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Old 02-02-07, 01:57 AM   #1
recorded syntax
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Electra Townie vs. DIY

I'm toying with the idea of buying an Electra Townie 21 (which comes with front suspension). I don't know a lot about these bikes so can anybody advise as to whether the componentry, brakes, frame etc. are any good? Alternatively, i'm considering buying a similarly-priced front suspension MTB (a low-end Giant or something), putting cruiser bars on and lowering the seat. I guess i'm thinking this because, being unfamiliar with the brand, i'm a little afraid that after a couple of years the Electra will fall to bits beneath me. Any advice before i part with my cash?

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Old 02-02-07, 04:49 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by recorded syntax
.... Alternatively, i'm considering buying a similarly-priced front suspension MTB (a low-end Giant or something), putting cruiser bars on and lowering the seat. ... Any advice before i part with my cash?
Why would you lower the seat on a normal bicycle? You will get knee pain from incomplete leg extensions if you try to pedal it much.
If you want a more-comfortable bike (less seat pain and hand pressure) the semi-recumbents I know of are as follows:
RANS Fusion (and similar models from RANS)
Lightfoot Surefoot
Sun SunRay

I own one of the Fusions (it's very nice) but I haven't tried the others but they do have a similar position and do cost less. The RANS bikes use a proprietary seat and seatpost (can't be changed to a "normal" saddle) while the others can mount a regular saddle on a conventional seatpost (if you have some really unusual seating requirements, best served by "ergonomic" seats).

Alternately some cheap recumbents (for about $600 new) are the Sun EZ-1 and the Cycle Genius Starling.
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Old 02-02-07, 05:24 AM   #3
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Electra is a reputable brand. I have not really paid attention to their line up as I normally buy used and vintage. But everybody I know that has one raves about it. FWIW most of them are buying the crank forward models like the Townie.

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Old 02-02-07, 09:39 AM   #4
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I assembled several Electras for my LBS this past Christmas shopping season, and I found Electra's quality to be superior to Trek's on competitively specced and priced bicycles. Specifically the stems and saddles.
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Old 02-02-07, 11:34 AM   #5
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Why would the bike "fall to bits"? I can't imagine a Townie would do so given how it's designed to be ridden as a cruiser-type bicycle not a mountain bike. I own a Townie, but I'm no expert as far as the components. I bought my Townie at an excellent LBS, and it was assembled very well. It seems to be a quality bike to me.
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Old 02-02-07, 12:26 PM   #6
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One CAN build a "town" bike out of any bicycle, mate.
All it takes is the right components,some time, some
patients along with a little wrench work to have a"'town"
bike your way often at a huge savings over a new bike.

The only thing an Eletra Townie has that most bicycles
don't have it what Eletra calls a 'flat foot" stance with a
modified frame. I doubt that "flat foot" is all that important
to a healthy rider.

Save the your own 'town" bike.

P.S. Skip front shocks, mate. If you use a good steel framed
bike and ride only on roads or streets (It's a town bike remember?)
you flat don't need damn shocks to break or weight you down. A
good steel frame bike will flex, as steel will do, to absorb much
of the road vibes.
My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

Originally Posted by krazygluon
Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?
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Old 02-02-07, 07:56 PM   #7
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I used to work in a shop that sold these and I think they are just fine.
I'd skip the front suspension. The front wheel is so far out in front that it rides smoothly without any suspension.
A lot less clownish than a recumbent.
Rides much better than one would think.

Last edited by GeoKrpan; 02-02-07 at 08:04 PM.
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Old 02-02-07, 08:16 PM   #8
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Now, this is a clownish recumbent.

I agree, front shocks just aren't needed for a bike that's ridden on roads or paved trails.
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Old 02-02-07, 09:06 PM   #9
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If you're gonna get an Electra, you should get one of the ridiculous cruiser models like the Straight 8. There so mellow they make me want to put a cup holder on the handlebars.
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Old 02-02-07, 09:24 PM   #10
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I had a Trek bike similar to a Townie. They are comfortable but normally you can't go all that far on them. Cruising is fine. I agree with Doug 5150 and say that if you want to be comfortable and go distance, Rans, Surefoot and the others he mentioned are the way to go.
Rans Fusion below:
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Efusion.jpg (56.1 KB, 14 views)
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Old 01-20-08, 03:02 PM   #11
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Yes, the RANS Fusion is a very worthy comparison, but at three or four times the price of the Townie, perhaps not in the same market sector. Somebody considering a Townie would be a person in poor health, maybe carrying injuries, maybe fairly old and not at all athletic. A bit like me. I tried other bikes, but they all caused aches and pains in very short time. The point about diamond frame bike seats is that the seat horn digs into tender areas at rest, and you can generally only get one foot on the ground - fine if you chose the correct foot to put down, but a bit unfortunate if you're hot and sweaty, and the ground is unexpectedly lower down than you thought...

The Townie lets you put both feet on the ground, for greater confidence and a lower centre of gravity while riding. This helps stability through turns. Your feet being further forward while pedaling, has multiple benefits. You sit upright, getting a good view of the road ahead, traffic surrounding, and the scenery you're passing through. The same as with exercise machines, this stance lets you stretch your legs through the pedal stroke, hence no aches or pains after hours of riding. And you keep your weight off your hands, giving you no wrist or elbow problems. With a pull on the bar, acceleration or hill climbing is very efficient. Basically the machine is built to fit the rider, not the other way around with nearly all other bikes. And Townie has been out since 2003, how long have these other bikes been around?

I have Fibromyalgia and many other physical problems, yet I am able to ride a Townie without the kind of comfort and control problems I have with other bikes. I might not be a racer, and I might not be a distance champion, but at least I'm riding. Without the Townie I wouldn't be able to, so to me the Townie is worth many times its price.
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Old 01-21-08, 01:13 AM   #12
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Townies are good bikes in my opinion and worth the price, but not for the parts. You can't just go out and "make your own" so easily though, go back and take another look at the design with the bottom bracket shifted so far forward of the seat. If you could get some *serious* setback on your saddle somehow, and follow up with bringing the handlebars much closer in, it would be possible. Handlebars, no problem, its finding a seatpost solution that'd be the pain.

As for the componentry, you're getting Shimano's Tourney level components. On the heirarchy, thats bottom of the list, stuff you'd find on much cheaper bikes than the Townie. Now, in defense of "bottom of the list", what that means is that it works. Not super durable, not lightweight, not swooshy, but it shifts your gears. These bikes aren't meant to perform, and I doubt you'll really notice, as I certainly didn't. The RST fork is pretty basic, most of the components are. The "nicer" touches on the bike are the things like the saddle and the finish, the frame is of good quality, basically they put the price tag towards working on the shape, comfort and feel of the bike rather than the performance. The Townie works and shouldn't break down on you under its designed purpose, thats about all there is to say about the parts. The saddle is beautiful, I find.

On the "town bike" comments from Tightwad, yes and no. Certainly you can build a town bike with better parts for less, but the benefits of the design are a bit more than simple "flat foot". The position leaves you sitting considerably more upright than an MTB, which can relieve additional pressure on the wrists, and is typically easier on the neck and back. The sitting position also moves you even farther onto your sit bones than a "normal" bike, and is *very* comfortable. I can't really state the value of this with words, you'll have to ride one to understand, but its a great experience. I personally value the crank forward design over the standard MTB design by quite a bit and have been considering a Rans as a candidate for my next bike.

If you're looking for more oomph in your componentry, the Rans bikes are the most comfortable of all the ones i've tried, their parts are matched to the dollar well, and the "crank forward" design is even more pronounced on their frames than the Townie. The price tag is as mentioned, considerably higher.
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Old 01-21-08, 01:27 AM   #13
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My advice is go for it. One of my bikes is a Townie 21 without the shock and its a well made bike. Perfect for around town use for cruise or running errands. Its not only a fun ride but a ride that reminds me of riding my StingRay as a kid. The flat foot design makes it easy to put your feet down riding in the winter. As Abney said, the Tourny group isn't sexy but does work well and should last a while with maintenance.
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Old 01-21-08, 03:40 AM   #14
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I have a Townie3 and love it.

Of all my bikes it is the most stable, making it the most suitable for towing long and heavy trailers, even down unpaved sand roads.

Doubt if you'll need a front shock on a bike with this geometry, but if that's what you want go for it.

I don't think a bike like this can be built using a frame of more standard geometry.

One thing I have found with this bike is that with the seat low enough to get both feet flat on the ground, it's too low for a real efficient pedal stroke. But even with the seat raised a little bit for a better pedal stroke, it's still significantly lower than on more standard bikes.

If I ever have to replace this bike I'm going to take a serious look at the Townie8 700C.
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