The Traitor Luggernaut 3spd is on-trend on two fronts, with its lugged steel frame and Sturmey Archer hub for clean retro looks with gearing options. It's a good all-rounder too, happy to be pressed into service as a sturdy do-it-all machine, and it doesn't shy away from winter-ravaged roads and unsurfaced excursions. The bike's let down a bit by the savage drop bars and average brakes and saddle, but those are quick fixes and overall it's an enjoyable urban runaround that'll handle the longer haul too.
The frame and fork are the same as the singlespeed version of the bike: you get a lugged Columbus Thron (more or less the equivalent to Reynolds 520) mainframe, and the fork is Traitor's Katana lugged affair, fashioned from Cromoly steel. The build quality is good and the finish tough (white and baby blue and black are available); there's some nice detailing around the bottle bosses and on the rear dropouts. You get mudguard and rack mounts too, though you'll need to double up on the single eyelet at the back if you're running both.
Sturmey Archer supply not only the rear hub and classy bar-end shifter, but also a very pretty FCT chainset and front track hub. The wheels are built up with semi-deep Alex rims; on the Traitor website they're shown without decals and removing them would certainly add to the aesthetic appeal of the bike, with otherwise is very clean and classy. Silver alloy stem, brakes, seatpost and bars with black bar tape and a quilted black saddle complete the monochrome effect.
Hopping onto the bike for the first time in lumpy Bath and the first thing I noticed is that the gears are a bit long. With the supplied 42/16 transmission you get 53", 70" and 94" gears, probably just about right for London duties but on the high side for puffing up the sides of the valley, especially if you're loaded up. I swapped the 16T sprocket for an 18T and the 47", 62" and 83" gears that gave were a much better match for the terrain.
Because of the name I was expecting the Luggernaut to feel a bit heavy duty but at 10.8kg (23.9lb) for a 59cm bike it's hardly busting the scales. A lot of weight is in the wheelset so it's a bit harder than some to get up to speed, but once you're cruising along it's a very enjoyable ride. The bike feels nice and roomy without being overstretched, and the steering is firmly neutral: a bit slow in tight traffic but just right for rumbling along at no great pace. The three speed hub never once slipped or missed a shift - though you have to back off the power when changing down on the hills - and it doesn't feel lossy or vague. It also makes all the right clicky and whirry noises. Ah, nostalgia.
Blasts to work on my 6-mile commute were despatched in style, and the Luggernaut was happy to take the unsurfaced shortcuts through the woods and along the canal. The 29mm Halo tyres are excellent all-rounders, fast enough for road excursions and hardy enough for anything short of proper off-road. They also add a good deal of comfort which is a bonus as the saddle is a bit of a plank. Set out on a longer ride and you'll soon revert to touring pace. You can ride the Luggernaut fast but it doesn't feel that rewarding, and it's much happier rolling along at an easy clip. Point it downhill and there's plenty of stiffness in the chassis and wheels, although above 30mph the big air chambers can make the handling feel a little vague.
What's not so good? Well, the brakes. They're average at best, although since they're the same callipers that I have on my Genesis Equilibrium I can attest that a change of pads is all that's really needed: the stock Tektro ones are pretty low-rent and it's that which affects stopping power rather than any mechanical deficiency. And then there's the bars. How deep are those drops? Honestly, it's the best part of a foot down to race position. The bike is long enough that the position on the tops isn't that upright - I'd swap the stem for a shorter one in time, I'm sure - but you need a stepladder to get down to the drops. They're much too low and I never used them. They look a bit odd too, in my opinion. I'd be much happier with a standard drop bar.
These are fairly minor quibbles though. Swapping out the bars, saddle and brake blocks for something better wouldn't cost you much, and at £749.95 the Traitor represents decent value for something that's low volume and a bit esoteric. Okay you'll get more for your money if you buy a standard Alu hybrid, but this is a machine that'll outlast an off-the-shelf commuter and it makes much more of a statement. And it's a very likeable and usable bike, that'll handle day-in-day-out commuting duties with no fuss and very little maintenance.
Classy and likeable steel all-rounder that's decent value and different alternative to a standard commuting iron
road.cc test report
Make and model: Traitor Luggernaut 3 Speed
Size tested: White
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
FRAME: Columbus Thron Tubing
FORK: Traitor Katana Lugged Fork
1 1/8" Threadless w/Race Dropouts
HEADSET Neco H886 (Polished Silver)
STEM Traitor Poser Stem (100mm, Polished Silver)
HANDLEBAR Traitor Drop Bar (Polished Silver)
GRIP/TAPE Rivet Perforated Black
SEATPOST Uno Seatpost (27.2mm, Polished Silver)
SADDLE Traitor Rivet Commuter
CRANK Sturmey Archer FCT 42t Crankset 170mm (Polished Silver)
BOTTOM BRACKET Tange Sealed Bearing Alloy 107mm
WHEELS Traitor Hoopla Singlespeed Wheelset (Black Rims w/Sturmey Archer Hubs)
TIRES Halo Twin Rail Courier 700x29C
TUBES CST Presta
CHAIN Yaban MK-747
FRONT BRAKE Tektro R538
BRAKE LEVER Tektro
SHIFTER Sturmey Archer 3spd Bar End Shifter
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
What better way to accent a classic lugged frame than with one of the original 3 speed hubs invented. We combined our Luggernaut singlespeed with a Sturmey Archer internal 3 speed hub to create a versatile around town commuter that is perfect for just about any city. With plenty of room for fenders, rack and large tires, the Luggernaut 3 speed gives you the simplicity and efficiency of a singlespeed but with the added gear options when you need it.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Nicely made with classic looks. Paint finish is nice and sturdy
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Columbus Thron frame, 4130 fork
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
73/73 head tube/seat tube, 595mm effective top tube (59cm frame)
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Fine, I'd probably swap the stem for a slightly shorter one long-term
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Comfy and stable, not the juggernaut the name suggests but not too lively either
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
The bike felt very solid throughout
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Very well, the 3-spd never felt vague
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Neutral
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
It's a bike built for cruising speeds. Lots of stability with a longish wheelbase.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
I didn't get on with the saddle but it's easily swapped. The tyres are excellent.
Not the quickest off the blocks, there's plenty of weight in the wheels
Hardly an issue though
Good at speed, although the average brakes meant I kept a handle on things
Great for cruising around
Easy to manouevre, steering is neutral
Doesn't feel particularly agile but goes where you point it
Can feel a bit vague at speed
Overgeared for the steep stuff as specced
Sturmey's latest three speed hubs are excellent
Should be super-low maintenance
Not the biggest concern here
Wheels and tyres
Wheels are heavy but strong, tyres good all-rounders
Should last for ages
Not light but it's not a big issue
lots of air in those 29mm tyres
Pretty good for the money
Brakes average, drops much too deep
No complaints there
too-deep drops means I'm one hand position short
Not bad at all
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes, with some component changes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
About the tester
Age: 38 Height: 190cm Weight: 98kg
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Genesis Equilibrium with SRAM Apex
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.