Electra makes the ultimate bikes for styling and profiling around town, bar hopping, frequenting your local bike path and general use by average people. I have researched all others in the price range and for 'cool factor', NOTHING ELSE COMES CLOSE to the Electra 'Stream Ride' line of cruisers. They draw their names and inspiration from 50's era hot rods. The Straight 8 is the most righteous bike in the line up in my opinion but I like them all.
I have owned my Straight 8 for 2 years and love it more every time I ride it. I find myself making excuses to take it for a spin - something I never did with any other bike. That means more exercise and better health than if I had bought one of those uncomfortable "racy" models or another brand of cruiser that doesn't look or work as nice. Sometimes I just sit in the garage and stare at it. It truly is art on wheels. I like the approving looks and comments I get from passers-by too. EVERYONE likes this bike - and they will let you know it.
No special shoes or clothing are needed to ride one and look your best. Whatever you happen to be wearing is all you need when the urge hits you. There is just no way to look correct while wearing your favorite street clothes on some bikes. With a Straight 8 in the garage you will find that you ride more because there is no excuse not to - just hop on and take off at any time with no special preparations. Ordinary people look great on this bike. Chicks really dig it too. Did I mention I make excuses to ride it?
Don't be fooled into thinking it is a 'novelty' bike for a select few. The Straight 8 is about style AND function. It shouldn't be confused with those radical and barely rideable low riders and choppers that are all the rave. The lower seat and slightly forward pedals of the Straight 8 are just right for 'regular people'. Everyone who has ridden mine is shocked at how well it works. You get decent leg extension without the associated acrobatics required to mount and dismount other bikes that are suposed to "fit" your inseam. The benefeits of being able to touch the ground flat-footed while sitting on the seat can not be overstated. Why in the world didn't someone think of this decades before? I am 46, 5'11" tall, and have never riden a bike that I could flat foot AND have decent leg extension on the pedals before now.
The wide, springy seat also eliminates atomic wedgies and, coupled with the fat tires, make for a smooth ride without the need for suspension. You sit almost straight up too, which is more comfortable and less fatiguing. Try it and you will never go back to laying on your arms with your butt up over your head while craning a cramp in your neck to see. Even other cruisers cannot compare in fit, function, or comfort. The 3 speed Nexus hub works flawlessly and eliminates ugly, clanky, and unreliable derailers, sprockets, levers, and cables. It even shifts while sitting still. I would take more gears if I could get them, but 3 get me by just fine.
Small details like the 'bobbed' rear fender, black rims, red spokes, tiny 8-balls for valve stem covers, and even a checkered flag design on the back wheel are nice finishing touches on what is already a very 'trick' bike. Curiously, it is one of the few bikes I have owned that I can roll backwards without the pedals hitting the kickstand. Thanks Electra - that makes it MUCH easier to get in and out of the garage and is worth a few extra bucks. The stock bars are great, but I installed some really tall chrome ape hangers on mine for even more comfort and a few more style points. Hey - anything can be customized.
I do have a few cautionary notes which aren't as serious as they sound and most are inherent on cruisers in general: 1) The bike is not very fast. If blistering speeds are a major concern look elsewhere. The Straight 8 is for "karoooooosing" - in comfort and style. You won't really notice it till some triathlete in training blows by you on the bike path with his bum six feet in the air. They used to scare the stew out of me till I installed a good, functional, rear view mirror. Now I can see them coming up behind me. It's ok though, I probably didn't get there first but I haven't failed to reach my destination yet. 2) The 8 ball is only painted on one side. What gives Electra? It gets old trying to plan your aproach from the left all the time. You spend 6 big ones on the sharpest bike in town and you want to be able to cut your best profile from EITHER direction. This is my biggest gripe. I just ordered a nice white "skull" decal for the left side. That should do the trick nicely but it stinks having to worry about in the first place. 3) The coaster brakes could be better but I wouldn't trade them for the ugly and troublesome hardware associated with other systems. Just take your time and try to avoid 'panic' stops. 4) It is on the heavy side. However, it IS made of aluminum and is therefore lighter than it looks. Even so, serious wimps and woosies might want to test ride one before shelling out their cash. 5) The triple clamp forks have been discontinued and replaced with a regular bicycle style fork on newer models. I am told you can still special order a Straight 8 with the nicer forks for a price and I would do it in a heartbeat. Besides looking better, they keep your front end from spinning circles every time you park it - stretching cables and causing fallovers.
Check out the other bikes in the 'Stream Ride' lineup too. You can't go wrong with any of them in my opinion. All are stylish above and beyond their equally priced competition. Do ask about the triple clamp style forks though. Several models will no longer come standard with them and, from what I can tell, most photos of these models are dated. Make sure you know what you are paying for.
All in all, I give the Electra Straight 8 my highest rating. Few things in life have given me more smiles per dollar.
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