- A mid-step version of the Charger hardtail electric bike from Riese & Müller that's easier to mount and stand over, two frame size choices and two color choices
- Mountain bike level hardware including a longer handlebar, tapered headtube, 100 mm air suspension fork with thru-axle, wider 40 mm rims and 2.4" tires
- Available with a high torque motor or the high speed motor from Bosch, 11-speed drivetrain with Shimano Deore XT Shadow+ that can be tightened to reduce chain bounce and slip
- Upgraded hydraulic disc brakes with large 180 mm rotors and finger-adjust levers, more expensive and slightly heavier but very sturdy, only available in the single battery configuration
If you’re looking for an electric bicycle that’s outfitted for urban commuting but tough enough to ride on packed trails occasionally, that can be optimized for high-torque to move heavy loads and climb or high-speed to get you to the office quicker, the Riese & Müller Charger Mixte models might be just the thing. It’s the kind of bike that covers multiple bases but doesn’t compromise. Perhaps the only drawback is price and increased weight due to frame reinforcement, fenders and rack. With it’s oversized tapered head tube, 100 mm suspension fork with 15 mm thru-axle and longer mountain bike style handlebar, this thing is a blast to ride. I test rode the GT Touring HS model which stands for “grand tour” and “high speed”. You get fatter, more comfortable and stable tires along with the Bosch Performance Speed mid-drive and it worked great. Crusing around Brooklyn New York was a blast and I had no problem mounting or controlling the bike while stopping at traffic signals and stop signs. It didn’t feel flexy like some step-thru models do and even though I was on the smaller of two frame sizes, it fit alright when I raised the saddle. In addition to the suspension fork and larger tires, this model comes with a suspension seat post for added comfort. And you can change out the springs to increase or decrease stiffness depending on your own preferences and body weight. To this end, you can also lock out the front fork for more efficiency on smooth paved roads or increase the air pressure in the fork and insert tokens to match your load and body weight. Unlike cheaper electric bikes with coil forks and limited suspension, this one can be dialed in to suit your needs… and that’s critical when riding faster and further.
Driving the bike is one of my favorite motor systems, the Performance Line mid-drive from Bosch. Whether you get the high torque CX or Speed model shown here, the performance is great. It measures rear wheel speed, pedal cadence and pedal torque 1,000 times per second and rotates a smaller 20 tooth chainring about 2.5 times per crank revolution. This offers mechanical advantage to the motor but produces a bit more whirring noise at high RPM. It also limits the number of chainrings to just one. So thankfully, the rear cassette offers 11 sprockets to help you climb or hit and maintain the top assisted speed of ~28 mph. An alternative drivetrain on offer is the NuVinci continuously variable transmission hub which allows for shifting at standstill. Even with the traditional 11 speed, shifting feels smooth enough, you can mash gears and prematurely wear the chain, sprockets and derailleur if you’re not thoughtful because of the mid-drive setup. But Bosch has a software-driven shift sensing feature that works to reduce mashing by lowering motor power when it senses that you might be changing gears… but it’s not perfect. Given that this model uses a chain, it would have been nice to get a plastic chainring cover and short chain cover like I’ve seen on the Tern Vektro and Scott E-Sub Tour (both also powered by Bosch). Riese & Müller give you a curved chainring cover that does not fully enclose the sprocket or protect pants as completely from slumping down onto the chain and getting greasy. This is less of an issue if you opt for the belt-drive system with NuVinci internally geared hub because it doesn’t require lubrication and isn’t as sharp. All things considered, the motor is mounted well to the bottom bracket area of the frame keeping weight low and center and I only continue to hear great things about reliability from shops that sell bikes that use it including Propel in New York where I did this test ride. In the future, I’d love to see a tighter motor implementation on this and other R&M e-bikes. Some competing brands are starting to angle the motor and absorb it partially into the downtube instead of allowing it to stick forward and down so much. Minor grip but considering the high price here and emphasis on quality and style with the possibility for trail use, I feel that these angled designs could increase clearance and just look cooler. Here’s an example from Haibike.
Powering the Charger Mixte GT Touring HS is the latest Bosch Powerpack 500 with 25% more capacity than the older Powerpack 400. This is a big deal when you’re setup to ride at high speed because air resistance significantly draws power when you ride above 20 mph… like exponentially! The pack is mounted along the top of the downtube and protected well from above by an angled top tube. Mixte frames are stiffer than wave and deep step-thru models and in this case, the battery protection is an added bonus. The pack can be a little tricky to put on and take off because it clicks downwards and there isn’t a lot of space in the triangle area. I do appreciate how light the pack is and how easy it is to carry given the molded plastic loop at the top. You can charge this thing on or off the bike and the interface it connect to is the same as the older Powerpack 400 making it backward compatible. One drawback of the Mixte vs. standard high-step R&M Charger models is that it cannot accommodate a second battery pack. The frame just isn’t setup for it… but you could add a trunk bag or panniers and simply stow a second battery in the back (along with the charger and possibly a bottle of water since there are no bottle cage bosses on this frame). One final upgrade that the Bosch batteries offer is an LED charge level indicator. This readout allows you to quickly assess how full your pack is even when the bike is stored somewhere else.
Operating this bike is very intuitive. Once the battery is charged and connected to the frame (which by the way, uses the same key as the included Abus folding lock!) you just press the power button on the Bosch Intuvia display and it quickly loads some menus. The main dashboard shows bike speed, battery level (a five bar indicator), chosen level of assist (four levels) and a power meter to the right. As you pedal the bike, if you’re in any of the assist levels, a set of arrows may appear just above the speed readout and those are designed to help you determine when to shift gears for maximum motor efficiency. Just below the speed readout are trip stats like max speed, average speed and trip distance along with range. You can cycle through these menus using the i button on the display and also on the button pad mounted near the left grip. You really only need that i button and the up/down arrows on the control pad to use the bike once it’s turned on and they produce a satisfying tactile click that helps you understand what’s happening if you can’t look down while riding. The range menu mentioned earlier is cool because it calculates how far the bike can go based on remaining battery capacity, the last three miles of ride performance (based on terrain, speed and weight ont he bike) then factors in the chosen level of assist… so it dynamically updates as you change from Eco to Tour, Sport and then Turbo. I usually ride in Tour mode to maximize efficiency but it’s fun to climb quickly or dash ahead of fellow cyclists in Turbo mode. If you frequently ride above 20 mph and use Turbo a lot, you may not get more than 20 miles per charge, but that’s still pretty great compared to a lot of hub motor powered ebikes. The low-centered weight of the motor and battery here make the Charger Mixte stable and nimble.
While I wish this ebike was less expensive, I understand that it’s using premium parts and truly appreciate the frame size and drivetrain options. Riese & Müller build each bike to order, so it can take longer to receive them, but their reputation is fantastic and the bikes look beautiful. As a cyclist with limited space and budget, I think long and hard about which products to buy for myself and I tend to go for a “one size fits all” solution that will be capable in utilitarian circumstances like commuting to work and grocery shopping but I also love trail riding and enjoy taking the scenic route too. The fenders on this bike felt very solid and were wide enough to fully cover the 2.4″ tires… but they didn’t rattle a lot. I love that it comes with wired-in lights so I don’t have to worry about replacing batteries or forgetting to turn them off and I appreciate the reflective tires and optional white color scheme (to stand out more at night). Note that most of the shifter, brake and electronic wires on this bike are routed through the frame for protection and a cleaner look. You can enter into the display by holding i and reset to change from miles to kilometers, update the clock and adjust other settings. I havent focused on it yet but I was also very impressed with the XT drivetrain (which has a clutch to tighten the chain) and the oversized hydraulic disc brakes. This is mountain bike level componenentry but it makes sense on a speed bike. One gripe I have is that the lights automatically come on and stay on anytime the high-speed version is powered up. Apparently this is a European requirement, even though there’s a lights on/off button on the display panel. I was told that dealers in the US can disable this “always on” feature and I would probably do so because there are moments when I don’t want to blind fellow riders or just want to enjoy the evening mood out on a path away from automobiles where safety is less of a concern. There isn’t a lot I’d change about this bike, it performed well and felt solid. It’s a product that stays sporty and cool without intimidating shorter riders. I hear all the time from cyclists who are disappointed with high-step frames because they can barely balance when stopping and stepping down from the saddle. If you have a heavy bag or a child seat in the rear, it’s important to feel secure and in control and the Charger Mixte offers that. Big thanks to Riese & Müller for partnering with me on this post and to Propel and Chris for helping me with the side-by-side review!
- Strikes a balance between comfort and cost (at least in the R&M lineup), this is a hardtail but the front suspension is air to reduce weight and allow for more adjustability using air pressure and you get a Post Moderne suspension seat post, fatter 2.4″ tires also help
- The large tires are supported well by wide 40 mm rims from Alex, this way they don’t roll or pinch as easily if you decide to lower the PSI for comfort (the tires are rated from 30 to 55 PSI)
- The mid-step frame is easier to mount and stand over than a diamond high-step but stiffer and lighter than a deep-step wave frame, I love that it’s available in two frame sizes for improved rider fit
- In addition to multiple frame sizes, you also get two color choices and a range of drivetrains such as a 10 speed Shimano, internally geared hub or the continuously variable transmission from NuVinci
- Not all of the Charger Mixte models offer high speed operation but this version does and it’s great for commuting, you still get solid range because of the Bosch Powerpack 500 watt hour battery
- Great utility and safety features included stock, wide plastic fenders, integrated LED lights, a flick-bell, sturdy rack with adjustable rubber bungee straps and a folding lock!
- As a bicycle commuter myself, safety is a big issue in high-traffic areas and this bike does a good job keeping you visible with those lights, reflective sidewalls on the upgraded Schwalbe tires and giving you the option of a white frame which will reflect more from the sides
- Upgraded hydraulic disc brakes with large 180 mm rotors (front and rear) provide the stopping power you need for a heavier bike that could be carrying extra cargo and going faster than normal, I like that the brake levers are adjustable (even without tools!) so you can bring them in close if you have smaller hands or put on a pair of gloves
- Battery and motor weight are kept low and center which improves balance and handling, I like that the battery is positioned between the top tube and downtube so you won’t kick it when mounting like some other designs
- The front end of the bike is stiff and sturdy feeling thanks to a tapered head tube,
mountain bike suspension fork and 15 mm thru-axle, when you lock the front fork it rides stiff and solid which is great for flat hard surfaces at speed
- In many ways, this bike is setup like a trail or mountain bike (longer handlebars,
longer travel suspension, fatter tires) and it is off-road capable but being a speed bike, it’s neat to see it setup more for commuting, Chris said that many of his customers used to buy mountain bikes to then convert to urban commuting platforms and this one is already setup that way with a nice rack
- Great kickstand, it stays put and doesn’t rattle but is also adjustable (without tools) so you can extend or shorten it to suit the load on your rack or the angle of terrain you’re parking on
- The derailleur has a one way clutch (little grey lever on top) that tightens the chain and makes shifting snappier, this was designed for mountain biking and high-torque applications but is useful for speed pedelecs with mid-drive motors like the Charger Mixte GT Touring HS
- Bosch makes awesome motors and their Performance Speed product offers some of the best power and response that I have experienced, it also detects shifting and tries to back power down to reduce mashing and drivetrain wear
- The included Abus folding lock uses the same key as the battery pack! Since you already get multiple keys with the bike, it makes things less confusing and reduces clutter on your keychain
- I love having a removable battery pack and display panel, this keeps the fancy delicate parts safe if you park at a public rack, it’s neat that the display also has a 5 Volt Micro-USB port on the right side but it isn’t powerful enough to charge some devices like iPhones which require 1 Amp vs. the 500 mA here (Samsung devices and others should work)
- The suspension seat post is decent, definitely an upgrade from the really cheap circular posts, note that using this and most seat post suspensions will will raise the minimum saddle height which could make mounting difficult for riders with shorter legs
- Riese & Müller builds each bike to order so it takes a month or more two for processing and shipping, you might not get to experience the exact bike you want before purchase
- This bike is on the expensive side but it does come with a two year drivetrain warranty and R&M have a great reputation
- No bottle cage bosses here… the included folding lock is great and is one item I use bosses for so that sort of makes up for it but if you want hydration you might need a backpack or trunk bag with bottle holster like this
- At ~57 pounds, this is not the lightest electric bike around, even with the same components and accessories… I think Riese & Muller just builds their frames to be more sturdy,
which isn’t a bad thing! it just weighs more
- The motor and battery aren’t as hidden on this ebike, they blend in with the black frame a little bit more, the benefit is that the battery is very easy to take off for storage or independent charging
- I was a little surprised that the rear rack is rated at 44 lbs vs. 55 lbs on a lot of others (that don’t look or feel as robust as this), perhaps they are just being conservative?
- The lights always stay on by default… even though the Bosch Intuvia display panel has a lights on/off button, I think that’s silly
- Unlike the high-step Riese & Muller Charger, the Mixte frame does not have the ability to support two Bosch battery packs so you won’t be able to go as far (though you could simply bring an extra battery in a bag on the rack)