I’m a huge fan or Torker Bicycles for the mere fact they produce bikes that are reliable, functional and very affordable. I was pleased to take photos of the new line up for 2013. Please forgive the unfocused shots, not sure what happened to my camera, but I’m sure you can get an idea on how the bike is supposed to look.
The Torker InterUrban has to be one of the best priced (based on options and groupp) road/commuter bikes available. Retails under $600, gives you all the features of a road bike and extras to make it a great commuter bike.
We received the Torker KB2 to test out a few months ago and after a few hundred miles, the review is ready to go!
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.
Frame Torker Tri Moly 116mm Rear Spacing
Fork Hi-Ten 1-1/8
Headset Steel Threadless 1-1/8
Shifter Kick Back
Crank Alloy 42T W Guard
BB Set Sealed Cartridge Square Taper
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.
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.
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.
The Torker KB2 shows off its classy styling in various ways; for one, the rivet style saddle which nicely complements the sparkle green color.
I really liked the bridge used on the KB2:
One thing I have to mention about the Torker KB2: though it is a simple bicycle, it does offer mounts for fenders/racks.
The Alex DA16 Double Wall 36H rims have been bombproof. No truing needed during the testing period.
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!
-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.
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