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Old 05-12-10, 08:00 PM   #1
SunnyFlorida
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Crank Forward/Flat Foot technology bikes

I'm thinking of getting a regular bike. I have some moderate balance issues, which is why I got a trike but I find that riding a trike is getting cumbersome and limiting.

I'm an adult learner so I don't know if the balance issue is because I've never ridden or owned a bike and I'm afraid of falling or I'm just a klutz.

I have been looking at bikes and found the ones that involve "crank forward" or "flat food techonology" and wonder if this is a good approach OR should I just "cowgirl it" and get a regular bike.

I'm thinking of a Woman's Electra 3-speed Townie. So far, this is the one with flat foot technology. I can't seem to find any others that feature this.

I'll still be using my trike for short distances but I plan to use the bike for longer trips involving the bus. Here you can hook up your bike to the front of the bus, whiche comes in handy when the bus leaves you a couple of miles away from your ultimate destination.
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Old 05-12-10, 08:15 PM   #2
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Well it depends - do you WANT to learn to ride a "proper" bike? If you're not too serious about riding and just really want to do short trips then I see no problem with getting the townie. The only problem I see w/ the trike is that people will probably give you a hard time, since it obviously looks unconventional.

However, with the townie, the bars are pretty wide and they're fairly heavy, so I'm not sure if they'd fit on the buses (the bars may interfere w/ other people putting their bikes on) or if it'd be easy to lift it on and off the rack... I'm assuming the racks on the buses are similar to the ones we have here in Vancouver (http://www.translink.ca/en/Rider-Inf...-on-Buses.aspx).

I personally would recommend getting a "real bike" and learning to balance, though. If it turns out you really like cycling, you'll have to learn to balance if you want to be able to ride 90% of the bikes out there.
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Old 05-12-10, 08:17 PM   #3
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Why wouldn't a crank forward be considered a "real bike"? Rans manufacturers a wide range of crank forward (i.e. semi-recumbent) bikes. The biggest difference between the Rans and the Electra is that the Rans CF bikes can go fast and climb hills like nobody's business. The Fusion & Cruz are their most laid back bikes and you can't stand on these to pedal. The Dynamik geometry bikes you can (that's Dynamik, Citi, Street, Zenetik, 700X). Their newest are the Alterra version which push the crank forward idea as far in the direction of regular bikes as it can go. I have seat time on a Fusion and it is quite a comfortable and pleasant ride. I plan on adding a Rans CF to the bike collection as soon as I can afford one.

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Dunno where in Florida you are, but Power On Cycling in Riverview, FL sells Rans.
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Old 05-12-10, 11:06 PM   #4
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I don't have any personal experience beyond one short ride, but a very experienced friend (20 years of centuries, owned dozens of bikes from a Masi 3V when they were cool to cruisers and recumbents) recently bought an Electra Townie, and he loves it. He's about 50, formerly very serious about cycling but now just a recreational rider. I know he's done at least 40-mile rides on it, and he's still happy with it.
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Old 05-13-10, 01:38 AM   #5
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Even with a regular bike one of the fastest ways to learn balance is to lower the saddle till your feet can both reach the ground while seated and remove the pedals so that they do not interfere with your legs. Use your feet to push off and paddle along. Basically you are using the bike as a Dreisanne, the first bicycle design from about 1817 and the one that proved that we could learn to balance on two wheels.

Many kids have learned to balance a bicycle that way in an hour or two and unless you have medically related balance problems I bet that you can too. Then you can try multiple bike configurations and choose whatever you prefer.
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Old 05-13-10, 03:24 AM   #6
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Several companies make bikes that fit the crank forward parameters. Raleigh has their "Comfort" Bikes, and I am sure there are many more. There are as many types of riders as there are types of bike. Get what you feel comfortable with, to me I would rather see someone riding a bike...any bike than see the bike hanging in the garage after a couple of rides because it wasn't comfortable or what they really needed. Also your riding needs and styles will probably change over the years. I started out on single speed cruiser type bikes back in the 1960's, moved to racing and touring bikes in the 70's, MTB's in the 90's and now primarily ride "town" style bikes.

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Old 05-13-10, 08:34 AM   #7
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Thanks for the quick feedback on this:

pedalpedalpedal - Good point about the handlebars of a Townie possibly interfering with another bike being put on the bus bike rack. I did call them up and described the Townie, especially the handlebars. The cust. rep. thinks that won't be a problem but frankly I think I'll just ask the bus driver or just another cyclist waiting for the bus to be sure.

Your comment about the racks did prompt me to find out more about the bus racks here. The cust. rep. couldn't get specs on the racks- just said that the racks can fit "two full sized bikes" (which is what the website says). I also asked what would happen if the racks were full and I was the third or even the 4th biker waiting to get on. She said (and I've seen this happen) that the bus driver would let us on the bus depending on how full the bus was. Naturally anyone in a power wheelchair, mobility scooter or adults with a folding stroller or shopping cart have priority. If the bus is already crowded with scooters, wheelchairs and people, then the cyclist has to wait for the next bus (if any).

These buses are small and bus service is limited. The average wait is one hour between buses. This tells me I better be prepared to pedal home (in the hot Florida sun or torrential rain) if I have to.

Hopefully if the above happens, I'll be competent enough to cycle to and from home by then.

cod.peace - WOW!!! Thanks for the references and links to other bikes. I have some time today and can look them up.

Velo Dog - Good to hear about the Townie and how far you can go. Excuse the ignorant question but what is the average speed on a Townie. I'm considering an Electra 3 speed Women's Townie.

tatfiend - Thanks for the tip on learning to balance myself on the bike. Seems like a sensible way to approach it

wahoonc (Aaron) - Thanks for mentioning the Raleighand providing a link. Cool! I've been riding my trike and it's good enough for short distances but lugging it around further than two miles is getting trying. Don't get me wrong, I still love my red trike but I need something a little lighter and more maneuverable it seems. I'll still be using my trike but as a utility vehicle. It's great for lugging groceries, etc.

Last edited by SunnyFlorida; 05-13-10 at 08:41 AM.
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Old 05-13-10, 12:35 PM   #8
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Crank forward bikes are an excellent development, I've also tried the RANS models and liked them. One bike shop even let me try out a Fusion ST with a NuVinci hub... that was different! Shift effortlessly to any drive ratio you want. Too heavy and pricey for my liking, but definitely a great piece of engineering.

One thing to consider is the RANS crank forwards (and possibly others) have longer wheelbases than "standard" bikes, and it may not be possible to put them on bus racks. Be sure to consider this if you plan to put your bike on the bus.
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Old 05-13-10, 02:18 PM   #9
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The reasoning for moving pedals forward on "comfort" bikes was to prevent people from leaning forward and getting pain from sitting on the nose of the saddle. The problem then is that on a conventional bicycle saddle, even if you can scoot back pretty far there's still not all that much more room to sit on.

The RANS bikes have the pedals shifted FAR forward, in order to allow using a large, nose-less seat effectively (the original design goal was to build an upright bike that could use the seat pan from their recumbent seat). This seat cannot be mounted on a regular bicycle at all; the mounting bracket is unique and the seat post is way thicker than those on regular bikes.

I have one myself, a 2007. It doesn't seem very fast to me but is very nice for casual riding. Padded shorts aren't required at all, but unpadded lycra shorts are a good idea. Carrying capacity is somewhat limited to the rear rack, unless you can DIY or get something made custom for it. It is longer than normal, but someone on the crankforward forums once said that it would fit on a bus rack well enough if you reversed the front wheel.

I would encourage you to seek out a dealer for a test-ride. They are expensive, but they are made to be more comfortable, while still being efficient over long distances. If you buy any of the others now and ride a RANS later, you're going to realize you should have bought the RANS. If discomfort is keeping you from enjoy riding, then paying a lot for a comfortable bicycle is not dumb--most people spend less for "normal" bicycles and then hardly ever ride them because it hurts too much.
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Old 05-13-10, 08:27 PM   #10
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Whatever feels most comfortable to you and keeps you riding. Townies look like fun bikes. I ride a Giant Suede and have test ridden a Trek Pure. They both have a similar design to the Electra, with pedals forward, but not as extreme as a Rans. I think the only problem with fitting them on a bus rack might be if they are step through, because the top tube isn't there to fit on some type racks. I've ridden my Suede for years and still love it. Rode 13 miles today with friends. My style is relaxed type riding, enjoying the view.
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Old 05-14-10, 01:33 PM   #11
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We initially looked at the Electra Townie 21 speed for my wife, but she is a little under 5' 2". The Townie uses larger 700mm wheels and a one-size-fits-all frame that she found to be too big for her to handle comfortably. She was just too stretched out. Trek and Giant also make similar style bikes. The Trek is a pretty limited edition unit, and we couldn't find a dealer that stocked it. The Giant Suede DX-W offered similar geometry in a more compact size and at a lower price, so that is what we went with.
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Old 05-15-10, 02:01 AM   #12
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rmorris, Doug5150, Rosie8, Fibber - Thanks so much for the feedback and references to additonal bikes I can look into.

Geez, I'm gonna have to park myself by the bus stop and hope a cyclist comes along to actually see how the bikes are held on the bus rack. I did call for specs on the racks and got "nada" except a general "it should fit" response.

May be better to ask the bus driver if a step through frame with wide handlebars can be put on the bus rack safely and without it interfereing with another bike being put on.

If having a crank forward/high handlebar type bike would not allow me to take it on the bus, I'm going to have to rethink the type of bike to purchase. The other alternative is to forget the bus and just learn to ride and use the two wheeler.

BTW, I saw a black Raleigh 2010 Ventura on youtube. What a beauty, at least to me. Something tells me they are pricey and I know half the features would be wasted on me but still . The heart wants what the heart wants sometimes.

To further torture myself with this I did located two supposed Raleigh dealers in my area. They mainly sell Giants and Electra Townies. No Raleighs in stock. I can't find a local Rans dealer either.

Fibber - I'm pettie and under 5 ft. 2 inches. when I sat on a townie recently it felt heavy and I barely reached the handlebars. However, the owner told me I would go for a smaller frame. Still, I didn't like the heavy feel of it.

I'll look and test drive a Giant, Trek and a Fuji that my favorite LBS has. The Fuji looks compact but lawd I hate the loud colors of that Fuji.

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Old 05-15-10, 08:25 AM   #13
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SunnyMiami,
You are doing the right thing by trying out as many bikes as you can and buying from a bicycle shop. The can help fit you and the bikes will be put together well and serviced. Should you have a problem, they will be there for you down the road. These crank forward, flat footed bikes will be heavier than road bikes but the geometry is different so they do ride very smooth and climb hills well. Most of the hill climbing and riding will be in a sitdown, spin the pedals fashion that is very efficient. The weight factor only comes into play if you have to pick up the bike and carry it as in up stairs. Also the bus racks I've seen here all mount the bikes by having the wheels cradel in the rack. If the wheel base of a crank forward bike is too great, most just turn the front wheel backward which is a simple task completed by just turning the handlebar around. This can't be done on regular bikes but is easily done on CF's by spining the handlebars 180. No tools required.
Good luck and keep us posted.
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Old 05-16-10, 04:00 PM   #14
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Here's another option for you: http://www.day6bicycles.com/

I don't believe it will fit on the bus rack, but if you decide that you are going to skip the bus anyway, this might be something you'll be interested in.

But if you have the $ and the need for speed, go with the RANS.
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Old 05-20-10, 03:26 AM   #15
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Tony M. & no1md - Thanks for the feedback re the rack and providing another bike to look at.
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Old 05-20-10, 08:58 AM   #16
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I don't know about where you live, SunnyMiami, but the main bus stop where I live has a 'test' bike rack setup, so that you can take your bike there and check out how to get your bike on the busses, without the pressure of doing it while the bus waits for you. Seeing it close-up might answer some of your questions about how to get various bikes to fit.
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Old 05-21-10, 02:28 PM   #17
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I just bought the Townie 21D and I love it.
I'll be turning 50 in exactly 6 months from today.
I am, at the moment 240lbs and expect my Townie to help me get below 200 by my birthday.

Test ride the Townie, especially the 21 speed.

Just my $.02,
Jim

P.S. REI has them at 15% off right now. I bought mine a few weeks ago, but I went on line today in a chat session, told them about my recent purchase, they looked it up and then they put a $70 credit back to my card. Good business.
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Old 05-22-10, 02:59 PM   #18
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Blazing Saddles - Nope. There's no 'test" bike rack option on the buses. But, I think it's going to be easy enough to determine the type of bikes that can go on the rack. I'll just wait to board the bus at the mall and just observe any cyclist clamping their bike to the front of the bus.

Down Townie - Happy advanced b-day to you. I'm glad you enjoy riding your Townie. The townie does look like a sweet bike.

Thanks for the tip about them being on sale at rei.com.

At this point I'm enjoying and using my slightly upgraded trike until I make my final decision on getting another bike in the near future.
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Old 05-23-10, 08:17 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fibber View Post
We initially looked at the Electra Townie 21 speed for my wife, but she is a little under 5' 2". The Townie uses larger 700mm wheels and a one-size-fits-all frame that she found to be too big for her to handle comfortably.
No. Most Townies have 26" wheels.
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Old 05-31-10, 01:53 PM   #20
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No. Most Townies have 26" wheels.
The Townie Sport has 700cc wheels and come in better component levels. Though I found the 26" wheel 21D version worked great.

My wife had a full hip replacement last summer. She has missed riding and can't get her leg over her Bianchi Volpe or GF Tassajara, plus the position on those bikes puts more pressure on her hip.

We have been looking at recumbents for her but found a Townie 21D step thru that worked great - she loved the more upright position and loved the price tag vs. a recumbent. She got the light blue one and I've added a white computer and white townie rack. I going to order some white tires for her as well. She's really getting into it. We rode 23 miles the first day she brought it home and it didn't bother her hip at all. She rarely rode that much in a day on her old bikes ever. She loves it.

I'm a big road and mountain bike rider but also decided to purchase the mens 21D in matt black to ride with her. After 23 miles that first day my butt was killing me. I took off that large seat and stuck on a Brooks B17. I think I'm going to order a Brooks B67 to put on it.

The Townie is great at what it is for - a slower cruiser where you can relax and enjoy the scenery on the rail trails and bike paths. And I love riding with my wife again and she doesn't have to feel she's holding me back when I'm on the same type of bike as her.

Spending the entire day with her during her first ride, watching her smile again and enjoy herself on a bike was well worth the price of these bikes. I'd buy them again in a second.
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Old 05-31-10, 05:32 PM   #21
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Took my Townie and my wifes Electra Beach Cruiser out this past Saturday on the bike paths in Monterey. We got in a simple 4 miles and took it easy. What a great ride. Smooth, easy, comfortable.

We also went to REI's anniversary sale and picked up some goodies (bottle bracket, water bottles, multi tool, etc...). Can't wait to ride again.

Jim
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Old 05-31-10, 06:10 PM   #22
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markm & Jim - You two are just too romantic for words.
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Old 05-31-10, 06:39 PM   #23
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My wife just got an Orange Townie 7D, it's the 7 speed version of the 3 speed you're looking at and it was less money than the 3 speed. She loves it!
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Old 05-31-10, 10:27 PM   #24
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There's an Electra on my wishlist -- the Big Daddy Roth Rat Fink! Flatfoot design, bright green, gorgeous frame design, ape-hanger bar, 3-speed.

I ride MTB exclusively now, but the Fink will be a pleasure cruiser.
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Old 06-01-10, 12:35 AM   #25
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I have a Men's Townie 3 with an xtracycle attachment and I just can't say enough nice things about it.
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