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  1. #1
    half man - half sheep Doggus's Avatar
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    Townie Balloon 8 - any opinions?

    We somehow scored a Townie 8 for $550 brand new off the floor. Wife picked it out as a fun bike to have when we're not out trying to kill it. Now I want one. I can't believe how fun these bikes are to ride.

    I'm totally sold on the 8-speed Nexus. That's a cool lil hub. So that leaves me with two options, the regular Townie 8 vs. the Townie Balloon 8. Only difference is the Balloon 8 has the mo bigga tires and no shock. I don't think we'll get the same kinda deal on it though.

    Anyone have any experience riding the Balloon 8?
    "The cycling community is so small that it is nearly inbred." - Steve Tilford

  2. #2
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    I like balloon tires, but I think I've seen cooler bikes with them.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

  3. #3
    Member thatismytruck's Avatar
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    I have a Electrabike Cruiser with balloon tires that is my every day rider (spring summer fall). I think you'll love riding the Townie Balloon 8 everyday. Check out the Cruisers. If you like the Townie, You'll love the looks of the Cruisers. The cruiser frames have similar geometry as the Balloon 8 frame.
    1976 Raleigh Record. 1988 Schwinn 12 Speed of some sort with a 27" frame. 2007 Electrabike Rockabilly Boogie. 2008 My-Sized Muscle Bike.
    1957 Ford Thunderbird. 1972 Argosy 24. 1996 Buick Roadmaster Esate Wagon. 1997 Dodge Ram 4x4. 2006 Audi A4.

  4. #4
    Junior Member
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    I am also considering getting a Townie bike and the balloon 8 (ladies) is one of the models I am interested in (the others being the regular 8 and 3 speed ladies bikes).
    What did you decide?

    Jodi

  5. #5
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    I purchased a Townie 8 "Balloon" yesterday, and had a chance to ride it home, and then for a 5 or 6 mile trip on some bike trails around town.

    I like the Nexus hub. So far, so good. One drawback is that with any internal hub, you have no external tensioner, and thus your chain length is permanent. I thought of this after my ride because I pondered if I could somehow install a 3-speed chain ring instead of it's 1 single chain ring. Besides the lack of a tensioner to give & take slack for the different sizes of rings, it would also need a stub shaft on the bottom bracket. All this to say that any internal hub, such as the Nexus on the back, will always remain whatever it is. In my case, an 8 speed.

    I would venture a bit further to say that the salepeople's claims of "the 8-speed has the same bottom end and top end as a 21 speed MTB" to be a bit far fetched. In 8th gear, I went at a good clip, but not as fast as my Gary Fisher MTB, and in 1st gear, I could get up parking lots and sidewalks with a slight incline. There is NO WAY that this bike has the same low end as a 21 speed anything. If you see more hills in your future, and if you can sacrifice some top end speed, a person could always swap the chainring for a smaller diameter, and thus give you an easier time on steep hills.

    Now for the good part. This bike is a compromise. You get 80% of the overall speeds (12-15% off bottom, maybe 8-10% off top) with what seems like an awesome internal hub. You get the "Flat-Foot Technology," however, know that I'm 6'0" and I like to have my seat adjusted higher up so I get good full leg extension when I ride. This means with the seat so high up, there goes being able to sit on it with my feet flat on the ground. I still have to stand on 1 foot when I stop. However, if you don't need full leg extension, lower the seat until your feet touch, and you will still have a fairly comfortable ride. The "beach cruiser" look, I guess.

    The seat and grips are appointed in a high-end simulated leather. (I felt bad leaving it parked outside last night and covered the bike up.)

    By the way, if you are looking for a bike you can customize to your own tastes, this is it. Electra/Townie had a catalog with the owner's literature, and they have all kinds of deluxe accessories. (Even a surfboard rack!)

    My overall impression was one of great comfort, a fun ride, and I would definitely recommend the bike to a friend. Great on pavement and dirt. Balloon tires a little slick, so stay out of mud, etc., or you may have some wheel spin. If I were to rate it, it would be 4 out of 5 stars.

    Price wise, I paid $750 at a bike store in Anchorage Alaska, which isn't bad considering freight costs to get things here. The $750 is on the high side due to the Nexus internal hub and the Internal Roller Brakes. Not too sure about roller brakes yet to give a good opinion one way or another.

    I have heard (from REI Tech) that the Shimano Nexus hubs are great for consumers because they are low maintenance; however, they are VERY complex to disassemble & reassemble. I heard stories of 1 or 2 that they just replaced the whole bike on instead. The folks at the bike store I bought from told me they haven't had any problems so far with the hubs.

    I say all this in case you experience a problem. A new hub goes for ~ $400. Hence, that's why this bike sells for $750, whereas a Townie 21 with a freewheel & external cog sells for ~ $430. It appears you get what you pay for.

    I purchased the Townie because I was looking for a more upright riding position. Riding my Gary Fisher MTB causes my wrists to hurt, and sometimes my fingers/hands to go numb a little. No worries about ergonomics with a Townie, other than you will not be able to stand up and pedal. The handle bar would hit you in the knees. Stay seated and enjoy the ride. After I got home, I hoped for a quick 100 foot jaunt on the Gary Fisher, and that forward stance gave me the sensation I was going to go over the handle bars. Townies are just that upright.

    I'll amend or re-post later as I gain more experience with it. Definitely a beautiful looking ride.

    Happy Biking.

  6. #6
    Senior Member st0ut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by av8tor9804 View Post
    I

    I would venture a bit further to say that the salepeople's claims of "the 8-speed has the same bottom end and top end as a 21 speed MTB" to be a bit far fetched. In 8th gear, I went at a good clip, but not as fast as my Gary Fisher MTB, and in 1st gear, I could get up parking lots and sidewalks with a slight incline. There is NO WAY that this bike has the same low end as a 21 speed anything. If you see more hills in your future, and if you can sacrifice some top end speed, a person could always swap the chainring for a smaller diameter, and thus give you an easier time on steep hills.
    will still have a fairly comfortable ride. The "beach cruiser" look, I guess.

    Happy Biking.
    But you are an AVID cyclist. your legs and body are trained for cycling. The avg prson getting into an Electra prolly isint an MTB cyclist or a roadie. and without a body tuned for cycling. i would bet that on flat in a stright line on pavement what the sales guy said is true for a novice or slightly more experince cyclist.

    its the rider not the frame My son can drop my wife whenever he pleases. he is 6 and on a Specialized hotrock she is on a trek 7100WSD.
    Cars make you weak.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Sci-Fi's Avatar
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    With 'balloon tires', there's really no need for suspension. Can always change to a smaller width tire later.

    As long as you and your wife are having fun with your bikes, it's all good. Just remember to purchase/use the Shimano Nexus internal hub grease in your hub(s)...about $15.00 a tube (100 g).

  8. #8
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    I haven't ridden that one but you will love the Fat Franks. I love the Big Apples on my Rans Dynamik and a fat tire bike can roll very fast. A CF is a fun bike to ride. I think that you will be in for a pleasant surprise with a balloon tire bike today!

  9. #9
    Senior Member DieselDan's Avatar
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    Bikes with Shimano Nexus hubs should have dropouts that allow for chain tension adjustment. If not, that frame manufacturer is looking for problems. My wife's Trek Sole Ride, and every other internal gear hub I've ever worked on, has diagonal dropouts.
    Bikes use brakes to stop.

    If your bike has breaks, don't ride it.

  10. #10
    Desert Flatlander
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    Amazon has that hub for $180, just the hub. I have a Micargi Tahiti NX3 and I love my internal 3 speed. I live in a really flat valley so having Low, Direct, and High gears works great. If my 3 speed dies I would consider swapping it out for the eight. Cruiser style bars might keep your knees from hitting them. Here's a pic of me, my girls, and my Cruiser. I peeled the tropical stickers off of it.
    Last edited by Black Sunshine; 01-27-09 at 07:35 AM.

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