed a Redline 925 before, and fell in love with the bike back in 2007. For each year they release a new model, it just keeps getting better and better. In fact this bike has been a Staff favorite for the past few years.

The Double Butted 4130 Chromoly frame
Redline 925 Brown

Review Disclaimer

Oh, you rode your bike today!?!

When I show up to the office with my bike, I always get asked the following questions:

1. How far do you live

2. Is it hard?

3. Aren’t you scared?

4. How do you get cleaned up (if no shower is available)?

5. What kind of bike is that?

6. Do you bring your lunch?

I’m sure I could go on forever with all sorts of questions that people ask. But I’ll give you a run down on what I typically say when responding.

1. How far do you live
6 Miles!( I say that enthusiastically)

2. Is it hard?
Nah, I only have one big hill to ride up, but the fun part is going down!

3. Aren’t you scared that you might get hit by a car?
Not at all, as long as I’m paying attention to what’s going on around me, then I know I’ll be ok.

4. How do you get cleaned up (if no shower is available)?
I have a bag of toiletries with stuff that I use to freshen up. (this includes soap, wash cloth, cologne and deodorant)

5. What kind of bike is that?
(depends on which I ride) But I normally say its my “commuter bike.”

6. Do you bring your lunch?
Yes I did! I usually pack enough food for the day and the ride home.

What kind of questions do people ask you? Do you find that they are the same people asking the same questions?

Soma Double Cross Review

Soma Double Cross equipped with a Slick Black lugged crown fork.

Price: I’ve seen the frame start around $350 and up; the fork starts around $89.00.

• Tange Prestige heat-treated butted CrMo steel front triangle; butted CrMo rear end

• Clearance for 700x38c tires with fenders

• Rear spacing fits road or mtn. hubs.

• Optional matching IRD straight blade disc fork available. If you want to run cantilevers, you can choose to use the Slick Black lugged crown fork that goes with the standard Double Cross.

• Rear disc mounts are located on the seatstay, so if you intend to use a rack in conjunction with disc brakes, you will need racks designed to work with disc brakes, which are available from Topeak, Axiom, Delta and us. Fits 160mm rotors only.

• 1-1/8″ size headtube – w/ extra height so you use less spacers.

• 7 sizes: 48cm to 60cm

• 4.2 lbs (54cm)

• Paint: Midnight Silver

When I got together with the folks of Soma Fabrications, I told them that I wanted to build a bike that could serve 2 purposes for me. The first was to be my commuter bike and second was the ability for it to be a great bike on the trails. In my local trail system, I’ve seen many riders who seem like they are always zooming past me on their cyclocross bikes. I have also seen plenty of bike commuters who use cross bikes as their “commuter bike.”

After I presented the idea to Soma Fab, they were pretty eager in wanting to help with this build project/review. They provided a Soma Double Cross DC frame set for the build. Within a few weeks I was able to acquire all the parts that I needed. I was fortunate enough that one of my friends gave me a Trek 7.5Fx that he no longer wanted to act as the donor parts bike.

The 7.5FX had a decent parts list, but the drivetrain was worn out. . After replacing the previously enjoyed cassette, chain and rings and purchasing some Kenda Small Block Eight cross tires, I was off on my first commute. I thought about using drop bars on the Soma, but I opted for a flat bar feel. It’s more of a personal preference than anything.

After spending a few hundred miles on the bike — mind you this was a combination of street (commuting) and trail riding — I was felt very confident and comfortable on the Double Cross. On the road, the bike as a whole is an absolute joy to ride. It’s very light weight; the frame itself only weighed in about 4.2 lbs, but as complete bike I had it down to 21lbs. The bike handles nicely and it feels very stable and responsive. Since I had a flat bar on the Soma, the bike felt more familiar to me since I spend most of my time mountain biking. This made riding down singletrack a bit easier. I can only assume that riding on drops on some of the dirt trails I’ve been on would have proved to be more challenging.

What I fell in love with on the Soma Double Cross DC is the fact that it rode much like a road bike. Fast, nimble and downright fun. Personally I’ve always been a fan of 700c commuter bikes, I just think they ride better on the street.

To test the durability of the Soma Double Cross, the obvious way to do that was to ride it on dirt. I rode this bike through a number of mountain bike trails in Southern California. The Soma went to places where I’d normally ride my 5″ travel mountain bike. One trail I frequent with the Double Cross is the Fullerton Loop. I hit that up at least once a week with this bike. I’ve also been to Whiting Ranch, Woods Canyon, Cholla, Top of the World and Meadows.

If you’re familiar at all with any of these trails, then you’d understand that certain parts of them could really do some damage to a skinny-tired bike like the Soma. But through many rides and even a few crashes with the Soma, I have found that this frame is STRONG. I know that strong is a pretty generic term, but that’s the best way to describe it. It literally has been a strong frame from the get go. I weigh 210lbs and I have not seen or experienced any frame/fork issues with the Soma Double Cross. I actually inspect the frame and fork thoroughly before, during and after each ride to make sure there are no compromises with the set.

Lets delve into the ride qualities of the frame set.
Due to the light weight build (21lbs-light for me), climbing and sprinting on this bike has been nice. On occasion I’ll sprint out of a red light just so I can make it across the intersection and during this process it looks pretty violent. I’m tossing the bike side to side and there hasn’t been any noticeable flexing of any type.

Under heavy “off-road” braking the fork does chatter a bit. But on the road, no chatter could be felt.

-Smooth or Rough?
On the road this ranks up there as one of the smoother riding bikes I’ve tested. Perhaps its the characteristics of the steel that smoothed out some of the imperfections of the road, but whatever it was, the Soma Double Cross is very forgiving. I wish I could say the same thing about my off-road experience. Granted this is basically a rigid bike that I’m riding through mountain bike trails, and I didn’t have the luxury of high-volume tires and a front suspension fork to absorb the bumps. But where I’d have to slow down on descents, I could easily make up time during the flats. The Soma can fly like a mofo!

Bike Commuter Friendly Features: Eyelets on frame and fork to mount racks and fenders.

I’d also like to point out that the UCI recently allowed discs brakes for cyclocross racing. So if you’re into ‘cross racing, the frame could be a formidable machine against more expensive ‘cross bikes on the course.

I’ve been REALLY happy with this frame set. The Soma Double Cross has proved to be a reliable, and fun commuter/cyclocross bike. I think what makes this build/project awesome is that I can have the same speed and efficiency as a road bike, yet similar functionality of a rigid mountain bike. The people that I ride with the most — especially my wife — can attest that I am pretty harsh to this bike to make sure I put it through the paces. One of our other riding buddies is always giving me a hard time stating that I am going to break the frameset in half. He’s seen how I ride and he’s been surprised to see lifespan on the Soma Double Cross DC.

So if you’re looking to build up a 2 in 1 bike, then you may want to consider the Soma Double Cross DC. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

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

Soma Fab Double Cross 100 mile Update

The Soma Double Cross has had a mix of dirt and street miles logged in. I’d say about half of my rides were all on the local trails.

My indoor bike parking at work.

On the road the Double Cross is quick, responsive and VERY durable. I love the fact that I don’t have to worry about pot holes or having to bunny hop the occasional obstacle. It helps that this bike is a cyclocross, the wheels and tires allow for more abuse than a standard road bike, and it does ride faster and smoother than a mountain bike. I plan on giving it more time on the saddle before I post a final review.

Torker Graduate Review

-Editorial: RL Policar “As you may recall we had solicited the help of Team Racer, Eric “The Animal” Hunner to conduct the review on the Torker Graduate. Not only was the Graduate used for grocery gettin’, it was also used as a training bike for an upcoming long distance mountain bike race. If we want to test an item and find out if it is bomb-proof, or at least Animal-Proof, then we send it over to Eric. He’s one big and strong fella, 6’2″ @240lbs with a 7% body fat…nuff said.”

The Product: 2010 Torker Graduate

It does not rain very often in Southern California, but it always seems to rain when I am trying to get some training miles in for the long distance Mtn bike races. With most of the riding areas closed I had some time on my hands to put some time in on this bike.

Features; At first this bike looks Plain Jane, but upon closer inspection you will notice nice features:

5 speed internal hub-Sturmey Archer

Drum Brakes-Alloy 70mm Internal Drum F & R

Full Coverage Fenders

Nice tires-Tioga Gritty Slicker 700 x 32

Rear Rack mounts

Handle Bar-Alloy All Rounder — I flipped the bar over

Six different frames sizes available

Single speed good looks with gears to boot

Great MSRP @ $499.99

I had fun on this bike; it held up to me mashing on the pedals with few complaints. Keep in mind I am not your average size commuter, I am 6′ 2″ and 240 pounds currently. During my first few rides I ran into some gear shifting problems; I dug deeper into the problem and it was me. I managed to slip the wheel forward during some aggressive hill climbing and lost the correct adjustment on the SA hub. I locked the rear hub into place with a wrench and I made the adjustment to the shift cable after learning the correct way on how to adjust the hub, then the gear shifting improved greatly. If you are interested in the internals of the hub here is the PDF manual link

If you have never ridden a Sturmey Archer it takes a little practice; when you want another gear you simply stop or slow your pedaling and twist the grip and let it drop into gear. This is really nice at stop lights, you could be in 5th gear while stopped and twist the grip to 1st and be on your way wiht no pedaling necessary to shift.

In short this is a great bike at a great price: the ride is predictable and the steering angle is perfect, the fenders keep you dry, the tires can take a beating and roll fast, the option to flip the handle bars is nice and the brakes are smooth even with a heavyweight aboard. A little more on the brakes– they slow the bike down without any signs of fading or locking up. The brakes do require a little more stopping distance then disc brakes, but require very little maintenance.

I have been running back and forth to the grocery store and locking the bike up to the rack — not worrying about some knucklehead slamming his bike into the Graduate and messing up the the gears or brakes. Why? Because it has no external derailleurs and drum brakes that are not exposed to dangers of bike racks. Another nice thing about the Plain Jane look is that a thief would probably look for bikes with more gizmos and bright colors.

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