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Review: Torker T300 for my commute

Following the theft of my beloved commuter bike – Toro – last summer, I had the good fortune to test ride some bikes…. and at long last I’m letting you know my thoughts on this Torker bike that I previewed for you.

T300_white

Torker graciously sent me their T300 step thru model to ride for review. (After a bit of a snafu, I was finally up and running on this great new ride!) Quite a snazzy set-up. Almost reminds me of a Dutch-style bike.

I must admit that I was initially a bit skeptical of the sloping step through configuration. While I have always loved the look and comfortable feel of the bike, I never bought one of my own. Both the heft and the awkwardness of carrying such a steed up and down the rear steps to my apartment have led me to prefer a bike with a diamond frame so I could haul the bike up by the top tube.

Now for the specs:

• Stylish alloy twin top tube frame in 2 styles.
• Sturmey Archer 3 speed internal hub.
• Dependable rear coaster brake.
• Includes fenders, chainguard, & rear rack.

Available sizes: 15”, 17”, 19”,
15” step thru, 17 step thru”.

Torker sent me a 15″ step thru to fit my 5’4″ stature. This bike also comes in a more “unisex” style diamond/mixte style frame.

You’ll notice that this bike comes with a rear coaster brake and front hand brake. Since this is a Friday review, I’m including a Friday musing with this review….. “how did I ever ride a bike with a coaster brake?” After many years of riding free wheel bikes with hand brakes, I missed being able to reposition the pedal after I stop so that I can push off again (known as the power pedal position). And I think I’ve forgotten “how” to get started (without some awkward shove off) after I do stop when I ride with coaster brakes. Oops. Is there a trick I’m missing or have forgotten?
Note: I didn’t let this forgetfulness slow me down with my riding and I did adapt.

But this bike is fun and riding it around Chicago made me feel like a lady.

Riding in style (and value)


My friend rides the T300 around the parking lot; the 15″ frame bike accommodates a wide range of heights and even comes in a larger size.

Its upright riding position is suited for city navigating and being able to see around traffic.

the cockpit


View from the saddle (riding along Chicago’s first 2-way protected bike lane)

This bike already comes standard with fenders, rear rack and chain guard, so you could wear your suit or dress to the office without worry. Its plush saddle means you don’t have to worry about needing padded shorts; plus, the rear of the saddle is reflective, which is a great safety factor after dusk. The pedals also nicely work with any shoe – even dress shoes – as they are not made with sharp metal edges that could scuff or damage nice shoes. As an added bonus, the pedals also have reflectors built in, so they’re noticeable in headlights when out pedaling after dark.

plush saddle with reflective material facing rear and pedals with reflectors

The upright position maybe slowed me down from the speeds I’d grown accustomed to attaining on Toro which was more of a road bike. For my usual sub-5 mile bike commuting route there wasn’t a considerable time difference. I did notice the difference when I pedaled to a further work location and it took longer.

With 3 internal speeds this bike is suitable for most conditions, especially in the flatlands of Chicago. But the gearing gaps are sizeable and I sometimes struggled with finding the best gear. In most cases I stayed in the middle gear (the usually “just right” sweet spot).

Internal gearing and rear coaster brake


Front rim brake

For carrying my work necessities, the rear rack accommodated my panniers – and I tested out multiple brand panniers with this bike’s rear rack – without an issue.

The Detours Ballard Bag easily clips to the rear rack

Out of the box, it was such a convenience to not have to worry about equipping the T300 with the necessary commuting accessories of fenders, rack and chain guard, plus reflective accents on the saddle and pedals.

Ready for urban riding right out of the box – with fenders, chain guard and rear rack

At the pricepoint of $439 for this Torker T300, I recommend it to anyone seeking a comfortable entry level urban bike.

While it was challenging at times to haul this bike up and down to my apartment, I did find a manageable way to carry it. By simply grabbing the bottom of the sloping tube with one hand and the handlebars with the other to steady the bike, I could lift it just high enough to carry it down the steps.

Some evenings I was able to haul it back upstairs in the same manner. Other nights (maybe I was too tired) I had to implement the technique I used to use to haul my old Schwinn mixte frame upstairs — by turning the bike around and hauling it upstairs rear wheel first; in this case I would grab the seat tube and the sloping down tube and be lifting the heavier rear end up first.

Bottom line — I have enjoyed riding this Torker T300 bicycle around town, especially for its comfort and style. And that makes this bike a winner for me.

Go Green Go Dutch Go Bike Ride

This Saturday Chicago’s Active Transportation Alliance and the Netherlands Consulate General come together to bring you Chicago’s first Go Green Go Dutch Go Bike! event.

go green go dutch go bike

Chicago has three European-style bike shops, including Defietsfabriek-USA and Dutch Bike Co., which are participating in this ride.

Rider registration automatically enters you into a raffle to win a Dutch bike – the Gazelle Toer Populair (retail value $1,349), donated by Dutch Bike Co. Chicago.

And Jon Lind, owner of Defietsfabriek-USA (which I’ve featured in previous posts), will be “assembling a great crew of colorful bikes and riders together” to ride from his shop to the start of the ride at Montrose Harbor and back.

Come out and join me and my mom for a bike ride this weekend.

Fall Launched last night in Chicago with De Fietsfabriek and Po Campo Party!

My commute home last night amidst the cool 50 degree weather included the perfect detour for a warm up – a stop at the De Fietsfabriek and Po Campo fall launch party! The De Fietsfabriek storefront is located along my daily route, so my biking buddy and I just pulled over and walked in to join a great party on the way home.

Bikes outside the shop beckoned to us

And inside, the accessories and bikes on display welcomed us

We even met up with Dottie (and Mr. Dottie) from Let’s Go Ride A Bike.

All hosts (from left to right – Co-Founder Maria of Po Campo, Jon of De Fietsfabriek, and Alex of West Town Bikes) agree the night brought an impressive turnout and a great show of support

According to Jon of De Fietsfabriek, “By all accounts it was a great night, turnout was better than expected and everyone had a great time. Reactions to the new bags and bikes were extremely positive and a lot of great conversation and catching up amongst the Chicago biking community was going on. Sales were pretty good and we’re happy to be able to pass 10% of the proceeds to support WTB.”

Fall Launches in Chicago with De Fietsfabriek and Po Campo Party!

It’s that time of year — fall — and the weather reflects the season. I woke up today to 30+ mph wind gusts and temperatures in the 50s (after mid-70s yesterday)! But to help warm up the fall commuting season, two Chicago-based cycling companies are teaming up to launch their new fall lines this Wednesday, September 30! RSVP to attend this free event.

De Fietsfabriek Dutch bikes and Po Campo stylish bags bring functionality and style to commuter cycling. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the founders of each of these companies and even sampling their products. In fact, at Chicago’s Bike Commuter Challenge awards luncheon, I won a Po Campo rack bag in a raffle. Best of all – 10% of all accessory sales – including Po Campo’s new fall line – will be donated to the educational non-profit West Town Bikes. (Reviews on the bag and the bikes to come soon!)

po campo
pink oma

Now for the party details:

De Fietsfabriek and Po Campo have joined forces to celebrate their new wares, available just in time for the choicest of all Chicago biking seasons – fall! We’ll have our newest products on hand for you to check out and some light food and drinks.
We are pleased to welcome De Fietsfabriek’s newest shipment of bikes from Holland to their new home. All new styles in all new colors means that there’s probably one just perfect for you and your family.
Po Campo, Chicago’s own stylish yet highly functional bike bag company, is thrilled to roll out its fall line, which features their popular handlebar bag and rack bag in all new, limited-edition fall fabrics.
Plus, we’ll be donating 10% of all accessory sales – including Po Campo’s new fall line – to West Town Bikes. WTB’s overreaching goal is to promote bicycling in the city of Chicago, to educate youth with a focus on underserved populations, and to foster and serve Chicago’s growing bicycling community. We’re happy to help them with their worthy cause!

Hope to see you Wednesday at the party!