Is there another pedal-forward electric bike besides the Electra Townie?
May 26, 2014 2:31 PM   Subscribe

I was considering buying an Electra Townie Go, the electric version of the Townie, but I've gotten some feedback that it's ridiculously overpriced for an electric bike ($2200+ where most electrics are less than $1500) and that the battery is very weak. Are there other pedal-forward electric bikes?

Hi. Remember me? Well, life happened and I never got that bike, but the desire and need and more importantly, money, is here now. Except I'm really interested in the idea of the electric bike.

I've talked to a local bike shop (actually the only one in my area who bothered to answer my email) and he has no Townie Gos in stock; I'd have to pay the full price and return it in 30 days if I don't like it. Plus there's the above feedback I mentioned. (From various bike forums.)

So that leaves me to either pick out a new ebike, or else buy a regular Townie and an upgrade kit and have someone upgrade it for me (I have no mechanical skills, I need to learn things as simple as how to change a bike tire.)

I really have my heart set on a pedal-forward design, as I have balance issues that my doctor hasn't figured out yet, plus a bad knee from a car accident. I'm also very short so I would like a step-through design. I don't care if the bike has a throttle, I am more concerned with pedal assist. I suppose it's also a concern that I weigh about 270 pounds, though I've lost 20 and hope to lose more. I was hoping for a quiet model, something that doesn't scream THIS PERSON IS RIDING AN ELECTRIC BIKE! And of course I want to be able to easily ride without the motor on when I want to, without having to disassemble anything.

So can you please help me find a bike that meets these criteria or a shop that would modify a bike for me? And/or a place where I can test ride different models of ebikes? I live in northwest Indiana, about halfway between Chicago and South Bend, though I'm not eager to drive home with a bike strapped to my trunk for the first time ever in Chicago. But if that's my only choice I'll go.
posted by IndigoRain to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The Electra Townie's have patented their unique frame design / pedal forward frame angles. As of a couple years ago, other manufacturers hadn't found viable knock offs designs that don't infringe. Source: exposure to bike sourcing a couple of years ago.
posted by walkinginsunshine at 3:36 AM on May 27, 2014

Have you considered adding an electric fly wheel to your existing bike? The kickstarter that I am thinking of is FlyKly? They are really close to their first commercial production run. You pedal, it charges...uphill, it assists and in general helps keep your speed when you don't want to.

Also, I don't think that FlyKly is the only thing like this out there. I seem to remember seeing something out of Denmark or the Netherlands that sounded really similar.
posted by BearClaw6 at 8:23 AM on May 27, 2014

In the pedal assist front, there's Stokemonkey and BionX.
posted by oceano at 10:31 AM on May 27, 2014

I may have solved my own problem, Kozy's Cyclery in Chicago has ebikes I can test ride! So I'm on my way!
posted by IndigoRain at 1:13 PM on May 27, 2014

Thank you everyone for your suggestions!

I went to Kozy's and rode several models and brands of ebikes. There were certainly many cheaper and faster bikes, but the added zip only served to freak me out, especially combined with having to jump off my seat at every stop. I just couldn't beat that added security of the Townie Go letting me have my feet on the ground while on the seat. I think I really made the right choice. It's a simple, relaxed ride with no throttle and no gear shifting.

Re: electric wheels, buying a non-electric Townie (~$500) and having someone put an electric upgrade on was a serious consideration, but those that oceano linked all look like they start at $1000 minimum (with the 25+ mile range more like $1500), and by the time you add labor (if I could even find someone reputable to do it for me) I think it would have come close to the price of the Townie Go anyways.

As for the FlyKly, bearclaw6, it's still in preorder status. My mom and cousin, the two closest people to me in the world, died of different types of cancer in the past three months and my anxiety is off the charts. I've been taking drives every day and that wastes a lot of gas, so i need a bike now. I'm hoping the addition of exercise to getting out will help me feel better. The pedal assist will help me go farther and I'm hoping that will help with boredom as well and I can always turn the motor off. Thank you all for your help!
posted by IndigoRain at 5:57 PM on May 27, 2014

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