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

Shiftbikes is a French company based in Normandy, which offers an electric bicycle model designed and assembled in our territory in the factories of the Manufacture du Cycle. While the Shift bike is primarily sold online, the company is offering to test drive its machine in Paris and Bordeaux.

The Shiftbikes electric bike and its open frame.

© El Digital

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

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

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

© El Digital

Mudguards, luggage rack, kickstand, anti-theft device and lighting are on the standard menu. Essential equipment for a city bike, but rarely present. At €1890, the Shift from Shiftbikes sits 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 e-bike, the choice of gooseneck format, or open frame, is often obvious. This type of VAE is therefore easier to ride when carrying a child on the back or when you are not well dressed to lift your leg. On the other hand, the frame loses a bit of rigidity, which takes away a bit of dynamism. However, the elevated stance we have while driving the Shift is not in that sporty spirit.

Satisfactory finishes.

Satisfactory finishes.

© El Digital

First positive point of this electric bike, the integration of its different components is satisfactory. The motor is kept quite inconspicuous in the center of the rear wheel and the battery takes place in the diagonal tube of the aluminum frame. It can easily be removed for separate charging, a must if you can’t charge your bike where it’s parked. In general, the level of finishes is impeccable, and even quite good for a bike under €2000.

The tires provide some comfort.

The tires provide some comfort.

© El Digital

With its 26-inch wheels, the Shiftbikes VAE is more about maneuverability than precision and performance. 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 in 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 the city and on bike lanes than on roads and cobblestones.

A wide and soft saddle.

A wide and soft saddle.

© El Digital

The comfort of the gel-padded saddle is very appreciable, even if we hadn’t been up against a suspension rod for even more cushioning. But these options have at least one advantage, that of getting a below-average e-bike in weight. The Shift isn’t ultralight at 23.5kg, but many competitors top 25 or 27kg.

The handlebar is slightly curved and can be adjusted.

The handlebar is slightly curved and can be adjusted.

© El Digital

The handlebars offer a curved hanger with comfortable ergonomic grips, even on long rides. It allows you to maintain a relaxed position, with your arms close to your body. The power can be adjusted to place the handlebars more or less forward or slightly raised. Something to modify the position a little if you want a little more or a little less dynamism.

The luggage rack is equipped as standard.

The luggage rack is equipped as standard.

© El Digital

The equipment of a city bike should not be left out and Shiftbikes has thought of everything, or almost. The Shift can feature a chainstay attached to the rear pod, a bell, a chain guard to protect your pants, and a rear rack. Mudguards are also available, essential to avoid getting to work covered in mud in bad weather. Too bad the one attached to the front is no 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 might have come down.

The fender might have come down.

© El Digital

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

The blocking minute of the stop at the bakery.

The anti-theft device to stop at the bakery.

© El Digital

lighting

Editor's Rating: 3 out of 5

20 lux

The lighting is also in charge of Axa. At the front, the headlight emits 20 lux, which is enough to be seen in the city, but does not have the power to do without public lighting at night. On the back, the red light also makes it easy to identify.

The headlight lacks a bit of power.

The headlight lacks a bit of power.

© El Digital

Editor's Rating: 4 out of 5

conduct

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

The engine in the center of the rear wheel.

The engine in the center of the rear wheel.

© El 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 display shows basic information such as the current speed, the distance traveled, the battery indicator or the chosen driving mode. An estimate of the autonomy in kilometers would have been welcome to have 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.

© El Digital

In the city and plan, it is better to be satisfied with the first two or three levels of assistance. They offer the necessary power to start quickly, without being dangerous. The slightest turn of the pedal activates the assist and it’s better to be able to control that power input. As required by law, assistance is cut above 25 km/h. This speed is reached quickly and it is difficult to launch the French e-bike more than 27 or 28 km/h on the flat.

A support to facilitate parking.

A support to facilitate parking.

© El Digital

Modes 4 and 5 are reserved for coasts. They provide power that allows you to scale climbing difficulties quite easily, without breaking a sweat. On the other hand, the engine is based 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 to the rhythm.

The Shimano Altus transmission.

The Shimano Altus transmission.

© El Digital

The Shimano Altus 8-speed drivetrain is decent for urban use. It’s certainly not the fastest or the smoothest, but it provides the essentials when shifting gears. You will still need to be careful not to overload it and mount your reports well on the ribs to avoid premature wear.

Wide, grippy flat pedals.

Wide, grippy flat pedals.

© El Digital

braking

Editor's Rating: 4 out of 5

3 m

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

Powerful hydraulic disc brakes.

Powerful hydraulic disc brakes.

© El Digital

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