Shiftbikes is a French company based in Normandy, offering an electric bike model designed and assembled in our territory in the Manufacture du Cycle factories. When the Shift bike is primarily sold online, the company offers to test its machine in Paris and Bordeaux.
Shiftbikes VAE is a decidedly urban model in its approach. It has a 250 W motor that develops 43 Nm and is located on the rear wheel. Power is provided by a 460 Wh battery integrated into the frame, while the transmission relies on Shimano Altus hardware to provide 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.
Mudguards, luggage rack, kickstand, anti-theft device and lighting are on the standard menu. Necessary equipment for a city bike, but rarely everything is there. By positioning itself at 1890 €, the Shift from Shiftbikes is placed in an interesting segment, between the often limited entry level and more expensive, but better equipped models.
Comfort and ergonomics
For an urban electric bike, the choice of gooseneck format, or open frame, is usually obvious. This type of VAE is easier to ride when a child is on the back or when you are not well dressed to lift your leg. On the other hand, the frame will lose a little rigidity, which will eliminate a little dynamism. However, the elevated posture we have while driving the Shift is not in this sporty spirit.
First positive point of this electric bike, the integration of its various components is satisfactory. The motor remains discreetly in the hub of the rear wheel and the battery takes place in the diagonal tube of the aluminum frame. It’s easy to remove to charge separately, important if you can’t charge your bike where it’s parked. Overall, the level of finish is impeccable, and even better for a bike under 2000 €.
With its 26-inch wheels, Shiftbikes VAE opts for ease of maneuverability over precision and performance. The Arisun Metro Trooper balloon tires offer a large amount of air with their 2 inch width. This contributes to comfort and partly compensates for the lack of suspension, especially in the front. It’s best not to inflate them too much to maintain good cushioning. The Shift is an electric bike that will logically be more comfortable in the city and on cycle paths than on paths and cobblestones.
The comfort of the gel-padded saddle was much appreciated, although we wouldn’t have been against a suspended rod for extra cushioning. But these choices have at least one advantage, which is to get an electric bike that is below average in terms of weight. The Shift is not ultralight with 23.5 kg, but many competitors exceed 25 or 27 kg.
The handle offers a curved hanger with a comfortable ergonomic grip, even on long trips. This allows you to maintain a relaxed position, with your arms close to your body. The stem can be adjusted to place the steering wheel forward or raise it slightly. Something to change the position a little if you want something smaller or a little less dynamic.
The equipment of an urban bike should not be neglected and Shiftbikes has thought of everything, or almost. The Shift can rely on a stand placed on the rear chainstay, a bell, a chain guard to protect his pants and a rear luggage rack. Mudguards, needed to keep the job from getting all muddy in the event of bad weather, are also available. It is a shame that it is attached to the front because it no longer effectively protects the shoe. On the other hand, mudguards are made of aluminum and provide better durability than plastic.
Often forgotten, and yet practical for minute stops, an Axa lock fixed to the frame and blocking the rear wheel is in the French VAE. Pedals are also largely neglected, while their role is at least central to a bicycle. Shiftbikes offer a pair of very wide and grippy flat pedals that are well made.
The lighting is also entrusted to Axa. At the front, the headlight emits 20 lux, which is enough to be seen in the city, but lacks power without public lighting at night. At the rear, the red light is also easily recognizable.
The nature of the motor placed in the hub of the rear wheel is not surprising. Without a torque sensor, it helps as soon as the pedal turns is detected. A behavior that does not please everyone, but here it is very controlled.
The help offers five levels and is controlled through a small screen with three buttons. The operation of the device is very simple: the “+” and “–” keys allow you to select the assistance mode and the central button is used to turn on the bike. The screen shows basic information such as the current speed, the distance traveled, the battery gauge or the selected driving mode. An estimate of the distance in kilometers would be welcome to get a more accurate idea of what is possible.
In the town and the plains, it is better to be satisfied with the first two or three levels of help. They offer the power needed for quick starts, without risk. The slightest turn of the pedal will trigger the assist and better control this surge of power. As required by law, assistance goes below 25 km/h. This speed is easily achieved and it is difficult to launch the French electric bike at more than 27 or 28 km / h on the flat.
Modes 4 and 5 are reserved for beaches. They provide power that makes it possible to climb difficult climbs easily, without having to break a sweat. On the other hand, the engine is more dependent on its power than its torque, it must not forget to play well with its speeds to put itself in the right gear and grind to the rhythm.
The Shimano Altus 8-speed drivetrain is decent for urban use. It’s certainly not the fastest or the slowest, but it delivers when changing gears. It is still necessary to be careful not to overload it and place its reports carefully on the ribs to avoid premature wear.
Choosing Shimano hydraulic disc brakes is reassuring on two counts: performance and repairability. In fact, these brakes are capable of stopping a 65 kg cyclist traveling at 25 km/h over 3 m on dry land. Good performance. Braking precision is also satisfactory for smooth decelerations. Shimano is a very widespread and well-known brand in workshops, it is very easy to have your brakes serviced anywhere.