Shiftbikes is a French company based in Normandy that offers an electric bicycle model designed and assembled on our territory in the Manufacture du Cycle factories. If the Shift bike is mainly marketed online, the company offers to test its machine in Paris and Bordeaux.
The Shiftbikes VAE is a consistently urban model in its approach. It has a 250W motor that develops 43Nm and is housed in the rear wheel. Power is supplied by a 460Wh battery integrated into the frame, while shifting relies on Shimano Altus hardware to grant 8 gears. The Shift also benefits from an open aluminum frame and is only available in one size for riders between 1.55 and 1.90 m.
Mudguards, luggage racks, kickstands, anti-theft devices and lighting are all standard. Basic equipment for a city bike, but rarely all available. Positioned at €1890, the Shift from Shiftbikes positions itself in an interesting segment, between an often limited entry-level model and more expensive but better equipped models.
Comfort and ergonomics
With an urban e-bike, the choice between a gooseneck format or an open frame is often obvious. This type of VAE is therefore easier to drive if you have a child on your back or if you are not ideally dressed to raise your leg. In return, the frame slightly loses stiffness, which takes away some dynamics. However, the elevated stance we have when riding the Shift doesn’t match that sporty spirit.
First positive point of this electric bike, the integration of its various components is satisfactory. The motor remains quite discreetly in the hub of the rear wheel and the battery is housed in the diagonal tube of the aluminum frame. This can easily be removed to be charged separately, which is essential if you cannot charge your bike where it is parked. Overall, the level of workmanship is beyond reproach and actually quite good for a bike under €2000.
With its 26-inch wheels, the Shiftbikes VAE focuses more on maneuverability than precision and performance. The Arisun Metro Trooper balloon tires offer a large air volume with their 2 inch width. This adds to the comfort and partially compensates for the lack of suspension, especially at the front. It is better not to inflate them too much to get good cushioning. The Shift is an e-bike that will logically feel more at home in the city and on bike lanes than on trails and cobblestones.
The comfort of the gel-padded saddle is very noticeable, although we wouldn’t have been against a hinged bar for even more cushioning. However, there is at least one benefit to these choices: you get an electric bike that is below average in terms of weight. The Shift is not ultra-light at 23.5 kg, but many competitors exceed 25 or 27 kg.
The handlebar offers 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 stem can be adjusted to move the handlebars more or less forward or raise them a little. Something to easily change position if you want a little more or a little less dynamic.
The equipment of an urban bike is not negligible and Shiftbikes has thought of everything, or almost. The Shift can count on a rear chainstay-mounted stand, a bell, a chain guard to protect his pants, and a rear luggage rack. Mudguards, essential to avoid getting to work muddy in inclement weather, are also available. It’s a pity that the one on the front no longer effectively protects the shoes. On the other hand, the fenders are aluminum and offer better durability than if they were plastic.
All too often forgotten, yet so handy for short stops, the French VAE features a frame-mounted Axa lock that locks the rear wheel. The pedals are also neglected by many, while their role in a bicycle is at least central. Shiftbikes offers a pair of very wide and grippy flat pedals that are well made.
Axa is also entrusted with the lighting. 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. The red light also makes identification easier at the rear.
The behavior of the motor housed in the hub of the rear wheel is not surprising. In the absence of a torque sensor, it turns on its assistance as soon as it detects a pedal stroke. A behavior that not everyone likes, but is definitely controlled here.
The support offers five levels and is controlled via the small screen with three buttons. Operating the device is very simple: Use the “+” and “-” buttons to select the support mode and use the central button to turn the bike on. The screen shows basic information such as the current speed, the distance covered, the battery indicator or the selected driving mode. An estimate of the range in kilometers would have been desirable to get a better idea of what is feasible.
In the city and on the flat, it is better to be satisfied with the first two to three support levels. They offer the necessary power for quick starts without being dangerous. The smallest pedal rotation triggers the assistance and it is better to be able to control this power flow. Above 25 km/h, the support stops as required by law. This speed is reached quickly and it is complicated to get the French electric bike on the flat at more than 27 or 28 km/h.
Modes 4 and 5 are reserved for coasts. They impart a power that makes it possible to climb the climbing difficulties very easily without breaking 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 in order to get into the right gear and grind to the rhythm.
The Shimano Altus 8-speed drivetrain is decent for city use. It’s certainly not the fastest or the smoothest, but it delivers on the essentials when shifting gears. However, care must be taken not to overload it and mount its reports well in 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 in just over 3 m on dry ground. A good performance. The braking precision is satisfactory even for gentle deceleration. Since Shimano is a very common and well-known brand in workshops, it will be very easy to have your brakes serviced anywhere.