I'm shopping for a new bike. I am 6'1, 317 and dropping and have bad knees. So, here is what I rode today... I would appreciate any comments you may have! (I also posted this in the Recreational forums)
I had a little free time today to ride both these bikes, the Townie Original 21 and the Specialized Expedition Sport. I would have liked to ride the Specialized Crossroads Elite (one of my leading candidates) but this LBS did not have one in stock.
The Townie is a crank forward design and the Expedition is a conventional crank position. For my knees, the Townie was more comfortable BUT the crank forward position seemed to require me to use my thighs much, much more to power the bike, especially on hills. The Specialized was not nearly as comfortable for my knees BUT it was no stress at all on the hills.
Seating posture on the Townie was very comfortable but I thought the handlebar rise was a bit higher than I like. I do think this is easily adjustable though. The Expedition had an optional aftermarket seat on it - it was an Odyssey (I think) and not the usual wide comfort saddle.
The Townie has trigger style shifters; the Exedition has twist grip shifters. I liked both but am more used to the trigger style. Both were equally smooth and transitioned easily and quietly through the gears.
Overall, I was very impressed with both bikes. While the Expedition was a little more painful for the knees, I did like it a lot.
Do I need to worry about the crank forward position? Our locale is not 100% flat with a lot of variation; no major hills but not all flat either.
I still want to ride a Trek and a Cannondale so hopefully that will happen in a few days. (I'm also posting this in the Clydesdale section for review.)
I bought a Townie a few years ago and just hated it. The LBS I dealt with didn't explain to me the whole crank-forward thing, and my test ride was comfortable (and on a flat parking lot), so I didn't realize until I got it home that it's next to useless on even the wimpiest of hills. Townies are for little old ladies riding VERRRRRY SLOWLY to bridge parties in their perfectly flat gated retirement communities.
I sold that pig a few weeks ago and got a Trek 7200. I actually enjoy riding now.