Neomouv Elaia 2 test: a comfortable electric bike for relaxed rides

Neomouv is a French company based in Sarthe, which has been developing electrically assisted bicycles since 2003. Today, its range extends from urban to off-road electric bicycles, including folding models and bicycles of the hiking type.

Elaia 2 is the brand’s most premium electric bike model in the city segment. It uses the Neoassist 2 central engine developed by the Japanese company Vinka. This develops a torque of 80 Nm for continuous starting and reversing assistance. The progressiveness of the electrical assistance is ensured by the presence of a torque sensor. Everything is connected to a 522 Wh battery on the model we are testing here. A version with a 630 Wh battery is also sold for almost 200 € extra. Depending on the version, the Neomouv promises a range of 80 to 120 km.

Elaia 2 is offered in a single frame size (48 cm) and with 28-inch tires. It is limited to cyclists measuring between 165 and 175 cm. In terms of components, the French brand’s electric bike can count on an entry-level Shimano Altus eight-speed gearbox and HD-M275 hydraulic disc brakes connected to 160 mm discs.

The Neomouv Elaia 2 is marketed at a price of € 2,709 in its 522 Wh version and € 2,889 for the 630 Wh battery model.

Editor's rating: 4 out of 5

Comfort and ergonomics

Designed for the city, the Neomouv Elaia 2 electric bike adopts the Dutch style with its open frame. This format has the advantage that it is easy to step over without having to lift the leg over the saddle. Convenient if you are carrying your child in the back or if you are wearing clothing that does not encourage demonstrations of flexibility. On the other hand, the absence of a top tube, as here, makes the frame to lose stiffness.

The integration of components is much more satisfactory with this Elaia 2 than it is with Kalyso 2 from the same manufacturer. Here the battery is placed directly in the diagonal tube, which can be guessed on its circumference. The Neoassist 2 engine is located in the bottom bracket. Overall, electrification is rather low-key. Above all, by placing the weight in this way, the center of gravity of the bike stays well positioned so as not to create imbalance.

The battery is definitely hidden, it can nevertheless be pulled out of the frame. Simply unlock the mechanism that holds it using an anti-theft key and the battery can be pulled out from below. Being able to remove the battery is an undeniable advantage when you can not recharge your VAE where it is parked. However, the battery is directly exposed to water spray on wet roads. No risk to its waterproofness, but it is not always comfortable to loosen the battery when it is dirty.

Charging the battery is also possible directly on the Elaia 2. For this purpose, a charging port is arranged on the side of the downtube. We have serious reservations about the tightness of this port. It is actually meant to be blocked by a rubber cover, but the latter holds very poorly in place and tends to open on its own. As a result, the port is exposed to dust and water, which never mixes well with electricity. To monitor…

Despite a mid-range placement, the finish on the Elaia 2 is not all up to standard. The frame welds are particularly visible and some types of plastic, such as the chain box, are not very elegant. Nevertheless, the latter has the advantage of protecting the bottom of the pants from the grease that covers the chain. Overall, this Neomouv electric bike is satisfying with a beautiful unit of elements in terms of color.

The choice of aluminum screens is a guarantee of better durability and weight savings compared to their plastic equivalents. We would have appreciated that those from Elaia 2 fall as low as those on Kalyso 2 to protect the cyclist from protruding to the end of the shoes. Here, the use of overshoes in rainy weather is recommended.

Elaia 2 chooses a curved handlebar that provides a relaxed position. However, the geometry of the French electric bicycle encourages a straight and not very dynamic posture. The stem that holds the handlebars can be adjusted more or less forward to emphasize or decrease this position, with the back straight. The ergonomic handles are well made and comfortable on long journeys.

Neomouv chose to combine a modest-travel (50 mm) fork with a pair of 28-inch Continental Contact tires (42-622). The latter’s air volume provides good comfort for urban environments and well-maintained trails.

The saddle, for its part, is the choice of moderate comfort. The seat is soft and wide enough for short daily trips. The largest riders will switch to a slightly more streamlined model that avoids friction on the inside of the thighs. Little regret anyway not to find a suspended seatpost to relieve the back of the paved passages or the damaged sidewalks – this type of equipment is common at this price.

Lighting

Editor's rating: 3 out of 5

35 lux

In front, the Elaia 2 is adorned with an Axa Compact Line 35 light, which, as the name suggests, provides 35 lux light. This power is sufficient to signal its position to other users, but does not allow you to see effectively in front of you without the help of public lighting. The taillight, also from Axa’s stalls, is simple and allows you to be seen.

Elaia 2 benefits from equipment whose presence is noticeable. It can count on a luggage carrier that can only carry 18 kg, against 25 kg for Kalyso 2. A crutch is attached to the back of the bike; pay attention to the balance of the machine when it is parked. Another major absence at this price level: the frame lock. A device that generally costs between 10 and 50 €, the lack of which is regrettable on a bike that costs almost 3000 €.

Editor's rating: 3 out of 5

Behavior

The Neoassist 2 engine used by Neomouv is developed based on a model designed by Vinka. It takes place in the pedal box for discreet integration and shows interesting features. It is certainly satisfied with the maximum power of 250 W approved by law but develops a torque of 80 Nm. What – on paper – drifts quickly and smoothly in the ribs.

Elaia 2 can count on five levels of electrical assistance. The two lower levels make it possible to keep a decent speed on flat. Levels 3 and 4 offer a balance between dynamism and endurance. Finally, the fifth and final level delivers full engine power. Better to reserve the latter for the ribs and place yourself on the third or fourth level of the city. Assistance can also be provided when walking while pushing the bike. Lifeguard with the load or uphill.

The control of the electronic part is performed from a control box located to the left of the control. It is easy to use, it allows you to turn on the engine, select your assistance level and get information such as the current speed, the distance traveled or the battery level. We would have appreciated that an estimate of the distance that can still be traveled was available to avoid running out of fuel as much as possible. We were disappointed with the poor readability of the screen in direct sunlight, which was difficult to read and prone to glare due to lack of brightness. A defect that is amplified if one chooses to turn on the headlights and the screen brightness still drops a notch.

Like almost all central engines, the Neoassist 2 uses a torque sensor that adjusts the assistance to the force with which the cyclist presses the pedals. This makes it possible not to distort the pedals too much and to maintain a classic bike feel, less fatigue. In addition to the highest level, the assistance is well controlled and progressive. At the fifth level, the departures are more lively and the resumes sharper. A dynamic ride that may please, but which does not lend itself well to this cycling style that pushes to a relaxed position on the handlebars.

The lack of dynamics comes partly from the position, but is also induced by the bike’s 27 kg. However, this mass is added to the cyclist’s and necessarily weighs down the engine. The eight-speed Shimano Altus driveline is a bit of a blip in this chart. Easy to handle, shifting gears lacks a bit of flexibility and sometimes tends to snap. The Altus system, which is less compliant than a hub with integrated gears like the one in the Kalyso 2, requires a minimum of anticipation when approaching an intersection. On the other hand, it has the advantage, compared to a Nexus 7 hub, that you do not have to stop stepping on the pedals to change gears.

Finally, it is first and foremost the lack of width provided by the eight speeds that proves to be a handicap in use. The 12-32 cassette does not allow you to reach a sufficient gear to take the bike beyond 25 km / h, the speed from which the assistance is interrupted. On a completely flat route this may be fine, but if he likes to step a minimum on the pedals and head out on a descent, the cyclist very quickly gets into a fight in the void.

However, the generous torque of the Neoassist 2 engine is very noticeable when driving the load. The start is effortless, even on hills, when you switch to the maximum level of assistance. The assistance level drops very markedly when you get below 10% battery. The ribs become so painful to cross and roll on flat is not a cakewalk either. Better to avoid this red zone.

Tektro’s hydraulic disc brakes can stop the 27 kg on the bike as well as the 65 kg by a cyclist of about 3 m. Satisfactory braking, performed on dry, flat ground and launched at 25 km / h. The progressive deceleration is noticeable, especially in the city, where tempo changes can be frequent.

Editor's rating: 3 out of 5

Autonomy

In the version we tested, the Neomouv Elaia 2 has a 522 Wh battery, a capacity that the French brand promises to drive between 80 and 100 km with. As so often, the optimism of this value is linked to conditions that are certainly very favorable (flat ground, minimal assistance, wind in the back, etc.). We perform our autonomy test on a more hilly track and choose the maximum assistance so that we get as little tired as possible. Under our test conditions, the Elaia 2 drove only about 50 km on a single charge. Note that our trip had a little over 600 m elevation gain and the tester weighed 65 kg.

A lighter pilot will be able to exceed 50 km of endurance, just as a flatter route will provide greater autonomy. By using a less greedy assistance mode, 60 or even 70 km can be reached.

We needed more than 7 hours to fully recharge the 522 Wh battery in the Elaia 2. A considerable duration, and that requires planning. Neomouv does not offer a more powerful charger than the one that comes with its electric bikes. The brand’s website also does not allow you to purchase an extra battery or a replacement battery.

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