Urban Bikes

Review: Electra Townie Go!

Is the Electra Townie Go! Aoife's perfect bike? It sure looks the part but did it help improve her commute time?

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The Electra Townie Go! is to bicycles what the QE2 is to travelling by boat; a luxurious, sedate ride that’s as much about the style you travel in as getting to the destination. It’s also got the added bonus of an electric motor, which means you can cruise without breaking a sweat.

The Electra Townie Go! is Electra Bicycles foray into the world of e-bikes. Despite their name, they are in fact primarily producers of intricately decorated and infinitely stylish cruiser and dutch bikes. Their Townie range, starting at around £375, are simpler bikes designed for urban riding. The Go! gives an additional push, literally, in the form of a battery power motor.

A touch of a button turns on the power, but as it’s pedal assisted the discreet Sram E-matic motor won’t actually kick in until you are pedaling, so you do actually have to be spinning your feet for it to work. When it does, it feels like suddenly someone has attached a tow rope to you, and pulls you along smoothly, without any jerks or starts, at a actually quite a good speed.

You won’t be racing cars as it’s limited to about 15mph, but that’s enough to keep you pace with a lot urban bike traffic, much to the surprise of my fellow commuters. I have to confess to a significant quantity of glee when, pulling away at traffic lights, the speedy road bike riders glance back to find me actually keeping pace, at least initially. Their facial expressions were one of the many sources of pleasure I derived from riding this bike.

Like other bikes in the Townie range the Townie Go! is designed around what they call ‘flat foot technology’ which basically means you sit in a very upright position. This felt very strange at first compared to my usual commuter bike but I grew to love it.

Sitting upright meant of course that I had a brilliant view around me and over traffic, but it also meant that because it was easier to look around, I actually paid attention to my surroundings a lot more. So I noticed sunsets, views, flowers and wildlife, and my fellow commuters a lot more. As opposed to being down in the focussed, ‘moving forward with purpose’ position which let’s face it isn’t very sociable, and isn’t designed to be, I felt more open, friendly and chatty. This is a sociable bike, for sociable people, not least because it’s distinctive good looks draw comment and make for a great conversation starter. It’s perfect for Slow Cycling and weekend rides.

Despite the motor, I didn’t actually save any time on the Electra, but surprisingly neither did I lose any. With the junctions, traffic lights and stop-start nature of my commute, I rarely average over 15mph on the journey anyway. The Townie Go! did mean that I often cycled in my own clothes on my 12 mile commute, and although I did do a lot of pedalling, it was gentle exercise so I didn’t end up a sweaty mess – total bliss for cycling over a hot summer. You do need to make sure you keep it charged up though. The one time I forgot, the battery conked out halfway to work and oh my days this bike is not for riding without electrical assistance, as you really feel the weight. It also a single speed, one gear only, which is not a problem so long as you have the battery charged and working.

The battery lasts about 7 or 8 hours of use, in my experience, and is easy to charge. A key releases it from it’s home under the built-in pannier rack, and the bike comes with a charger that plugs into the wall socket, a bit like a massively oversized laptop charger.

As far as practicality goes, the pannier racks are perfect for popping on your bags, or strapping boxes or baskets to the top. The bike comes fitted with full mudguards which keep the spray away, comfortable grips, effective brakes, and hub dynamo lights so you don’t even need to worry about taking those on and off the bike. Electra also do a brilliant range of accessories, including everything from baskets and bags right through to clip on flowers and coffee cup holders.

The metal pedals are comfy and grippy when cycling, but be warned, I did end up taking chunks out of my shins several times when maneuvering the bike. When parking it, pop down the kickstand, and it has a simple to use integral lock which clamps around the rear wheel.

The big fat tyres make short work of lumps, bumps and small potholes. The bike doesn’t have suspension but these almost make it feel like it has, adding to the smoothness of the ride. The other contact point worth mentioning here is the big cushioned saddle. Big doesn’t necessarily mean better, but this was like sitting on your comfiest sofa while cycling about, and has spoiled me for other cruiser bikes forever.

One downside of this bike is the weight – it’s a behemoth! This is not a bike for anyone who lives anywhere which involves carrying things upstairs, as unless you are exceptionally strong, and by that I mean you regularly pump some pretty major iron, you can’t shift it.

The Electra Townie Go! is a beautiful bike that’s worth considering if you have a long commute, like riding in an upright position and/or want to cycle but keep the pressure off your knee joints. It’s ridiculously comfortable to ride, and is priced about average for an e-bike.

Price: £2000, available from your local Electra Dealer.

More info: Electra

By @silverstrange

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