The term 'Crank Forward' was created by RANS, Inc., a manufacturer of bicycles based in Hays, Kansas, USA. It is a protected term that RANS uses for a group of bicycles that they manufacture, but the term is used by the bicycle community to describe bikes sharing certain characteristics made by other manufacturers also.
On a crank forward bike, the bottom bracket and cranks are set further forward, relative to the seat, than on a traditional upright bicycle. The main functional difference is that the seat can be set closer to the ground while maintaining the correct leg extension to the pedals. This allows the rider to place their feet on the ground without getting off the seat. The crank is not so far forward, though, that a seat back is necessary, as in a semi-recumbent or recumbent bike.
The term Crank Forward is the most commonly used category term for this type of bike, but not the only one. Other proposed terms include easy bikes/EZB's, flat foot bikes (from Electra's 'Flat Foot Technology'), laid back bikes, semi-recumbent/semi-bent bikes and ground-reach bikes (Lightfoot Cycles).
Examples of crank forward bikes
The following bicycles are commercially available in 2009:
Electra Townie and Amsterdam series; Day 6 Comfort Bicycles, the Giant Suede, the Trek Pure, the K2 Big Easy, the Sun Bicycles Ruskin and Rover, and the Rans Fusion.
The following bicycles were commercially available in the 2007 model year:
From RANS the Fusion, Cruz, Dynamik, Citi, 700X and Zenetik; from Electra the Townie series; from Lightfoot Cycles the Surefoot, from K2 the Big Easy series; from TREK the Pure series; from Cannondale the Daytripper series; from DelSol the LowBoy series; from Raleigh the Gruv series; from Giant the Suede series; and from Sun the Drifter.
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