- A rugged, powerful, and versatile electric bike platform with dual frame-integrated Bosch Powertube 500 batteries for excellent range and beautiful look, room for a bottle cage
- The Touring model utilizes an 11-speed Shimano Deore XT drivetrain with Shadow+ and a one-way clutch, the hardware is lightweight (compared to Rohloff or a CVT) and benefits from Bosch shift detection
- Upgraded Shimano Deore XT 180 mm hydraulic disc brakes with adjustable levers, robust air suspension fork with lockout and 15 mm thru-axle, included Thudbuster ST seat post suspension
- Excellent Busch & Müller LED lights and reflective Schwalbe Super Moto-X tires, the headlight has side cutouts for increased visual footprint, comfortable saddle, premium rack with Bibia straps, Ergon grips
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While visiting the UK for the London Bike Show in early 2018, I got to check out some of the new Riese & Müller ebike models at a shop called Fully Charged. The R&M Charger was one of my favorite platforms, because it’s so versatile! You can get a mixte mid-step frame or the classic diamond, and opt for urban tires or a trail-worthy cross country setup… however, the dual battery Supercharger only comes in high-step right now. It’s a hardtail platform that includes a solid bolt-on rear rack, but offers full-suspension feel with included Thudbuster Short Travel (ST) suspension seat post and gel saddle from Selle Royal. I have reviewed prior Charger models which utilize the plastic external Bosch Powerpacks, but the latest Powertube versions feature integrated alloy-encased batteries that are completely hidden from view. This design update adds at least 1 lb (0.45 kg) of combined battery weight between two packs, and probably adds frame tubing weight as well. Compared to the older Charger GX Rohloff model I weighed at ~65.3 lbs (with two batteries attached), the Supercharger GT Touring weighs ~68.5 lbs (with the dual Powertubes inserted). And, the older GX had a heavier Rohloff hub vs. cassette here. Anyway, you end up with similar weight distribution despite the different battery positioning because the lower pack inserts from the base of the downtube while the upper pack inserts from the top (the lower pack being lower, and the higher pack being higher, relatively speaking). Thankfully you now have room for a downtube mounted water bottle cage or second folding lock because there are two threaded eyelets on the downtube. Just like the Delite, this model also has water bottle mounting pins near the head tube, for keeping hydration close within reach (they interface with a proprietary Fabric water bottle that slides on). Overall, the Supercharger is a smart product, extremely well engineered, beautiful looking, and capable of long-range touring or commuting without sacrificing comfort or safety. Nothing was skipped over here from what I can tell. The rims and fenders are extra wide to suit the tires, both batteries can charge simultaneously when mounted to the frame, and the Intuvia control pad is easily removable, can be swiveled to reduce glare, and has a Mini USB charging port for maintaining a GPS or smartphone, you could also upgrade the Intuvia for a fancier Nyon in Europe (with color display and integrated GPS) or swap for the COBI system to utilize your smartphone as an all-in-one display. I also noticed that the rear rack and folding ABUS lock are positioned low to allow for maximum saddle clearance in the lowest position. Weight, cost, and sometimes-finicky battery covers seem to be the only trade-offs with this electric bicycle, that I discovered.
Driving the bike is one of my favorite ebike motor systems, the Performance Line mid-drive from Bosch. Whether you get the high torque CX or Speed model, the performance is great. It measures rear wheel speed, pedal cadence and pedal torque over 1,000 times per second, and rotates a smaller 19 tooth chainring 2.5 times per single crank revolution. This chainring has one fewer teeth than the US version, which supports riders up to 32 km/h based on different regulations, the UK version offers 15.5 mph 25 km/h top speeds (unless you get the speed motor) so the slightly smaller chainring makes perfect sense. All Bosch chainrings are smaller than average, offering a mechanical advantage to the motor and better chain retention, but this produces a bit more whirring noise at high RPM. Also, reduction gearing produces a bit of drag when pedaling unassisted or above the top assisted speed, and this configuration 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. The bike pedals comfortably at a range of speeds and the motor provides four levels of zippy assist, so you don’t notice the higher weight of the bike as much as you’d think. An alternative drivetrain on offer is the NuVinci continuously variable transmission hub which we saw on a standard Charger during the video above (only having one battery), and it allows for shifting at standstill. I have heard people complain about a bit of inefficiency with the NuVinci, power loss during pedaling through the drivetrain compared to other systems, but it’s extremely fluid shifting through gear rations and quiet. The dual battery configuration makes the NuVinci inefficiency less of an issue, but the rear wheel is still more difficult to service with this or an internally geared hub because they give up quick release. The third drivetrain option is a Rohloff geared hub, which would be the most robust and durable, but adds significant weight and cost. 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 about shifting under load. However, 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. You can imitate this yourself by simply pedaling gently while shifting. Shift detection is one of the features that really set Bosch apart in the space, and while not perfect, it’s a welcome feature in my book. Given that this model uses a chain, it would have been nice to get a short chain cover like I’ve seen on the Tern Vektron and Scott E-Sub Tour (both also powered by Bosch). Riese & Müller do include an alloy chainring guard, but it does not fully enclose the sprocket or protect pants from the chain, the NuVinci setup does have a little plastic cover though, to protect pants from the belt. To me, this isn’t as necessary on the NuVinci because belt drives tend to stay clean and do not require lubrication like a chain… I guess you could still have the fabric of your pant leg caught between the belt and beltring (this has happened to me before). Whatever, feel free to correct me or comment, I’d just like a chain cover for the chain versions of this drivetrain :) The motor itself is mounted to the bottom bracket area of the frame, keeping weight low and center, and protected by a black plastic casing. In the future, I’d love to see a tighter motor implementation on this and other R&M e-bikes if that’s compatible with the longer Powertube batteries. I feel that these angled designs could increase clearance and just make the bike look cooler. Here’s an example from Bulls which also uses the Powertube and looks stellar.
Powering the Supercharger GT Touring are two of the latest Bosch Powertube 500 battery packs, offering a total of nearly one kilowatt hour capacity. It’s enough juice to reach almost 200 miles (322 km) if you use the lowest Eco setting and aren’t climbing a lot, or something like 55+ miles (89 km) range in Turbo. With 25% more capacity than the older Powerpack 400’s, but the same as the most recent Powerpack 500’s, each one of these new Powertube packs weighs ~6.03 lbs. This is 0.5 lbs more than the plastic encased Powerpack, and there’s no integrated handle. You still get a 5-bar LED charge indicator built into the end, and you can still charge the packs independently when removed from the frame… even use the older chargers. Bosch has a two amp travel charger and the included faster four-amp charger. I like how even the nicer charger is compact and weighs under two pounds. I really like how Bosch and Riese & Müller have designed the battery insertion and removal sequence here. The packs don’t just flop out, there’s a two-step process whereby the pack is unlocked with a key and then sprung outward a little bit. The second step requires you to press a plastic button to unclip all the way, it ensures that the upside-down mounted pack won’t just fall out when unlocked.
Operating this bike is very intuitive. Once the battery is charged and connected to the frame, you simply 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 to maximize motor efficiency. Just below the speed readout are trip stats including max speed, average speed and trip distance along with a timer and range estimate. 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 switched on,, and they produce a satisfying tactile click that helps you understand what’s happening, even 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 on the 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. I already mentioned the integrated Mini-USB port and want to call out the always-on white backlighting. It’s convenient in the dark, but can sometimes feel a bit bright and distracting. This is something that can be adjusted on the fancier Nyon, but the Intuvia has a set brightness. Both displays can also be swiveled to reduce glare, so that’s one way that you could also redirect the glow of backlighting.
R&M products offer the comfort, performance, and reliability of automobiles. This is the sort of e-bike that you can rely upon, and the puncture resistant tires only add to that. Both wheels offer quick release, so be sure to lock them, and it comes in handy when moving the bike or performing light service on the go. I feel that the Charger dual-battery setup would make for an excellent trekking or touring bike, because the integrated batteries free up the inner triangle for bags. The bike feels stiff and responsive, despite being heavier, and gives you a sense of strength and momentum that takes the edge off of little bumps and cracks. Keep in mind that the larger tubing might not work with all bags, you may have to modify them a bit, and that the longer Powertube batteries may not be as easy to fit into some bags (if you bought a third or fourth battery pack to bring along. The charger however, is very compact and easy to bring. If you buy this from your local dealer, it can take some time to be custom built by Riese & Müller (sometimes over eight weeks), and if you buy from out of country you may need a plug converter. I’d like to thank Fully Charged for partnering with me on this post and hosting me during a visit to London. We filmed a shop tour and some highlights at the London Bike Show that you can check out on the ElectricBikeReivew.com YouTube Channel. Chime in with questions and feedback below, I’ll do my best to answer quickly and thoughtfully. You may also connect with shops and riders directly in the Riese & Müller Forums.
- This is a hardtail model but the front suspension is air which reduces weight and offers sag adjustability as well as compression and rebound, you get a Thudbuster ST suspension seat post as well as fatter 2.4″ tires with increased air volume for stability and vibration dampening
- 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 dual integrated battery setup is only available in high-step diamond frames, but R&M still offer three sizes, and this type of frame tends to be stiffer and lighter than mid-step or step-thru designs
- In addition to multiple frame sizes, you also get two color choices and a range of drivetrains including the 11-speed Shimano, internally geared Rohloff hub or continuously variable transmission from NuVinci
- You can order this bike with the Class 1 Bosch CX high torque motor or a Bosch Performance Line Speed for Class 3 operation which is great for commuting, you still get solid range because of the dual Bosch Powertube 500 watt hour batteries (a total of ~1,000 watt hours)
- Great utility and safety features included stock: wide plastic fenders from SKS, integrated LED lights from Busch & Müller, a flick-bell, sturdy rear rack with adjustable rubber bungee straps and a folding ABUS Bordo 6000 lock keyed-alike!
- 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 tires and giving you the option of a silver frame color 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 ~68.5 lbs 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 are wearing gloves
- Battery and motor weight are kept low and center which improves balance and handling, I like that the batteries are positioned inside the frame tubing for added protection and extra space for bottle cage mounts
- 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 out 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 100 mm suspension, fatter tires) and it is off-road capable as long as you don’t require knobby tires for deep traction, you could always swap the tires depending on the season or type of riding
- Great kickstand, it stows securely and doesn’t rattle but is also adjustable so you can extend or shorten it to suit the load on your rack when parking
- 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 also makes servicing the rear wheel easier
- Bosch makes awesome motors and their Performance Line CX product offers some of the best power and response that I have experienced, it also detects shifting and tries to reduce power for less mashing and drivetrain wear
- I love having a removable display panel and battery packs because it allows you to keep them away from extreme temperatures or harsh environments (like public bike racks), the display offers onboard charging with a 5 Volt Micro-USB port on the right side
- The Block Lock headset keeps you from oversteering and bumping the headlight on the downtube (which would bend it and scratch the frame), the headlight is frame-mounted and won’t rattle or flicker the way that a suspension arch mounted light would
- I like how the trigger shifters have two-way action and multi-shift, appreciate the range estimate menu on the display, the dual-battery infographic readout (that the batteries are drained together vs. one at a time), and that you can get eMTB mode with the CS drive unit which is sort of an all-in-one drive mode based more on torque
- The Bosch Performance Line motors can support up to 120 pedal strokes per minute, this is faster (and feels stronger at high RPM) than most of the other motors I have tested, it means you can spin fast to gain speed vs. having to shift gears, it’s more satisfying and easier on my knees in this sense
- The plastic battery slot covers seem durable and look alright, but were tricky to seat at times, I had to align them just right and push pretty hard at times (perhaps it just takes practice?)
- It’s very heavy for a hardtail, the reinforced frame and second battery pack add at least seven more pounds (3.2 kg)
- The suspension seat post will will raise the minimum saddle height by a few inches which could make mounting difficult for riders with shorter legs, you could always swap it for a rigid post
- Riese & Müller builds each bike to order so it takes around six weeks for processing and shipping (though Fully Charged in London says they keep ~20 in stock for faster orders), 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, five years on the frame, and R&M have a great reputation
- For as nice as the battery integration, the motor isn’t as hidden on this ebike, they’re using the stock oval cover design that isn’t tilted up and merged with the frame tubing like some Moustache, Haibike and Bulls models
- I was a little surprised that the rear rack is rated at 44 lbs (20 kg) vs. 55 lbs (25 kg) on a lot of others that don’t look or feel as robust as this, perhaps R&M are just being conservative?