- An approachable hybrid city electric bike with sturdy plastic fenders, integrated lights, a suspension fork and seat post, and optional rear rack and front porteur rack
- Available in the mixte mid-step frame style for lower stand-over height in two frame sizes and three colorways, powerful 180 mm disc brakes compliment the Bosch Performance Line motors (Speed or CX Torque)
- Great 10-speed drivetrain from Shimano with Shadow Plus clutch, two-way trigger shifters, shift detecting motor controller, and a chainring guard... it would be nice to have a little chain cover
- Priced a bit higher, R&M ebikes are built to suite and shipped from Germany so it can take longer to get riding, fast 4 Amp charger gets you back on the road quickly, removable battery pack and display for convenience and protection
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Having reviewed the 2017 Riese & Müller Roadster high-step, I was very excited to see what, if anything, had been upgraded for 2018. As someone with a sensitive left knee and hip issues, I’ve become a fan of mid-step “mixte” frame designs because they maintain rigidity and strength while lowering the stand over height. This makes them easier to approach and mount, especially if you’ve got a rear rack installed. And the latest Roadster models offer both front and rear racks… The rear rack connects with four bolts near the rear dropout and a long metal strip underneath the rear fender, so it almost looks like it’s floating and stays very clear of the saddle when lowered. I personally think that mid-step frames look a bit more masculine than wave step-thru frames and appreciate the minimalist designs that R&M offer… The frame and fenders are color matched while the fork, motor casing, and battery casing are all black. If you opt for the black color scheme, everything blends together perfectly, but you won’t be as visible during the night. Thankfully, these electric bikes come stock with integrated lights and the headlight has little blade cutouts along the left and right sides to increase your visual footprint. I love how the headlight has been mounted above the fork, making it sprung, so that it’s not bouncing all over the place. And the rear light is built right into the fender, keeping it clear of the optional rack and any bags you might attach. So, you’ve got lights, an integrated cafe lock (keyed alike to the battery for convenience), long plastic fenders with double struts to decrease rattling and tire rub, as well as an alloy chain guard, but I feel that a short plastic chain cover would provide that little bit of extra coverage for people who wear pants and skirts while riding… tis is a mixte after all! I test rode the small size 45 cm Mixte Touring model in Brooklyn New York with Chris Nolte of Propel Bikes. He had a medium sized high-step roadster Roadster in metallic green for us to compare back to back, and I came away loving the mixte. Both bikes have a decent spring suspension fork and adjustable suspension seat post. The fork offers rebound and compression adjust with lockout and I noticed that the headset was designed to prevent oversteer which would prevent the optional front rack from colliding with the frame when you park. The kickstand on offer is from Pletscher and can be adjusted for length, to keep the bike from leaning too far to the left, but I imagine that the front rack could still tip to the side and would impact steering a bit because it turns with you (as opposed to headtube mounted platform racks). Weighing in at ~48.3 lbs for the small sized frame with no racks installed, you’re doing pretty good… because you still get the lights, fenders, and the large sized Bosch Powerpack 500 battery. And, Riese & Müller offer two motor choices for different types of riding.
Powering the demo unit was a Bosch Performance Line CX motor with high-torque output of up to 75 Newton meters and a top assisted speed of 20 miles per hour (or 15.5 mph in Europe). I like how zippy and powerful this motor is but cal also appreciate the higher-speed Bosch Performance Line Speed motor option, which assists up to ~28 mph. If you’ve got a daily commute and clear roads, the speed option could be great, but it will drain your battery quicker due to air resistance at higher speeds and it only offers up to 63 Newton meters of torque. The CX is usually reserved for electric mountain bikes and can climb almost any hill (often losing traction before quitting) as long as you shift down to lower gears. It’s a great option for hilly rides and larger riders (or those with a lot of cargo to haul). Both the CX and Speed motors produce a bit more noise than other Bosch drive units and I’d say they are louder than Yamaha, Shimano, and definitely Brose when driven at the highest levels of assist. In the urban environment of Brooklyn, it wasn’t that noticeable. This motor, and accompanying sensor system and control unit, offers shift detection to keep your drivetrain from wearing out, and the display offers an up and down arrow shift recommendation readout, to help you maximize range. It’s measuring your rear wheel speed, pedal cadence, and pedal torque, over one-thousand times per second! And Chris told me that Bosch designs sensors for smartphones and self-driving cars which it may have borrowed from when designing their motor controller. It’s definitely one of the smartest drive systems available today, but is also a bit unique in how it functions… Instead of using a traditional sized chainring, they opted for a compact proprietary sprocket that will grab the chain a bit better and possibly start and stop faster with increased mechanical advantage though also produce some friction through reduction gearing. Basically, the chainring spins 2.5x for each crank arm revolution… and if you’re pedaling without motor assistance, this gearing conversion adds a bit of work to each pedal stroke, though not much in my experience. The bikes still coast normally and I was easily able to top 20 mph when pedaling down a small hill during the video review. You get a solid 10-speed drivetrain here with Shimano Deore derailleur that has a one-way clutch system. This little grey lever basically tightens the chain for off-road or high-speed use, it’s another part that is usually reserved for mountain bikes.
You can probably start to see how this electric bicycle is overbuilt, especially for urban use. However, the suspension for is connected through a tapered head tube and the front wheel uses a 15 mm thru-axle (as you would see on a mountain bike) so you really can ride this on packed dirt trails and feel solid. The tires are medium-width and have a checkered tiny-tread pattern that should grip in all sorts of weather conditions. Expect your shoes and lower shins to get wet however, because the front fender doesn’t go quite as far down or include a mud flap. The tread probably adds some buzzing to the sounds already being produced by the motor, and isn’t going to roll quite as efficiently, but that’s not a huge deal because the battery pack included here is the larger Powerpack 500 from Bosch. It offers roughly 25% more capacity than the older Powerpack 400 but only weighs ~0.4 lbs more. Both packs will work with the mount on this bike, so if you already own a Powerpack 400 or want to ship your bike somewhere by air, it should be easy to find a loaner battery on location. And this is where one of the big changes from 2017 comes up. The top tube has been widened and flattened and the downtube is still round until it reaches the battery mount, where it sinks down and is also flatened! This should make the battery mount more sturdy and it also improves the aesthetic of the battery integration while lowering it slightly for improved handling and easier mounting, especially with the mixte frame. The battery casing is all black, there are no accent stickers or anything, but I was a bit intrigued to find some black stripes on the motor casing this year. The Roadster has just a bit of style here and there, but remains mostly minimalist and strong in appearance. The left side of the battery casing has a five-LED charge level readout that can be used when the pack is mounted to the frame or kept separately. There’s a big plastic loop at the top of the pack which you can use to lift and carry with. These batteries can cost ~$900 to replace, so having a handle is quite useful to avoid accidental drops. I love that you can charge the battery on or off the frame with the same charger plug, there aren’t any dongles or accessories to screw around with, and the charger itself is relatively compact and lightweight at 1.7 lbs with that fast 4 Amp output vs. 2 Amps on many low and mid-level bikes.
Yes, you are paying more for Riese and Muller products, but you are getting an excellent warranty and support through some of the best shops in America (and abroad). This is a brand that really seems to scrutinize who they take on as dealers, and I have met one of the Co-Founders, Heiko Müller, who seems very dedicated to quality. One of the big upgrades for me with this model compared with some other city bikes, is that the display is so easy to use and read. It’s the larger Bosch Intuvia LCD which is removable and has an integrated Micro-USB port so you can charge your smartphone on the go. This display sits at the center of your handlebar but is controlled mostly through a reachable button pad near the left grip. There’s a plus and minus button to raise and lower assistance, and an i button at the center which cycles through menus. You turn the display on with the power button at the lower left corner of the display. It blinks on quickly and is always backlit with a faint blue glow. The top portion shows a battery charge indicator (the save five bar readout as we talked about on the side of the battery box) and below that, you’ve got a speedometer. Just to the right, there’s a readout of assist level (eco, tour, eMTB or Sport, and Turbo). If you opt for the 20 mph Bosch CX motor as shown in the review here, you’ll get eMTB mode which is like a “do everything” setting that offers 120% to 300% assist. By giving you a full range of power, this model allows you to focus on the road, on steering the bike, possibly on your cargo, and on shifting… and then let the motor controller think for you, primarily based on pedal torque, how much power to deliver. It works well and is especially relevant to mountain biking but also city riding where there could be lots of quick starts and stops to avoid traffic and pedestrians. Bosch has a new smaller display called the Purion which is integrated with the button pad, saving weight and cost, but I love how large and easy to read the Intuvia is. This display also offers shift recommendation (up and down arrows to help guide your shifting technique to maximize motor efficiency) as well as average speed, max speed, and trip time readouts. You can go in and change the settings on the display by holding Reset and i on the LCD unit and you can activate and de-activate the lights by pressing the light icon on the lower right corner… if you’re on the 20 mph ebike, I believe the high-speed model forces the lights to stay on at all times.
These reviews always seem to go long, and have big writeups, because there is so much thought and care put into them. I do my best to cover everything but welcome your input. Some of the other things I noticed were that the rims used reinforcement eyelets for improved strength, the chainring guard is Aluminum alloy vs. plastic and the right chain stay has a long slap guard sticker to keep it looking good, the trigger shifters near the right grip offer two-way action for the high gear and multi-shift for going to low gears, and the motor provides up to 120 RPM pedal support. So many times, you won’t get these little upgrades and that can mean increased maintenance or more adaptation when riding vs. doing your own thing and having the bike work with you. This is especially true with the RPM support! As someone who likes to spin fast and pedal in low gears (to ease the tension on my knee and maximize cardio) I like that the bike will support how I pedal and that I don’t have to shift as frequently to reach higher speeds, I just pedal faster. It comes in handy when pedaling quickly from a light and then stopping quick for pedestrians in a city environment like New York. I wouldn’t call this electric bike cheap, but I would say you’re getting what you pay for and I trust both Riese & Müller and Bosch. It’s the kind of bike that you could use like a car for daily commuting, and while I’d love to see fully reflective tires, and a frame mounted front rack option, I do appreciate the keyed-alike frame lock and sturdy fenders. The brake levers offer adjustable reach for people with larger or smaller hands (perfect for the small sized mixte), and I love that the suspension elements are adjustable too… because I’m a lightweight rider. You could flip the stem and put the spacer above if you wanted to get aerodynamic with the speed motor, but I enjoyed the upright body position here and would probably opt for the rear rack upgrade and stick with the CX motor myself. Big thanks to R&M for partnering with me on this post, and to Chris Nolte for taking me on some fun rides with both frame options so we could describe the differences. I would guess that the high-step could be easier to mount on some hang-style car and bus racks, but love that you can reduce the weight of either model by taking the battery and display off. Both wheels offer quick release for easier flat fixes and on-the-go maintenance, just be sure to lock them up with a cable at the bike rack so nobody walks off with your nice wheelset ;)
- Updated downtube design with a step-in section for the battery mount, this should improve strength compared to the old round downtube and it position the battery slightly lower which creates room for the lower top tube (lowering stand-over height and making the bike easier to mount)
- Both the battery pack and motor are positioned near the center of the frame which creates a stable ride, both wheels offer quick release and the drivetrain is less intimidating to work on than some hub motor setups I’ve seen
- Nice fenders, they are connected with double-struts to reduce rattling and are lightweight plastic which tends to “bounce back” if you bump them, they won’t rust like steel or bend like aluminum
- Two frame sizes and multiple color choices, I love how the white gloss stands out in the dark but also appreciate how the black fenders, motor casing, battery casing, and wires all blend in on the black, if you opt for the high-step frame it comes in three sizes
- This is a purpose-built electric bike from one of the leading companies in Germany, note the internally routed cables and custom bottom bracket motor mount, the tapered head tube and 15 mm thru-axle means you can upgrade to fancier suspension if you want
- Larger 28″ wheels with medium width 1.5″ tires provide efficiency and smooth coasting over cracks but aren’t as forgiving as 2″ and larger, so I was really thankful to have a suspension fork and suspension seat post
- The Bosch Intuvia is one of my favorite e-bike displays because it’s large and easy to read, removable for safe keeping, has an integrated Micro-USB port for charging portable electronics, and the mount works with the COBI platform
- Front and rear LED lights run off of the main rechargeable battery pack, and the mount for this pack is backward compatible to the older and lower capacity Bosch Powerpack 400… so you could swap it out if you already have one or get a loaner or rental pack easily when traveling, I love that the headlight is mounted to the bike frame vs. the fork arch so it won’t bounce up and down if you ride over bumpy terrain
- The R&M Roadster Mixte is available with either the high-torque Bosch CX motor (sown here) or the Bosch Performance Line Speed motor which goes up to 28 mph vs. just 20 mph (or 15 mph in Europe)
- Unique Bloclock headset will stop your handlebars from steering all the way into your frame and scratching it, this is something I occasionally see on fancy mountain bikes, it’s also going to be useful if you get the optional front rack (so it doesn’t dump out as easily)
- Very nice drivetrain for a hybrid city bike, the Deore 10-speed is mid-level in the Shimano groupset and offers Shadow Plus clutch engagement for reduced chain slap on rough terrain or high speeds (especially relevant if you get the Performance Line Speed motor option)
- The bike comes with an ABUS frame lock pre-installed and keyed-alike to the battery mount’s locking core, it’s convenient and means you won’t have to carry around extra keys which could get lost or just take up space in your pocket/bag
- The hydraulic disc brakes use larger 180 mm rotors for rapid cooling and increased power, this helps you manage the larger wheel diameter and is great for the optional Speed motor
- The battery can be charged on or off the frame and Bosch has designed a loop handle in to the plastic casing for safe lifting and carrying, I like that you get the faster 4 Amp charger with this bike too, so you can get back out there quickly
- Bosch has been around for over 100 years and because they work in the automotive industry a lot, they tend to offer long term warranty support and parts availability, you get two years comprehensive coverage here with possibly 10 years of parts coverage on the motor and battery pack as I understand it
- I love the plastic fenders and appreciate the chainring guard but have seen short chain covers that provide more protection for pant legs and dresses, you can see what I’m talking about on this Felt model
- There are no rear rack bosses or bottle cage bosses on the mixte frame, and that’s a bummer if you want to commute because it means you might have to wear a backpack or use a less stable beam rack like this, although it looks like Riese & Müller does sell a special Racktime rack that mounts to the fender or a new front rack… definitely check on those options at the time of purchase if you want to carry cargo regularly, I cannot say for sure but I believe the front rack turns as you steer vs. being bolted to the head tube and that means it could impact the feel of steering and dump to one side when you park and load
- I like the checkered trail tread on the tires but would probably be using this ebike in mostly city environments, so it would have been nice to getfull reflective sidewalls to increase the visual footprint of the bike (as it stands, the writing on the tires may be semi-reflective), I do like how the headlight has cutouts on the sides so you can be seen from multiple angles
- Riese & Müller builds each bike to suit, which means they turn out exactly how you want (the color, motor choice, sizing etc.) but it also takes longer to arrive, especially in the USA as they ship from Germany
- The way Bosch has designed their current-generation Performance Line motors, there’s a reduction gear inside that rotates the chainring 2.5x for every 1 crank arm revolution you pedal… this adds a little bit of friction and drag if you’re riding with the motor off but won’t slow you down coasting or anything
- The Performance Line Speed and CX motors produce an electronic whirring noise at higher power and higher speeds, these are some of the loudest mid-drives in the Bosch lineup (check the video review above to hear them in action)