Bicyklet Camille test: an affordable and successful urban electric bike

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

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

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

The Camille is marketed at a price of €1,499 in beige and €1,590 in blue. Please note that when buying on the Alltricks site, you are offered to receive the bike 80% assembled or to benefit from 100% assembly and adjustment of components. If it is relatively easy to mount a handlebar and mount the front wheel, drivetrain adjustment should not be neglected. On basic models, therefore, it is not uncommon to find derailleurs that have not been adjusted. This has the effect of making gear changing difficult and sometimes even causing derailments, while certain components wear out prematurely. Things to keep in mind if you don’t feel up to doing all of this yourself.

Editor rating: 4 out of 5

Comfort and ergonomics

The look of the Bicyklet Camille leaves no doubt as to her favorite playground, the city. This VAE adopts a semi-open aluminum frame. Its top tube is not totally absent, but it follows the path of the down tube. What to offer more rigidity than if it had been supported by a gooseneck type frame. The integration of the battery in the frame and all the finishes are significant, especially at this price. It is true that the welds remain visible, but in general the painting is successful.

However, the success of the general finishes is marred by some details. First, the plastic handles are mediocre. Its finish offers a good grip, but tends to “stickiness”. The palms there quickly sweat. Second point that annoys: the front light, fixed to the luggage rack, vibrates a lot and generates a painful sound in the long run. Finally, the shiny plastic fenders are not very elegant. They still do a pretty decent job of protecting the pants, just not the shoes.

Despite riding on 28-inch wheels, the Camille is intended for cyclists who do not exceed 1.72 m depending on the brand. It comes in two sizes: 43 cm (1.55 to 1.64 m) or 48 cm (1.65 to 1.72 m). However, his servant, who is 1.73m tall, did not feel uncomfortable on the Bicyklet handlebars.

However, the Bicyklet Camille does not offer a lot of adjustment latitude, as the tilt of its stem cannot be adjusted. The reason is that the brand has chosen to integrate the small control screen in this same stem. A choice that makes the device unobtrusive, this screen also remains perfectly legible in all conditions. On the other hand, such integration can be a brake in case of malfunction.

Driving on the Camille’s handlebars is quite relaxed. The arms adopt 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 added comfort, the brand opts for a wide, sprung saddle. Not as comfortable a seat as a real suspension seatpost, but quite acceptable for short commutes. For longer or sportier riding, it is better to opt for a slimmer saddle. Up front, the suspension fork offers 55mm of travel thanks to a spring system. Which softens the contact with most of the small bumps in the cities, but which finds its limits on the trails. This fork seems to be better made than the one on a Momabikes Ebike 28 Pro and absorbs bumps 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 slightest 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. She can count on a crutch fixed in the rear, a rear luggage rack capable of supporting 25 kg, another in the front that can carry up to 5 kg. A chain guard protects the pants from grease. Too bad Bicyklet didn’t go as far as offering a frame lock as standard. However, the fixings for such a device are 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 dispense with additional lighting. The rear light is connected to the battery, which is unfortunately not always the case at this price.

Editor 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, it fits onto the rear wheel hub and produces 35Nm of torque. A value consistent with a 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 power levels and scroll through the information on the screen. Of course, you have to settle for the minimum with the display of the instantaneous speed, the battery capacity, the chosen assistance mode or the distance traveled. We lack an estimate of the autonomy in kilometers and the pedaling rhythm.

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

That said, we were pleasantly surprised by the Bicyklet Camille’s ability to let go, even with little to no assistance. Turns on the flat without the help of the engine can be done up to 22 or 23 km/h without suffering, which is not always the case. The electrical assistance can be adjusted in five levels that deliver more or less power. Better to settle for a level 2 to 4 in the city on the flat so as not to be surprised by an acceleration that is too pronounced.

The engine shows 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 so with a heavy rider on the back. With 35Nm of torque, the Camille will also be less forgiving for those who don’t like to mess with the drivetrain. If you have not selected the correct gear before stopping, the restart will be slower. Like on a muscle bike, in short.

The Bicyklet Camille’s drivetrain borrows from various Shimano ranges: the cassette comes from the Tourney family, the derailleur from the Acera series and the shifters from the Altus line. Our test unit arrived fully assembled and benefited by default from excellent drivetrain tuning, which was smooth right out of the box. Obviously we stay away from the responsiveness of a more exclusive 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 motorcycle 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 advantages in the city.

Strengths

  • satisfactory finishes.

  • responsive engine.

  • Good performance.

  • Autonomy.

  • Well-appointed.

  • effective brakes.

Weak points

  • Without torque sensor.

  • Loading time.

  • Fixing the front light.

  • Lack of torque for the ribs.

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