Electra Townie 3i

electratownie_gerts-2This Electra Townie 3i looks like a 1-gear bike but sports an internal 3-speed Shimano Nexus hub. The frame is 6061-T6 aluminum and can be straddled with feet flat on the ground. Uses a foot coaster brake and hand linear-pull front brake. Quick adjust comfort seat (well, broken).

Flea market bike had flat tire, broken gear pointer, broken seat and bent spokes. Ordered new seat and handlebar grips for $80 at Bob’s, ($8 shipping?). They tested the bike and gave me good advise. Too, they will install the seat and grips and fit the bike to the rider at no extra charge. Won’t repair the handlebar gear indicator as it’s not really needed.

Had trouble removing the rear wheel for inspection since I couldn’t see the axle nut behind the shifter. Found this Vimeo movie. An allen wrench removes the gear adjustment housing and you can see the 15mm axle nut. Remove the pin, clean and grease, and remember the flat side goes outward on reassemble.

Another video here on adjusting the Nexus 3i.  On reassemble, put the pin back in, press gear adjustment housing body over pin and nut and tighten allen bolt. Put bike in 2nd gear with hand shift and loosen cable adjuster nut with open end 10mm wrench. Turn cable adjuster with fingers or pliers until yellow indicator is centered. Tighten adjuster nut.

Fixed the flat tire but need the bike shop to tighten the coaster brake cover since I don’t have a flat 20mm open end wrench. bent_spokesTo replace the bent spokes I stripped off the tire, tube and rim tape and removed one spoke to take to the bike shop . I count 3 or 4 bent ones so will buy half a dozen (6) replacements.

(Later) Spoke replacement was easy as was truing the wheels, though the slight vertical lumps will have be trued by the shop some day.  Bow or slightly bend the new spoke to thread through the same opening you used to remove the bad spoke. Spoke wrenches turn right to loosen and left to tighten; think of it from the nipple’s point of view.

Even easier, use a small screwdriver from the rim to remove or install, when possible. Use needle-nose pliers to hold and rotate nipple onto spoke on assembly. They will fall inside the rim but will always fall out again. I replace spokes one at a time to avoid confusing myself.
townie_flash The 45-60psi tires give a soft ride, confidence in turns and roll over grass and soft dirt better than high pressure tires. And I couldn’t feel increased friction either. The bars are tall which my arthritic neck likes but a bit wide for a city bike- I fear hooking a car mirror- but they supply plenty of leverage for steering. With step-through frame, fairly light weight (30lbs) and low seat height the bike is easy to mount, dismount, or carry.

Brakes well, shifting is easy and the gears are a useful ratio. I didn’t need more than 3 gears but then I’m a 1-gear guy (and of course strong like bull-but also smart like tractor).

However in 2nd and 3rd gears the hub clicks and clacks. The shop guys say, “that’s pretty much the way they sound”. So that’s good, it’s not broken anyway. It’s not so loud but like riding through a clock factory. The noise would bother me but geared bike riders expect noise so perhaps it won’t bother the new owner.

The bike starts, stops and turns well, the large and long aluminium tubes were surprisingly springy and the Townie is a joy to ride. The forward placed cranks don’t detract from peddling and you don’t even think about it. Can’t wait for the comfy new wide Electra seat with rubber springs.

townie_frntwheelYou won’t get the workout that a 1-gear bike provides because that shifter cannot be resisted. You actually can get as good a workout but you’d have to be biking dangerously fast!

A bike that is fairly light, fast, fun, comfy and easy to use will be ridden often. I like multi-gear bikes that are this light, uncluttered and low maintenance.

Here’s the cost so far: Bike $65, spokes, brake adjustment $10, tube $5, new seat, grips $80. With the new black seat and grips it should look striking and be very comfortable for a total so far of $160USD (€118.86EUR).

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