Riese & Müller : Reliability & Support

David Berry

Well-Known Member
Is R&M's 'legendary engineering' overrated?

My first ebike, a Kalkhoff proudly advertised as German engineering at its best, failed a little after one month. By 'failed' I do not mean it had a mechanical problem that needed fixing, I mean broke down in a way that was never resolved, a disaster so bad that, after spending around 20% of this expensive ebike's cost in repairs, I wrote it off. A 100% loss; actually 120%.

My second ebike, a Trek with a tiny peel-off Made in China sticker, has had the odd hiccup but has done the Trek brand proud. If there is one thing better than Trek's products, it is their support. I trust Trek and would buy another of their ebikes if only they made one to suit my real or imagined requirements.

My third ebike, a current model R&M Homage, would surely be my dream ebike. It's almost exactly what I want and, more seriously, what I need.

Riese & Müller – not just the company but its founders Markus and Heiko – have clearly put more than a quarter century of experience into the Homage and its siblings, the Delite and Charger. Brilliant designs but…
  1. Are Riese & Müller ebikes reliable?
  2. When 'things go wrong' will they be fixed promptly and properly?
My experience relating to these two essentially complementary issues – reliability and support – is No.

I must stress that I am not referring to wear-and-tear problems such as the issue with my Gates belt drive; such things happen and I accept them. What concerns me, and I hope this will be the focus of this thread, are problems that are clearly ongoing, probably unfixable.

Regrettably, I am beginning to wonder whether the Homage, unable to be ridden because of electrical problems, will have to be junked as was my first ebike. The Kalkhoff lasted one month before major failure; the Homage one year.

Perhaps, R&M should not export their ebikes outside Germany, or the EU, until they have an adequate service structure in place. Maybe they, with Bosch and Rohloff, should monitor customer experience rather than rely on dealer feedback.

So, is the 'legendary engineering' of Riese & Müller ebikes to be quietly set aside – myth rather than legend?
 
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smorgasbord

Well-Known Member
Wow, really sorry to hear of problems with your Homage. We would have bought one for my wife if it had a throttle, and ever since I've been wondering if as she got more comfortable on a bike if she wouldn't want to upgrade.

One question that intrigues me is that R&M doesn't make the drivetrain - that's all Bosch, right? Including the display. Brakes are Magura. What is it that's electrical that is unique to R&M or the Homage?

Not downplaying your very real issues, just interested.
 

Captain Slow

Well-Known Member
Wow, you have some bad luck with 2 of 3 bikes failing completely. I'm curious David, do you think you have a type of riding that places extra demands on the bike? Do you ride in really bad weather or really high mileage?

I'm also wondering about your R&M failure, what happened?
 

GaryRFM

Member
David
Just for fun because I know you ride a lot
What do you think your cost per Km is
bike extra's $1200.00au / 16666Km =$0.72
 

webcurl

Active Member
I must stress that I am not referring to wear-and-tear problems such as the issue with my Gates belt drive; such things happen and I accept them. What concerns me, and I hope this will be the focus of this thread, are problems that are clearly ongoing, probably unfixable.

Regrettably, I am beginning to wonder whether the Homage, unable to be ridden because of electrical problems, will have to be junked as was my first ebike. The Kalkhoff lasted one month; the Homage one year.
So, is the 'legendary German engineering' of Riese & Müller ebikes to be quietly set aside – myth rather than legend?
What's gone wrong with the belt & electrical?
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
It is so sad to learn about the issues with your Homage, David. I was considering a purchase of a future model of Homage HS (the one with Bosch Gen 4 motor when available) because I was enticed with your example.

Now, R&M lack the representation and local technical support in Poland. Were the R&M e-bikes truly unbreakable, I would gladly bring a Homage from Germany. Given your example and the fact you are stuck with the broken Homage for indefinite period of time, I decided it would be too risky to buy the R&M e-bike.

Sad story.
 

webcurl

Active Member
One question that intrigues me is that R&M doesn't make the drivetrain - that's all Bosch, right? Including the display. Brakes are Magura. What is it that's electrical that is unique to R&M or the Homage?
R&M design the drivetrain, with pedals from ?, R&M re-badged cranks from Miranda?, motor from Bosch and depending on model either sprockets & belt from Gates, IGH & E14/manual shifter mechanism from Rohloff or IGH & shifter from Enviolo or shifter, derailleur, cogset, chainset & chain from Shimano?
 

David Berry

Well-Known Member
An analogy …
Riese & Müller's Delite and Homage are sometimes compared with high-end 4x4s – Range Rover, for example. I have made the analogy here on the EBR Forum.

So, let's imagine I had bought said Range Rover (just saying!). One year later, with the vehicle still under warranty, it simply stopped – a dead motor with no discernible reason for its expiration. Rule out problems that can be tackled by 'roadside assist'. We're talking 'Error 532', whatever that might be.

The earliest repair appointment entailed a wait of eleven days. and this was done as a special favour as the only technician able to look after Range Rovers was going on annual leave thereafter.

With the vehicle 'fixed' – parts at my expense, labour reduced from three hours to one as 'goodwill' – I was back on the road… for two days.

Welcome to 'Error 596', whatever that might be. This time the electronically controlled transmission was stuck in a Goldilocks gear – not too high, not to low, but unable to be changed.

"The technician will see what's wrong when he comes back from annual leave." Oh, really!

Would anyone purchase a Range Rover with this variety of reliability and service? I wouldn't.

Of course, this is an analogy; insert 'Riese & Müller' instead and you have my reason for dissatisfaction.
 
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webcurl

Active Member
I totally understand your analogy and I agree.
But it could be a plain fact that R&M owners in Australia are pretty much patsy pioneers :)
You have one or more R&M dealers in Brisbane, i'm in Adelaide & my closest is in Melbourne.
I've never seen another R&M here in Adelaide ever before and up till now, almost 2 years after purchase of my 2018 SC1.
I assumed the risk when i purchased and resigned myself to the fact that if something went wrong it could get costly wether time, money or both.
It's a shame it's happened to you and hope mine goes further without problems.
These are not excuses. I thought i'd be buying one of the most trouble free ebikes as well, as so far luckily for me it has been so.
With what i know now i would still like to buy another R&M in the future (probably SuperDelite) but i'm not keen on 2 areas with Bosch (tuning & solar charging) and i would be paying mega bucks to get the E14 exchanged for manual shift.
It would be nice if R&M offered a choice between E14 & manual shift.
 

Solom01

Well-Known Member
I'm amazed that folks are surprised about this. This nonsense about great "German" engineering is probably based somewhat on outdated and possibly racist ideas. Looking at Consumer Reports and any other objective indicator of reliability German cars such as VW, Mercedes, Audi and BMW are not only expensive to buy and repair but have pretty poor reliability compared to Korean and Japanese brands. It's funny seeing David use Range Rover as an example, since even though they're English they also have abysmal reliability. No, ebikes are not cars but Germans devote a lot more funds and R&D to cars since they are a significant part of their industry, so if their cars fare so poorly I don't expect their ebike technology to be any better. One would think that the inability of Germany to even come close to competing with Tesla when it comes to EVs would remove any lingering doubts as to German technology.
 

Alaskan

Well-Known Member
It sounds like the problems with delayed service and your idle bike are due to the dealer not having a commitment to proper staffing to keep the bikes they sell running. Granted this was the dealer that Riese and Muller chose to represent, sell and service their products where you live. Riese & Muller is famous for not wanting to deal directly with their bike owners, preferring everything to go through the dealer.

Nevertheless your dealers laissez faire attitude toward keeping their customers on the road needs to be brought to Riese & Muller's attention. They can't be expected to do something about poor service if they don't know about it.

Also it sounds like your problem exists in a Bosch component or a Rohloff component or both. In these cases Riese & Muller relies on Bosch and Rohloff to provide warranty service on their components so technically your problem while on a Riese & Muller bike, are the responsibility of their respective manufacturers to solve. If Bosch or Rohloff fall short of giving timely service, it needs to be brought to the attention of Riese & Muller.

This is why we buy bikes from local bike shops...get the bikes fixed and have and influential ally in getting warranty support from sluggish manufacturers. This advocacy is best done by the dealer's service department...oh yeah, your guy is on annual leave and your shop has no one else. And there's the rub.

Frankly David, I think it would more fair to be going after your dealer more aggressively and not publically blaming Riese & Muller for the dealer's failure to have adequate mechanical staff. If Riese & Muller has been made aware of their shortcomings and not done anything about it, that would be the time to publicly blame and shame them.

You're dealer has put you in a no win situation. If you go over their heads to Riese & Muller, you risk loosing an important ally for your bike going forward. If you don't get R&M involved you are stuck with what casual and slow service your dealer provides. I don't envy you on this one.

I have had some issues with my homage (frame and Rohloff related) LA Fly Rides, my dealer, got right after the frame/swing arm squeak and Riese & Muller worked with them to resolved it promptly. The Rohoff issue has taken way too long due to lousy service by Rohloff's authorized North American service company. With the help of vigorous advocacy by FlyRides, it should be resolved shortly. I can't say enough good things about their commitment to keeping my bike running and their tenacity in holding their manufacturers to a proper standard of service.
 
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rich c

Well-Known Member
Agree with Alaskan, sounds like the major issue is with the dealer. A good one would sort out the problem and give you a loaner if the problem drug on.
 

JRA

Well-Known Member
Any bike is just a compilation of components that should work in harmony and paying a premium doesn't always mean you will get a great result. In fact the more complex, in regards to the electronics especially, the harder it is to get back to working order. Without the ability to self diagnose and repair issues and the fact that at this time access to shops in general and the supply chain they depend on are going to get worse for the foreseeable future not better.

And @Alaskan while you may be taken care of by a shop in LA I know it is a long way from Bellingham and can't be all that convenient shipping back and forth especially if need be. I'm sure you'll be better off with your Trek and having Kulshan close at hand.
 

webcurl

Active Member
Population density of Brisbane, Australia is 155 per square kilometre, LA is 3124 per square kilometre.
I'm not sure how many R&M's get sold in Brisbane but where i live in Adelaide, South Australia it's not many, there is no dealer here, the closest is 800km away.
I think this may have something to do with it, as well as the Bosch ebike department over here i imagine is pretty small.
 

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
An analogy …
Riese & Müller's Delite and Homage are sometimes compared with high-end 4x4s – Range Rover, for example. I have made the analogy here on the EBR Forum.
So, let's imagine I had bought said Range Rover (just saying!). One year later, with the vehicle still under warranty, it simply stopped – a dead motor with no discernible reason for its expiration. Rule out problems that can be tackled by 'roadside assist'. We're talking 'Error 532', whatever that might be. The earliest repair appointment entailed a wait of eleven days. and this was done as a special favour as the only technician able to look after Range Rovers was going on annual leave thereafter. With the vehicle 'fixed' – parts at my expense, labour reduced from three hours to one as 'goodwill' – I was back on the road… for two days. Welcome to 'Error 596', whatever that might be. This time the electronically controlled transmission was stuck in a Goldilocks gear – not too high, not to low, but unable to be changed.

"The technician will see what's wrong when he comes back from annual leave." Oh, really!
Would anyone purchase a Range Rover with this variety of reliability and service? I wouldn't.
Of course, this is an analogy; insert 'Riese & Müller' instead and you have my reason for dissatisfaction.
Sorry to hear your tale of woes with the R&M... the Range Rover analogy is perfect.

After an untold number of repairs, we sold the RR before the warranty expiration.

A beautiful automobile with terrible reliability... never again. YMMV


BTW, I have had zero issues with the Shimano Steps and Yamaha PW systems on 4 EBikes... Japanese reliability. ;)
 

Alaskan

Well-Known Member
Any bike is just a compilation of components that should work in harmony and paying a premium doesn't always mean you will get a great result. In fact the more complex, in regards to the electronics especially, the harder it is to get back to working order. Without the ability to self diagnose and repair issues and the fact that at this time access to shops in general and the supply chain they depend on are going to get worse for the foreseeable future not better.

And @Alaskan while you may be taken care of by a shop in LA I know it is a long way from Bellingham and can't be all that convenient shipping back and forth especially if need be. I'm sure you'll be better off with your Trek and having Kulshan close at hand.
Actually our Trek store (formerly Kulshan) handled all the break down, shipping and reassembly of the Homage when it needed to go to the R&M dealer for deep warranty repair. Fly Rides reimbursed them for that. Trek also takes care of any Bosch specific, or more complicated,not R&M specific maintenance for me.

I asked the manager if that was his store policy and he said that is a Trek company wide policy, Service anyone's bike whether it is a trek or not. So with Trek's help servicing my Riese & Muller is not terribly inconvenient. Plus they won me over not only as a service customer but also sold me a nice new bike!
 

smorgasbord

Well-Known Member
An analogy …
I was going to say something about the R&M dealers in my post above, but didn't because you had focused on the bike's problems. Here in Northern CA, we've got two good dealers (New Wheel in SF and Current eBikes in Santa Cruz). I actually brought a non-R&M bike to Current, and they did the repair on it with good communication and reasonable pricing. I'm sure New Wheel would be the same, especially if you bought the bike from them. And in Southern California we have Propel Bikes, with Chris Nolte, who is a great resource on this forum.

Your analogy resonated with me, because a couple decades ago we bought one of the first Land Rover Discovery's. My wife loved the vehicle layout, but I was worried about reliability. We were both right. The dealer was OK - got a transmission replaced after just a few thousand miles for free, and some other little things that I forget about. We traded it in just before warranty expiration on a BMW X-5. That one also had a weird intermittent engine/transmission issue, but we slogged through it, then traded it in on another X5 that was truly great. So, it's not even necessarily a brand thing. Now we drive Teslas and don't care about little issues since the overall experience of driving electric and not going to gas stations or doing oil changes is so wonderful.

The combination of a flaky bike with a bad LBS is certainly bad news. Having a flaky bike with a good dealer (my Land Rover experience) made the experience tolerable, but still not what I would call good. Having a good bike with a flaky/non-existent dealer can be pretty good depending on your skills and attitude: some people here choose that as their primary path (or at least hope the bike is good with no or online only dealer).