We try out the French-designed electric bike.
In Europe, millions of people use bicycles instead of cars for everyday transport. But forget the old Raleigh 20, today’s cyclists are increasingly turning to e-bikes – bikes with electric motors that give them a helping leg – for their daily jaunts. New Zealand might be a way behind much of Europe in “everyday cycling”, but demand for e-bikes is taking off here too.
We trialled one of the latest generation e-bikes, the French-designed Moustache Lundi 26. The Lundi 26 has an integrated drive system from Bosch. It’s a “pedelec”, which means the 250W motor assists only when you are pedalling. Despite the motor, the Lundi 26 is subject to the same road rules as a normal bike. It can be ridden by anyone, with no special licence or equipment needed other than a bicycle helmet.
You select eco, tour, speed or turbo using a handlebar-mounted switch to choose how much assistance you get from the motor. The handlebars have a built-in display showing your speed, power setting, battery charge and estimated range. Moustache says you’ll get 50 to 120km per charge depending on terrain, wind, rider weight and power setting. On a ride in Wellington, with almost 100kg of rider and load, using its most powerful setting – turbo – and doing more than 350 metres of ascending, we got over 30km out of the battery. It takes three-and-a-half hours to fully charge from flat with a regular power point. Its integrated front and rear lights run off the battery and are controlled from the handlebars. It even has a USB port for charging your phone.
The Lundi 26 is a comfortable, low-maintenance and easy-to-use city bike. It comes with a comfy seat; big-volume and puncture-resistant tyres; 10 gears; powerful and reliable disc brakes; a kickstand; rear rack; full mudguards and a chain guard.
Consumer staff with cycling experience ranging from “ride every day” to “used to have a bike as a kid” spent two days riding it on Wellington’s streets, shared paths and cycleways. We tried all its power modes and also tackled the hillier suburbs.
We think the bike is most at home in the city. The motor assist makes slowing down and speeding up around traffic and at junctions a breeze. Less-experienced riders felt more confident riding the Lundi 26 than an unpowered bike, due to the motor allowing riders to keep up with slower-moving city traffic. The bike is surprisingly quiet with the motor giving off an audible, but not obtrusive, whirring noise. We found it comforting to know it was helping our progress.
On anything other than turbo setting, which gives more of a kick through the pedals, power assist is smoothly delivered. Full assistance is limited to 25km/h (due to EU regulations), so we found the sweet spot for cruising was just below that. With the motor turned off, or at speeds above 25km/h, the bike rides just like a normal bike.
At 25kg, the Lundi 26 is 7 to 8kg heavier than an unpowered city-style bike. However, a “walk mode” adds a small amount of assistance to make pushing the bike easier.
Riding uphill or into a famous Wellington northerly wind was a revelation. We could travel up steep streets at 20km/h or into a howling wind with little effort. It was almost embarrassing to cruise past unassisted cyclists like they were standing still.
The Moustache Lundi 26 e-bike isn’t cheap at about $5000. But, even considering the cost of charging and if stored each winter and on rainy days, it would pay for itself in two years when compared to the cost of just petrol and parking fees for a daily 10km commute into Wellington. An e-bike like the Moustache makes cycling viable for many non-cyclists, nullifying the effects of wind and hills, and potentially making cycling safer and more enjoyable.
We rented our Moustache Lundi 26 from Switched On Bikes in Wellington.