2019 R&M Homage GX Rohloff : Rider Impressions

David Berry

Well-Known Member
My Homage has been with me for a few weeks so I have had sufficient time to gain some initial impressions. Assessment of reliability and service will have to wait.

I'll employ a five-star rating system to help with the assessment:
  1. * Junk
  2. ** Flawed
  3. *** Average
  4. **** Good
  5. ***** Excellent
My initial questions and their ratings:
  • Was it the right choice for me? ***** 4
  • Have Riese & Müller delivered the ebike they advertised? *** 3
Let's quickly mention the Homage's only serious flaw – its Kiox display (** 2). Kiox is clearly a work in progress and R&M should have clarified this. For the Kiox to be more than a glorified Purion (Bosch's most basic controller), it requires an app which is not yet available to everyone. Has anyone been able to download the app? Is the app available in Germany or elsewhere in the EU?

Today I went for a 100 km ride from the rolling hills of Brisbane's western suburbs, through the city and down to the bay, then back. The wind was blustery, rain was pouring down (all too briefly) and everyone I met was happy. The Homage was surefooted, the Rohloff worked impeccably (so much better than my previous experience with an uncomfortable grip shift – hand size might be relevant) and dutifully reset itself for takeoff at traffic lights. The Control Technology suspension was sublime. I deliberately rode over speed bumps and they all but disappeared. The eMTB setting was truly a set-and-forget boon on a ride with constantly changing conditions. Range anxiety? No such thing with the 1 kWh dual battery system.

Any annoying problems on such a simple ride? Yes: two. The Rohloff's gear changes appeared on the display in true Kiox style – so small (even though the entire screen was available!) that they couldn't possibly be read in the rain. Second, with ride done there was no way of downloading the recorded data. Kiox again. Just how hopeless can this thing be?

The Homage is a wonderful ebike! I'll be a bit more specific next time and, just perhaps, own up to what happened when I swapped out the Rock Razors for 'flat-free' (note the scare quotes) Marathons Plus MTBs.

Please share your experiences.
… David
 
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Zaphod

Member
David, it sounds like whatever you don't like about the Kiox can be--eventually--fixed with some necessary software updates. I suggest you make a detailed list of what you don't like about the KIOX and send that list to @Court. That is what I intend to do after I have spent some time on my new Homage. It is currently being prepped by my LBS. I have written software all my life and use a large assortment of applications on my Mac. When I find something that is buggy or poorly implemented, I email the developer. Most of the time I get a positive reply and often my suggestions are implemented in subsequent releases.

Court is friends with a lot of Bosch folk and they respect and listen to him. I once pointed out to him, after seeing his early KIOX demo, that the color for ECO mode was blue. I asked him to mention to his BOSCH contacts that ECO mode--for obvious reasons--should be green not blue. Court also pointed out early on that the horizontal scrolling on the KIOX display stopped at the end. Court mentioned this to BOSCH that it should wrap around to the beginning so that the rider didn't have to click his way back to the first screen. His newest review of the KIOX shows that the ECO mode color is now green and the display wraps around at both ends. So clearly someone is listening.

The KIOX is a brand new product and as such is a work in progress. Most engineers don't know how to design a good user interface. That's why it is considered an art. Crikey, look at the poor graphical interfaces you find in automobiles. That's why it is important that we, as the users of these devices, send feedback to the developers so they can correct and improve the usability of their products. In this case, there is no one more qualified than the cyclists.
 

Alaskan

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the initial impressions David, Were the rock razors, noisy, slow or what? I have the marathon supremes on my 2018 homage and love them for all manor of road riding, They are whisper quiet and maximize battery range like no other tire, not very good off road though. Nice to hear they speced out good components for the suspension. Nancy rides with me a couple times per month so she will get the bike with the chain and I will ride the bike with the belt. I am cleaning and oiling the chain every 100 miles with means once or twice a week. Looking forward to doing that far less frequently.

I am glad I didn't order the Kiosk after reading your impressions. I ordered my 2019 with the same specs as yours with exception of the the Bosch/HS motor and the intuvia which will be immediately replace with a Nyon. For the life of me I don't get why Bosch did not just get 100% behind the Nyon. It is a terrific tool/monitor/info center that records all facets of ride data and seamlessly uploads it when I arrive back home before the bike has even been stowed. The mapping is not the best but it works well enough. The Nyon goes right on the intuvia mount, is quite easy to set up and can be bought with the controller on ebay in the USA for $210.

My bike is scheduled to be built during week 8 so hopefully I will be riding it by the beginning of spring. So looking forward to being able to ride in equal comfort with the same speed. The Homage Rohloff HS and the Nevo Nuvinci were a mismatch.
 
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DonGod

Member
Thanks David, I always devour information on other ebikes.

With regards to the KIOX, honestly I believe Bosch is charging enough to not release work in progress products. They should only release something once it is close to flawless, I find this disappointing. We are not paying beta tester prices...
 

David Berry

Well-Known Member
Most engineers don't know how to design a good user interface… In this case, there is no one more qualified than the cyclists.
Ah, exactly! I think Bosch needs to find a developer with two heads that can work on a project independently and interrupt each other to get the optimum result. There must be a name for such a character.
 
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David Berry

Well-Known Member
Rims and Tyres …
The 2019 Homage GX Rohloff has smaller diameter rims and, consequently, smaller tyres than its predecessor – definitely on my wishlist.
  • Rims: 584X35C – Rodi Tryp 35
  • Tyres: 60-584 – Schwalbe Rock Razor
homage_rodi_tryp_35.jpg

  • 584 is the bead seat diameter shared by rim and tyre.
  • 35 is the internal width of the rim.
  • C stands for 'crochet' or 'clincher' – nothing whatever to do with the C in 700C which is essentially meaningless, although there is a good story there from around a hundred years ago (for another time, perhaps).
  • 60 is the nominal width of the Rock Razor tyres.
sch_mplus_mtb_57_584_a.jpg

Puncture resistance was so high on my agenda that I had the supplied Rock Razors replaced by 57-584 Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTBs before taking delivery… and to teach me a lesson (in humility?) the self-proclaimed 'flat-less' tyre punctured on just the fourth ride. To make it worse, this happened on a wide, smooth concrete cycle path of the sort that we all expect local councils to provide for our benefit. The culprit was woody and looked very much like an almond – a seed, perhaps? The tyre and tube were destroyed.

There followed just under a week's wait for a replacement to be sent from Germany. There was really no alternative to writing the puncture off as 'one of those things'. In future, I'll ensure that a Kevlar felt lining is placed between tyre and tube.
sch_mplus_mtb_57_584_bb.jpg


The Marathon Plus MTBs are quiet on hard surfaces and have sufficient grip on rough tracks for my needs. If one thinks of them as the 'ultimate trekking tyre' rather than a MTB tyre, they definitely complement the Homage GX's design brief.
  • Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTB : **** Very Good
 
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David Berry

Well-Known Member
Hills and (some) rough roads …
  • Saturday – switchback country roads, some very steep (>20%), rutted and strewn with loose gravel;
  • Sunday – a few long, moderately steep climbs with good surface, high speed descents;
  • Monday – 77 km of up/down, up/down with never a level 100 m; good surface, high speed descents.
Rough & Loose Surfaces **** 4 stars…
On Saturday's rough rollercoaster ride, the Homage handled beautifully, smoothing out the bumps and ruts, and giving a thoroughly confidence-inspiring ride. Control Technology isn't hype; it works. There is no way that I will 'throw away the brakes' on a gravel descent – caution won out.

Descents **** 4 stars …
On Monday's descents – on the 'up' as well as the 'down' stretches – the Homage flew.

Would the Homage's highest #14 gear (8.84 m) be too low. So many bikes with Rohoff gearing sacrifice high gears in order to boast a preposterously low #1. The Homage follows the tradition; however, it isn't an ebike designed to be pedalled downhill.

At 50km/h (double the speed assist max) it was possible to pedal in a way that made it feel that I was supplementing gravity. At 60 km/h, pedalling very fast did contribute a tiny bit (somewhat pointless, though!). On several occasions the bike took itself past 70 km/h, making it quite clear that it had even more exciting plans. The Schwalbe Marathon Plus MTBs (not the original Rock Razors) behaved impeccably with negligible noise.

As turns interrupted descents far too frequently, medium pressure on the right-hand brake (front) and a touch on the left (rear) rid the bike of its speed whilst inducing a distinct whirr from the discs – a smooth and again confidence-inspiring return to a gentler pace, perfectly complementing the Control Technology suspension. Impeccable handling.

Ascents *** 3 stars …
Ascents are Rohloff territory; but I also wanted to access the Bosch Performance Line CX's role. I have previous experience with both Rohloff (Airnimal Black Rhino folding travel bike) and CX motor (Trek Powerfly eMTB).

My main interests were…
  • how efficiently could I change gears on steep slopes,
  • would the gap (13%) between gears feel 'just right',
  • would lowest gear (1.66 m) be ridiculously low,
  • what would my experience of eMTB and Turbo be,
  • could my heart rate be kept within acceptable limits?
Quick answer: all okay but Bosch's claims are over-enthusiastic or inaccurate (hence 3-star rating)…
  • the gear currently engaged is displayed on the Status Page (main screen); otherwise the 'new' gear will be displayed for about three seconds in minuscule print amongst a mess of unnecessary extra nonsense;
  • the press-and-hold option changes four gears (too many) – there is no way of altering this;
  • no heart rate monitoring option.
The electronic shift works well. When there is only moderate pressure on the pedals (flat or gentle slope) there is no need to 'ease off'. How much to ease off otherwise is easy to learn – just do it! On the long haul up to Mount Glorious, I had no problems. Between 5 and 10% slope, it was easy to find a suitable gear; yes 13% change did feel 'just right' and both my speed and heart rate were at acceptable levels – not that the Kiox displayed heart rate, despite this being one of the major claims made on its behalf. Just as well that I have a supplementary bike computer running – for me it's a necessity, not a luxury.

In seriously hilly terrain the eMTB assist is my favourite – so much so that it is almost a set-and-forget option. Well done, Bosch!

Flicking from one power setting – for me, it's almost always between eMTB and Turbo – is so simple. Changing the screen accent colour (green–blue–purple–red) means that it is immediately obvious what assist level has been chosen. Again, kudos to Bosch. On harder climbs I used Turbo when the Homage's speed dropped below 15 km/h or my heart rate was heading higher than I'd like it to be.

Saturday's ride included very steep climbs. I did use #2 gear but decided that it was too low. I doubt that I will ever need the lowest 1.66 m #1 but its inclusion is not an issue as the highest 8.84 m #14 is a bit too high for my genuine needs. Good choice, R&M.

Range ***** 5 stars …
Dual battery system – don't leave home without it! Monday's Mount Glorious ride was only 77 km but included 2234 m ascent which is essentially the same as the continent's highest 'mountain', Mount Kosciuszko. Average speed 26 km/h; max speed 72 km/h. 28% battery at end of ride.

The dual battery system has been brilliantly engineered by Bosch and integrated by Riese & Müller.

Overall rating of bike after first 1000 km *** 3 stars …

*** Generally satisfactory but falls short of being recommended.​
 
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scrambler

Member
Thank you for the detailed reviews, these are much appreciated!

I was told a while back by Rohloff that the number gears being switched by a long press was programmable.
Have you checked all options, and is it basically not available yet? If not it would be interesting to ask Bosch if they plan to do so.

Do you find that the Bosch has enough power on steep climbs that you can do them with almost no effort (if in the right gear)?

Finally, if I may, when you were researching the Homage, did you find any other bikes with the key elements below?
  • Gates carbon belt
  • NuVinci or Rohloff E14
  • Full suspension
 
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David Berry

Well-Known Member
I was told a while back by Rohloff that the number gears being switched by a long press was programmable.
The only user-programmable feature of the E-14 is the start gear. For now, my Rohloff resets itself to #5 when it comes to a stop after exceeding 10 km/h. The Kiox's settings allow this feature to be set to any gear between #1 and #9 or to be deactivated.

The number of gears changed by a long-press cannot be programmed.
 
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David Berry

Well-Known Member
Will the Rohloff E-14 work with a flat battery?
e14_flat_battery_a.jpg

My interpretation…
  • As the battery drops in capacity the percentage indicator on the Kiox display (d – top right) will change from white to yellow and finally red, at which stage the motor assist will shut down but…
  • there will be sufficient power for two hours of get-you-home lighting but…
  • this might be less if you use electronic shifting ergo…
  • the E-14 works after the motor assist shuts down.
 
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Alaskan

Well-Known Member
Great Info Dave. I was hanging on every word. I really appreciate your analytical approach and precision. I do have some questions.

  1. If you had your druthers, would you put a slightly larger front sprocket on the bike to give up the billy goat 1st hear in favor of a yet higher ratio in 14th? (my bike with be a class3- 28mph version)
  2. Did you give the Rock Razors a good try or replace them right away in favor of higher durability tires?
  3. Have you ridden at night yet and if so how do you like the lighting?
  4. Is the multi-gear jump when you press and hold adjustable? Can you get the E-14 to make the 3 gear jump?
  5. I am considering putting a four piston caliper and 203mm rotor on the front as I weigh around 210 lbs (15 stone). Do you think this would be advisable or are the MT4s with 180mm fully sufficient?
  6. What steps have you taken to fine tune the suspension to your weight and riding style?
According to R&M my bike should be built within the next week. Then begins the journey from Europe and who knows how much time in customs. I am hoping I see the new bike a month from now. Hopefully the snow will be gone by then.
 

David Berry

Well-Known Member
Rohloff E-14's multishift function …
As mentioned above, pressing and holding the shift button will change four gears (I had expected three).

Here is Rohloff's explanation which is accurate…
Should either of the switch unit buttons be held down permanently, the Rohloff E-14 will shift one gear as normal, then pause, before shifting 3 gears in rapid succession. The shift unit will then pause for 0.5 seconds before shifting another 3 gears and continue to shift in this '3-gear, pause' sequence until reaching the bedstop gear for that chosen direction (gear #14 when holding the + button or gear #1 when holding the - button).
When I am 'caught out' in totally the wrong gear, this function will be useful; for everyday riding in hilly terrain I'll probably avoid it.
 
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David Berry

Well-Known Member
Great Info Dave. I was hanging on every word. I really appreciate your analytical approach and precision. I do have some questions.
  • If you had your druthers, would you put a slightly larger front sprocket on the bike to give up the billy goat 1st hear in favor of a yet higher ratio in 14th? (my bike with be a class3- 28mph version).
    • Yes. Bike manufacturers seem determined to outdo each other by offering the lowest gear possible as soon as Rohloff is specced and, in doing so, pass up the chance of a higher top gear.
  • Did you give the Rock Razors a good try or replace them right away in favor of higher durability tires?
    • No, I swapped to Marathon Plus MTBs before taking delivery and destroyed the back tyre on the fourth ride!
  • Have you ridden at night yet and if so how do you like the lighting?
    • No.
  • Is the multi-gear jump adjustable? No. Can you get the E-14 to make the 3 gear jump?
    • No. The info above is from Rohloff's E-14 owner's manual. I had figured out the 1+3+3+3+3 already but only found the reference in the manual 30 minutes ago and was posting the answer to your question at the same time as you were asking it!
  • I am considering putting a four piston caliper and 203mm rotor on the front as I weigh around 210 lbs (15 stone). Do you think this would be advisable or are the MT4s with 180mm fully sufficient?
    • Maybe. I doubt that you'll need it.
  • What steps have you taken to fine tune the suspension to your weight and riding style?
    • None. I had better read the Suntour and Fusion booklets tomorrow!
 
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Alaskan

Well-Known Member
@David Berry Many thanks for the detailed answers.

My 2018 Homage Rohloff allows me to pedal at a cadence of 90 while gliding down a hill at 35 mph (56 KMPH), which is quite fast enough. As a further point of reference, while on flat ground, in sport (the HS does not have EMTB) mode, I can sustain a speed of 24 mph (42 kmph) in 12th gear with a cadence of 80. I still climb 15% grades in third gear and have dropped down to 1st gear perhaps three times since the bike arrived in July. If the 2019 version is geared similarly, perhaps making changes won't really be important. Do those numbers sound similar to what you are experiencing? I realize that with the CX 24 mph on a flat is not really feasible. I think on the 2018 Homage the Rohloff is geared perfectly with the high speed Bosch and am hoping it is close to the same for 2019.

My sense of it is that changing the sprockets on the Rohloff with a belt drive gets complicated quite quickly. Unlike a chain that can be adjusted link by link, the belts have a fixed number of cogs. There is not much room for adjustment of the rear hub to properly tension the belt. My guess is that one would have to add one "tooth" to the front sprocket and take one away from the rear in order to keep the belt properly tensioned. Have you had any discussions or thoughts on the technical aspects of making this change?
 

David Berry

Well-Known Member
My 2018 Homage Rohloff allows me to pedal at a cadence of 90 while gliding down a hill at 35 mph (56 KMPH), which is quite fast enough. As a further point of reference, while on flat ground, in sport (the HS does not have EMTB) mode, I can sustain a speed of 24 mph (42 kmph) in 12th gear with a cadence of 80. I still climb 15% grades in third gear and have dropped down to 1st gear perhaps three times since the bike arrived in July. If the 2019 version is geared similarly, perhaps making changes won't really be important. Do those numbers sound similar to what you are experiencing?
Yes.

If only the Rohloff had fifteen gears! Then we could have one gear lower and one higher than what 90% of us would need on 90% of our rides. With 'only' fourteen gears, bicycle manufacturers unerringly opt for a super-low granny gear rather than one more overdrive gear for high speed.
 
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David Berry

Well-Known Member
Some of the things I like about the Kiox display…
  1. Screen legibility – high contrast, high resolution, daylight-usable.
  2. Choice of background – white data on black background or vice versa.
  3. Restrained (and logical!) use of colour – green, blue, purple, red for ECO, TOUR, eMTB, TURBO.
  4. Continuous page scrolling – no need to backtrack from last page to first.
  5. Correct use of SI symbols – km/h, Wh; not DIY abbreviations – kph, w/Hr's.
  6. Logical settings menu – easy to set wheel size or E-14 start gear.
  7. Power outlet – smartphone fully charged despite continuously downloading map data.
  8. Case – neat styling complemented by bespoke housing.
kiox_4_to_page.jpg
 
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