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Electra “Townies” don’t fit on busses or MAX

Posted by on September 26th, 2005 at 8:26 am

Just found a new Portland bike blog called “Ask the Wise Old Bicycle Guy“. It’s run by a former pro bike mechanic and it’s full of great advice.

He noticed my recent post about Electra Townies and makes a good observation. Apparently, despite growing in popularity in this city and their recent adoption as the official bike of the “BikeTown” promotion, Townies don’t fit on TriMet busses or the MAX! Here’s an excerpt from his post:

“According to a TriMet insider, at the recent kickoff for BTA’s Bike Commute Challenge, a Townie was ceremoniously placed in a TriMet bus rack for a photo op, only it didn’t fit.”

Apparently, the Townies’ extra-long wheelbase is the problem. Besides not fitting on bus racks, they’re also too long to fit in the hooks on MAX trains. The interesting thing is that TriMet is using nationwide standard for the bus rack. I guess the folks at Electra aren’t into the “multi-modal” thing like many carfree Portlanders.

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GlowBoySusan@SkyBlue PortlandBeckyTimJonny Recent comment authors
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Brad
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Brad

I can confirm that these things don’t fit the hook on MAX, buses, or many car racks. My wife owns a Townie and I ride a Rockabilly Boogie (which is also an Electra).

For those who don’t know, they are several inches longer than the average bike allowing the pedals to be forward slightly. This provides the rider the ability to be able to put their feet on the ground, as well as sit upright.

Mine has extra fat tires that won’t fit anything either. However, it was amazing to ride on the Bridge Pedal. I felt like I was on a motorcycle crusing down the Fremont Bridge. 🙂 Also, this bike was just the trick for me since I’ve had back surgery, and am very uncomfortable on my mountain bike. I have taken it on MAX…but stayed out of everybody’s way at the back of the train.

It won’t win any races, but it is a dream to ride.

Jessica Roberts
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Jessica Roberts

How is it on uphills? Is it easy to ride on something like the uphill on Broadway from the Broadway Bridge up to Williams?

Brad
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Brad

I haven’t ridden from Broadway up to Williams yet, but the Townie is a 21 speed plus and also has an extra huge gear that will let you ride up a tree if you wanted. The Rockabilly Boogie is a 3 speed and a bit heavier than a lot of bikes out there, so I was nervous at first, but I’ve only struggled to get up hills a couple of times. The gear ratios are spread out nicely.

trackback

[…] By the way, for those who say the Rockabilly won’t fit on bus racks, I beg to differ. It just takes a little coaxing. When I was down in L.A., I even fit my Xtracycled Rockabilly onto the front of the bus for the ride up to Malibu. It’s the same as fitting any Xtracycle onto a bus rack, except the Rockabilly tires are so fat that you have to deflate the rear one a bit. Carry a nice pump and you’re set. I guess it’d be a hassle if you did it twice a day, but every once in a while it’s fine. And it fits on roof racks, too; you just need a strap to hold the wheel since the rack’s included strap won’t be long enough. […]

pchy
Guest

i’ve had the the electra townie 21 for almost 8 months. i’m able to fit mine on the rack. it is a little bit big, but the handle locks down on the front wheel securely. i’ve taken it with me on the 94, 76, 78, 38, 35, 25, 12, 14, 17, & 9.

trackback

[…] There was a lot to check out; Carfree Day t-shirts, free maps and resources from PDOT, Carye Bye’s awesome, limited-edition Shift birthday postcards, the amazingly good food of master chef John that benefitted the Get Lit program, and of course friends old and new. Timo Forsberg brought the mobile TriMet bus bike rack so riders could try out loading their bikes. We figured out how to load a long-wheelbase Electra Townie, which I previously thought couldn’t be done. [Ready set, eat!] […]

Eddie
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Eddie

the electra townie will fit onto the bus bicycle rack all that you have to do is turn the handlebars around 180 degrees, this shortens the wheel base just enough to to get a good fit. this might work on the max as well.

Bill
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Bill

Thank you Eddie for sharing your tip about turning the handlebars 180 degrees to fit on a bus bicycle rack. I commute on OCTA busses in Orange County California, and my Townie fit barely. But with your suggestion, the Townie fits PERFECTLY. Thanks again!

c
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c

I\’ll have to try Eddie\’s handlebar-rotating tip next time. I just wanted to chime in to say that I\’ve not had a problem fitting my Townie 21 onto buses or MAXes, lest others be deterred. Yes, it\’s not as good a fit on the bus rack as shorter bikes, but it\’s definitely snug and hasn\’t fallen off yet. It also fits on the MAX, though just barely… my rear fender kisses the floor when its hanging. No, the real problem on the MAX is that the handlebars are so high they project quite a ways out into the doorway. Because of this I tend to stand with my bike instead of grabbing a seat, to wrangle it.

Todd Boulanger
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Todd Boulanger

Another trick for hanging medium long wheel base bikes (Electra Townieand Amsterdam, Dutch Bikes: Gazelle and Batavas, etc.) on the MAX (Portland LRT) is to hang them from their rear wheel and not the front wheel.

This has a similar effect to turning the handlebar and avoiding fender scrape.

chris bates
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chris bates

I have had my townie for a couple of years and the very low gears let you easily climb up a hill, it\’s not made for standing on the pedals, but I never have to get off and push it. I love mine, although since all of the weight is planted firmly on your seat, I had to upgrade my seat from the original.

like other have said, it\’s not a racer, but it\’s fun

H82W8
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H82W8

I am considering a townie 21 since it looks good and suits my needs for a commuter with comfort. I have heard more pros than cons on this rig. Should I get it or just stick with another brand.
Sy

Jonny
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Jonny

I own the Electra Rockabilly Boogy.
I have yakiam roof rack and want to get a bike attachment for it, but I\’m wanting to know which one is the best for this bike and one for my wife but she has Electra rosie
thanks

Tim
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Tim

I have a Townie 21 in Rat Rod Black. It\’s been great. Tip on the seat: As a man \”of a certain age\” I have experienced \”guy problems\” with bike seats. The best solution, I have found, is to buy a Brooks saddle and to put it on any bike I use. They\’re expensive, but they\’re worth every penny. It looks good on my Townie, too.

Becky
Guest
Becky

I just bought a Towne and love it. My husband has a mountain bike. I was concerned about buying a bike rack to accommodate both. Any suggestions? The bike rack would be for a car.

Susan@SkyBlue Portland
Guest

Good to know, thanks! Even so, I love the Electra Townie and plan to buy one this weekend. Don’t plan on needing public transportation with it, so should be fine. More troublesome is that it won’t fit a car rack. Arghhh…

GlowBoy
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GlowBoy

Since additional Townie data points have been trickling into this thread over the years, I’m going to bump it up to 2018 and add some essential information.

I’m considering buying a Townie myself, and although I don’t have a definitive answer about fitting bus racks YET, I have learned that there are multiple variants of this bike that will fit bus racks DIFFERENTLY. This may help explain why some people report that it fits and some say otherwise.

– The most common version, known as the Townie “Original”, comes in two different framestyles: “Womens” (step-through) and “Mens” (high top tube). The “Mens” comes in two sizes, each of which is longer than the two “Womens” sizes.

– The base version of the Townie Original can do the trick of flipping the handlebar around to shorten the wheelbase (which I verified on a test ride today), but on the upgraded “EQ” version of the Original, the dynamo headlight mounted on the fork crown will prevent you from turning it 180 degrees.

– The Townie Balloon version has fatter (2.3″) tires, making it very slightly longer overall and a snug fit in most racks. Presumably this is what Brad has. The Balloon also has the “EQ” package so you can’t shorten the wheelbase by turning the bar around (at least not without removing the headlight). As with the Original, the Balloon comes in both “Mens” and “Womens” framestyles with different lengths.

– There’s also a more expensive Townie Commuter with 700×50 tires. Not sure of the wheelbase, but the bigger wheels will add several inches of length. Also, in addition to a crown-mounted headlight this bike comes with a front rack that will prevent you from doing the 180 trick. And again, the so-called “Mens” version is longer than the “Womens”.

I don’t yet know which of these models will fit bus racks and which ones won’t. I’m looking at the step-through version of Original model, which FWIW would be the one most likely to fit.

If I do get myself a Townie I’ll take it to one of Metro Transit’s practice racks to test out the fit. I’ll report back here on whether it fits bus racks, and if so how much room there is to spare, and whether I had to spin the handlebar.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Updated: got a used Townie today at an LBS, and tried it in the demo bus rack at another nearby LBS. Mine is the step-through (aka “Womens”) version with 26″ wheels, though the people at the LBS said they think the wheelbase is the same as on the “Mens”.

It did not fit in the rack very securely at all with the wheel pointed forward. You might be able to bring the rack arm down over the wheel but I wouldn’t trust it to be very secure.

However, with the handlebar turned 180 degrees, it dropped down at least halfway into the rack, with the front wheel just a couple inches off the bottom, and I was able to bring the rack arm over the wheel quite securely. I would think *most* bus drivers would consider it good enough, though you might get the occasional stickler who tells you to take a hike. As for the variety of Townie models:

– If you got the “womens” model with 24″ wheels you should be golden.
– If you got the “mens” you might or might not be okay. The folks at the LBS today said they think the wheelbases are the same, but I’ve heard varying reports.
– If you got the Balloon model (at least in “womens”), which would be about 1/2″ longer than my Original due to the bigger tires, I think it would still fit with the handlebar flipped.
– If you got the Commute model, which has 29″ tires that add 3″ of length, you are not going to fit it on a bus rack, no way no how.

Remember that the models with dynamos and lights (which include the EQ variant of the Original, as well as all current Balloon and Commute models) can’t flip their handlebars 180 degrees due to the headlight mounted on the fork crown. I’m going to be adding a dynamo to mine later but will find an alternate mounting location to avoid this problem.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Also, although it’s 12 1/2 years later, since no one else has pointed this out I have to take issue with Jonathan’s comment, “I guess the folks at Electra aren’t into the ‘multi-modal’ thing like many carfree Portlanders.”

I hardly think that’s fair. There are lots of bikes that, due to essential design considerations, won’t fit on buses or MAX: recumbents, cargo bikes, trikes, longtails, kid trailers, trailerbikes, and for that matter bikes with front and rear racks aren’t allowed on buses either.

I’ve never heard makers of any of these vehicles accused of not being “into the multi-modal thing.” The long wheelbase of the Townie is an inherent characteristic of their semi-recumbent design, not something Electra did to vex transit users.