Saturday, February 28, 2009

Torker Cargo-T

First, the Cargo-T:
This seemingly innocuous (except for the color, obviously) utility bike has loads of bloggers jumping up and down. Why? Because it's being distributed in United States of America, and just about any local bike shop can order one for you.

This is basically a grocer's delivery bike. These haven't been seen stateside since I dunno, the '50s maybe. Why? We were too busy inventing the tract-mansion and the Hummer, and killing off corner grocers with Chilean strawberries and high-fructose corn syrup.

Here's the deal:
  • Massive front and rear racks, for carrying what you need to carry;
  • 3-speeds, via an internally geared hub;
  • Upright position for good traffic visibility;
  • Low step-through frame, for easy mounting (this is important on a heavily loaded cargo bike);
  • Double kickstand and a headset lock, for keeping things stable while you load up;
  • Full chaincase, for keeping your chain and your pants clean, and shoelaces from getting shreaded; and
  • A bell, of course.
The manufacturer's suggested retail is $640.00.

Second, the T-300:
Don't you want one? It doesn't look stupid. It looks like a bike should look. I want one. I don't know the MSRP, but it can't be all that much. Love it!

19 comments:

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2whls3spds said...

Torker has some interesting stuff at interesting prices. My biggest beef with the Cargo-T is the aluminum frame. The T300 at least has a steel frame, however it is a one size fits all. Which means it most likely won't fit me!

Further perusal of the Torker bikes reveals the T530 which looks suspiciously like the Redline R530 I have a Redline R530 and have been pleased with it so far, had to special order it as no bike shop within 500 miles had one on the floor.

Aaron

2whls3spds said...

Went back and did some more reading...the text says it has a chromemoly 4130, but it sure looks like aluminum and the little graphics on the website under the pictures says "featherweight aluminum"...a call to the LBS tomorrow to confirm!

Aaron

Ted said...

If it's got a chromoly frame and around $400, it's a winner; aluminum frame at that price would actually be cheap. IMO, this is one of the best "baseline" examples of 3-speed city bikes. And even though it's "one size fits most", I'd imagine the sloping top tube makes it a little more flexible than the Schwinn Coffee 3-speed which had a similar sizing limitation.

Price will make it or leave it as a sleeper.

Ted said...

Per my first post, I was referencing the t-300. The Cargo-T is sweet, too; maybe a little pricey. Then again, maybe not.

Considering the audience for this probably needs a bike like this for utility reasons rather than just cruising the neighborhood, the price could be rationalized based on needs. The center stand and headset lock are genius and show what kind of thought was put into it.

Lastly, considering the similar Euro bikes or domestic independent builder cargo bikes, with their prices sometimes starting at double this bike's MSRP, it's a no-brainer. I've got nothing against domestic small builders and applaud the notion of "buying locally", but given the economic reality that is today, a few hundred bucks (or more) saved isn't easily dismissed.

Love it. Wish I had a "need".

jhaygood said...

What Ted said (re: the T-300) - I wish I needed one!

Love it.

David said...

After a little research, I think the T-300 should come in close to $400. Maybe $450.

PM Summer said...

$640 for the Cargo-T seems more than fair, and is about a half to a third of the price of the competition I've seen for it.

Nice bike. Nice blog. Not too much fashionista stuff. ;-)

Victor said...

This shop in Austin, TX lists the T-300 for $379, great price!

http://www.universitycyclery.com/Torker_Bikes_Pricing.html

rmb3302 said...

I ordered a Torker T300 for commuting to work. The owner of the LBS said the bike comes in three sizes--small, medium, and large. Total price, including freight, assembly, and tax: $420.12.

David said...

rmb3302:

Super! If you can manage it, send us a review after you've had it for a bit. --David

rmb3302 said...

I picked up the bicycle yesterday, but haven't had a chance to give it a good test. A short 2-mile ride around the neighborhood gave me some initial impressions.

Riding conditions were wet asphalt pavement during a cool, overcast, drizzly day.

The bike exhibited good braking in the wet weather. Gears shifted smoothly, although the new components were obviously stiff. The bike took a short but somewhat steep hill easily. I didn't break any speed records going up the hill, but I made it almost as easily in 1st gear as I normally would with my Fuji Ace in 4th or 5th gear.

Very basic specs for T300 with large frame: Top tube, 21"; Seat tube, 19.5"; Down tube, 23.5"; Tires, 700 x 38c; Rear hub, Sturmey-Archer AWC (II); Shifter, Sturmer-Archer 3-speed; Front cog, 42 teeth; Rear cog, 18 teeth; Seat, Velo Plush

Positive: Sturdy steel frame; Smooth shifting; Good braking; Rear rack; Fenders, front and rear; Chain guard.

Negative: A little heavier than expected.

rmb3302 said...

Review of 2009 Torker T-300

INTRODUCTION
When I decided to commute to work via bicycle, I started looking at commuter bikes that provided upright riding position and low-maingtenance internal-geared hubs. I also researched KHS Green, Fuji Sanibel LX, Raleigh Retroglide NX3, Kona Africa Bike 3, Haro Cooper, and Sun Drifter 3.

Assuming components and workmanship are comparable, my criteria for a bicycle came down to essential accessories for commuting: full front and rear fenders, chain guard, and rear rack. A price under $500 and the ability to buy locally were also important.

Given the local topography, I decided a 3-speed bicycle would be capable of getting me to and from work. I live in a rural area with only 4 bicycle shops within a 125 mile radius of my home. No dealer had any of the six bikes on display, which meant whatever bike I bought would be based purely on faith and due diligence. I chose the Torker because it was the only one I could buy locally.

EVALUATION
I rated the T-300 on 10 criteria: handling, shifting, braking, hill-climbing capability, weight, workmanship, overall quality of components, comfort, price, and value. Ratings are based on a scale of 1 (poor) to 10 (excellent).

About myself
I am a non-smoking, overweight, out-of-shape 48-year-old male, 6'1" (185.4 cm) tall, weighing about 223 pounds (101.4 kg).

Riding environment
I put the bike through its paces from 4-8 May 2009. Weather was rainy and cool most of the week. Commuting distance one-way is approximately 2.7 miles (4.4 km) with an estimated net change in elevation of 197 feet (60.2 m). From home, the route to work is downhill, consisting of 2-lane city streets, passing through two school zones, and crossing a 4-lane highway.

Criteria
Ratings, noted in parentheses, are based on a scale of 1 (poor) to 10 (excellent).

A. Handling (9). Very responsive. I don't need to force the T-300 around corners. It feels very well balanced and responsive despite its weight (see below).

B. Shifting (10). Top-notch. My T-300 came with a Sturmey-Archer AWC 3-speed rear hub, generating 178% gain ratio from 1st to 3rd gear. Shifting with the Sturmey-Archer TSS32 shifter is very smooth with no guess-work about gear selection.

C. Braking (8). Rear coaster brake probably will neve wear out. Braking produces efficient controlled stopping. Having the additional safety of front brakes was a key selling point.

D. Hill-climbing capability (5). The steepest slope on my homeward route is about +1.84% over 300 yards (275 m), which the T-300 handles easily. Just remember, like most 3-speed bikes, the T-300 performs best on relatively flat or gently rolling terrain.

E. Weight (4). The T-300's heftiness was a bit more than expected. I don't have scales to weigh it, but I'd estimate the weight between 33 and 38 pounds (15-17.3 kg).

F. Workmanship (9). No observed flaws or blemishes.

G. Overall quality of components (7). The T-300 appears to have standard, medium-grade components. The 4130 chro-moly frame and fork, though, were additional selling points for me.

H. Comfort (8). The T-300's steel frame and 700 x 38c tires minimize bumps and jolts along the route, producing a pleasant ride.

I. Price (10). Of the seven bikes I considered, the Torker T-300 tied with the KHS Green with the lowest price. I paid $389 plus 8% sales tax, for a total of $420.12.

J. Value (9). Some of the other bikes (Raleigh, Fuji, Kona, for example) have better components. But for the money, I think the T-300 is the best value, especially for a steel frame bike.

CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Conclusion
I plan to ride less than 1500 miles annually on the Torker T-300, but I also plan to use it a good 7-10 years. As with most 3-speed bicycles, the T-300 will deliver best results on relatively flat or gently rolling terrain. The bike is practical and functional with a pleasant curb appeal.

Recommendations
The plastic pedals do not accomodate toe clips. This may not be important to some riders; however, the pedals can be quite slick when wet. Therefore, I suggest upgrading the pedals. I would also like to have a chain-guard similar to the KHS Green and one or two additional choices of color.

Tom said...

Thanks for the review, rmb3302.
OK, so the folks at Torker told me the large sized T-300 was 28lbs? That doesn't sound like steel to me. Also, I noticed that some of their electric bikes are built on "Aluminum-framed versions of the T-300." Maybe next years version will be Aluminum?

Tom said...

It looks like the 2010 Catalog posted for Torker today. I also saw something about "one size fits most" for the T-300; however, there are four sizes in the spec sheet of this catalog.

http://issuu.com/seattlebikesupply/docs/2010-torker-catalog

rmb said...

Update on T-300

I was happy as a clam the first month until I pulled the valve out of the rear tire while trying to remove the pump connector. Replacing the tire was easy enough, but I had the hardest time re-adjusting the gears.

After a weekend of tinkering, I took it to the LBS, which, by the way, is 45 miles (one-way). The mechanic finally got the gears adjusted after almost 2 hours of tinkering himself. All was well. Or so I thought.

The next day, I noticed two problems. First, a clanking sound was coming from the rear hub. Second, shifting was considerably difficult. I ignored the problems, hoping they would go away.

About two weeks ago, the bike decided it had enough. Half way to work, 1st and 3rd gears died, leaving me only with 2nd gear. When I got to work, I noticed the gear indicator dangling. I screwed it back into the hub, then searched the Internet for more information.

On Sheldon Brown's web site, I learned what to do. I went back outside, and began adjusting the gears according to his instructions. About 20 minutes later, the gears worked as they had from Day 1. And now, I'm happy as a clam again.

The bike is a good value. I just need to listen to what it's trying to tell me.

David said...

Three cheers for Sheldon Brown, and a toast. Thanks SB.

I tested a Cargo-T the other day. LOVED IT. Comfy, stable, easy. I wouldn't want to ride it over Alpe d'Huez (yeah, I had to look it up to spell it correctly), but there are other bikes for that.

Edwin Skaug sells them, and a customized version with a few niceties, in Portland: www.aconvenientcycle.com

tyre changing machines said...

Bikes are really a nice vehicle to be used. It is eco-friendly vehicle and easy to ride on.

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