It’s always fun to spend someone else’s money.
Ryan was looking for a commuter bike. He is just two miles from work, doesn’t own a car and doesn’t particularly want a car. (He’d probably take a car if it were given to him but, for sure, he doesn’t want car payments, car repairs, car insurance and all the overhead associated with owning a car.)
A Commuter Bike, Nothing Fancy
We looked at hybrid bikes — something with an upright seating position, but thinish (28c or 35c, for example) tires; something that would take fenders and a rack. He obviously didn’t need a full touring bike for his two-mile commute. He certainly didn’t want the full-suspension mountain bike that I see so many commuters riding around town.
In flat Florida, he didn’t need much in the way of gearing range. Internal gearing would be sweet but outside of his $400 or so price range. As a utility cyclist, he wanted something that was comfortable to ride in regular clothes as opposed to the most efficient transportation.
Electra Townie 7D
After test driving a few bikes (including a sweet Trek in the color of root beer), he decided on the Electra Townie 7D. I’m sure you have seen the ads for the Electra Townie line of bikes. Their claim to fame is ‘flat foot’ technology: when you’re stopped, you can put your feet flat on the ground without leaving the seat.
More cruiser than road bike, more beach than mountain, the Electra Townie wouldn’t have been my first choice. (My utility bike is a Trek 7300.) The Townie is heavier than I’d like, and the tires are two inches wide for a lot of friction. Still, I gotta admit, it rides smooth and is really comfortable.
With a Shimano seven-speed rear derailleur (14-34 cassette), there is plenty of range for just about anywhere he’d like to go in South Florida. The lack of a front derailleur makes for less maintenance and allows for a nice factory-original chain guard.
Mandatory Accessories: Bell and Helmet
Ryan is going to hold off buying the fenders and rack but bought a nice bell and helmet. The Townie requires a non-standard rack for which they charge a king’s ransom (about twice what a standard rack costs). Ryan balked at buying the helmet until I pointed out that he keeps some rather important stuff in his head, and he spent a lot of money working his way toward a masters degree.
Inaugural Ride: Palm Beach Lake Trail
We hit the Palm Beach Lake Trail for the inaugural shakedown cruise. The weather was just about perfect. Ryan’s new Townie cruised straight and true. He is very pleased with the bike. I’ll follow up with him after he’s gotten a few weeks of commuting under his belt to see if he is still just as happy.
Celebratory Bike Lift At Ride Completion
On What Do You Commute?
With Ken going on and on about his Surly Long Haul Trucker and the rest of us yapping about our carbon fiber this and fine Italian styling that, it’s easy to forget that most bikes on the road are used for utility and not touring or speeding along.
So, what’s your other bike? You know, the bike you actually use to take the kids to school, go to the grocery store or just take a ride over to the local pub. What bike to do you ride when you’re not riding your real bike?