Thursday, October 03, 2013

Electra Townie 3i Review

My husband is really into biking.  I like walking.  I don't like worrying about falling over, yes, I have very little sense of balance.  I few years ago I bought a cruiser-style bike with lots of gears.  I didn't ride it unless my husband was with me.  Honestly, it intimidated me.  Shifting gears was intimidating and my husband had warned me that certain combinations of back and rear gears were bad, but I could never remember which ones.  I also didn't like having to balance on my toes when stopped.  I have children and riding with them means lots of stopping, sometimes quickly.

I thought trying biking again would be fun, but I wanted a different bike.  My balance had improved a little thanks to riding the exercise bike.  I began my quest for the right bike for me.

I initially considered a recumbent tadpole tricycle.  I tried out Sun's entry level trike, but it had a few issues.  It was very expensive.  It was bulky and would be harder than a traditional bike to store fit along the edge of the garage.  The main issue was my husband hated riding it.  If I was going to spend a lot of money on a bike, I wanted it to be one we both liked.  So trikes were out.

I remembered several years ago (before I bought my first bike) about the Electra brand.  Their bikes were slightly reclined to allow the rider to put her feet down flat.  I didn't consider them at the time because they cost more than I wanted to pay, but compared to a recumbent, they were quite cheap.  I went over to a Infinity Cycles who happened to have the Electra Townie 3i and it was on sale. 

What I liked:
  • I could put my feet down flat when stopped an feel stable
  • It had three speeds with an internal hub, so no parts sticking out to get caught on things, and it should be very reliable
  • It had three speeds, which is easy for me to understand and not feel intimidated by
  • It was cute.  I also bought a rack for it so I could carry things.
  • The seat goes low enough my eleven-year-old daughter could ride it too.  She likes this bike and she is timid bike rider as well.
  • The bike rode like I expected it to.  I felt very in control.
  • I can pull a bike trailer with my four-year-old in it just fine, but the area around where we live is fairly flat.  I stay mostly in first gear with the trailer.
  • It has holes to fit a water bottle holder, fenders, and a rack.
  • I really liked riding it.

What I didn't like:
  • I am a little over 5'8" (with long legs).  The seat is at its max height and it is just barely tall enough for me.  It is slightly too short for my husband (5'11), not that he really wants to be riding my girly bike :)
  • It is longer than a normal bike (probably 12" or so).  This meant it fit in our minivan, but the middle seat and back seat had to be laid down.  It also had to lean over because it was too tall to stand up in the van.
  • My husband did not feel comfortable carrying it on our bike carrier because so much of it stuck out past the car.
  • The gap between 1st and 2nd gear is a little bigger than I would like.
  • I am slightly concerned that three gears may not be enough, but as a put-put bike, it does great.
  • The direction you twist the shifter to move up a gears just seems backwards to me.  I'll get used to this though and it isn't a big deal.
  • Initially, I had trouble shifting to 2nd speed.  I don't have that problem now.  It was me getting used to the shifter.
  • Coaster brake.  This bike has one hand brake and one coaster brake.  I wish it had two hand brakes, but I'm getting used to it. 
  • Fixing a flat on the rear tire is a pain

I've ridden my bike 25 miles now.  In terms of speed, I'm riding it pretty comfortably now in 2nd speed.  I average 8-9.5 mph.  My fastest is around 15 mph.  I think my husband took it up to close to twenty and averaged 14 mph.  I'm not comfortable going fast yet, so overtime, I expect my speed will increase.

I really like my new bike and am having fun riding it.  I would recommend it to others who are concerned about balance or are timid bike riders and anyone that wants a fun bike.

Update (6/3/2014):
Still loving riding this bike.  I attach the child trailer to it and pull my daughter around.  I usually can't get out of first gear pulling her, but the trailer isn't supposed to go very fast anyway.  That may also be because I'm not back into biking shape yet.  I think at the end of last year I could pull her in second gear.  I like that I feel in control of this bike.  I wish I had five gears instead of three sometimes, but the three work just fine.

Update (7/12/17)
I recently sold this bike and bought a Townie 7d instead.  The three speeds were limiting me a little, because my preferred riding speed was right between the 2nd and 3rd gear.  The range of speeds on the 7d fits my riding style better.  It also has two regular hand breaks instead of a coaster break.  Having to shift only while pedaling is not a problem now that I'm better at riding a bike.  I still loved the 3, but the 7d fits me better now.

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