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Thread: Electra Townie?

  1. #1
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    Electra Townie?

    I was in REI yesterday, and I looked at the Electra Townie. It looks really good, I was impressed. I wanted to know if anyone out there owns it. Most of my trips right now are under six miles, to the library, grocery store, and such. I don't really care about speed so much, so its ok if its a little slower. They say this bike has "flat foot technology" where you can put both feet on the ground at lights and such. I don't have a problem starting or stopping now, I use clips and straps, but sometimes I try to come to rolling stops so I don't have to pull either foot out. Anyway I'm just imagining riding the townie with a messenger bag in regular clothes and jumping off to my destination. It will be a little while before I can get it though, right now I have no space... What do you guys think about the townie, and why is it that they don't seem to be hugely popular, or is it just me?

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    I like the Townies for what they are. I don't own one, but I've ridden a few at the LBS. They're comfortable and hip in a beach-cruiser style. I think they fit that niche for cruising bikes -- short trips, jumping on and off, and cruising around. Just my opinion, but I don't see them as serious utility bikes.

    I'd recommend taking a look at the Breezers. They have a similar strategy as the Townies, but a lot more versitile and utility functional. All models come with fenders and racks and the higher end models come equiped with lights. I think the frames are better designed for both short and long range trips. They're bikes for going to the corner or on a tour.

    And of course bikes like either of these can be built up from any old frame. I built up a Schwinn cruiser from Craigslist for $50 and it rides great. Old mountain bike frames can easily be outfitted for town trips cheaper than a new Townie. My opinions, YMMV.
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  3. #3
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nasiralpharia
    why is it that they don't seem to be hugely popular, or is it just me?
    No, it's not you , mate. This design is aimed at "mature" riders who place comfort and easy of use
    above all else which the "elite youthful" market here isn't ready for yet. In time the semi-recumbent
    design(which the Townie is) may become very popular ,along with internal hub gears, as the market
    matures to want a bike to ride more than a "toy" to play with and maintain.

    The Electra Townie is a hop on and ride, hop off and walk away, bike for folk's who just don't want to
    walk everywhere. Like I said, The mature crowd. (NOT old foggies either)

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    The Townie makes a fine commuter, I know this because I own one (a Townie 24) and I commute. My route is 12 miles each way and moderately hilly (whatever that means to you). The only thing required to take the Townie out of the "mature" catagory is to replace the riser bar with a flat one. You can then set the bar height about an inch above your knee height and apply some real torque to the pedals. Some serious hill climbing and across the light acceleration is the result.

    The price was right. In the next year I will go with a Rans Zentik Tour for commuting duties, price being the major factor. If I were to keep the Townie I'd put it on a bit of a diet but really it's the geometry I like.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    I love my Townie 3, and get lots of compliments on it. I have a commuter and a road bike that I love also, but the Townie is great for short trips to the grocery store when I only want to wear sandals and the clothes I have on. There's a new pink one that is super-hot looking, by the way. (No, I do not work for Electra.)

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    I've seen the Townies be good for different types of riders:

    * Women who are afraid of falling off a bike. (Not sure why I always hear that from women and not from men.)
    * Heavy-set riders who have not been able to comfortably ride "standard" bikes. Once they lost a certain amount of weight, some of them get a "standard" bike, but others stick with that design.
    * People who have some kind of health problem that make riding a standard bike difficult, but that semi-recumbant style works great. Some people don't have a health problem per se, but it just works for their bodies better.
    * People who ride for short distances and/or stop a lot.
    * People who like that certain "neo-retro" style of the Townie.
    * People who just like riding something different.
    * People who want to be able to decorate their bike with decals that resemble their tattoos.

    If Townies get more people on bikes and reduces short car trips, I think they've earned a respectable place in the universe.

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    Well thanks for the opinions... I looked at the Breezer website, and they do look pretty cool, because they have the lights and racks already built in, but the townies just look so good to me. I think they definitley fit my style of riding, unfortunatley right now I live in an apartment with two toilets, but no space for two bikes... So it will be a couple of months, maybe christmas before I can get one, but that will give me time to decide.

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    Speaking of Electra, I got up close and personal on the Straight 8 yesterday... man that ride is sweet. That would be one fat ride to cruise on up to the soda shop and back.

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    I have an Electra Townie3. Of five bikes, my road bike, my roady hybrid (my old commuter), and my wife's comfort bike and son's mountain bike, which I periodically ride to keep in tune, the Townie sees the most use and miles. Partly because it's so much fun and relaxed to ride, and partly because of these five bikes it's the most stable and versatile. Another plus is I can ride in any clothes and not have to change when I get there.

    Hurricane Dennis changed my living location and, as a result, some of my intended uses for the Townie3, but towing a 14 1/2' canoe loaded with a cooler and fishing tackle 10 miles is not a problem. A task for which my road bike, for example, is all but useless.

    If I had known what I was going to be using this bike for when I got it, I would have bought the Townie8.

    When I first got this bike, my Dad, 70, test flew it and was so impressed he went out and got himself one. He got the rear rack on his and attached a milk crate on the top of the rack, and that's all he uses now, for errands around town. His full size pick/up stays home.

    He says it really changes the dynamics of a bike when you put a 50 lb. sack of dog food on the rear rack.
    Last edited by CommuterRun; 06-21-06 at 04:00 PM.

  10. #10
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    Just to be clear, even though they call it "semi-recumbent" it bears little resemblance either in appearance or feel to a real recumbent. I rode one and it felt like my feet were directly beneath me, not out in front like the crank-forward design claims to be.

    It's a really nice bike, but Electra bikes overall are really nice. I wish they had a Townie with Hawaiian print flowers and stuff like their other bikes. But I don't need any more bikes so what am I saying?
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  11. #11
    My bicycle is fixed Brian Sorrell's Avatar
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    My wife has the Townie 24. We took a 22 mile ride last weekend, and we're planning a 60 mile trip to the beach for Labor Day. She has not complained about distances nor about comfort level after hours of riding. The pedaling efficiency is affected by your position -- i.e., you don't get as much power as you can out of a stroke -- and it has, essentially, mountain bike tires. Your position and the tires add to stability, so if that's one of your concerns, be assured this is a very stable bike.

    The wife got it for commuting a short distance through moderate city traffic. She likes that she can put her feet down when she stops. And I'll add, if you go tooling around town just to browse at things, it's handy as hell to be able to stop and stand flat-footed. I don't know if I'd call it "semi-recumbent" either -- I just think of it as a motorcycle without the motor. It has that same feel -- and I'm talking about a cruiser motorcycle here, not a crotch rocket.

    I'm not 100% sure what all the components are offhand, but I recall that they're comparable to those on my Trek 7200 FX -- another rugged commuting machine, but without the cushy ride of the Electra.

    Also, if you're going to ride with others, be aware that unless you're a pack of Electras (or comparables), you're going to get dropped fast by roadies, hybrids, even mountain bikes. Even with the 24 speeds, the wife had a heck of a time up a steep hill last weekend. However, she looked the coolest of any of us ... with her two tone bell, compass, headlight, pannier rack.....

    Overall, I'd recommend it as long as you know what you're getting into. And the accessories are expensive, e.g., the pannier rack. You might want to consider that too.

    Trek makes a comparable bike called the "Sole" (I think), for which accessories might be a bit more affordable. That's something to look into -- I'm just guessing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Sorrell
    My wife has the Townie 24. We took a 22 mile ride last weekend, and we're planning a 60 mile trip to the beach for Labor Day. She has not complained about distances nor about comfort level after hours of riding. The pedaling efficiency is affected by your position -- i.e., you don't get as much power as you can out of a stroke -- and it has, essentially, mountain bike tires. Your position and the tires add to stability, so if that's one of your concerns, be assured this is a very stable bike.

    Also, if you're going to ride with others, be aware that unless you're a pack of Electras (or comparables), you're going to get dropped fast by roadies, hybrids, even mountain bikes. Even with the 24 speeds, the wife had a heck of a time up a steep hill last weekend. However, she looked the coolest of any of us ... with her two tone bell, compass, headlight, pannier rack.....
    If your wife would like to pep up her Townie a bit, she might try the modifications I have made to mine. A flat bar and some narrower high-pressure tires make a world of difference, and no sacrifice in comfort. When she climbs (even with the stock setup, but works best with the lower bar) have her lean back and then pedal. The technique is kind of like water-skiing and it lets you put some serious torque through the pedals. Hill climbing and acceleration will be much improved, I bet she leads the pack up the hills once she learns the technique.

  13. #13
    My bicycle is fixed Brian Sorrell's Avatar
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    Thanks for the tips WorldPax. I'm betting that she'll not give up the bars without a fight, but I could sneak some new tires on there one afternoon.... The water skiing comparison is helpful. We'll give it a try!

    Cheers.

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    I just got through tweaking my wife's Townie 21 brakes last night, so I put in my 2 cents worth.

    As others have said, you really have to hang on to put some torque to the pedals--to the point that you can't ride too much without really holding on tight. The stock components were mostly Sram, and of OK quality. The cable runs are very long for the rear brake and derailleur. I have replaced the RD cable with a Teflon-coated one because of cold-weather sticking, and the rear brake feels spongy no matter how close I adjust the pads--the v-brake arms seems to flex quite a bit. Also this bike is loooong--and it requires the use of a frame adapter to get it on most rear car racks.

    My wife likes it because the riding position puts no weight on your hands. I have ridden it a few times and find it very tiring because of the torque issue. When we have ridden on a nearby very-flat path, my wife did just fine on a 24 mile ride. However, riding a bike in Atlanta means you will be riding up and down hills, and for this type of riding the Townie is not the best bike.

    YMMV.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Sorrell
    Thanks for the tips WorldPax. I'm betting that she'll not give up the bars without a fight, but I could sneak some new tires on there one afternoon.... The water skiing comparison is helpful. We'll give it a try!

    Cheers.
    Glad to help, as I have found these and other bikes of this type to be quite misunderstood. Granted they are marketed as a mature comfort bike, but they can be much more. Attached is a bit better pic that shows the bars more (and my new fenders , the only thing I may change is to go with a bar that bends back towards the rider at the ends kind of like this
    \_____/ but not quite that much. Less than 45 deg should be about right, but still with no rise. The tires I'm using are the Geax 1.25's (street runner I think) narrow, 100 psi, kevlar sidewalls and inexpensive, what's not to like.

    Map Tester- Try not gripping so much, and just lean back into your extended arms, it's more of a posture thing than an effort thing. The only time you need to do this is when you are accelerating or climbing.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by WorldPax; 06-22-06 at 04:35 PM.

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    My boss' secretary recently bought a Townie to replace her ancient 3-spd. Schwinn. She likes it because "it's an old-fashioned bike with modern technology." Her commute is a flat 3 miles. Perfect for her.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Map tester
    As others have said, you really have to hang on to put some torque to the pedals--to the point that you can't ride too much without really holding on tight........
    This is true, but you can just stand and pedal. Not many hills around here (Wakulla County is about as flat as the top of your desk), but lots of unpaved sand roads.

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    I live in a fairly flat area, and my Townie 21 does me fine. I have illnesses and injuries, and I just can't ride any other bike. A recumbent would be my only other choice, and most are outside my budget, and they're not the most convenient for everyday use. Maybe a Day6 Dream? Not yet sold here in New Zealand. I'm getting a Cloud 9 seat and a Thudbuster suspension seat post, just to clear up two minor comfort issues. Anything more than an hour or so of riding and I might not get home, so the Townie gives me all the speed I need. I am happy with my choice of ride.

  19. #19
    Senior Member hotbike's Avatar
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    Geometry.

    Most bicycles have a 70 degree seat tube angle. But when I was a kid,I had a bike with a banana seat which you could slide back on. Thus, I got used to leg extension, while maintaining a low center of gravity.

    When I was 12 years old, I sought a bike with a banana seat, but larger than the 20" wheel bike I had.

    I joined the International Human Powered Vehicle Association http://www.ihpva.org
    back in 1985 or '86. at that time, there were only 2000 recumbent bikes in America.

    Being an Engineering student, I wanted to build a machine to patent and make a profit selling.

    I did not want to build a true recumbent, which has a seat tube angle of zero degrees.

    All I wanted was a bike with 26 inch wheels and a banana seat. But I also asked for the "impossible".
    I had to have a fiberglass cargo box on the front of the bike, not attached to the handlebars, but attached to the frame, to carry 100 pound loads. And said box must be aerodynamic.

    So, in 1991, my 6th cousin Mellisa asked me to adopt her. Good, I was in the Navy and needed someone to run my bike business while I was overseas. She invented the Fiberglass Ladies Bicycle.
    Here is a picture:

    As you can see, the seat slides back so the rider has a choice of position, like a banana seat.
    The cargo box is based on the roof spoiler of a diesel truck. Good crash protection! I should point out that fairings (motorcycle windshields) are mainly for protection of the rider, and aerodynamics is a second consideration.
    There is a synergistic effect between the heavy box and the seat position. If you had a box like that , and you couldn't move back, there would be a tendency to flip you over the handlebars.

    $270.00 went into this bike, and so many kids were begging for me to sell it, I had to say $3,000.00 Or Best Offer. I actually recieved $1,215.00 for this bike. ( A guy bought it for his girlfriend). If I had commercial/industrial real estate, I'd put this bike into production.

    The secret is out: People Want a Bicycle seat that is further back, and they can ride confidently without feeling like they are going to fly over the handlebars.

    The bike pictured is type 9, there were some other attempts previous to this one. This bike is a "blivet" which means it is ten pounds of s _ _ _ stuffed into a five pound bag. One example is the aerodynamic fairing and cargo box, being the same piece of fiberglass. It's too much at one time. I should've built a plain box, without aerodynamics, OR , I should have built a windshield (fairing) without any cargo space inside.
    A bike company only needs ONE improvement over existing bicycles. That can be their main selling point.
    In this case Electra http://www.electrabikes.com
    has a bike that will not send the rider flying over the handlebars. One idiot threatened to sic the Federal Trade Commission on Electra, claiming Electra is a monopoly. But Electra is only a small bicycle company, no where like a monopoly. ( that was a stupid thread from a month + ago.)

    The main advantage of the Townie Geometry is that the rider feels safer; the bike will not flip the rider over the handlebars, and the rider can put the HEELS of both feet on the ground when making a stop.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by hotbike View Post
    Geometry.

    Most bicycles have a 70 degree seat tube angle. But when I was a kid,I had a bike with a banana seat which you could slide back on. Thus, I got used to leg extension, while maintaining a low center of gravity.

    When I was 12 years old, I sought a bike with a banana seat, but larger than the 20" wheel bike I had.

    I joined the International Human Powered Vehicle Association http://www.ihpva.org
    back in 1985 or '86. at that time, there were only 2000 recumbent bikes in America.

    Being an Engineering student, I wanted to build a machine to patent and make a profit selling.

    I did not want to build a true recumbent, which has a seat tube angle of zero degrees.

    All I wanted was a bike with 26 inch wheels and a banana seat. But I also asked for the "impossible".
    I had to have a fiberglass cargo box on the front of the bike, not attached to the handlebars, but attached to the frame, to carry 100 pound loads. And said box must be aerodynamic.

    So, in 1991, my 6th cousin Mellisa asked me to adopt her. Good, I was in the Navy and needed someone to run my bike business while I was overseas. She invented the Fiberglass Ladies Bicycle.
    Here is a picture:

    As you can see, the seat slides back so the rider has a choice of position, like a banana seat.
    The cargo box is based on the roof spoiler of a diesel truck. Good crash protection! I should point out that fairings (motorcycle windshields) are mainly for protection of the rider, and aerodynamics is a second consideration.
    There is a synergistic effect between the heavy box and the seat position. If you had a box like that , and you couldn't move back, there would be a tendency to flip you over the handlebars.

    $270.00 went into this bike, and so many kids were begging for me to sell it, I had to say $3,000.00 Or Best Offer. I actually recieved $1,215.00 for this bike. ( A guy bought it for his girlfriend). If I had commercial/industrial real estate, I'd put this bike into production.

    The secret is out: People Want a Bicycle seat that is further back, and they can ride confidently without feeling like they are going to fly over the handlebars.

    The bike pictured is type 9, there were some other attempts previous to this one. This bike is a "blivet" which means it is ten pounds of s _ _ _ stuffed into a five pound bag. One example is the aerodynamic fairing and cargo box, being the same piece of fiberglass. It's too much at one time. I should've built a plain box, without aerodynamics, OR , I should have built a windshield (fairing) without any cargo space inside.
    A bike company only needs ONE improvement over existing bicycles. That can be their main selling point.
    In this case Electra http://www.electrabikes.com
    has a bike that will not send the rider flying over the handlebars. One idiot threatened to sic the Federal Trade Commission on Electra, claiming Electra is a monopoly. But Electra is only a small bicycle company, no where like a monopoly. ( that was a stupid thread from a month + ago.)

    The main advantage of the Townie Geometry is that the rider feels safer; the bike will not flip the rider over the handlebars, and the rider can put the HEELS of both feet on the ground when making a stop.
    I fondly remember my schwinn "sting ray" type of bicycle... I actually was thinking about trying to build an
    "adult" version that was lighter but still had that banana seat which was very comfy when I was a kid...

  21. #21
    South Denver Commuter Leiniesred's Avatar
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    I rode one 8 miles yesterday. My in-laws have a pair of townies, It'sa cruiser bike. No mistake. There isn't much point in trying to go faster when you hit townie terminal velocity. But it is comfortable if you don't mind the chafing from the too wide for me seat.

    The quality is sufficient for a cruiser, but I don't think it'll hold up to 25 miles a day commuting without an excessive amount of maintenance.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leiniesred View Post
    The quality is sufficient for a cruiser, but I don't think it'll hold up to 25 miles a day commuting without an excessive amount of maintenance.
    I rode one daily for a year on my commute. The drivetrain is no different than Trek, Specialized or anybody else uses on comparably priced bikes. Maintenance would not be any more than others bikes.

    But I agree 25 miles a day would be alot and very back jarring.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leiniesred View Post
    I rode one 8 miles yesterday. My in-laws have a pair of townies, It'sa cruiser bike. No mistake. There isn't much point in trying to go faster when you hit townie terminal velocity. But it is comfortable if you don't mind the chafing from the too wide for me seat.

    The quality is sufficient for a cruiser, but I don't think it'll hold up to 25 miles a day commuting without an excessive amount of maintenance.
    I solved the wide seat problem on my Townie by changing to a Brooks saddle.

    My commute is only 6 miles but on weekends I commonly go on ~20 mile rides. No maintenance issues, in the first year, anyhow.

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    I was surprised to see this thread pop up again, but anyway I eventually bought the Townie last spring. I bought the Townie 8 which comes with the internal hub and fenders. My commute is 10 miles, small rolling hills. I have two other bikes so I don't ride it everyday.
    The good:
    -The bike is very comfortable for less than 10 miles
    -I can wear any type of clothes, or shoes.
    - Perfect utility bike with a rack (unless your carrying so much that you need a front rack too)

    The not so good. (Depending on how you look at it)
    -It is a slower ride (Im not out to win any races anyway)
    -Not as agile as other bikes. I wouldn't consider jumping curbs and all, but with fat tires theres no need.

    When I first got the bike I had problems with the rear fender. The screw came out and it was trapped in between the tire and fender. A little loctite solved the problem. I still ride my trek 7.2fx the most, but thats partly because it has the lights on it. Also most of the time I do like to go somewhat faster than what I can do on the townie. My farthest ride on the townie has been about 20 miles, and at that point the seat was not so comfortable anymore, but it does not chaff me. All in all its a good bike for those quick trips to the store, or places wear I want to wear regular clothes and not have to change.

    Just another note, I have a puegeot with clipless pedals, but i only ride it for recreation or to commute because when i go to the store, i dont like walking in cleats, and i dont want to bring a change of shoes.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Kimmitt's Avatar
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    Aug 2007
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    Oceanside, CA
    My Bikes
    Electra Townie 3i with xtracycle, Surly Cross-Check
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    I have the townie and found that putting a set of chopper-style handlebars on it made it both more fun and easier to ride.

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