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Old 07-13-11, 04:28 PM   #1
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Electra Townie and similar bikes

Hey guys, this is my first post here, wasn't sure if this was the right forum so please forgive me if it's not!

So we recently went carless, we're getting a scooter at some point but right now, it's bike and bus and the occasional car2go. My current bike is a single speed cruiser, which just isn't cutting it, but I do like how comfortable the ride is and the upright position, so I've been looking at bikes similar to that. I was looking at the Electra Townie, the 7 or 21 gear version, but when searching I saw someone on here say that their wife was too short for it, which probably means that I am, too. (Since I'm all of a whopping 5'2".) I'm planning on checking one out in person before too long, so I'll know if I can ride one or not, but I wanted to see if y'all had any recommendations for similar styled bikes (in roughly the same price range) that will fit someone as short as me. I was thinking about maybe the Dahon Briza, but wanted to get other recs too.

Oh, and I work at home, so this isn't really a commuting issue. We're getting ready to move to a pretty bike friendly neighborhood where there's a huge grocery store like, 3 miles away, so this doesn't need to be a long-distance thing. Just a bike that's good for riding 5-6 miles at a time, that's comfortable, and pretty, because I'm very picky.

Thank you!
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Old 07-13-11, 04:50 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by chelleshock View Post
Hey guys, this is my first post here, wasn't sure if this was the right forum so please forgive me if it's not!

So we recently went carless, we're getting a scooter at some point but right now, it's bike and bus and the occasional car2go. My current bike is a single speed cruiser, which just isn't cutting it, but I do like how comfortable the ride is and the upright position, so I've been looking at bikes similar to that. I was looking at the Electra Townie, the 7 or 21 gear version, but when searching I saw someone on here say that their wife was too short for it, which probably means that I am, too. (Since I'm all of a whopping 5'2".) I'm planning on checking one out in person before too long, so I'll know if I can ride one or not, but I wanted to see if y'all had any recommendations for similar styled bikes (in roughly the same price range) that will fit someone as short as me. I was thinking about maybe the Dahon Briza, but wanted to get other recs too.

Oh, and I work at home, so this isn't really a commuting issue. We're getting ready to move to a pretty bike friendly neighborhood where there's a huge grocery store like, 3 miles away, so this doesn't need to be a long-distance thing. Just a bike that's good for riding 5-6 miles at a time, that's comfortable, and pretty, because I'm very picky.

Thank you!
As you say you'll do, I suggest you try out several of the cruisers at your local bike shop; this also should give you an idea of where you fit well, in terms of sizing. While you're there, also check out a few non-cruisers, to see whether that's a design in which you have interest.

The thing with sizes is, the choices are quite limited, yet the variety, in terms of comfort, is large. The smallest bike one manufacturer makes — let's say it's a 50" — could be very different in how it suits you compared with how another's 50" does.
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Old 07-13-11, 08:31 PM   #3
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Thanks - we looked at one place the other day that had a pretty good selection (REI), and I don't know if the bike guy was just being weird because it was fairly close to closing, but he seemed very unoptimistic about any of the bikes they carried being small enough for me. I didn't actually get to sit on any of them, but that was part of why I posted here, was because he gave me the impression that it was going to be hard to find something. He said something about Townie bikes with 24" wheels but I have no idea what he was talking about since I haven't found mention of those anywhere on the interwebs. So maybe this guy was just full of it and it won't be as hard as he made it seem, after all, I can't be the only short lady that wants a stylish and functional bike.
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Old 07-13-11, 08:59 PM   #4
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My husband has a Townie and loves it. He has the 3i which has the internal gears. Electra makes some very comfortable bikes that are easy to use and reasonably priced. DH also has a Trek Navigator that he likes but I can't stand as it's like sitting on a rock with wheels. A lot of companies make cruiser style bikes but they come in limited sizes and usually only have one speed. If I needed a cruiser or just a basic bike style of bike, Electra would be my first choice.

See if there's a LBS that sells Electra bikes and check out Electra's website and see if there's something you'd like. My DH fell in love with the Rat Fink chopper bike and loves it more than his Townie. Also, most LBS will know what sizes a particular bike comes in for a better fit and can order it for you.
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Old 07-13-11, 11:47 PM   #5
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Old 07-14-11, 06:24 AM   #6
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he seemed very unoptimistic about any of the bikes they carried being small enough for me. I didn't actually get to sit on any of them, but that was part of why I posted here, was because he gave me the impression that it was going to be hard to find something. He said something about Townie bikes with 24" wheels but I have no idea what he was talking about since I haven't found mention of those anywhere on the interwebs. So maybe this guy was just full of it and it won't be as hard as he made it seem, after all, I can't be the only short lady that wants a stylish and functional bike.
I haven't ever shopped at REI itself, and I don't know about crank forward bikes, but there are plenty of adult bikes that will fit you at 5'2". My daughter is 4'7" (she does have really long legs though), and she is quite happy on an XS Raleigh Eva. She had also test driven a couple of other women's bikes that fit her. I can't be sure of it, but I think that guy at REI might have been full of hooey.
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Old 07-14-11, 10:41 AM   #7
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Thanks - we looked at one place the other day that had a pretty good selection (REI), and I don't know if the bike guy was just being weird because it was fairly close to closing, but he seemed very unoptimistic about any of the bikes they carried being small enough for me. I didn't actually get to sit on any of them, but that was part of why I posted here, was because he gave me the impression that it was going to be hard to find something. He said something about Townie bikes with 24" wheels but I have no idea what he was talking about since I haven't found mention of those anywhere on the interwebs. So maybe this guy was just full of it and it won't be as hard as he made it seem, after all, I can't be the only short lady that wants a stylish and functional bike.
Well, 5'2" is on the short side, but it's not exactly dwarfish, either; I don't think it would be a Herculean labor to find an adult-size bike that suits you. Also, as I briefly mentioned, height is just one aspect of a person's size. The length of your arms and of your legs, the way you bend and feel comfortable, the natural predilections of your joints, and many other bits of how your body is composed significantly influence on what bike you'll feel good. Perhaps the person with whom you spoke was talking about placing 24" wheels on a Townie (i.e., the bike shop would swap the factory ones for a pair with the smaller diameter); this might get you nearer to the earth, but it wouldn't really solve the problem of a too-large frame, and it could pose a different concern, itself.

Bike sizing isn't just about allowing the cyclist to get both feet on the pavement (we'll not get into whether you're even "supposed" to be able to do so from a properly-adjusted bike, as that's not what this discussion is about, and as, with a cruiser or with a crank-forward design [as has Electra's Townie], it's perfectly right to be able to). If the frame is too big for you, it's not only too high, but also excessively long (that is, from front to back; or, from the middle of the handlebar to where you sit), meaning you'll have to stretch too far forward from your saddle, to reach the handles. You could try to resolve this by moving the saddle forward, but then your legs won't be in the correct position relative to the crank (the pedals). I don't recall what diameter wheels the Townie is meant to use, but if 24" is much smaller than the intended diameter, you're bring the whole bike, including the crank assembly, closer to the ground: with the crankshaft (the thing the pedals are connected to) a shorter space from the pavement, the pedals will scrape against the ground sooner as you begin to lean to either side to make a turn. You could try to address that by installing shorter cranks, but then your legs might be unable to make complete revolutions. The point is, a bike that's a bad size for you can't usually be transformed into the right one by just swapping out a part.

It's unfortunate you weren't able to sit on any of the bicycles at the shop. You really must do this to gain a sense of what works for your particular physique and preferences. I'll share a little personal example: I went through several bicycles, when I was in the market to buy one. I recall finding, at one point, that a Bianchi bike of the same style ("commuting," I suppose one could call it) and of similar size as a Specialized that I much favored, happened to fit me quite poorly. This doesn't mean Bianchi makes a bad bicycle or that Specialized better takes into consideration a rider's body; it just indicates, between these two specifc bikes, which I thought were quite alike and would thus feel very similar, one left me enthusiastic, and the other did so annoyed.

Finally, when you're at the stage of skimming down your choices, be sure to get out of the shop and give the bikes test drives. What feels nice in a store when you're either stationary, or able to pedal a total length of fifteen feet, at a rate of two miles an hour isn't necessarily what you'll like in real-world riding. Yes, most bike shops are fine with letting you remove the bicycle from the premises for this purpose (just ask, before you head for the door ).
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Old 07-14-11, 09:48 PM   #8
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Thank you very much for the informative posts! We're going to hit up a LBS soon (there is one, conveniently, within easy biking distance ), probably this weekend, so I'll let you guys know what I think after I get a chance to test drive the Townie (and maybe some of the other Electra bikes - the Amsterdam is very fetching!).
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Old 07-17-11, 05:46 PM   #9
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I maybe a little late on this thread, but I have a Townie 21 and I have to say it is an absolute joy to ride. It does take a little getting used to, as it is balanced differently, but once you're on one it gives a very smooth ride. I ride 30-40 miles per trip with no problems (although I do have a Thudbuster ST post and Brooks saddle which help a lot). I've let a few other people take it out, and they are always amazed at how comfortable it is.
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Old 07-17-11, 07:14 PM   #10
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I've only test ridden the Townie (the 21 speed version) and I LOVED it.
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Old 07-17-11, 07:18 PM   #11
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One bike you might want to check out is the Trek Allant. They make a woman's model that I think will fit nicely, plus it comes with a front rack and also has rear rack mounts (to carry groceries).

IMO Comfort bikes and cruisers are somewhat deceiving because on short level runs they are supremely comfortable (hence the name) - but not nearly as versatile. They are an easier sell at bikes shops to newbies who want to start riding because of the very noticeable comfort. This is based on my own personal experience, comparing my wife's very comfortable Trek Navigator and my Allant.

The ride's geometry however should be considered. The laid back ride of comfort bikes and cruisers does feel great on short rides on very flat roads and if that's all you have to deal with, I'd say they might be a fine choice.

But if you have even a slight incline, you will work harder in that position than with a bike like the Allant - which offers the best of both worlds: a nearly upright ride with a more powerful pedal position allowing much easier pedaling for a wider range of riding.

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Old 07-19-11, 10:10 AM   #12
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Thanks for the tip - I'll definitely check out the Allant. It looks a bit pricier than the Townie, but it also looks like it would work really well for what I need. We didn't make it to the bike shop this weekend (this last week was crazy, someone hit our parked car and we've been dealing with insurance & etc.), unfortunately, but I'm going to try and go within the next week or two and test drive a few different things, see what I like best and what rides best for me. I'll post back with my thoughts & decision after that. Thanks again everyone!
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Old 07-23-11, 06:19 PM   #13
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I'm not having tons of luck so far, the shop we went to (which is the biggest shop within easy cycling distance) didn't have the Trek Allant, so I didn't get to ride it. The Townie I *could* ride (the guy was actually impressed with how smoothly I rode it, he said people usually had problems starting) but it wasn't really the best fit - the handlebars were really high up for me, not quite low-rider style but bordering on it! And they didn't have a whole lot else that fit me, that I liked. There was a very utilitarian-looking Globe bike that the salesguy recommended, but I just thought it was kinda ugly (and it only came in black, so no fancy colors to make up for the utilitarian style).

Most of the stuff that I like looks-wise either has the pedals much further forward than the seat (like the Townie) or is really really heavy. The search continues! I'm beginning to think I might be better off finding a restored vintage bike, it might be easier.
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Old 07-23-11, 07:34 PM   #14
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I'm not having tons of luck so far, the shop we went to (which is the biggest shop within easy cycling distance) didn't have the Trek Allant, so I didn't get to ride it. The Townie I *could* ride (the guy was actually impressed with how smoothly I rode it, he said people usually had problems starting) but it wasn't really the best fit - the handlebars were really high up for me, not quite low-rider style but bordering on it! And they didn't have a whole lot else that fit me, that I liked. There was a very utilitarian-looking Globe bike that the salesguy recommended, but I just thought it was kinda ugly (and it only came in black, so no fancy colors to make up for the utilitarian style).

Most of the stuff that I like looks-wise either has the pedals much further forward than the seat (like the Townie) or is really really heavy. The search continues! I'm beginning to think I might be better off finding a restored vintage bike, it might be easier.
Sorry to hear it.

Here's some affordable manufacturers that might appeal:, but you'd probably have to risk buying without trying (tho if you really did hate what you bought, being in Austin there's a fair chance you could sell it for close to what you paid):

http://publicbikes.com/

http://www.linusbike.com/

http://velorbis.com/

These bikes are high on style, but also on the heavy side (Public bikes will ship direct, but the velorbis may be too difficult to find but they're nicely styled).

If you did decide to risk buying without trying, I'd still recommend the Allant (just be sure to get solid help with the sizing and do your own research on proper sizing too). The Allant is reasonably light weight considering it has heavy-duty fenders and a rack plus you get a full range of gears.

But as happy as I am with the Allant, it still may not be the bike for you.

Best of luck, curious to see how it works out for you.

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Old 07-23-11, 07:59 PM   #15
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There was a very utilitarian-looking Globe bike that the salesguy recommended, but I just thought it was kinda ugly (and it only came in black, so no fancy colors to make up for the utilitarian style).
: I own a Specialized Globe, and I love it. Of course, this doesn't mean the bike must be right for you, but I will suggest you not avoid any bicycle based just on its appearance. Yes, you should like what you get, and cosmetics naturally will be an aspect of the preference, but many bicycles are available in more than one color; just because the shop you visit has only one shade in stock doesn't mean no others are available.

Also, there's never harm in trying out a bike (unless, I suppose, you crash...): I suggest you test-ride everything that comes your way, especially if it's recommended to you by a bike-shop employee — you never know when you might find that bike you've always loved, but never knew existed.
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Old 07-23-11, 09:41 PM   #16
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The guy said that the Globe didn't come in any other colors at all, that the choices were black and black I asked about ordering other colors in and he said there weren't any. I did try the bike out and it was a nice ride, but I just didn't really LOVE it overall. I know that $400-500 is not a lot for a bike, but if I'm going to put down that amount of cash on something I want to be really enamored with it. There was another Globe that I liked (that was more my style) but I forgot the name of the make and they didn't have any in my size in the shop, so I didn't get to test ride it. They said they could order one in and there'd be no obligation to buy it (since they understand that it's iffy to buy without ever getting to try it), so I might go back and check it out again.

estciclista: thanks for the recs! I'll check them out. I mean, I don't need something incredibly light for the cycling I want to do, but one of the bikes I looked at today was - seriously - like 60 pounds. Which just seems kinda overkill. I did see a Biria Citibike today, which looked like it would suit my needs, but when I looked it up online I found mixed reports as to the quality of it, so I'm not sure it would be the best choice.
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Old 07-23-11, 10:07 PM   #17
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The guy said that the Globe didn't come in any other colors at all, that the choices were black and black I asked about ordering other colors in and he said there weren't any. I did try the bike out and it was a nice ride, but I just didn't really LOVE it overall. I know that $400-500 is not a lot for a bike, but if I'm going to put down that amount of cash on something I want to be really enamored with it. There was another Globe that I liked (that was more my style) but I forgot the name of the make and they didn't have any in my size in the shop, so I didn't get to test ride it. They said they could order one in and there'd be no obligation to buy it (since they understand that it's iffy to buy without ever getting to try it), so I might go back and check it out again.

estciclista: thanks for the recs! I'll check them out. I mean, I don't need something incredibly light for the cycling I want to do, but one of the bikes I looked at today was - seriously - like 60 pounds. Which just seems kinda overkill. I did see a Biria Citibike today, which looked like it would suit my needs, but when I looked it up online I found mixed reports as to the quality of it, so I'm not sure it would be the best choice.
Good for you for reading reviews and visiting this forum (btw 60lbs is very heavy)

I agree $500 is a lot for a bike (when I started looking, I first set my budget for $300), but it's worth it if you get a good one, especially when you compare what you get for $200-300.

My Allant may not be what I would buy if I had unlimited funds (try riding a $1500-2000 bike and you really see the difference), but it was definitely the best bike for me in my price range and I genuinely enjoy riding it.



And style counts for a lot of us too btw, so take your time and be sure before you buy. Good luck, keep us posted.
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Old 07-24-11, 01:38 PM   #18
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Thanks for the encouragement! I think maybe I'm getting frustrated because my current bike (the heavy single speed cruiser) is really making biking more difficult than I'd like it to be, so I'm not riding as much or as long as I'd like to be. We're getting ready to move at the end of the month and our budget's a bit tight 'cause of that, so I'm wondering if it might be better to just sit on it for a few weeks and keep checking things out with the intention of buying something mid-August when our funds will be more stable. I'll keep hunting for a shop around here that carries the Allant WSD so I can give it a whirl and keep checking out other bikes in the meantime!
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Old 07-24-11, 02:08 PM   #19
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The guy said that the Globe didn't come in any other colors at all, that the choices were black and black I asked about ordering other colors in and he said there weren't any. I did try the bike out and it was a nice ride, but I just didn't really LOVE it overall. I know that $400-500 is not a lot for a bike, but if I'm going to put down that amount of cash on something I want to be really enamored with it. There was another Globe that I liked (that was more my style) but I forgot the name of the make and they didn't have any in my size in the shop, so I didn't get to test ride it. They said they could order one in and there'd be no obligation to buy it (since they understand that it's iffy to buy without ever getting to try it), so I might go back and check it out again.

estciclista: thanks for the recs! I'll check them out. I mean, I don't need something incredibly light for the cycling I want to do, but one of the bikes I looked at today was - seriously - like 60 pounds. Which just seems kinda overkill. I did see a Biria Citibike today, which looked like it would suit my needs, but when I looked it up online I found mixed reports as to the quality of it, so I'm not sure it would be the best choice.
I'm unsure which model you were shown, but most current (2011) Specialized Globes are available in several colors. Since marketing it as a somewhat stand-alone line (i.e., since 2010, I think), Specialized seems to have been trying to make their Globe bikes more appealing to "casual" bicyclists. While I do think the series thus has lost some of the great things it earlier offered (e.g., full lighting systems), it also has adopted such things as baskets and paint options, perhaps attractive to its target demographic. If you're interested, here's a link to the marque's Web site:

http://www.globebikes.com/us/en/globe/GlobeHome.jsp.

$400$500 is plenty for a bicycle, and I believe you certainly shouldn't throw down the amount on one you don't really want.
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Old 09-14-11, 03:52 PM   #20
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You have probably already made your decision, but just in case..... My brother and I both have Townies and love them. But I am six feet and my brother is near that. My daughter, however is 5'3" and also rides a Townie. It fits her fine and she really likes it. They come in all sorts of fun colors. My daughter's is orange pearl. All three of us have the 7D (7 speed derailluer) and two of my brother's buddies have the 21D.

Good luck with your choice!

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Old 10-07-11, 07:07 AM   #21
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Hi - I am 5'1.5" and I have an Electra Townie - it is great! It is not too large, but I did have to set the seat pretty low and I can't put both feet flat on the ground. It is super comfortable and perfect for shorter (less than 25 miles) trips.

Once I started riding a lot I wanted to go farther and faster, so I also bought a road bike. But the Townie is comfortable and pretty!
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Old 07-08-12, 02:03 PM   #22
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What happened to the 700c Townies? Electra discontinued the 700c versions of the crank-forward designs maybe last year after a three year run.

I can speculate: recession and a marketing strategy based on low price and economies of scale. And maybe their patent, which keeps any other major producer from moving in on their dubiously named "flat-foot" technology.

As far as I can tell there's nothing wrong with having a 700c wheel on this design, it just doesn't fit the popular niche as a "cruiser." Electra made a few other niche-identity design choices on the Sport series -- no rack eyelets, dropout design that buried the quick-release making it hard to fit on a trainer. Who would ride a townie on a trainer? Anyone who would ride one of those recumbent trainers at the gym.

The lack of rack or fender eyelets tended to type-cast buyers, presuming how people would prefer to use a particular bike rather than providing flexibility for various uses any individual might prefer during the bike's life-cycle. For my part, I have several other bikes -- road, mountain, recumbent, sport -- but the Townie Electra is, let's just say, age appropriate. I'd be as happy on the trainer, commuting or taking a 5-to-50 mile recreation ride on that bike as any other. There are times I'd like to put some of my lighter 700c rims on a crank-forward design with a wide gear range and easy-ride to the store, to work or for play.

Obviously, I'm not inclined to believe the "crank-forward" design with 700c wheels is somehow technically flawed. As stated above, I just don't think there were enough buyers in this niche in this economy to sustain production under their business model. Which brings me to a couple other questions, one of which could easily be answered if I can find a 21d model to put in the stand...

What would be the implications of putting 700c rims on the 2012 26" "original" 21D. Best I can get my mind around it, it would mean slightly more trail. The brake arms on the stock model are long, so I'm guessing a shorter brake set might be found that would work with the larger diameter rim. If rear triangle clearances fit, it might be a near seamless retrofit. Otherwise....

Anybody out there ready to sell their 2009-2011 22sport series Electra? (or any other year they made a derailleur-equiped 700c model?)
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Old 07-17-12, 04:31 PM   #23
trestlehed
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I have had a Townie 24 now for almost 10 years. I love it. Mine has been modified quite a bit. I found that the stock handlebars were uncomfortable being essentially MTB bars with a 5 - 6 inch rise. So I stuck some Electra Bullhorn cruiser bars on. Very comfy.
Just remember that any bike you test ride has to be set-up and adjusted to your body. Simple tweaks of the seat post height, seat angle, handlebars, etc is all very important. A good bike shop knows this and will go the extra mile to adjust any given bike for you.. if they really want a sale.

Here is a link with a pic of my bike:

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...=#post14334770

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Old 08-28-12, 08:21 PM   #24
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What about something like a Trek Navigator (26" wheels) or the 7000 series (700c wheels)? I think the model names have changed this year, but look under Recreational or town bikes on their website. Or something like the Giant Sedona or Cypress women's? These are all comfort or hybrid bikes. I started riding a little last year and got the Trek 7100 WSD (women's) and love it. I'm just under 5'3" and the smallest size (13" or 13.5"?) fits me. These have multiple gears but an upright riding posture.
Maybe you've already found something by now? Best wishes--
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