|2010 Transit Cameron. Credit:Performance Bike|
Alright just got it in and immediately took it for a 10 or 12 mile ride.
At this price, the competition in my mind include the Torker Graduate and the Breezer Downtown.
The Transit Cameron features the following:
SRAM iMotion 9 IGH with grip shift Tektro Lyra mechanical disc brakes (the left brake lever has an integrated bell, cool!)
Full set of plastic fenders Chain guard Mount points for rear rack (I think a front would have to share the rear/bottom holes with the fenders, or mount with the skewer)
Adjustable angle stem
Performance has these on closeout right now for $550. I also considered the Graduate, but not the Breezer because it has rim brakes. I was really looking for something that was weatherproof. I think I'd prefer the Torker's drum brakes to these discs, but I can't pick too much.
So the pros and cons on my admittedly short first impression.
inexpensive (especially considering the hub)
pretty light frame
Comes with a bell
Comes with a chain guard, just a metal bar on the top part of the chain
Good gear range
Good upright riding position
Disc brakes make noise (when not braking). I'll try adjusting them to see if they do any better. I'm really not impressed with the braking power of the discs, they may get better with break in though
It has fairly wide tires (700x38), but the fenders just barely cover them width wise. We'll have to see with some rain how good they do.
The leather saddle looks neat (like a knock-off Brooks). It's REALLY hard now, and from what I hear, I can't expect much break-in
The black leather "grips" are cheesy, they slip and slide around
The bars are a bit too swept back for my taste, but I may get used to that.
The frame is stiff. Maybe it's just the stiff saddle, but I swear its the stiffest bike I own
In summary, I'm going to give the bike a few more days to convince me, but I think I may be returning it for a Torker Graduate.
Thanks, Adam. We look forward to an update!
Update from Adam:
After riding the Cameron a few more times, I decided it was not the bike for me. I'm not saying it's a bad bike. It's just not quite what I was looking for. As luck would have it, the LBS that sells Torker happened to have a Graduate on the floor and it happened to be my size (they haven't had a single Graduate since I've been looking for ~5 months). I'm very happy with it, excited in fact! It fits me better and that's important to me.
There is no question in my mind that the SRAM 9 speed IGH on the Transit Cameron is a superior hub to the Sturmey Archer 5 speed on the Torker Graduate. The SRAM hub shifts smoother and has a wider gear range. They're also closer together making it easier to find the "right" gear. However, in my opinion, the Cameron needs probably a few hundred more dollars in parts and upgrades to provide the out-of-the-box goodness that the Torker does. For example, it would immediately need a new saddle and grips. Also, the disc brakes were pretty lousy. The drum brakes on the Torker Graduate are buttery smooth and provide superior confidence when riding in traffic. The Torker frame/wheel/tire/saddle combination is also significantly more comfortable as far as vibration is concerned. That could be entirely related to the better saddle on the Torker than the one I complained about on the Cameron, but I liked being able to buy a bike and immediately ride it (and plan to for months if not years) without making any changes whatsoever. Well, other than a Wald basket for "groceries" (and by that I mean exclusively beer).
I'd like to make a couple comments on the Torker Graduate, as I'd read a good many reviews before deciding on that bike. Firstly, I love the bike. It is awesome and makes commuting an enjoyable experience and not just a chore before getting to work. It's very comfortable, great upright (but not too upright) riding position. The bars are the perfect width, rise, and sweep for my style. The brakes are quite good, I can't wait til it rains so I can appreciate the lack of wet-rim-brake-squeal. I'm sold on the idea of IGH's for commuting bikes, shifting at a stop light/sign is just so nice. The only complaint I have about the bike is the Sturmey Archer 5 speed shifter. It shifts well, very direct and obvious engagement. But, the travel is a bit long, and mine is somewhat difficult to get into 1st gear. Just needs a little more effort than the others. That could just be the one I've got, or it could go away with break-in, time will tell.
All in all, for those on a budget, I would say the Torker Graduate makes the ideal commuter.
I'll leave you with this question: why don't more commuter/town/urban bikes have drum brakes? They seem perfectly suited for that application, but I really don't see them on any bikes!