Moving through the streets and avenues of our cities —usually crowded, although empty these weeks due to the coronavirus crisis— is one of the great challenges facing the cities of the 21st century. If the private car was established as the absolute icon of mobility and progress in the last century, now it has given way to electric vehicles such as those of carsharing, scooters, motorcycles and, of course, bicycles. But the velocipeds are no longer just a pair of wheels, a chain, a frame, some changes and some brakes, they have been smartized. A variant of this evolution also includes electric motors (increasingly efficient and light); intelligent light systems or refined controls. At the Peugeot Design Lab they took all these elements as a base, added design to it and in 2016 they created their first minimalist and folding electric bicycle. A model that the brand has just updated with the Peugeot EF02 (which sell from 1,499 euros).
The test was conducted before the pandemic forced citizens to remain in their homes. For a working week — and to replace a classic model in every way: old frame, fixed gear, removable lights — the EF02 has been between my legs to travel around 22 kilometers a day; the round trip from home to work. Of the 15.8 million daily trips that were made before confinement on weekdays in the Community of Madrid, during that week, at least two trips were made on a small electric folding bike, with a range of 60 kilometers at full performance and less than 20 kilos of weight.
If pedaling the air in the face impregnates the path of a certain euphoria and feeling of freedom, that same experience becomes, at the controls of an electric, a different journey. At maximum speed (almost 30 kilometers per hour), the bike can last up to 60 kilometers electrified. That motor that drives pedaling – but it never replaces it, so you always have to move your legs – is very helpful at times like starting at traffic lights. Also on the slopes. It is a chute of energy that is reflected in the saving of time: instead of investing about 60 minutes in the journey, with the electricity they were reduced to around 40 (always round trip).
As the technical specifications marked, the third day, and halfway home, the battery ran out. Suddenly, and after a couple of warnings, pedaling returned to its leisurely pace. When he loses that energetic spark, he begs a plea: “Let it come back on … I don’t want to pedal bareback with small wheels.” The support in pedaling and the speed it generates engage. Although it can be driven without assistance, it is something that only happened when the battery ran out during the test, which is removable and recharges in about 2.5 hours in a standard outlet.
When you turn on the display on the left handle, which controls the electrical system, the front and rear LED lights automatically switch on. The display shows the speeds (0 to 4) or the battery level with the naked eye. On the right side are the changes: eight sprockets that adapt well to the rhythm of the city and, together with the electrical reinforcement, supply the small size of the wheels (it is a folding one) that forces you to pedal more.
More practical than beautiful
“It is the second generation of an iconic model that evolves all the characteristics of its predecessor,” they explain from Peugeot. It is true that the EF02 does not have that finish artie that the previous one had. It has yielded in aesthetics in favor of practicality: “Its external appearance is more robust, with a more comfortable saddle, and it can be folded in five seconds,” they clarify from the firm. Despite this commitment to comfort, it still exudes a certain sophistication with its aluminum chassis and carbon fiber finishes. When walking around the city, it was evidenced by the pedestrian looks, the questions of other bicycle users and the curiosity of some driver. There are cyclists who don’t even want to look at the electric ones. They are right in their fears: once you try it, you don’t want to lose the spark anymore.
Folding. Although its wheels are larger than those of its predecessor, it is still a folding one: you have to pedal more than one with a large wheel. “When it takes practice, in less than five seconds it has folded,” they explain from Peugeot. I did not drop below 15 or 20 seconds. It weighs 20 kilos.
Controls. The system has four levels of assistance (zero is for driving with lights, but without pedaling support), which are graduated on the left lever. On the other part of the handlebar, there is the sprocket control (Shimano 8-speed Altus Revoshift). With the app MyPeugeot, you can check the kilometers traveled or the battery level.
Drums. The battery is removable – it is locked with a key – and supports an electric motor, of the TranzX model, which doses the energy according to the demand for assistance to be more efficient. It recharges in about 2.5 hours and at maximum speed (almost 30 km / hour) it lasts 60 kilometers.
conclusion. The Peugeot EF02 is a sophisticated and comfortable folding bike. A reflection of the leap that the electric range has taken, which has managed to provide its models with lightness and power. It is very efficient for its weight and speed despite its small wheels. Used as an everyday mobility vehicle, the investment pays for itself in two years.