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Tag Archive: step-through

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.

Ride up Milwaukee hills for Ride the Divide

Why did the Chicagoan venture up to Milwaukee and bike UP this hill?
hill vertical

To go see the bike film Ride the Divide!
me at film

And I wasn’t the only one riding; movie-goers had to get creative with the parking.
ride the divide bike parking

Gary, promoter of Ride the Divide movie, was on-hand for the Milwaukee screening and has been on tour with this film as its traveled from city to city since last July. Last Tuesday the film was in the Chicago area, on Wednesday in Milwaukee and on Thursday in Madison, WI. After days of back-to-back screenings, the film resumes its tour this week with a stop in Ohio. More upcoming tour dates are online.
Rosebud Cinema

Before the movie began, we saw a few short films from Ray’s Indoor Mountain Bike Park in Milwaukee, Hayes Bicycle Group, and IMBA – which screened its movie Bring the Riding to the People about the construction of municipal mountain bike parks in NYC, Seattle and Golden, CO.

As noted on its website, Ride the Divide tells the story of the underground mountain bike race noted to be…

“the world’s toughest mountain bike race, which traverses over 2700 miles along the Continental Divide in the Rocky Mountains. The film weaves the story of three characters’ experiences with immense mountain beauty and small-town culture as they attempt to pedal from Banff, Canada to a small, dusty crossing on the Mexican border.”

The route goes from Banff to the Mexico border and is 2,745 miles. Adventure Cycling wrote of the ride that “competitors will climb nearly 200,000 vertical feet from start to finish. In classic touring tradition, racers carry everything they need — food, water, shelter — on their bikes and backs, with refueling stops in small-town stores along the way.”

Matthew Lee is a 6-time winner of this race and his challenges and successes are fully documented in Ride the Divide. This documentary was filmed in 2008, when 16 riders set out from Banff and only 9 crossed the finish line (the borderline) of Mexico. On June 9, 2011, over 100 endurance cyclists will start the race. You can follow the participants’ progress online at tourdivide.org via the leaderboard.

After the film, Metro Mountain Bikers raffled off several prizes and Gary answered questions from the audience about the film and the Ride as it exists today as it grows in popularity. This year’s race begins one month from today on June 9, 2011.
Ride the Divide Q&A

On such a beautiful spring evening, I was happy to have tackled that looming hill on the way to the movie rather than sit in traffic.
gas prices

What goes up, must come down … and I fully enjoyed coasting back from this film light-hearted and with a deep respect for those endurance cyclists. My hill must be just a bump on the divide.