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Review: Detroit Bikes’ A-Type Commuter Bicycle, Part 2

Yesterday, I posted my review of Detroit Bikes’ steel frame commuter bicycle, the A-Type. One of the main selling points of the bike is its versatility—the frame comfortably fits riders from 5’3″ to 6’3″. I decided to test this out by asking my bike enthusiast friend, Alex to borrow the bike for a few days and give me a full report on his experience. He was more than happy to oblige. Read on for Alex’s review of the A-Type.

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Alex’s Review of Detroit Bikes’ A-Type commuter bicycle:

A bike built for urban use…

The A-Type’s outstanding quality is the frame. It looks great, sleek, without being too flashy and standing out to potential bike thieves. The steel absorbs the bumps and shocks of urban cycling with brio. It never feels like it might fold in half when you run over that pothole you just can’t avoid, and it doesn’t leave your arms feeling like they’ve been through the wringer. It’s a frame that inspires confidence.

The bike is built to adjust to a wide range of rider sizes and I have to say it did so pretty well for me. Although the seat was a bit of a pain to adjust (and thus way harder to steal), it went high enough to allow for a comfortable riding position. If I had to guess though, anybody over 6’ might have some issues with the short cockpit and high riding stance that flows from the adaptable design.

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It’s tricked out with nifty little features that make it great for putting around town. The fenders are nice (having gone through a puddle of what was suspiciously probably not water) and the rear basket-carrier-thing fits a standard size milk crate just great with the help of a couple bungee cords. The springs on the seat are superfluous in my opinion—I tried to move them as hard as I could, but no dice—but do offer a nice big area to sneak a cable lock in there to secure the seat.

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Finally, the gearing on the bike is superb. All thanks to the Shimano Nexus 3-speed internally hubbed gear set. Just perfect for urban use, it shifts effortlessly and smoothly, even going up hills. Although I didn’t play with it, there’s enough tweaking to be done within the confines of these gears to suit everybody’s riding style. And there’s no external parts to steal, bang up, or get caught in your pants. As far as everybody (a.k.a. potential bike thieves) knows, it’s a single speed, and that’s such a nice solution for urban use.

… just maybe not San Francisco.

All of these nice attributes tend to fall apart when you hit a hill though, except for the gearing. The stance suddenly feels high and exposed. And while the curved handle bars maximize adaptability, I would have preferred straight bars to help optimize cockpit length. This issue is particularly evident on hills, especially for someone taller like me. The shorter length forces you to sit down—losing serious power—and that’s when you notice that the metal studs on the seat (they don’t have to be there, seriously) are really, really, really uncomfortable. Bummer.

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And to cap that off, the braking systems on the bike are not the best. The coaster brake reminds me of the bike I had when I was four and learning to pedal for the first time. It’s rough, abrupt and an old school complement to such a nice gearing set. The single front side-pull caliper brake doesn’t do much. It’s inadequate for effective braking—if you use it for fine tuning, you end up mashing on the coaster, which is all around startling and not slick. It’s understandable that the coaster brake presents a nice, compact solution for urban use, but only if it actually works well. It doesn’t. It offers two braking modes: not and full on. Which is only great if you’re into flying off your bike. Or maybe I just suck at using coaster brakes, let’s not discount that. Either way, a single, front mounted disk brake would be more than enough braking for this bike in urban situations and wouldn’t break the bank (no pun intended) any more than the current setup. Less sleek yes, but I like stopping.

– Alex

Thanks for that, Alex. Personally, I think you might just suck at using coaster brakes. However, I also found the coaster brake to be tricky at first, but once I got the hang of it, the breaking system was adequate for my needs.

Alex and I both agree that the A-Type is well designed, beautiful bike equipped with fantastic gearing and a frame that’s built to last—but it may not be the best choice for hilly locales. You may purchase Detroit Bikes’ A-Type Commuter Bicycle for $699 directly from Detroit Bikes online or through a local retailer.

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Torker Graduate Review

-Editorial: RL Policar “As you may recall we had solicited the help of MtnBikeRiders.com 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 http://www.sturmey-archer.com/userfiles/manuals/XRD5-Tech.pdf

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.

Torker Graduate: Testing Begins

Not too long ago, Torker USA sent me the Graduate to demo/test. I was originally scheduled to review this bike, but somehow we were sent a 56cm bike. I normally ride a 52, 54cm at the most. So with that being said, I had to call on someone big enough to test this bike for me. I recruited the help of Eric “The Animal” Hunner from the MtnBikeRiders.com Race Team.

I know what you’re thinking…”he’s a mountain biker!” Yes he is. But what you may not know is that Eric trains for his races by putting on tons of mileage on the road. Besides, he’s the only guy that I know in this world who is strong enough to break crankarms and mangle frames through “normal” use. I figured having The Animal test the Torker Graduate would be the best way to find out if this bike has what it takes to be a great commuter for you.

RL received a Torker Graduate [56cm size] and gave me a buzz as this bike was to big for him. I said,” I would be more than willing to test a road bike”.

At first this bike looks Plain Jane, but upon closer inspection you will notice nice features like the internal gearing and drum brakes front and rear by Sturmey Archer.

The Torker Graduate has an MSRP of $499.99. Loaded with full fenders, rack mounts, Sturmey Archer Hubs, and Tioga Gritty Slicker 700 x 32 tires, The Graduate should make a great all-weather commuter. Time to put some miles down and see how the Torker Graduate holds up.

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