Electra Townie vs. Electra Cruiser Review

The Electra Townie and Electra Cruiser are two of the most popular cruiser bikes on the market, but how are they really different? Besides the obvious differences in frame styling, does each one have a distinct ride feel? Is there any practical reason to choose one or the other?

In this review, we dive deep to help you understand why the Townie or the Cruiser might be a better fit for your body or your riding style.

NOTE: In this review, the Electra Townie is PLUM while the Electra Cruiser is PINK.

Electra Townie and Electra Cruiser bikes side by side

Electra Townie vs. Electra Cruiser Overview

Electra TownieElectra Cruiser
RATINGHighly RecommendedHighly Recommended
MSRP$599$499
SIZE4’11 to 6’026″: 5’1 to 5’8
24″: 4’9 to 5’4
GEARS7 speed, Shimano Tourney7 speed, Shimano Tourney
BRAKES Dual hand, v-pull, NO Coaster Dual hand, v-pull, NO Coaster
FRAMEAluminum alloyAluminum alloy

Why Choose an Electra Townie vs. Electra Cruiser?

Woman riding Electra Cruiser down country road

We’ve tested a lot of cruiser bikes over the years, and the Electra brand has always been one of our favorites for its consistent quality, smooth ride feel, and classic designs. But a burning question we’ve always had is – what’s the real difference between the Electra Townie and the Electra Cruiser?

Both of these bikes are cruiser-style bikes and both have almost identical specs on paper – so why would you choose one over the other? We tested the Electra Townie 7D and Electra Cruiser 7D (7D means it has 7 gears and a derailleur) with six different riders to get a true feel for these bikes.

In the end, we discovered that they’re quite comparable in ride feel, and we’ll cover all of their similarities and differences in detail in this review. But if you want the TLDR version…

What is Similar About the Electra Townie and Cruiser Bikes

  • Flat Foot technology for more controlled stops and starts (although more exaggerated on Townie)
  • Comfy, casual, upright body position feels extra relaxed
  • Highly adjustable for fit (with a wide sizing range) makes for great bikes for sharing between family members
  • Wide, cushioned saddles
  • Wide gearing range for cruiser bikes, great for moderate hills
  • Solid stopping power with dual handbrakes and NO coaster brake
  • Free assembly at your local Trek store

What is Different About the Electra Townie and Cruiser Bikes

  • Flat Foot technology is much more exaggerated on the Townie, which has some unique benefits
  • Slightly more cushioned ride on the Cruiser
  • Sizing – for very short or very tall riders, which model you choose will make a difference
  • Grips – Faux leather (Townie) vs. rubber (Cruiser)

Why Choose the Townie over the Cruiser?

  • You love the swooping frame design
  • Having your feet flat on the ground for stopping and starting is very important to you
  • Several people will share the bike, and are a wide range of heights (4’11 – 6’0)
  • Plus-sized riders will benefit from the pedals being placed more forward on the bike

Why Choose the Cruiser over the Townie?

  • A classic beach cruiser is just what you’re looking for (super swept back handlebars, white sidewall tires)
  • You want the most cushioned ride
  • For very short riders, a smaller 24″ wheel version fits riders down to 4’9
  • You want the option of a single speed and/or coaster brake

Keep reading to understand more about why we came to these conclusions!

How are the Townie and Cruiser Similar?

Because the Electra Townie and Cruiser are incredibly similar, for many people, the choice between them may just come down to their preference in visual styling or color options. After weeks of testing and switching between the two bikes each day, the honest truth is that while they don’t have exactly the same ride feel, the Townie and Cruiser don’t feel all that different, and we loved them both!

Upright body position

Woman riding Electra Townie 7D down the sidewalk

Both bikes keep a rider pretty upright, with an easy-breezy straight back.

Highly adjustable for fit

Collage showing low and high settings for stem of Electra Townie

The saddle and the handlebars can be adjusted up or down to fit your body’s specific proportions, and the handlebars can also be rotated slightly. Some riders prefer the handlebars higher, while others like them lower. By making micro adjustments, you can dial in that just-right, upright feel.

Wide cushioned saddle

Electra Cruiser and Electra Townie saddles side by side

With wide, cushioned saddles, your bum get lots of comfy support. Above, the Cruiser is on the left and the Townie is on the right.

Same generous gearing range

For cruiser bikes, the Townie 7D and Cruiser 7D have quite generous gearing ranges (the 26″ models have a gain ratio range of 2.5 – 6.1). Of all of the true cruiser style bikes we’ve tested, these two have the lowest low gear. This means that climbing hills will be easier than on your average cruiser bike.

Cassette and derailleur on Electra Townie

They both feature the base level RevoShift twist grip shifter and Shimano Tourney derailleur, which can shift a bit clunky at times, but is pretty standard at this price point. For casual riding, periodic clunky shifting may be a little annoying, but won’t affect performance much. If you upgrade to the $650 Townie 9D (9 speeds), it has the Shimano Acera system, which is a nice step up from Tourney.

Dual Handbrakes, No Coaster Brake

V-brake on rear wheel of Electra Townie

The braking set-up for the Townie 7D and Cruiser 7D is dual-handbrakes with NO coaster brake. Beach cruiser bikes traditionally have always had a coaster brake (back pedal brake). But nowadays, it’s pretty common for cruiser bikes with gears (not single speed) to forgo the coaster brake for solid-quality dual handbrakes.

The braking systems on both of these bikes are v-pull style brakes, but with different components. We didn’t notice any difference in stopping power between the two bikes, and found they both stopped quickly and with little effort on the rider’s part.

We prefer dual handbrakes because they offer the rider more flexibility in braking speed and power. Additionally, if you have a coaster brake, you need to pedal backwards to stop the bike and you can’t have your feet ready to set on the ground as you’re slowing down. This makes some timid riders nervous.

That said, if you’re looking for the simplicity of a coaster brake, check out the single speed Electra Cruiser.

How are the Townie and Cruiser Different?

There’s the obvious difference in visual styling, which may be the biggest determining factor for many because these bikes are just so functionally similar. But there is also a minor difference in ride feel that we believe the following factors contribute to.

Flat Foot Technology

The Electra Townie and Electra Cruiser feature Electra’s Flat Foot Technology, but it’s executed a little bit differently on each bike.

What is Flat Foot Technology?

Flat Foot Technology means that the pedals are pushed forward on the bike so that instead of pushing straight down when you pedal, you are pushing slightly forward.

This allows you to set the saddle lower, still get proper leg extension, and have your feet set flat on the ground when you stop (instead of stopping on your tip toes). This is a big win for casual or less confident riders because coming to a stop on your tip toes can be awkward, feel off balance, and is sometimes just plain scary!

The downside to Flat Foot Technology is that pushing forward instead of down is less efficient. Because most people riding casual cruiser bikes aren’t trying to set any speed or distance records, this won’t matter much – the confidence and comfort you gain outweigh the minor effect on efficiency.

How is Flat Foot Tech different on the Townie and Cruiser?

The Townie’s pedals are pushed farther forward than the pedals of the Cruiser, creating a more “dramatic” Flat Foot effect. Below you can see how on most bikes, the pedal is connected to the bike directly below the down tube (turquoise bike on left).

The Cruiser (pink bike, middle) has the pedal pushed forward by about 3″. The Townie (purple bike, right) is pushed forward 5.25″.

Standard Bike vs. Cruiser vs. Townie

Collage showing how the pedals on the Electra Cruiser and Electra Townie are pushed forward from the down tube compared to a standard bike. The Electra Townie is pushed forward more than the Cruiser.

Because the Cruiser’s pedals aren’t as forward, we found that we needed to place our saddle a little higher to get a comfortable leg extension on the Cruiser. As a result, our testers’ feet weren’t completely flat on the ground when stopping and starting, but more on the balls of their feet.

Most of our test riders didn’t mind this, but if you love the idea of having your feet flat on the ground when you stop and start – the fullest effect of Flat Foot Technology – this would be a strong reason to choose the Townie. With a lower saddle there’s also much more of an “in the bike” feel, which many of our test riders (confident and timid) preferred.

Here you can see how on the Townie (left), our rider’s foot is pushed farther forward than on the Cruiser (right).

Flat Foot Technology in Action – Townie vs. Cruiser

Comparison images showing a rider on the Electra Townie and Electra Cruiser

After climbing hills over and over with these two bikes, we believe that it’s slightly more difficult to climb a hill on the Townie, since as mentioned above, pedaling more forward isn’t as efficient. This difference was noticeable, but not drastic. If you’re going to climb hills frequently though, it’s certainly something to consider.

Unique Benefit for Plus Sized Riders

Our 5’1″, plus-sized test rider discovered a surprise benefit for plus-sized riders, and she couldn’t stop raving about it. The Townie’s more extreme flat foot technology made it more comfortable to pedal for her.

Plus sized rider on Electra Townie 7D, showing that she has more room to pedal on the high stroke

On the Townie, because you’re pushing more forward to pedal, your leg is extended farther away from your body. So at the top of your pedal stroke, your thigh doesn’t come as high or close to your body. That means less contact between your thigh and lower belly.

As someone who loves riding her regular beach cruiser, she immediately noticed the difference and couldn’t wait to spread the message to other plus-sized friends who have expressed that they just can’t find a bike that works for them.

Tire and saddle cushioning

Electra Townie and Electra Cruiser front tires side by side

While the Townie is plenty relaxing to ride, if we have to award the prize for most cushioned and comfy, it goes to the Cruiser.

The Townie and Cruiser both have 26″ tires, but the Cruiser’s are wider (2.125″ vs. 1.95″) and more classically beach cruiser style with their white sidewalls. The thinner Townie tires feel like they roll faster and smoother on pavement, but the Cruiser’s wider tires are noticeably more cushioning.

We found visual proof on our daily kindergarten bike commutes as we rode over a 1.5″ drop in the sidewalk. With my phone in a small bike bag on the front of the bikes, my phone actually popped out of the bag and into the street a couple of times while riding the Townie. On the Cruiser, the jolt was more subdued and that never happened.

Going over that small drop was less jarring for me on the Cruiser – due to the tires, but also the saddle. Both saddles are wide and offer cushioning and shock absorbing effects, but like with the tires, the Cruiser’s saddle wins by a hair in this particular cushioning contest.

Sizing – Cruiser and Townie similar but different

The Cruiser is available in two different sizes (24″ and 26″ wheels), accommodating a range of heights from 4’9 to about 5’10 between the two. The Townie is only available in one size, but that single size can fit a wider range of heights than either of the Cruiser models individually (4’11 – 6’0).

IMPORTANT NOTE: These height ranges are approximate, as inseam and body shape also play a huge factor in fit, as noted below.

If you are near the high or low end of the sizing ranges, it would be ideal to go to a Trek store to try the bikes on for the best fit.

Electra Cruiser

The Electra Cruiser 26 has a stated height range of 5’1 – 5’8. The smaller version with 24″ wheels has a height range of 4’9 – 5’4″.

In our testing of the Cruiser 26, our plus-sized 5’1 rider did not fit at all, and our medium-build 5’3 rider was a stretch fit. They would have been better off on the Cruiser 24. But our lanky 5’1 teenage rider had no issues fitting on the Cruiser 26.

The thicker your thighs, the more your legs have to splay out over the saddle to reach the pedals. This is why a 5’1 plus-size rider may not fit, but a small-framed 5’1 teenager can.

Here you can see riders on the small and tall end of the Cruiser 26. Our 5’1 rider has the saddle and the handlebars at their shortest point. At 5’10, I’m 2″ taller than the suggested max, but I still found it a comfortable fit with the handlebars raised to their maximum height.

5’1 and 5’10 Riders on Electra Cruiser 26

Collage showing how 5'1 and 5'10 riders fit on the Electra Cruiser 26

We tested the smaller 24″ version of the Cruiser several months previously (see image below), so we weren’t able to get all of the same test riders on it. Our 5’1 rider was 5’0 at the time, and a great fit on the 24″ model. To get a 4’9 or 4’10 rider on this bike, you would need to cut the seat post to make it shorter (the Trek store can do this for you). We had the bike on loan, so we were unable to test it on a rider shorter than 5’0.

5’0 Rider on Electra Cruiser 24

Teenager riding Electra Cruiser 24 inch bike down the sidewalk

Townie

The Electra Townie 26 has a stated height range of 4’11 – 6’0. Our 5’1 and 5’3 riders mentioned above (who could not or could barely fit on the Cruiser 26) fit on the Townie quite comfortably. Here you can see how a 5’1 rider and a 5’10 rider fit on the same bike.

Our 5’1 rider has the handlebars at their lowest point, but the saddle about 1.5″ above its minimum. Our 5’10 rider has the handlebars raised by several inches.

5’1 and 5’10 Riders on Electra Townie

Collage showing how a 5'1 and 5'10 rider fit on the Electra Townie 26

If you want friends or family to share the Townie with you, its very wide sizing range makes it a very versatile fit.

Grips – fashion vs comfort

Grips can easily be changed, so if you prefer one style over the other, don’t let that stop you from buying the bike.

Townie Smooth Grips vs. Cruiser Rubber Grips

Collage showing smooth grip of Electra Townie and rubber grip of Electra Cruiser

The Townie’s faux leather style grips are more a fashion than function play. While stylish, they can get slippery when your hands sweat in hot weather.

The rubber grips of the Cruiser compress when you hold them, are more comfortable, and also offer better grip for sweaty hands.

Electra Townie and Cruiser Bottom Line

The Electra Townie and Electra Cruiser are both solidly built cruiser bikes with wide gearing ranges to help you conquer flat boardwalks or hilly rides to the farmer’s market. Because these bikes are pretty functionally similar, many riders can choose between them simply by preference of visual styling.

That said, if you’re particularly concerned about cushioning and comfort, the Cruiser is your best bet. If you’re more timid and concerned about having your feet flat on the ground when you stop and start, the Townie is designed for you!

For a look at other cruiser bikes we love, check out our 10 Best Cruiser Bikes page.

FTC Disclosure: Affiliate links are included in this review.  No monetary compensation was provided for this review, however, the reviewed product was supplied by the manufacturer or distributor to help facilitate this review. All opinions and images are that of Two Wheeling Tots LLC.  All content and images are copyrighted and should not be used or replicated in any way. View our Terms of Use.

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