To grow a distinctive moustache takes gumption, and French manufacturer Moustache are certainly showing plenty of gumption with their ebikes, trailblazing their way without looking back over their upper lip. With their new J, the team at Moustache take a unique approach, using a frame consisting of only two sections, cast in France, rather than an assortment of tubes that are welded together in the Far East. This makes for a short supply chain as well as high comfort. Are those the right ingredients for a perfect ratatouille à la velo?
Moustache’s vision was an open step-through full suspension ebike with clean lines. Additionally, it should be manufactured regionally to keep supply chains reasonably short. With this concept in mind, Moustache has put aluminium casting back on the map: the entire main frame is cast from liquid aluminium that solidifies in a mould. The rear triangle is cast as one part as well, which also incorporates the motor and 120 mm of suspension travel – that’s right, URT suspension is back. The bike comes in three models: On, All and Off… if you put -road afterwards, the naming convention makes quite a bit more sense. Our test bike is the All- model with luggage rack, mudguards, and deep-tread tyres. The idea here is that all three operational scenarios are blended together into a best-of-both-worlds. All in, the bike tips the scales at a whopping 32.3 kg, and for € 6,199 it is All yours.
What makes the Moustache J so special?
Everybody knows the Rubik’s Cube, right? The Moustache J is the exact opposite. The frame consists of only two parts and is as simple as it gets. The J-shaped mainframe is cast from aluminium in France. Thanks to a honeycomb structure inside, it is extremely warp resistant. The rear triangle is cast as well. It consists of one single swing arm, which also houses the motor. As a result, the Bosch Performance Line motor is part of the unsprung mass, as are the cranks and the pedals. Whether or not this affects the ride? We’ll see. In any case, there are some marked advantages for the drive system: the belt is completely decoupled from the kinematics, and there’s no need for a joint in the stays to install the belt. The simple system also does away with a belt tensioner: to tension, simply slide the rear spindle horizontally back in the dropouts.
For Moustache, and indeed the whole bike industry, the casting process is a rare manufacturing technique. The process doesn’t require multiple tubes to be welded together, so theoretically offers fewer potentially weak points in the end product. Mounting points for the 250 Wh Bosch range extender are included on the seat tube – right there in the cast. At the same time, some space is reserved for a water bottle on the front of the battery cover. From the foundry in Marseille, the frames are delivered a comparatively short distance to the Moustache headquarters in the Vosges for final assembly. This means short manufacturing distances and a sustainable approach for the J.
What can the Moustache J actually do?
The first time you get on the Moustache J, you’ll find that you have to lift your foot significantly higher than with most other step-throughs. This is because of the positioning of the motor and the suspension below the main frame. Once in the saddle of the eSUV step-through, the seating position is very comfortable and relaxed, placing most of the weight through the saddle rather than on your hands. In characteristic Moustache fashion, the handlebar curves slightly towards you – the feature that gives the Moustache its name – and provides a compact feeling despite the long wheelbase. The superbly comfortable saddle and upright position give the J a stately, calm ride quality and excellent all-round visibility, inspiring confidence in bustling city traffic. This is complimented by the 75 Nm Bosch Performance Line motor, which has plenty of power, but is a little more restrained than its big brother the Performance Line CX.
The J handles nicely and responds well to steering input, without the need to lean, allowing you to navigate narrow trails or thread through city traffic without any shenanigans. Although the handlebars are comfortably shaped, the ergonomics of the packed cockpit leave something to be desired. The twist grip of the Enviolo hub gear feels sluggish, while the brake levers have a spongy feel and little power – a firm grip is required to achieve any significant deceleration. The bell is hard to reach, too. The only silver lining: the cable integration from the cockpit into the frame is very tidy, running into the head tube behind the headlight. This saves you annoying shadows in the light cone and guarantees full illumination of the road.
The cable routing makes sure that nothing rattles. Despite its full complement of accessories, the bike in general is surprisingly quiet. Only on rough cobblestones (such as on the famous Paris-Roubaix stages) you’ll start to hear some rattles and squeaks from the kickstand. If you want to crank up the steep hill from the Eiffel Tower to Montmartre, though, the Envirolo Trekking gears with their 380% range will start to hold you back. In combination with the large front sprocket and the less powerful motor, you will noticeably slow down on steep hills until the motor finally turns off altogether due to the slow cadence – and that’s that. Enjoy your walk. Mercifully, the walk-assist function doesn’t let you down in such a case, helping you over the crest. However, this scenario doesn’t quite live up to the “All” in the name, since the terrain can very quickly get steep once you turn off paved roads.
Moustache J. all
Motor Bosch Performance Line 75 Nm
Battery Bosch PowerTube 625 Wh
Display KIOX 500
Fork SR Suntour XCR 34 120 mm
Rear Shock Moustache Magic Grip 115 mm
Seatpost EXAFORM 150 mm
Brakes Hydraulic 2 piston brake 180 mm
Drivetrain Enviolo TR variable 380 %
Stem angle-adjustable 120 mm
Handlebar Moustache 700 mm
Wheelset Just 27,5"
Tires Schwalbe Johnny Watts 2,6"
Size S M L
Weight 32.3 kg
Perm. total weight 135 kg
Max. payload (rider/equipment) 102 kg
Trailer approval no
Kickstand mount yes
Range extender compatible
Speaking of which: If you want to take an off-road shortcut to the barber with the Moustache along trails where you feel safer standing than sitting, the handling of the Moustache changes drastically. A quirk of the URT suspension design is that while it works freely when seated, it stiffens up noticeably when out of the saddle. This is exacerbated by the extra unsprung mass of the motor, leading to a significant change in handling, which really doesn’t favour fast riding on rougher trails.
If your shape rather resembles that of Obelix or Gérard Depardieu – or your saddlebags are filled with Baguette, Camembert and Champagne – then be sure to keep a tight grip of the bars, and refrain from any hands-free manoeuvres, lest the bike start shimmying uncontrollably. If you want to slow down, you need to apply a lot of force on the brake levers, otherwise deceleration is limited.
For long tours, the Moustache is a safe bet nevertheless. The bike offers excellent long-distance comfort, and basically nothing stands in the way of the 600 km long Mont Blanc circumnavigation – as was undertaken by Moustache founders Manu and Greg – at least, if you screw on the 250 Wh Bosch PowerMore range extender on the seat tube to supplement the 625 Wh internal battery. Steer clear of any extreme off-road, and you’ll finish with a smile peeking out from under your moustache.
Who is the Moustache J for?
First and foremost, the Moustache J impresses with its innovative cast manufacturing method and sustainable approach, with local production in France. This certainly appeals to environmentally conscious ebikers. If your home base doesn’t include a load of steep hills or rough trails, the J is nicely equipped in terms of chassis and comfort. For those who have fallen in love with the Moustache but want to tackle more varied terrain, we recommend the Moustache J Off. Add mudguards and a luggage rack: Et voilà! A fully equipped off-road bike.
The conclusion of the Moustache J All
The Moustache stands out from the crowd. The styling and the manufacturing method are unconventional – and depend on each other to some extent. Unfortunately, the equipment curtails the bike on demanding terrain, and the brakes are soon stretched to their limit. Those who face difficult topography should take a closer look at a derailleur model.
- E-Bike „ebike from “regional cultivation”
- modern design with high recognition value
- excellent geometry and long-distance comfort
- limited range of the hub gears
- high operating force required for the brakes
- poor suspension performance when out of the saddle
Words & Photos: Julian Schwede