This is my first day on bike forum. y son took away my much belmoved Schwinn LeTour about 5 years ago. Just as well as a neck injury just prior to that made it impossible to ride. No RA, but have had two knee surgeries and have to say that my Townie Electra 21 has put me bike on a bike...oh joy!
Checked out recumbants but was not happy with lack of neck support and strain on neck to hold it in what was a bad position for me. Also, live in a heavily congested area. Wanted to be above the muffler line and anticipated that the same kids that ran into my car would have no problem with running over me on a recumbant.
Have permanent damage on back of kneecap and find that even in gentle neighborhood riding am using my gears. The bike runs so smooth. Have only read one review with negative comment.
I prefer the hand breaks as I did not want to have to rely on crunching down on my knee on a coaster brake for a hard emergency stop. Am very careful to stop before I put my foot on the ground so there is no forward motion left on the bike for my knee to absorb. Was dealing with weak left wrist at time of purchase (from neck), but still preferred the hand brakes.
Purchased the men's style. I have heard that a man's frame style is stronger since the cross bar is higher. Also, it is easier to load on a bicycle rack. From my perspective, it is easier to lift the leg back over the seat then it is to tuck the knee in and up to clear the ladies low bar from the front. My bike was an experiment with the thought that my husband would be able to ride it too and I could get something else if it did not work out.
He loves it and doesn't want any other kind. We are looking at the townie 8 as the next bike for the family. The little bit of extra weight should be a nice trade off for less maintenance. I cannot stress enough how much this bike means to me.
I lived on my bike as a kid and my Schwinn LeTour had to be amputated from me; when I first got it, I rode through hilly East Texas with one child in the carrier and the other on the seat with me pumping away, what a sight! It is so nice to be riding again and to have the opportunity to vary my exercise routine with another option.
For you commuters out there who have not suffered impairments, the switch to sitting upright that is necessary for me will initially feel strange to you. You lose the ability to redistribute your weight and stretch out in a variety of ways on a long ride.
It also feels a little weird to have so much of the weight distributed to the bike of the bicycle. I don't ever see riding this bike "no hands" because there is really so little weight to the front of the bike. It also is not the type of bike that is easy to get off of and guide down a crowded sidewalk. Although the Electra would be very comfortable, if I was an injury free 54 year old female using my bike for commuting, I would go with something more traditional than a flat foot bike.
It just won't be as easy to carry upstairs to your office or to walk down the street with it if you need to, much less load it on a bus. For myself and many others though, it makes biking accessible. Good luck, Jodi. Don't wait to get your bike. You should be able to enjoy it. If not, the resale market is good and you will not lose all of your investment.
Almost forgot; noticed some electric bike comments. We have a pair of velosolexes. a motor assisted bicycle. What a kick to ride. We had our first set about 25 years ago and took them everywhere. The motor clamps down on the front tire and can be lifted and turned off for non-motorized areas.