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Torker Graduate - My new, internal geared, city-bike, commuter and review

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Torker Graduate - My new, internal geared, city-bike, commuter and review

Old 02-02-10, 11:32 AM
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Torker Graduate - My new, internal geared, city-bike, commuter and review

Background

I'm a graduate student at the University of Utah and I needed a dedicated commuter bike capable of all seasons yet affordable for someone on my budget. A little about me: I consider myself a capable rider. I'm a weekend warrior mountain biker. I mostly ride on a single speed rigid 29er and race about once per month in the summer. I'm strong but not fast, but i think I could be fast if I trained. Though I enjoy mountain biking, I mostly consider myself a bike commuter and "bicycle lifestylist". I own a car but hardly use it and am contemplating going car free.

I was looking for something to replace my 1960 Women's Schwinn Traveler and something more practical than my fixed gear bike. My requirements were: 1) Internal geared hub 2) Not rim brakes 3) Fenders 4) Rack mounts 5) affordable for graduate student budget.

I first looked at the 2010 Trek Soho and was tempted but the $1200 price tag was a more than I wanted for something that I could lock to parking sign at the grocery store in the middle of a snow storm. I read a review of the Torker Graduate on Urban Velo and its sounded like exactly what I needed. Even more so, the MSRP was only $500.

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Looks

Right off the bat the bike struck me as clean, simple, and attractive, the way I like my bikes. I like neutral colors and minimal graphics. I once said, "I won't ride a bike unless it is all black." I've branched out since then. The bike looks good enough to draw, "nice bike" comments from those who bother to pay attention but is understated enough to go unnoticed to the majority of people (and hopefully thieves too). The front drum brake looks like a generator hub - hopefully savvy bike thefts don't mistake it as something more expensive than it really is. I am considering a front wheel locking nut even though the bike does not have quick release. I'm still not sure about the name "Graduate." Its a little too ironic since I'm in graduate school. I may have to put a "One Less Car" sticker on the top tube or something

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Geometry and sizing

Sizing is a little odd. I ride a 54 road bike but had to get a 52 because of the standover. My pubic bone height is 32" and I'm 5' 8.5" just for reference (mostly torso). At first the bike felt way too upright but I flipped the stem to have negative rise and the subtle change improved riding position and handling dramatically.

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Shifting and Gearing

The Sturmey Archer was a little tricky to set up initially but now shifts very smoothing. The gearing range is more than enough to serve the needs of my commuting. However, the biggest criticism is with how the shifter fits on the bar itself. You can't see what gear you are in if you mount the shifter close to the hand brake. This doesn't matter that much but then it is sometimes nice to know, "I'm in 4 so I have one more taller gear." I'm surprised that a company (Sturmey Archer) which as been around for more than 100 years did not see this design flaw.

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Overall ride

The 700 x 32 tires are a good choice for the bike. I was able to ride from the shop where I purchased the bike back home, 15 miles, and keep a conversational pace with my friend who was on a traditional road bike. Yet, I could take loose gravel and rail road tracks with much less hesitance than I would if I were on a road bike. The 15 mile trip from Bountiful to SLC is within range for this bike. As I was aware of before hand, drum brakes are not as effective as disk or even rim brakes. However, I find the braking is sufficient and lever modulation and feel is
good. More importantly, the braking effectiveness does not change when its wet out. They even make kind of a cool whirring noise when applied.

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Summary

So far so good. I'm really glad I purchased this bike, especially when most other bikes I was looking at were at least $1000. The bike is a great value and so I don't feel bad about spending some money on a few extras like a Dimension rear race and nice Arkel Bug pannier. The bike is practical, functional, handsome but isn't trying to make a statement. And you don't have to be in a Flowmax commercial to ride it either. If you are looking for a city bike with internal geared hub you have to consider the Torker Graduate give its value.

Much appreciation goes to Saturday Cycles for setting me up with my first new dedicated commuter bike.
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Old 02-02-10, 11:50 AM
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my eyes are burning!! i want!! congrats...i didn't read, but the photos speak for themselfs! intertnal gear, front hub break, its so sleek!!
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Old 02-02-10, 04:36 PM
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I really like that bike!

I read the same review on Urban Velo, and also think this bike is a great deal at $500. Glad you like it.
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Old 02-02-10, 05:15 PM
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More pictures?!?

A.
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Old 02-02-10, 08:06 PM
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I'll post some more pictures soon... close ups and such of some of the details. I'll also be sure to post some more pics when I get my rear rack and pannier installed (they have yet to come in).
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Old 02-02-10, 08:06 PM
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Drive side, at least.
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Old 02-03-10, 03:30 PM
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Very nice. Unfortunately, no Torker dealers in Canada.
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Old 02-03-10, 04:04 PM
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Very nice. Looks like the only thing that's missing is a pump peg.
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Old 02-07-10, 04:05 PM
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More pics as requested

I flipped the stem around and the handling has improved dramatically. I also found that the frame pump (Top Peak) fits securely flush against the top tube even though the frame doesn't have pump knobs.
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Old 02-08-10, 12:07 AM
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I like that you posed the bicycle in front of your lab bench... nice pipette aid. all joking aside, nice ride!
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Old 02-08-10, 08:29 AM
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Thanks for the review, I like the idea of a no nonsense commuter bike and thought the Graduate fit the bill nicely, but was concerned about quality, ride, and fit.
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Old 02-08-10, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Grillparzer
Thanks for the review, I like the idea of a no nonsense commuter bike and thought the Graduate fit the bill nicely, but was concerned about quality, ride, and fit.
I was worried about the quality too but then I found out that Torker is made by the same company as Redline. The quality of the frame and paint are much higher than I expected, and the Sturmey Archer components are rock solid. However, if you are considering the bike I would carefully look at the geometry because the sizing and top tube to stand over height is a little odd.
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