Neomouv are a French company who have been making e-bikes for almost 20 years. They are distributed in the UK by Juicy Bike who sell through a nationwide network of retailers. We've already reviewed the hybrid Adonis 2 and were impressed, especially with its powerful own-brand mid-drive which also gets the accolade of best own-brand motor in our guide to the best electric bike motors.
Here we review a very different e-bike, the Neomouv Efolding. No prizes for guessing that it's a folding e-bike, but what the name doesn't tell you is that it shares many elements with the Brompton folder, namely the 16-inch wheels and a very similarly folding frame. What's different is the motor system, which is a budget front hub motor affair. We think it's as good as the Brompton in many respects and better in some. Overall though the bike falls short of the Brompton premium quality with a couple of design oddities and a specific issue with the battery that potential purchasers should be aware of.
The Efolding is conventional enough in terms of the motor system, featuring a pretty small front hub motor (though not as small as some we have seen on Bromptons, notably retrofit systems from Cytronex and Swytch). It has a neatly frame-enclosed battery and controller and a discreet pedal motion sensor to complete the package.
At first sight it's actually a neater system than Brompton's own which has a battery that rather obviously sits on the front and makes the bike front heavy. The Efolding's frame integrated battery (not easily removable for daily charging or to make the folded package lighter for carrying unfortunately) means a better balanced bike, even if it has a smaller capacity than the official Brompton Electric (245Wh versus 300Wh). The Efolding also has an LCD with power buttons which the Brompton lacks. You have to inconveniently reach over the bars to the top of the battery to change power levels on the Brompton Electric.
Gearing and braking looks to be very practical, with a front disc brake and rear hub style brake alongside five Shimano hub gears. Using more standard width dropouts means Neomouv have access to a wide choice of components on the open market and they appear to have chosen well. Notably, the Brompton lacks disc brakes and a single wide-range rear hub gear, making do with a slightly convoluted wide ratio three-speed hub gear unit combined with two derailleur gears for their classic six-speed model).
The Efolding also has a rear rack, mudguards and a battery-powered front light, though this gets in the way of a front mounting block so we'd recommend discarding it and fitting something more powerful on your handlebars and making use of the extra front storage space.
The most obvious omission is a side charging port for the battery. You have to break the mainframe, as you would when folding it, then plug in the charger to the end of the battery. It's all a bit ungainly and fiddly, especially if you're trying to charge in a restricted space.
Even worse is the fact that the battery has a small metal handle, only for use when the battery is taken out for servicing / end-of-life replacement - but this can swing across the battery terminals which project out, shorting them, leading to colourful sparks. If you know this it's easy enough to tape the handle flat so it doesn't cause a problem but it's not something you expect on a new e-bike.
We also had an issue with a slipping seat post, but cured this with thin aluminium tape placed around the outside of the plastic shim that sits at the top of the seat tube. Again, not a deal breaker perhaps, but not what you expect to be doing on a brand new e-bike.
On the road
We were really impressed with the motor system and the way it performed. There are five power levels and each one gives proportionate assistance right up to the max assisted speed of 15.5mph. Budget systems are often no more than speed governors, so at low power levels you can only get assistance up to a few mph, which is pretty useless in real life. Not so with the Efolding as you can use level one of five to cruise along at around 16mph if you only need a little assistance to maintain your speed.
At higher levels it's got good hill climbing performance too. The torquey motor allied with the natural acceleration of small wheels meant it put in a decent uphill performance for the size of the motor, being only a few seconds off the pace of bigger e-bikes with more powerful mid-drives. It felt lively up the hills even in cold, fairly windy winter conditions. Up our ultra-steep hill climb it proved one the fastest e-bikes we've tested, limited only by the lack of a lower gear.
Range was respectable for a 245Wh batteried e-bike too, at around 20 miles in hilly, windy, wintry conditions. The LCD display shows the usual data but also shows the watts output of the motor which varies from around 150W in level 1 to 400+watts in level 5. If Neomouv could tone the power down in level 1 a little, they would have an even more economical and practical bike.
The front hydraulic disk brake was extremely keen, so much so that you need to treat it with some care on very steep downhills. Whilst the rear roller brake was not as effective as a disc, it was still nicely progressive and had just enough power to lock up on a descent. Its real strength, however, is that it's virtually zero-maintenance.
The five gears worked smoothly and are a big improvement on Brompton's own six-speed system which is fiddly by comparison with the changers themselves prone to sticking.
The large volume tyres did feel sluggish, especially when electric assist was not there, but they were great for soaking up small potholes and adding comfort without the extra weight of a dubiously effective budget front fork. There's also some suspension effect from the rear Brompton-style rear elastomer making for a comfortable ride with the usual caveat that such small wheels always feel a little more twitchy and you need to ride with a little more regard for the surface underwheel than you do with large wheels with large volume tyres.
Overall though the Efolding gives a great quality ride for a small-wheeled folder.
Whilst the Efolding is clearly modelled on the Brompton in folding terms and folds to a similar size, we found it rather harder to fold. The mainframe hinge was very stiff but eased up with a bit of silicone spray. Hooking the front wheel over the rear frame was more awkward. We are not sure why but it's probably to do with the folding geomentry.
The big difference is that the Efolding folds with the mucky chain and vulnerable chain tensioner on the outside of the folded package whereas the Brompton fold protects the user from oil and the chain tensioner from damage by putting it on the inside of the folded package. The cables also stick out of the front and are prone to getting caught whilst the folded bike is being carried.
Despite these grumbles, the Efolding is a much much more compact and portable affair than most other folding e-bikes so it's perhaps a little unfair to compare it to the Brompton which is without a doubt the folder of folders.
If you add a cover of some kind, the Efolding becomes a very train transportable e-folder as long as you can manage the 17.6kg weight. The Brompton Electric six-speed we tested only weighed 15.32kg without the battery (easily removed and slung over your shoulder) whilst the new P-line Electric with various titanium elements weighs only 13.3kg without the battery.
All other options we have tested such as the MiRider One GB3 or Gocycle are either bulkier when folded or, like the lightweight and compact Flit, lack the multiple gear range of the Efolding.
In summary, the Neomouv Efolding isn't as sophisticated or quite as practical as a true Brompton Electric, even though it's a clear imitator. But at around £1,200 less than the cheapest Brompton Electric (the two-speed C-line Urban) and fulfilling many of its functions, it will find many adherents.