The adventure-ready electric mountain bike from French brand Moustache is perfect for those who love to explore
The competitively-priced Moustache Samedi Game 11 from the French e-bike specialists is an enduro-ready eMTB with a large capacity 750Wh battery for riding further, longer and faster, plus 29er wheels and own-brand finishing kit.
Need to know
- Updated enduro model from the French e-bike specialists
- 170/160mm travel and 29in wheels across the four-bike Game range
- For 2022 the Game gets bigger capacity 750Wh battery and new Bosch Smart System compatibility with customisable power modes
- Unique Moustache Magic Grip Control shock fitted to all models
Fabricant de vélo électrique
As a pure e-bike brand with 10 years of experience in the assisted sector, Moustache remains a relatively unknown marque in the UK. And it’s not for want of a memorable name. But that’s something the French brand wants to change, and with five distinct and competitively-priced e-mtb platforms on offer for 2022, it’s in a good position to realise its plan.
Why ‘Moustache’, I hear you cry?
Why ‘Moustache’, I hear you cry? I know I was curious as to the etymology. Apparently it traces back to the company’s modern take on the traditional, swept-back handlebar design that featured on its first utility models. While you can still see the M-shaped cockpit on its urban models, you’ll be pleased to hear that all of its mountain bikes use a conventional riser bar.
All of its bikes are named after days of the week, with the commuter and utility bikes falling under the Lundi (Monday) label and the MTBs tagged Samedi (Saturday). While there are assisted hardtails and BMW GS-style adventure models, the most relevant options to UK trail riders are the Samedi Game and Trail. Essentially this is one frame that’s adapted to create two model ranges.
Moustache eMTB range
To do this, Moustache starts with the longer travel Game chassis and runs a shorter stroke shock and headset spacer/shim to correct the geometry on the Trail model. Previous generation Moustache bikes (like the Moustache Game 8 we tested last summer) did the reverse, which was partly responsible for its sky-high BB measurement.
By trimming the travel of the enduro bike, rather than pumping up the travel of the trail bike, Moustache has brought the BB height down a claimed 5mm. I didn’t get a chance to measure the geometry of my demo bike, but the Game 8 we tested last year came in at an eyebrow raising 365mm. On paper, at least, there’s no doubt Moustache could go lower still without compromising pedal clearance.
Other geometry developments over the previous model include a slacker head angle (by 1º), steeper seat angle (by 2º) and significantly longer top tube/reach. The old Game was very short by modern standards – 420mm reach on the medium and 440mm on the large – so the new sizing brings it much more in line with other brands. Back in the game, if you will. By extending the reach, Moustache has also been able to chip back the stem length to 40mm, which helps the steering characteristics.
Frame and components
From the side, there’s little obvious difference between the new and old Game, but scratch beneath the surface and Moustache has made numerous small (and large) changes that add up to a significant update.
The alloy frame (Moustache doesn’t do carbon) still runs the Bosch Performance CX motor, but there’s now a 750Wh battery on all models. Obviously that means more range over the old 625Wh power pack, but the downsides are additional weight and extra length. So Moustache’s engineers took a close look at all the hardware and mounting points in an effort to optimise the packaging and minimise the weight penalty. What they came up with is clever stuff.
Firstly by binning the annoying key-operated battery lock, Moustache reduced weight, saved space and made battery removal far more convenient. Now the cover unclips, you unscrew a bolt through the top of the down tube with your fingers and press a latch.
It’s quick and tool-free. At the opposite end, new custom plates attach the motor to the frame, freeing up more space and saving more weight. The result of this gerrymandering (along with some further refinements to the frame) is that the bigger battery fits in the same space as the old one and the total weight of the frame and battery has only gone up a claimed 300g despite adding an 800g heavier battery.
In addition, inspired by the dropouts on Fox and Ohlins forks, Moustache has designed a lower shock mount that can be adjusted for perfect alignment, which reduces friction, enhances grip and should improve durability.
Magic Grip Control shock
The shock itself is something slightly out of the ordinary. All of its suspension bikes use a proprietary Magic Grip Control shock of Moustache’s own design. Inside are all the ingredients you’d expect – positive and negative air chamber, internal floating piston and shim stacks – but Moustache adds some secret sauce that it claims ‘erases small bumps’, ‘optimises efficiency’ and creates a ‘magic carpet’ ride.
Trying to pin down the details of how it delivers on this promise, and how it differs from a Fox DPS or RockShox Super Deluxe is tricky, as Moustache is fairly guarded about the tech, but it is relatively easy to set up with just air pressure and low-speed rebound externally adjustable. There’s even a clip-on sag indicator to help, although the same tool is used on both the Game and Trail models.
To get the right sag for the Game (30%), you need to align the top of the O-ring with the end of the indicator. For the Trail, align the bottom of the O-ring with the end of the sag indicator. Or just use a tape measure if you want to be more precise (30% of 65mm stroke is 19.5mm).
By sharing the same frame across two platforms, using a single, proprietary shock, keeping specs close and even minimising the number of paint jobs keeps costs down and prices keen across the Moustache range, especially since the bikes are sold through a traditional dealer network.
For €8,399 the Game 9 gets a Fox 38 factory fork, Shimano XTR drivetrain, Moustache’s own Just_Moustache carbon rims, a carbon bar and Maxxis Assegai 3C tyres. Like all the other bikes in the range, there’s also a 750Wh battery, Bosch Performance CX motor, Kiox 300 display and LED remote.
How it rides
Moustache held its launch for the new Samedi Game in Portugal, in an area that bears more than a passing resemblance to Dartmoor on steroids. Giant granite boulders lay like asteroids across open, grassy, gorse-covered hill tops, while lower down, loamy turns weave through oak and bracken. Riding time was pretty limited, so it would be unfair to deliver any kind of definitive verdict, but first impressions were not in short supply.
I rode a size medium, with 461mm reach, and while that’s shorter than I’d normally run on an analogue bike, I often down-size on an e-bike in order to try and maximise agility. However, the chainstays across all four frame sizes are very long at 462mm, which moves the rider mass relatively far forward between the axles and puts more weight over the fork. Which probably explains why Moustache runs three tokens in the Fox 38 fork instead of the standard two.
Those long chainstays certainly help the climbing performance, and along with the fairly high BB and excellent Bosch motor, make it possible to unlock technical ascents without risking pedal or motor strikes.
Leave the motor in eMTB mode and the Bosch electronics do an excellent job of working out the best power for every given situation, so you don’t need to go near the overly bulky LED remote unit, and instead can concentrate on gearing and dropper post position to maximise traction and ensure the best weight distribution.
Get the Game 11 pointing downhill and that extra weight over the front is immediately noticeable. It’s a good thing there’s an extra token in the fork, because you need the support, but there is a slight increase in harshness as a result. Even with the rebound dial fully open, there’s lots of damping at the rear shock.
Combined with the long chainstays and 29in rear wheel, I found that the Game didn’t give me the lively, poppy ride that really helps a 24kg e-bike overcome its bulk. As such, quick direction changes didn’t come as easily as bikes like the YT Decoy and Specialized Turbo Levo – the Moustache is not a playful bike in the same vein as these models.
Despite Moustache’s claims, I also thought the shock lacked sensitivity at the start of the stroke, then tended to fall through the midstroke. Ultimately, it feels like it could do with a larger negative spring to improve the small bump performance and help with mid-stroke support. And although Moustache claims the rebound tune is perfect for dynamic riding situations, I’d also like to try it with a lighter damping tune.
Where the Game should be right at home is exploring the wilds and taking on big natural rides somewhere rough and rocky like Scotland or the Lakes. It has a great motor, large capacity battery, plenty of ground clearance and long chainstays perfect for rocky climbs. On the other hand, there are other e-bikes with better suspension, more balanced geometry and more dynamic handling for hitting bike park trails or lapping enduro tracks. So if your Saturdays are spent seeking adventure on the UK’s most epic trails, then the Samedi Game could be a decent option.