If they ever make a 21st-century remake of The Day of Jackal, the Moustache Friday e-bike would be a deserving replacement for the uber-cool Citroën DS that graced the streets of Paris in the 1973 classic.
Only the French could brand a car with the Dutch word for lemon and launch an e-bike brand under the name Moustache and somehow see both being the embodiment of cool.
Like the Citroën DS with its hydropneumatic suspension, the full-suspension Moustache Friday FS seems purpose-designed to float across Paris’s cobblestone streets.
And like the Citroën DS, it is a seriously sleek and stylish piece of design.
In the Paris of the 2020s, transformed by Mayor Anne Hidalgo into a cycling and walking “15-minute” city, the Moustache would easily beat the Citroën in a race from one side of town to the other.
At $12,495, the Moustache Friday 27 FS Speed Dual is at the luxury end of commuter e-bikes. Equipped with a Bosch Performance Line 250-watt, a mid-drive motor, it assists riders up to 45km/h – well above the European e-bike limit of 25km/h.
That decision sees the Friday 27 FS classified as a “speed pedelec” in Europe, which means it’s not allowed on the continent’s ever-growing network of cycle paths, and it must be equipped with an electronic horn, low- and high-beam light, and a licence plate holder.
In New Zealand, the line between an e-bike and a moped is based on the power of the motor alone – a maximum of 300 watts – with no limit on the speed assistance. So there’s no similar prohibition or requirements here.
In Europe, the 27 FS Speed Dual is so fast, it’s not allowed on cycle paths, but that’s not an issue in NZ. (Image: Supplied) The Friday FS is very much designed with road commuting in mind, but with its full suspension, it’s also more than capable of tackling off-road trails, if not mountain-bike tracks.
I regularly ride around Wellington’s bays from my house in Roseneath – a 26-kilometre round trip. I travel at a very leisurely pace on my acoustic touring bike. My last trip took me an hour and 36 minutes at an average speed of 16.28km/h.
The same trip on the Friday FS took 51 minutes at an average speed of 30km/h.
On the first trip, I burnt 920 calories and on the second just 364. So, twice the speed for less effort.
The other main difference was the ability to glide over the speed humps at 35k/h (possibly in violation of the law, with the road signs indicating you should slow down to 15km/h).
I had the bike set to the “sport” setting – one of four available (the others being eco, tour and turbo).
It’s a strange name for a setting that gives you the decidedly unsporting ability to power past road cyclists busting their guts on training rides.
In turbo mode, the Bosch motor provides up to 340% of the power provided by the rider – enough assistance for even the unfit to fly up hills.
If you did opt for turbo mode, you’d burn through the batteries fairly quickly. That reference to "batteries" (plural) is not a typo, by the way; the Friday FS Speed Dual boasts two, and the result is a bike that is rarely, if ever, going to run out of juice.
The e-bike comes with not one but two batteries. (Image: Jeremy Rose) If I was lucky enough to own a Friday FS, I’m not sure it would be my choice for a leisurely ride around the bays. Speed and a lack of effort aren’t really my top priorities when riding for pleasure.
But if I was commuting each day from, say, Breaker Bay, that extra speed and effort would be a godsend. I suspect that at rush hour, you’d make it into the city as fast as a car and it would be a lot more fun, cheaper, and burn a tiny fraction of the carbon or calories – meaning you’d arrive at the office feeling both fresh and virtuous.
Being assisted up to 45km/h makes taking the traffic lane a breeze in the 30km/h and 40km/h zones that are becoming the norm in Wellington.
But it created a bit of a dilemma riding around Evans Bay Parade. It’s not difficult to get up to 40 or 45km/h on the bike – far too fast for the shared pedestrian/cycle path but possibly not quite fast enough not to piss off impatient motorists who think cyclists should stick to their (cycle) lane.
When e-bikes first became a thing, it was common to say they flattened a city. But bikes like the Moustache do more than that. I travelled at between 25 and 35km/h over Wellington’s Mt Victoria without much effort – faster than I’d make the same journey around its base on my acoustic.
At 30kg it’s a heavy beast. If you decided to avoid one of Wellington’s howling southerly squalls by taking advantage of the bike racks on the capital’s buses, you’d risk putting out your back. (Plus, you’d have to remove not one but two batteries to comply with the bus company’s safety guidelines.)
Having a horn was a novelty. I was a bit reluctant to use it for fear of scaring the bejesus out of pedestrians. Strangely, when I did use it on the cycle path alongside the Kāpiti Expressway, the pedestrians didn’t flinch or step aside; they assumed, I think, that I was a car on the highway.
So, I reverted to slowing down and letting people know with a friendly “excuse me” that I wanted to pass.
The motor is whisper-quiet. Much, much quieter than earlier models of e-bikes.
And the Bosch Nyon handlebar computer is a class act. Redesigned last year, it’s the equal of the navigation systems found in many modern cars, suggesting scenic or fast routes.
It supports Bluetooth connections, displays your cadence, power output, speed and everything you need to know about the motor and batteries.
What’s not to like? Nothing really.
But at this price, I’m surprised the Moustache company has opted for a derailleur setup over an internal hub system like the Rohloff that features on the Riese and Müller Montage, which retails for a similar price.
An internal hub not only allows you to change gears while stationary – which is useful on a commuter bike when you find yourself having to stop while in a high gear – it also allows for a belt drive. Belt drives require far less maintenance, virtually never break, and don’t require any oiling.
With manufacturers like Finland’s Revonte bringing geared mid-drive motors to market, I’d be surprised to see derailleur systems featuring on any high-end e-bikes in the near future.