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Electra Loft 7i Equipped Step-Over

6
£875.00

VERDICT:

6
10
Super comfortable and practical town bike for relatively short trips, but disc brakes and lower gearing would make more sense
Wonderfully comfortable and safe-feeling ride
Low maintenance hub gears
Sleek looking for a fully-featured town bike
Gearing is too high for hilly areas
Rim rather than disc brakes
Fairly weighty
Weight: 
15,500g
Contact: 
electra.trekbikes.com

At road.cc every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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The Electra Loft 7i Step-Over has a fairly conventional looking diamond frame, but many features you don't see on any typical commuting bike around UK cities. If features a front hub dynamo, a seven-speed Shimano rear hub and those elevated, swept back handlebars for easy city use, but it could really use lower gearing and better brakes if your city is hilly.

This bike is all about comfortable, low-maintenance commuting. The comfort stands out immediately, too; the combination of that plush, sprung seat and the high, swept-back bars mean you can cruise along and observe your surroundings very easily, whether it's in busy town traffic or a towpath leisure ride.

The Loft's full commuting package is completed with a rear rack, metal mudguards, a metal chainguard and LED lights – the front Spanninga Brio is dynamo-powered, while the rear Spanninga Pixeo has its own battery.

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The 'Flat Foot Technology' that Trek claims as its own certainly helps when coming to a stop, as it makes it a little easier to put your feet down.

2021 Electra Loft 7i riding three quarters.JPG

The frame features a rather raked back seat tube, which means that whilst a comfortable distance between seat and pedals can be maintained, the seat ends up a bit nearer the ground than with conventional geometry. In practice the effect, when measured against my similar-sized Tout Terrain touring bike, was small but noticeable.

2021 Electra Loft 7i seat.JPG

Although Trek claims this as its own 'technology,' it's far from a new idea. The now discontinued Giant Revive used the same principle to a much greater degree, and today's Tern e-bikes have markedly sloping seat tubes for easy stopping too. Still, it's a most welcome feature for new or nervous riders.

Weight

At 15.9kg on our scales it's a hefty bike; unavoidable given the hub dynamo, hub gearing and the guards and rack. Unless you're going to be lifting it regularly I didn't see this as a big issue; the very upright, very unaerodynamic riding position prioritises comfort over speed anyway, as do the huge seat and handlebars.

2021 Electra Loft 7i side on.JPG

This bike is obviously more about enjoying getting there than getting there quickly, but I do feel lower gearing would help a lot there – I tested the bike in a pretty hilly area, and spent most of the time in the lower gears, even on the flat.

2021 Electra Loft 7i Badge.JPG

The Loft nips along nicely on the flat, and taking corners at speed it feels reassuring – the handling is assured and predictable. The weight mostly comes into play on steep hills, where lower overall gearing would save a bit of out-of-the saddle effort.

Brakes

I feel another big omission is the lack of disk brakes. Where weight doesn't matter so much and low maintenance is clearly a big selling point, why opt for dual pivot brakes over disks?

2021 Electra Loft 7i dynamo.JPG

Hydraulic disks can be found on similarly-priced bikes and mechanical ones on much cheaper bikes – though care is needed with cable ones, as they can be anything from very effective to awful.

2021 Electra Loft 7i Side.JPG

A more minor niggle is the battery-operated rear light; why not run it off the lovely, smooth Shimano front dynamo like the front LED?

2021 Electra Loft 7i rear light.JPG

Again it would only enhance the bike's low-maintenance cred. On the upside, the lighting is more than up to the job of navigating unlit streets.

> road.cc Commuting Bike of the Year 2020/21

Other aspects of the low maintenance approach really work, from the ultra dependable seven-speed gearing that can be changed whether you are moving or standing still, the trouser-saving chain guard and the everything-saving kickstand.

2021 Electra Loft 7i chainguard.JPG

If you aren't fussed about weight at all, the £875 price tag could be a sticking point. Dutch firm Gazelle does the 17kg Esprit T3 with three hub gears, hub roller brakes and integrated front lighting for £498.99, for instance.

If you don't mind going nearer to 18kg, the Van Dyke Wave from recognised Austrian brand Ortler is £439.99.

Overall

This is a well-made town bike that saves a kilogram or two over cheaper competition, and comes fully equipped for easy, low-maintenance use. If your home town is relatively flat it's a great option – if not, the rather tall gearing and merely adequate brakes may disappoint given the price.

Verdict

Super comfortable and practical town bike for relatively short trips, but disc brakes and lower gearing would make more sense

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Electra Loft 7i Equipped Step-Over

Size tested: Medium

About the bike

List the components used to build up the bike.

Frame : 6061-T6 aluminum

Fork : Hi-ten steel unicrown, straight/tapered leg

Wheels

Front hub : Shimano Nexus Dynamo 32h

Rear hub : Shimano Nexus 7-speed internal F/W 32h

Rims : Double-wall alloy, 700c– 32h

Tyres : 700 x 38c City tread

Drivetrain

Shifters : Shimano Revo 7-speed twist shifter

Crank : Forged alloy, 170 mm w/44T, alloy chainguard

Bottom bracket : Sealed cartridge 68 mm/116 mm

Cassette : 20T

Chain : KMC Z7 nickel plated

Pedals : Alloy platform w/non-slip rubber tread

Components

Saddle : Retro leatherette dual spring

Seatpost : Alloy micro adjust 27.2 mm x 300 mm

Handlebar : Alloy custom bend 30 mm rise

Grips : Hand-stitched leatherette

Stem : Steel 25.4 mm quill

Head set : 1" steel threaded

Brake set : Front/rear: alloy dual pivot caliper

Accessories

Front light : Dynamo powered Spanninga LED

Rear light : Battery powered LED

Tell us what the bike is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?

Two words sum it up - comfortable commuting. Trek (Electra's parent company) bill it as lightweight, durable and fun to ride. The latter two seem true but any bike with a hub dynamo, seven rear hub gears and a full array of city bike extras is going to struggle to be a lightweight - 'comparatively light' is a better description, compared to other machines of similar spec.

Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options

This is the fanciest model in the UK range before you get to the electric Loft Go! 5i EQ Step-Thru 400Wh at £2,900. The mech-shifted Loft 7D (D is for Derailleur, 7 is for 7 gears) is the cheapest at £575, and as it's not 'Equipped' it lacks the lights and rack.

There are mech and hub-geared step-thru versions as well.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
7/10

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

As you would expect of a bike from the Trek stable, build quality and finish looks spot on.

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

The 6061-T6 aluminium frame could easily be steel judging by appearances, with its trad-looking cylindrical black tubing. It's matched with a high-tensile steel fork.

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

The most notable aspect of the geometry is its so-called Flat Foot Technology, which gives a rather more raked-back seat tube and places the rider further back from the pedals. It means the seat can be relatively low to the ground while still giving you a decent stretch to the pedals, allowing you put your feet reassuringly flat on the ground when stopped.

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

There are two frame sizes: medium (advised for 5'4" to 6'2" riders) and large (5'8" to 6'3"). My medium model felt quite large, but that was probably due to the sit-up-and-beg riding position and the wide, high, swept-back handlebars.

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

The Loft gives an exceedingly comfortable ride.

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

The frame feels very stiff and transfers power nicely, while the steel forks no doubt help with the very comfortable ride.

How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?

For a heavyish town bike it feels nippy on the flat, but a little slow up the hills; that's more to do with gearing than frame stiffness, perhaps.

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? Extremely predictable and safe feeling.

Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?

Extremely predictable and safe feeling...

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?

The hub dynamo and hub gears worked faultlessly. Braking from the dual pivot rim brakes is acceptable rather than spectacular, and disc brakes - cable or hydraulic - would be a good upgrade.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?

Lower gearing would transform performance uphill, and good discs would do the same on the way down.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
6/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
6/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
3/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
5/10

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
4/10
Rate the drivetrain for value:
 
5/10

Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?

The Shimano Nexus hub has evenly-spaced gears, and can be shifted through several gears whilst on the move or stationary - ideal for stop/start town riding.

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels for performance:
 
6/10
Rate the wheels for durability:
 
6/10
Rate the wheels for weight:
 
5/10
Rate the wheels for value:
 
5/10
Rate the tyres for performance:
 
5/10

Good dry grip, but a bit less surefooted in the wet

Rate the tyres for comfort:
 
6/10

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
6/10

Gear shifting is excellent, braking adequate.

Tough metal brake levers and a robust-looking twist grip for gearing.

Not the lightest, but they are not meant to be.

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes

Would you consider buying the bike? No

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Perhaps, depending on their terrain

How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

It's okay - there are slightly heavier bikes out there with similar (or even extra) features for lower prices, though.

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
5/10

Use this box to explain your overall score

This is a well-made town bike that saves a kilogram or two over cheaper competition, and comes fully equipped for easy, low-maintenance use. If your home town is relatively flat it's a great option – if not, the rather tall gearing and merely adequate brakes may disappoint given the price.

Overall rating: 6/10

About the tester

Age: 55  Height: 5ft 8 inches  Weight: 10 stone 12lbs

I usually ride: Brompton Electric  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, Leisure

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