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Shiftbikes Shift test: an urban electric bike that focuses on the essentials

Shiftbikes is a French company based in Normandy, which offers an electric bike model designed and assembled on our territory in the factories of the Manufacture du Cycle. If the Shift bike is mainly marketed online, the company offers to try its machine in Paris and Bordeaux.

The Shiftbikes electric bike and its open frame.

© The Digital

The Shiftbikes VAE is a resolutely urban model in its approach. It has a 250 W motor developing 43 Nm and housed in the rear wheel. Power is provided by a 460 Wh battery integrated into the frame, while the transmission relies on Shimano Altus hardware to grant 8 speeds. The Shift also benefits from an open aluminum frame and is only offered in one size for riders between 1.55 and 1.90 m tall.

A rigid one-size-fits-all frame and 26-inch wheels.

A rigid one-size-fits-all frame and 26-inch wheels.

© The Digital

Mudguards, luggage rack, kickstand, anti-theft device and lighting are on the standard menu. Essential equipment for a city bike, yet rarely all present. By positioning itself at 1890 €, the Shift from Shiftbikes is placed in an interesting segment, between an often limited entry-level and more expensive, but better equipped models.

Editor's Rating: 4 out of 5

Comfort and ergonomics

For an urban electric bike, the choice of the gooseneck format, or open frame, is often obvious. This type of VAE is thus easier to ride when carrying a child in the back or when you are not ideally dressed to lift your leg. On the other hand, the frame loses slightly in rigidity, which takes away a little dynamism. However, the raised posture that we have while driving the Shift is not in this sporting spirit.

Satisfactory finishes.

Satisfactory finishes.

© The Digital

First positive point of this electric bike, the integration of its various components is satisfactory. The motor remains quite discreet in the hub of the rear wheel and the battery takes place in the diagonal tube of the aluminum frame. This can be easily removed to be charged separately, essential if you cannot charge your bike where it is parked. Overall, the level of finishes is beyond reproach, and even rather good for a bike under 2000 €.

The tires provide some comfort.

The tires provide some comfort.

© The Digital

With its 26-inch wheels, the Shiftbikes VAE opts for maneuverability more than for precision and performance. The Arisun Metro Trooper balloon tires offer a large volume of air with their 2 inch width. This contributes to comfort and partly compensates for the lack of suspension, especially at the front. Better not to inflate them too much to maintain good cushioning. The Shift is an electric bike that will logically be more comfortable in town and on cycle paths than on paths and cobblestones.

A wide and soft saddle.

A wide and soft saddle.

© The Digital

The comfort of the gel-padded saddle is very appreciable, even if we would not have been against a suspended rod for even more cushioning. But these choices have at least one advantage, that of obtaining an electric bike below the average in terms of weight. The Shift is not ultralight with its 23.5 kg, but many competitors exceed 25 or 27 kg.

The handlebar is slightly curved and can be adjusted.

The handlebar is slightly curved and can be adjusted.

© The Digital

The handlebar offers a curved hanger with comfortable ergonomic grips, even on long journeys. It allows you to maintain a relaxed position, with your arms close to your body. The stem can be adjusted to place the handlebar more or less forward or raise it a little. Something to slightly modify the position if you want a little more or a little less dynamism.

The luggage rack is fitted as standard.

The luggage rack is fitted as standard.

© The Digital

The equipment of an urban bike is not to be neglected and Shiftbikes has thought of everything, or almost. The Shift can count on a stand fixed on the rear chainstay, a bell, a chain guard to protect his pants and a rear luggage rack. Mudguards, essential for not arriving at work all muddy in the event of bad weather, are also available. Too bad the one attached to the front is not longer to effectively protect the shoes. On the other hand, the mudguards are made of aluminum and provide better durability than if they were made of plastic.

The fender could have gone lower.

The fender could have gone lower.

© The Digital

Too often forgotten, and yet so practical for minute stops, an Axa lock fixed to the frame and blocking the rear wheel is present on the French VAE. The pedals are also neglected by many, while their role is at least central on a bicycle. Shiftbikes offers a pair of very wide and grippy flat pedals that are well made.

The minute lock for the stop at the bakery.

The anti-theft device for stopping at the bakery.

© The Digital

Lighting

Editor's Rating: 3 out of 5

20lux

The lighting is also entrusted to Axa. At the front, the headlight emits 20 lux, which is enough to be seen in town, but lacks the power to do without public lighting at night. At the rear, the red light also makes it easy to identify.

The headlight lacks a bit of power.

The headlight lacks a bit of power.

© The Digital

Editor's Rating: 4 out of 5

Conduct

The behavior of the motor housed in the hub of the rear wheel is not surprising. In the absence of a torque sensor, it engages its assistance as soon as it detects a turn of the pedal. A behavior that does not please everyone, but here is quite controlled.

The motor in the hub of the rear wheel.

The motor in the hub of the rear wheel.

© The Digital

The assistance offers five levels and is controlled via the small screen with three buttons. The operation of the device is very simple: the “+” and “–” keys allow you to choose the assistance mode and the central button is used to turn on the bike. The screen displays basic information such as the current speed, the distance travelled, the battery gauge or the chosen driving mode. An estimate of the range in kilometers would have been welcome to get a more precise idea of ​​what can be done.

The screen is small, but offers the essentials.

The screen is small, but offers the essentials.

© The Digital

In town and on the flat, it is better to be satisfied with the first two or three levels of assistance. They offer the power needed for quick starts, without being dangerous. The slightest pedal turn triggers the assistance and it is better to be able to control this influx of power. As required by law, the assistance cuts out above 25 km/h. This speed is reached quickly and it is complicated to launch the French electric bike at more than 27 or 28 km / h on the flat.

A kickstand for easy parking.

A kickstand for easy parking.

© The Digital

Modes 4 and 5 are reserved for coasts. They grant a power which makes it possible to climb the climbing difficulties quite easily, without having to shed a sweat. On the other hand, the engine relies much more on its power than on its torque, it will be necessary not to forget to play well with its speeds to place itself in the right gear and grind in rhythm.

The Shimano Altus drivetrain.

The Shimano Altus drivetrain.

© The Digital

The Shimano Altus 8-speed drivetrain is decent for urban use. It is certainly not the fastest or the softest, but it provides the essentials when changing gears. It will still be necessary to take care not to overstress it and to mount its reports well in the ribs to avoid premature wear.

Wide and grippy flat pedals.

Wide and grippy flat pedals.

© The Digital

Braking

Editor's Rating: 4 out of 5

3m

The choice of Shimano hydraulic disc brakes is reassuring on two counts: performance and repairability. Indeed, these brakes are capable of stopping a 65 kg cyclist traveling at 25 km/h in just over 3 m on dry ground. A good performance. Braking precision is also satisfactory for smooth decelerations. Shimano being a very widespread and well-known brand in workshops, it will be very easy to have your brakes serviced everywhere.

Powerful hydraulic disc brakes.

Powerful hydraulic disc brakes.

© The Digital

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