technology

Bicyklet Camille test: an affordable and successful urban electric bike

Bicyklet is a brand of bicycles created by the specialized brand Alltricks. The French range is mainly composed of urban models, including a fairly wide range of VAE. Each model is identified by a first name and the Bicyklet family thus includes Camille, Raymond, Claude and even Victoire. The design of the bikes is carried out in France, while their assembly is carried out in Italy.

The Camille Bicyklet we’re testing here is a semi-open frame model, representing the least expensive of the frame-integrated battery family. It benefits from a Bafang motor housed in the hub of the rear wheel and delivering 35 Nm. Its battery has a capacity of 504 Wh. The transmission is entrusted to Shimano and a 7-speed derailleur from the Acera range.

This e-bike is equipped with front and rear racks, suspension fork, kickstand and mudguards. The 28-inch wheels are shod in 1.75-inch wide tires. Braking is provided by a pair of hydraulic disc brakes.

The Camille is marketed at a price of €1499 in beige and €1590 in blue. Note that by buying on the Alltricks site, you are offered to receive the bike 80% assembled or to benefit from 100% assembly and adjustment of the components. If it is relatively easy to assemble a handlebar and mount the front wheel, the adjustment of the transmission is not to be neglected. On entry-level models, it is therefore not uncommon to come across derailleurs that have not been adjusted. This has the effect of making it more difficult to change between gears and even sometimes causing derailments, while prematurely wearing certain components. Things to keep in mind if you don’t feel able to do all of this yourself.

Editor's Rating: 4 out of 5

Comfort and ergonomics

The look of the Bicyklet Camille leaves no doubt as to its favorite playground, the city. This VAE adopts a semi-open aluminum frame. Its top tube isn’t totally absent, but it follows the travel of the downtube. What offer more rigidity than if it had relied on a gooseneck type frame. The integration of the battery into the frame and all the finishes are significant, especially at this price. Admittedly, the welds remain visible, but overall the painting is successful.

The success of the general finishes is however marred by a few details. First, the plastic handles are lackluster. Their finish offers good grip, but tends towards “tackiness”. The palms there sweat quickly. Second point which annoys: the front light, fixed to the luggage rack, vibrates a lot and generates a painful sound in the long run. Finally, the mudguards, in shiny plastic, are not very elegant. They still do a decent enough job of protecting the pants, but not the shoes.

Despite mounting on 28-inch wheels, the Camille is intended for cyclists not exceeding 1.72 m according to the brand. It comes in two sizes: 43 cm (1.55 to 1.64 m) or 48 cm (1.65 to 1.72 m). Your servant, who is 1.73 m tall, however, did not find himself uncomfortable on the handlebars of the Bicyklet bike.

The Bicyklet Camille does not, however, offer great adjustment latitude, as the inclination of its stem cannot be adjusted. The reason for this is that the brand has chosen to integrate the small control screen into this same stem. A choice that makes the device discreet, this display also remaining perfectly readable in all conditions. On the other hand, such integration can be a brake in the event of a malfunction.

Driving on the handlebars of the Camille is quite relaxed. The arms take a rather relaxed position thanks to the slightly curved hanger. Despite everything, the Alltricks VAE retains a small dose of dynamism compared to a Dutch model. Without being one of the heaviest on the market, the Bicyklet Camille still weighs 24 kg on the scale.

For comfort, the brand opts for a wide saddle with springs. A seat that is not as comfortable as a real suspension seatpost, but quite acceptable for short daily trips. To ride for a long time or in a more sporty way, it is better to opt for a more slender saddle. At the front, the suspension fork offers 55 mm of travel thanks to a spring system. What soften the contact with most of the small pitfalls of the cities, but which finds its limits on the trails. This fork seems to be better made than that of a Momabikes Ebike 28 Pro and absorbs shocks better.

Bicyklet chose 28-inch CST C1421 tires that are 1.75 inches wide. An interesting compromise with a view to maintaining correct performance and eliminating the smallest jolts. These tires have a reflective profile, very useful to be seen at night in car headlights.

The Camille is fully equipped to face urban use. It can count on a crutch fixed at the back, a rear luggage rack capable of supporting 25 kg, another at the front which can carry up to 5 kg. A chain guard protects the pants from grease. Too bad Bicyklet didn’t go so far as to offer a frame lock as standard. The fixings for such a device are nevertheless present.

Finally, the lighting chosen by the Alltricks brand will be suitable for purely urban use. The front light and its 30 lux will be insufficient to do without additional lighting. The rear light is connected to the battery, which is unfortunately not always the case at this price.

Editor's Rating: 4 out of 5

Conduct

Part of the reason it manages to be cheaper than many of its competitors is because the Camille relies on a modest engine. Supplied by Bafang, this fits into the hub of the rear wheel and produces 35 Nm of torque. A value in line with purely urban use for a cyclist who does not have too many hills to cross and is not too heavy.

To control the assistance, a small control box is placed under the thumb of the left hand. It allows you to navigate between the power levels and scroll through the information on the screen. However, you have to be satisfied with the minimum with the display of the instantaneous speed, the battery capacity, the assistance mode chosen or the distance traveled. We lack an estimate of the range in kilometers and the pedaling rate.

As is often the case with entry-level electric bikes, the motor is started by a pedaling sensor. On the first turn of the pedals, the system engages the assistance. The absence of a torque sensor, which conditions the power delivered to the force applied to the pedals, is felt and causes a loss of naturalness when pedaling.

That said, we were pleasantly surprised by the ability of the Bicyklet Camille to get carried away, even with little or no assistance. Spinning on the flat without engine help can be done up to 22 or 23 km/h without suffering, which is far from always the case. The electric assistance can be adjusted to five levels which deliver more or less power. Better to settle for a level 2 to 4 in town on the flat so as not to be surprised by too pronounced an acceleration.

The engine demonstrates an interesting dynamism, without being too brutal or clumsy. On the other hand, the Alltricks VAE will be much less comfortable on steep hills, even less with a heavy cyclist on the back. With 35 Nm of torque, the Camille will also be less permissive for those who don’t like to play with the transmission. If you have not chosen the right gear before stopping, the restart will be slower. Like on a muscle bike, in short.

The transmission of the Bicyklet Camille borrows from several Shimano ranges: the cassette comes from the Tourney family, the derailleur from the Acera series, and the shifters come from the Altus line. Our test unit arrived fully assembled and benefited by default from an excellent adjustment of the transmission, which was immediately fluid. We obviously remain far from the responsiveness of a more upscale group, but that’s enough for the city.

For braking, Bicyklet relies on Shimano and a hydraulic disc system. Without being the most efficient on the market, this device is quite capable of stopping the bike launched at 25 km/h in just over 3 m. One of the advantages of hydraulic braking is also on the side of its precision and its progressiveness, interesting assets in town.

Strong points

  • Satisfactory finishes.

  • Responsive engine.

  • Good performance.

  • Autonomy.

  • Well equipped.

  • Effective brakes.

Weak points

  • No torque sensor.

  • Loading time.

  • Fixing the front light.

  • Lack of torque for the ribs.

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