90% satisfied, 10% slip

I bought an NCM C5 attracted by its low price and its very good rating in our columns (9/10). Here is my feedback one year later with a clear head.

When I explain to relatives that I bought a cheap electric bike, we tend to guess a price around 1200 euros. Then I give the real price paid for the NCM C5: 659 euros in my case, which brings it down to 329.5 euros with the help of the Île-de-France region. Almost a year later, here is my complete feedback.

If the price was an important criterion, I didn’t buy it lightly either. The top range (70 km) and the correct torque (50 nm) promised me a bike that was still efficient. Given the price, it’s difficult to expect a high level of comfort, but with these two criteria met, it seemed to me to fulfill the essential: being able to get from point A to point B without worrying about a breakdown. dry and without dragging.

Assembly and reception: don’t hesitate to get help

I purchased the NCM C5 on November 25, 2022 from Leon Cycle. I received it on December 2, 2022 in a box. Expect to have to roll up your sleeves a bit, since the handlebars are not mounted, nor the front wheel. Fortunately, the NCM comes with a rather well-made little guide and basic tools for assembly in a kit. Something to take them with you afterwards.

I still advise you, as was my case, to go to a bike repairer to fine-tune the settings. The latter often have an assembly package provided for bikes delivered in kits like the NCM.

This ensures that everything is safe, but also avoids hurting yourself with a saddle that is too high or poorly oriented handlebars. I absolutely did not regret going through this step, it allowed me in passing to collect advice on the maintenance of the biclou.

A solid foundation, but not without some flaws

Three to five times a week, for a year, I completed my 11 km cycle commute (so 22 km per day). Enough to have a good perspective on this electric bike at an unbeatable price.

Essentially, the mission is completely accomplished. The NCM C5 does indeed have a good battery life which allows me to charge it about once a week. It also has a nice leg which allows me, when I want, to attack a hill with a little speed or to overtake people on the cycle path.

Speaking of hills, uphill, the bike really reveals all its power. On flat ground, it will often tend to abandon the electric assistance quite early (around 22 km/h). To go further, you have to pedal. If we sometimes wish it would let go later, it still manages to ensure a good balance between a feeling of pushing a little on the pedals and assistance.

The torque sensor works to the fullest and is very comfortable, even if on acceleration modes 2 and 3 (the maximum is 3), it can sometimes push a little further or longer than desired. . As a result, we tend, in hot weather, to go back down to mode 1, go up to mode 2 to go quickly and only access mode 3 when the road is completely clear.

Beyond that, the three modes are rather complementary. Mode 1 really lets you work, mode 2 is really cruising speed where you pedal to move forward, but without forcing too much, and mode 3 flies like the wind and is very explosive.

Relative comfort

Manipulating the gear selector can be a little strange at first, because it is basic, even if you quickly get the hang of it. To give you an idea: you only have one button to change assistance mode, and this button only allows you to go up. So we go from 0 to 1 then 2 then 3. As a result, I spent my life for a year juggling this to downshift by pressing three times, which is not very practical.

This brings me to the overall simplicity of the bike, which for me works rather in its favor. The fewer parts there are, the less risk of breakdown (we will return to the maintenance problems I encountered below). This simplicity also brings a daily life where we don’t have to worry too much.

No physical speeds? That’s less to decide when we travel. And in urban traffic, we take. No connected system to lock the bike? A good old anti-theft device with insurance does the trick. Skates instead of disc braking? We gain a lot in maintenance and simplicity =, therefore. This philosophy will certainly not suit all profiles, but it is something that rather appealed to me.

On the other hand, there are still some shortcomings. Depending on your profile, once again, this will be more or less prohibitive.

  • The lack of mudguards is a real problem. I can’t count the times I’ve found myself with a slightly wet bottom or a mud-speckled back. Of course, this is a problem that can be resolved by installing a rear mudguard yourself, but I haven’t taken the plunge. This also shows that it is a piecemeal problem;
  • The saddle is a little hard. It gets the job done and overall I sit well on it, but for slightly longer journeys you’d like something a little more cushioned. I actually have a friend who bought the same bike and made it her number 1 priority because the discomfort was so great.
  • The bike is supplied with a front lamp. For my part, I didn’t have a rear lamp, which is a lack in itself. The lamp is practical, but it’s a little lacking in functionality. It mainly helped me to be visible, but not so much to see correctly.

More broadly, the question of comfort is a real subject with this bike. We talked about the saddle above, we could also mention the absence of suspension which means that you feel the road well, or the very sporty seating position, towards the front. So many points which, personally, did not bother me, but which may put off more than one person.

Concerning the forward position, I really appreciated the fact that the handlebars are made of horns, which allows you to attack frankly on climbs or even to find a certain comfort when you place your hands on them.

Be careful, it slips

But the biggest downside, what I must alert you to, is the fact that the NCM C5 is a fairly tricky bike at times. My colleague also wrote it in his test: you will clearly slip with this cycle.

For my part, I had two falls in one year with little severity, rest assured. In both cases, it was a question of slightly late and heavy braking, which led to the rear wheel sliding.

The reasons for this somewhat treacherous behavior are numerous: narrow, smooth tires, pads for braking and all the weight stored at the rear of the bike with the engine particularly placed on the rear wheel.

A rather dangerous cocktail therefore, but not without a common sense solution: after my first mess, I simply slowed down my pace overall, I drove more cautiously, especially in somewhat dense places. And that’s all. Since then, I haven’t had any major problems.

The NCM C5 perfectly embodies this idea that for certain electric bikes, you have to take a little time to tame them, to get used to them before being perfectly comfortable. After 6 months of use, I remember noticing that that’s it, I was in tune with the bike and I felt really good on it.

Some maintenance and wear

After a year, what condition is my NCM C5 in? To be honest, he’s already showing his age a little here and there. I have some impact marks on the frame where I put my lock, the rubber on the front wheel is starting to be a little damaged and my handlebars have lost one of its two plastic ends. I also had to tighten the chain which was a little loose and change the brake pads. Nothing bad, just a bike that needs a little maintenance.

In one year, I went through the garage twice. The first time because of a punctured inner tube: be careful when inflating the tire the first time to look at the recommended number of bars (on the side of the tire), otherwise the same thing will happen to you as me. The second time I had a more serious problem. I started having broken spokes on the rear wheel. First one, then two, then four, then five, I preferred to stop the bleeding by going to a specialist who changed the rays.

Important clarification: I provided him with the spokes myself. I was able to do this because Leon Cycle customer service was very responsive and agreed to use the warranty by sending me the spokes. I also would have preferred if they covered the labor, but at least it allowed me to be sure I had the correct part number.

Note also that the crutch is of very poor quality. Not only does it loosen regularly, to the point of almost coming off, but it is also impossible to adjust. I tried to unscrew the screw to place it in a lower position which would prevent the bike from leaning when parked, except that the part was no longer screwable once detached. A real design flaw.

Should you go for the NCM C5?

I would definitely recommend the NCM C5 after this year spent with it. The value for money is incredible. On the other hand, I would perhaps not recommend it to all profiles. If you are looking for comfort, a connected bike or something very secure, it may not be the ideal candidate. On the other hand, for anyone who, like me, simply wants an efficient electric bike that allows you to get around without spending too much money, for me it is an excellent choice.

Perhaps we could still offer two interesting alternatives from NCM: the NCM C7 which adds a multi-speed transmission and the NCM T3s which is more of a VTC with a little more comfort and accessories.

Where to buy

NCM C5 at the best price?

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