- A sporty speed-pedelec capable of 28 mph assisted rides, large efficient wheels with hybrid tires that balance comfort with speed and handling, color-matched plastic fenders, three frame colors
- Available in three frame sizes for improved fit, 60 mm suspension fork improves comfort and can be locked out to reduce bob and tighten handling on smooth terrain, flippable stem
- Quick release wheels, removable battery, and removable display panel for easy transport, charging and protection, built-in cafe lock for security on errands, sleek integrated LED lights
- The Bosch motor and battery don't blend in as much as some other products but are easier to access and replace or repair, they also keep weight low and center, built-to-order means longer wait times when purchasing
If you like the style of city bikes, single speeds and fixies, but want an electric bike and are excited about the Class 3 speed pedelec (which can reach ~28 mph assisted vs. just 20 mph) then the Riese & Müller Roadster Touring HS would be an excellent option. While to does compromise on style just a bit with the externalized battery, mid drive, and black suspension fork… it delivers top-end drive systems that are known for reliability and efficiency. You can easily top 40 miles per charge by using the lower two levels of assist and those miles won’t wear you down the way that a lof of rigid city bikes can. The suspension fork can be locked out when you’re on smooth surfaces but I definitely enjoyed unlocking it and experiencing 60 mm of travel while exploring the bumpy and wet city streets of Brooklyn New York for this review. The fenders too, really shined in the rain. And they look great in paint-matched blue, red, or black. Being plastic, these fenders will be lighter and more resilient than Steel or Aluminum… but I wasn’t sure about the noise or durability until the test rides. They stayed very quiet and offered great coverage up until I charged through some really deep puddles. And while I did not test out the optional rear rack, it looked great and offered standard gauge tubing which would be compatible with most clip-on panniers and trunk bags. One downside, however, is the limited 20 kg weight vs. a lot of other aftermarket racks that go up to 25 kg (55 lbs) but aren’t as slim and stylish. Riese & Müller offers suspension on all of their electric bikes and I feel like they maintained a certain style with the Roadster while staying true to comfort and utility. Medium-width tires, a high-quality gel saddle from Selle Royale, and the suspension fork work great together and might be enough that you don’t need to swap out the seat post for a suspension post… which is good considering how high the seat tube is. This model is only made in the classic diamond frame style, high-step, and although it’s available in three sizes, it’s still a tall bike that forces the saddle height up. Compared to many of the other R&M models, it’s less expensive and lighter weight, but at ~50 lbs, it’s heavier than a lot of competing e-bikes. Lots of trade-offs to consider here, but the style, high-quality manufacturing, and top-end drive system should not be overlooked. You get what you pay for, and each Riese & Müller electric bicycle is built to order. As I’ve learned more about the company and met it’s founding members, on two occasions, my interest and respect has grown. These are thoughtfully engineered ebikes from a company that has been around for many years and is now purely focused electric.
Driving the Roadster Touring HS model is a “high speed” Bosch Performance Speed motor. It offers the same torque that standard Performance Line motors do, 63 Newton meters, but is capable of assisting you up to ~28 mph. It’s really a blast to experience but does come with the implication of reduced efficiency. As I understand it, there’s an exponential relationship with increased speed and decreased efficiency due to air resistance above 20 mph. You can keep the bike slower if you want, just arrow down to lower levels of assist. It’s easy to keep track of your speed thanks to a large backlit display panel and with the larger Bosch Powerpack 500 battery, you’re getting roughly 25% more capacity than the older Bosch Powerpack 400… with only a half a pound of increased weight and the exact same form factor and size. Wow, it’s neat to see this type of advancement with technology and for those who already own a Bosch powered electric bicycle, there’s potential for alternating batteries. When riding in Eco or Tour mode, this motor is an energy sipper… it can be super efficient if you shift gears thoughtfully and can climb quite capably. But for those who need even more strength and plan to do mostly climbing, consider the optional Bosch Performance Line CX motor which peaks out at 75 Nm of torque. This motor cannot assist beyond 20 mph but is frequently used for e-mountain bikes. To me, the Roadster is more of an on-road product and as a ~135 lb rider, I don’t need the extra torque at all. But it’s nice to have options. The motor responds quickly as you pedal and stops almost instantly as you reduce pedal force. It delivers shift detection to reduce wear on the drivetrain and shift recommendation (an up and down arrow on the display) to help you pedal efficiently and know when to shift gears. Both the Speed and CX motor can assist up to 120 RPM (pedal strokes) which I enjoy because that equates to fast pedaling or “spinning”. Perhaps the only complaints are incrased noise at high RPM (the electronic whining noise you hear in the video review) and just a bulkier look. The black frame blends with the motor, battery and suspension fork best but I love the light blue, as it might be more visible to fellow riders and cars.
Regardless of the color you choose, there are two compact integrated LED lights which run off the battery pack. I love that the front light is fork mounted with an adjustable angle bracket because it points where you steer and can be used for “being seen” and “spotting the road”. The rear light is actually built into the fender and surprisingly bright! Sometimes, lights are built into racks or mounted on seat posts but since the rack is optional here and the seat may be positioned relatively low to the tube, it’s great that they didn’t just skip it and instead found some amazing fenders. Really, these fenders are the star of the show for me :) So the rear light stays out of the way if you have a trunk bag or panniers and can be seen from a wide range of angles including the side. It’s exactly the kind of system you want for city riding and since both lights are built-in, they won’t be stolen as easily and you save time when parking, not having to remove them or turn them off. I’ve already mentioned the battery pack but I love that it powers the lights, display panel, and Micro-USB port on the right edge of the Bosch Intuvia display. Unfortunately, this port only delivers 5 Volts at 500 milliamps vs. 1 Amp which is required to fill many iOS devices. The backlighting on the display cannot be turned off and the lights are designed to be on at all times… which can be annoying when riding with friends or in natural areas. The fact that the display panel has a dedicated lights on/off button that is disabled really grinds my gears. I reviewed this bike with Chris Nolte from Propel Bikes in New York and he explained that dealers can change this feature, at least in the US, so that the lights button works but that this is not the default.
Operating the drive systems on this e-bike is pretty straightforward. You charge and mount the battery, make sure the display is connected to the handlebar mount properly, and press the power on switch at the lower left corner. From here, it powers on very quickly and lists your current speed, assist level, battery level and a bunch of trip stats that can be navigated using the i button on the display panel or remote button pad near the left grip. This button pad is great because it’s easy to reach when riding without taking your hand off the bar and is so simple and physically intuitive that you can use it without even looking down. Press the up key for more power and speed or press the down key to slow down and improve efficiency. For those who want to change units on the display from miles to kilometers, press and hold the reset and i buttons on the display pad to enter settings. This is also where you can setup the clock and adjust shift recommendation. As mentioned earlier, the display is removable as well as the battery pack and both wheels offer quick release. This makes transport, storage, and maintenance a breeze. Basically, the bike is mostly “bicycle” with a unique bottom bracket. shops tend to be less intimidated when working on mid-drive products and since Bosch is a leader in the space, it’s possible that they will have seen or even worked on one before. Note that the display can be locked down using a set screw from behind and that the mount can be swiveled to reduce glare if not over-tightened.
Unlike most of the other Riese & Müller ebike products, the Roadster only comes in two flavors. Both use a standard Shimano Sora 9-speed cassette with derailleur but the HS (high speed) version offers a larger 18 tooth chainring vs. the 16 tooth for the 20 mph standard Touring model. It may not sound like a big difference, but the chainring rotates at roughly 2.5 revolutions for every crank arm revolution which means you multiply those teeth times 2.5 to get the equivalent standard cassette. The result is 40 vs. 45 teeth. In my opinion, there are enough gears to use for climbing and riding fast on both models but the extra teeth will slow the cadence of the HS version slightly, making it more comfortable to ride up to 28 mph. And of course, braking is important at high speed and you get 180 mm hydraulic disc brakes from Magura here. The levers are a bit larger (a requirement in Europe) but can be adjusted in or out for people with different sized hands or if you’re wearing gloves. The cockpit is clean but not empty and it looks like you get a flick bell on the right. Following the hipster city styling of the angular frame is a shorter bar (possibly to allow for navigating between cars easier) and ribbed rubber grips. Note, that the 17° stem can be flipped up or down to switch from a more upright relaxed or forward racy body position. I want to call out the extra reflector strips on the fork and the side cutouts on the headlight for side-exposure. Big thanks to Riese & Müller for partnering with me on this post and of course, Propel bikes for letting me get one of their demo models completely soaked! Most ebikes today are pretty well sealed against rain and light water exposure but Bosch is a standout. Their background in automotive engineering makes me feel even better riding in the rain or gently hosing the frame off after. You might want to use bike specific cleaners and silicon products to reduce creak and hard marks that some water can produce but otherwise it should be alright. I use a biodegradeable spray solution with a rag and usually clean my bike after mud or rain exposure.
- Excellent weight distribution with both the motor and battery pack mounted low and center on the frame, this is important for stability if you plan to ride at high speed
- Higher end Magura MT4 hydraulic disc brakes with 180 mm rotors provide great stopping power and won’t heat your rim and damage tires if you’re braking hard for long periods and have gear on the bike, the adjustable reach levers are handy if you’re riding with full gloves
- Medium sized tires and a 60 mm suspension fork offer comfort when riding at higher speed, but the fork can be locked out to reduce bob and increase efficiency on smooth terrain as well
- Classic diamond frame looks cool, offers strength and stiffness, provides enough room for a bottle cage mount on the seat tube, can easily be hung from the top tube on car and bus racks, and is available in three sizes for improved fit
- Available in three classic colors, each with high quality paint-matched plastic fenders that didn’t rattle during my test rides
- Great accessories that improve utility, in addition to the fenders there’s a cafe lock for quick stops (which uses the same key as the battery pack), an optional minimalist rack, nice rear-mounted kickstand (that stays out of the way of your cranks and motor) and integrated LED lights that run off the main battery
- The headlight is aimable and the rear light is built into the fender so it won’t take up rack space or get blocked by most trunk bags and panniers
- Amazingly, the Bosch Powerpack 500 battery is less than half a pound heavier than the older Powerpack 400 which was 25% smaller, they use the same mounting interface so if you already own one of those you can still use it here (or get a second battery for less money)
- I like that the stem can be flipped to raise or lower the handlebars and go for an aerodynamic forward body position or stay more upright for comfort
- You can get the Roadster model in a high-speed version as shown in this review or opt for higher torque with the Bosch CX motor which tops out at 20 mph vs. 28 mph
- Quality rims with reinforcement eyelets to support more weight and mechanical force produced by the motor at high speed
- Since the battery is higher capacity than most, it’s great that the charger is also faster than most, it offers 4 Amps vs. just 2 Amps of current but is compact and relatively lightweight at ~1.8 lbs
- The motor is incredibly responsive and can operate at a higher RPM for those who like to spin, it also incorporates shift-sensing to reduce strain on the chain, sprockets and derailleur
- High step frames like this can be difficult to mount and stand over for people with shorter inseams, they don’t offer it in a mid-step mixte or step-thru
- The Bosch motors are extremely responsive and reliable but do produce a distinct humming noise, especially at higher RPM operation
- Compared to some other city ebikes with a similar design that use hub motors, the Bosch motor stands out and the downtube battery isn’t as hidden or integrated
- Riese & Müller builds each purchased bike to spec, so you always get to choose the color and size… but that takes additional time (about one month to build and ship)
- The chainring has a parabolic plastic cover which should keep your pants or dress from snagging but a longer chain cover might have kept your clothes cleaner since the chain is still partially exposed
- This isn’t exactly a con, but riding at high speed (above 20 mph) drains the battery quicker due to air resistance and will limit your range… so the CX motor might actually get you further per charge depending on how you ride, you will just get there slower ;)
- I love that the display has an integrated Micro-USB charging port but was disappointed to learn that it only puts out 500 mA vs. 1 Amp (required for many devices like iPhones), you also cannot completely turn off backlighting on the display
- Weighing in at ~50 lbs, this is one of the lighter Riese & Muller electric bicycles,
but it’s not as light as many other city style bikes withe the classic diamond frame and narrow tires, I think the coil suspension fork adds weight
- Many of these speed pedelec ebikes from Europe come with unique settings, like you can’t use the lights button on the display by default… the lights are designed to always stay on for safety, Chris told me that some shops can update the settings so you get control over the lights again (which might be nice for people who enjoy riding in nature at night by moonlight or just want a stealth option)
- Many aftermarket rear racks can support up to 25 kg whereas the optional rack for this bike is only rated at 20 kg, since you have to pay more for their rack anyway, you could always just get your own
- The pedals were a little disappointing to me, I prefer large grippy platforms (especially in the rain) and these were kind of narrow and rubberized on top… so they won’t cut you if you slip off but you might slip more easily
- The wires and cables on this bike aren’t as integrated, they are run along the bottom of the top tube vs. inside it, and the battery pack isn’t sunk into the frame or cupped at the bottom…
I think it looks alright and the bike is clearly purpose-made given the custom motor interface, just different than the other R&M e-bikes
- Official Site: https://www.r-m.de/en-us/e-bike/roadster/roadster-touring-hs-us/#17R02US_0503
- More Pictures: https://goo.gl/photos/x7ubFFpzydxBUXZv8