Electra Townie Go—Riding This Awaited E-bike
The thrill was all mine last night as I moved down the street on a prototype Electra Townie Go. My wife too, had the pleasure of riding this soon to be offered new E-bike. It was a special occasion, the yearly meeting of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition, which also included our Holiday Joy Ride and an awesome talk by Mia, the co-publisher of Momentum Magazine (more on that in a minute). Elayne, the US director of Electra’s marketing and advertising was able to pry the bike out of the office so she could enjoy the ride and show-off their new baby.
When I saw Elayne wheel up to the event, I was excited to see her riding the Go. I had heard this bike was coming well before I saw it at Interbike in September. It has many innovative features, with most all of them practically hidden from view. Simplicity is the name of the game for Electra’s new E-bike and it shows. As she rode the bike in the Holiday Joy Ride, I could see the hills were taken easily and her smile was not wavering. The ease of riding the Townie Go was evident with her actions during the group foray.
I noticed the built in lighting system was doing its job. I already knew that a front hub dynamo is what powers these lights. Designed to stay on for a while after you stop, it is a good concept and seen on most every bike in Europe. So, the forward motion of the bike controls the beams, and no switching or thought is needed. This is whole operation of the bike in a nutshell, it works while you ride. Could it be any easier?
This bike has only two things on the handlebars (other than your hands). It has brake levers and handgrips. There are no controls, wires, gauges or panels. So the question you might ask is, how do you run the power system on this electric-assist bike? The answer is simple, you just ride (Go). Once the power switch is turned on, the bike controls everything but your pedaling and steering. It is so un-complicated that you wonder why no one had thought of this before.
The body of the new Go is the tried and true Townie, a two-wheeler you see on every road, bike trail and bike corral. The heart of it is all new. They worked with SRAM to come-up with something so different that at first thought you’d wonder how it can even work. But work it does and when I finally got a chance to ride it, I was as surprised as you might be. A torque sensor works with a fast computer and brings the motor power smoothly and intuitively.
This is a single speed bike. If you have ridden E-bikes before, then you know for most normal riding, gear-shifting is often not needed. The power of the motor adds enough push, that your start-up from a stop is easy. Once again the lack of extra goodies is obvious, none of that weighty, complicated shifting mechanism is seen or needed on the Electra Go. Clean lines and no clutter are a nice thing on a bike, and the Go delivers this from one end to the other.
It was kind of funny that no one other than me seemed to really notice the bike. On the ride, I heard a few people wonder out loud what that very slight noise (it was a quiet night) from the bike was. Looking like any other bike on the ride, with the exception of the racked battery, there was next to no clue that it has a motor to help with grades, headwinds and the such. There are many reasons people crave E-bikes, these are just a few of them.
During the evening’s festivities, I asked Elayne what was the chance of me getting to try it out. She knows I’ve been on the edge of my chair for months waiting for a ride on their new E-bike. I have been promised a full session with a Go once they are ready to hit the showroom’s floors. The scheduled release date is early spring, 2013. Most every shop that carries Electra bikes are anxious to take delivery. She told me the pre-orders of the Go are very encouraging.
This bike is a prototype in black with a low-frame. They will offer this frame and a ’mens’ model. Each will come in two different colors. It has big over-sized cruiser tires and a nice cushy cruiser saddle. A chain guard and two legged kickstand are on board. V-brakes front and rear will handle the stopping chores quite nicely. The feet flat on the ground feel of the Townie gives every rider added confidence.
You have read this far and I have yet to tell you what it like to ride. FUN! As you ride you can feel the two basic levels of power the motor adds. Unlike most pedelecs, just turning the pedals won’t bring on the motor power. The bike can feel how hard you are mashing the pedals and it responds in kind. It is not jumpy or uncomfortable. It is intelligent pedelec at it’s simplest form and it feels good. The top speed is limited to what I consider the perfect pace for commuting and fun riding, about 16 mph.
When the Electra Go does come to your neighborhood, I suggest you make a point of trying it out so you can feel the fun of Go. This bike is going to be a winner, a true story of how so little can do so much. It might not be the perfect E-bike for you speedsters, but for everyone one else (the riding masses), it should prove to be awesome.
Oh yeah, I wanted to tell you a little about Mia’s talk. It was all about how important it is to get women and kids on bikes. Also about how certain cities are working hard to make cycling easier and safer for everyone. She made a slight mention on how her mom has taken to an E-bike recently and changed so much in her life. You can see her story added to the feature article I wrote for this month’s issue of Momentum Magazine about how E-bikes are the future of city travel. Have a look.
Thanks for the spin Elayne, I can’t wait for the full story, Turbo Bob.
“ Be at one with the universe. If you can’t do that, at least be at one with your bike”.—Lennard W. Matson.
I shot this video of the Go in the Electra booth at Interbike. You can see the colors of the new Go very clearly.
Here is a link to Electra’s website. I don’t know if the Townie Go is listed there yet. Have a look to see for yourself.