Why Riese & Muller?
Posted on 11 February 2021
A Riese & Muller Load 60 cargo bike in its natural habitat. (Photo by Lars Schneider)
Curbside Cycle is well-known in Toronto and beyond for our “hell-yes” passion for unique, practical bicycles. Cargo bikes are a classic form of transportation in Europe and have been used for over a century to haul goods throughout narrow streets, and most recently have been co-opted as family vehicles to ferry kids and groceries across the city. The European city bike has been a transportation tool since its inception and we’re thrilled that it continues to delight people worldwide with its simplicity and practicality.
With the sudden arrival and persistent presence of Covid-19, we’ve seen a huge movement towards bicycle transport. In 2020, no one wanted to be sharing airspace with crowds of people on public transit, and we sold an insane number of bikes to all types of novice and veteran riders as a result. Our bikes specialize in urban living but know how to have fun - many are more than capable of ripping up some trails or long rides on the weekends.
But what if a bike could do more? What if your bike could be your companion and car replacement not just in asphalt-paved cities, but in the outports of Newfoundland, on logging roads in British Columbia, even on the summertime tundra of Nunavut? Could a bike excel as an urban workhorse, longhaul touring rig, and adventure bike, and not be a people-pleasing mess of geometry and parts?
The answer is yes - and the company that’s exceeded these expectations in every class is Riese & Muller.
THE HISTORY OF RIESE & MULLER
Markus Riese and Heiko Müller met in engineering school in the late 1980s and started messing around with bikes together. In 1992, Markus had an idea for a folding bike that used the rotation joints in tandem with a full suspension system. After learning of the Hesse Innovation competition 10 days before its submission deadline, the duo spent every waking moment in the shop to submit their invention. The Birdy bike emerged, entered, and subsequently won the prize, leading to international interest in Riese & Muller’s ideas and innovations. A bike company was born.
With the rise of the environmental sustainability movement in the early 2000s, Riese & Muller refined their bikes to work in urban as well as off-road environments to replace fossil-fuel vehicles with bicycles that sacrificed nothing in their design. As e-bikes become an option for everyone (not only elders and those suffering on long journeys or hill-climbs), Riese & Muller continue to push the envelope on what’s possible for families and individuals seeking more active modes of transportation. They have widened their lineup to include cargo bikes alongside those honed for urban, off-road, and adventure uses.
Markus Riese & Heiko Muller - fathers, friends, and founders of Riese & Muller.
Riese & Muller as a company is built on one fundamental principle: that cycling needs to be both comfortable and functional - and that this is only possible with full-suspension systems. Each of their bikes is designed with this in mind and reflects the immense amount of engineering present through sleek lines and thought-through geometry.
Another thing that sets Riese & Muller apart is their customization options. They know that bikes are not a one-size-fits-all item because every individual rider needs different things for different purposes. That’s why Riese & Muller bikes have such a vast number of customization options on each and every model. Build the exact bike you need, without frills or unnecessary accoutrements and no stone left unturned.
Similarly to other German brands we carry, Riese & Muller prioritizes German-made components on their bikes - and for good reason. Companies like ABUS, Magura, Busch & Muller, Supernova, Schwalbe, Rohloff and Racktime are household names across Europe and represent exceptional build quality and engineering that no other company can match.
BOSCH E-BIKE SYSTEMS - THE FUTURE IS NOW
With a kit like that, no cherry on top is needed - but Riese & Muller complete the set with their inclusion of Bosch systems on every bike. Trusted by 30 e-bike companies worldwide, Bosch builds exclusively mid-drive motor systems to provide power where it matters and maintains the most stability for the bike - right between your feet. Four power modes can provide 40% to 400% additional input, thanks to lithium-ion batteries that hold enough power for 100-250km of travel before requiring recharge.
An e-bike motor relies on the rider to provide input - not only pedaling energy, but instruction on how to behave. Good e-bike systems will read the torque the rider is placing on the pedals in the form of downward exertion and add the required electric input to compensate, allowing the rider to maintain a steady cadence regardless of topography. However, some poorly-designed systems are “laggy” - it takes a second or two for the motor to respond to the rider’s input, creating a jumpy response that can feel unpredictable and especially unsettling in urban stop-and-go traffic. Bosch systems do some mad computing, crunching the numbers 1,000 times a minute - 16 times every second - to ensure you’re getting exactly the power you need in the millisecond that you need it. And best of all, it tempers the boost based on how fast you’re riding at the moment - meaning no drag-race jump-starts, just smooth acceleration that feels natural (if natural was being superhuman).
Pushing uphill needn't be a Herculean effort - trust Bosch to get you to your destination sweat-free and looking svelte. (Photo by Lars Schneider)
BOSCH COCKPIT COMPUTERS: KITT CAR BRAINS, FOR BIKES
Having an excellent, well-built motor and battery system on an e-bike is one thing - having a strong, intuitive, well-built bike computer to match is another entirely. Bosch pairs its systems with five computer options, all designed in-house to work seamlessly with the motor. If you’re looking for a more traditional bike without the bells and whistles of a complex computer, you can opt for the Intuvia or Purion displays that are controlled with simple thumb-toggle buttons alongside your handlebar grips. But if you want something entirely 21st century, look no further than the Kiox, Nyon, or Smartphone Hub displays. These computers can provide stats on fitness level and energy output, altitude, navigation, and real-time estimated arrival time based on traffic and route - even connection to music and audiobook apps.
MEET THE LINEUP
Riese & Muller have been at the drawing board for so long that they’ve designed a bike for nearly everyone. Let’s take a look at their specialties.
If you’re hauling children, pets, groceries or business supplies (or doing a long expedition tour and need lots of space for gear), the cargo lineup is for you. The major difference between a Riese & Muller cargo bike and any of the other two-wheeled cargo bikes we carry is the learning curve. Most bikes take a little time to get used to - they can feel wobbly when setting off from a standstill and it takes a bit of getting used to steering with weight in the box with the front wheel so far from the handlebars. With a Riese & Muller, there is absolutely no learning curve - it feels exactly like riding a regular bike. This might not sound like a big deal, but the amount of engineering and finesse required to make this a reality is enormous - and a total gamechanger for families trading in their cars for cargo bikes.
People looking for a more traditional “long tail” design for older kids or cargo at the rear can look into the Multicharger bikes. Available in both roadster and mixte frames, they will suit riders of various heights for ultimate utility.
The Load 60 and Load 75 bikes are more rugged - with full-frame suspension in both the fork and rear triangle, these bikes are bred for off-road use and excel on bikepacking expeditions. However, they are also excellent on urban roads littered with potholes, or for families seeking a cargo bike that can do more than carry kids. Both the Load 60 and 75 have optional lockable boxes to keep belongings safe if left outdoors with the bike, and the huge number of customization options ensure this bike can be built exactly how you need it.
The Packster 40 and Packster 70 are fraternal twins. The Packster 40 is designed to be a compact cargo bike that is nimble in traffic due to its shorter wheelbase while still being able to carry a child in the optional front box. The Packster 70 is on the opposite end of the spectrum, with a high-density impact-resistant foam front box that can carry up to 375 litres of cargo. If you have kids galore or need maximum space for bulk-store grocery runs, the Packster 70’s got your back.
The Packster 70 has enough room for kids, groceries, and your (not so) little dog too. (Photo by Lars Schneider)
These bikes are designed for urban riding, but don’t let that fool you - they’re game for any off-road adventure you can hurl at them thanks to well-hidden suspension systems and GX customization options. Front and rear racks add carrying capability for panniers or baskets for groceries or gear.
If you live in a small space and want a bike you can store indoors, the Tinker is your bike. A small frame packs a punch with the same battery and Bosch motor found on full-size Riese & Muller bikes, meaning you can go the same distance with an identical power-kick as your friends. An optional rear cargo box makes this a great companion for cargo pickups too.
The Roadster bike is the most svelte of the city lineup and utilizes an internal-frame battery to go incognito as a non-assist bike. Thinner tires make it a bit faster on paved roads, while an optional front and rear rack add touring capability if your weekends plans include some sightseeing outside city limits. This bike is available in roadster and mixte frame designs for taller and smaller riders.
The Nevo is what’s called a “low step” - the bike doesn’t have a crossbar, only a downtube - allowing for easy mounting and dismounting. Instead of throwing your leg over the rear of the bike like it’s a horse, a low step allows you to step over the frame of the bike with ease - perfect for folks with reduced mobility in their hips, or parents with a kid seat on the rear rack. No children or chronic pain? No problem - this bike design is also great for rides with strapped-down loads like tents, baggage, or other bulky cargo on the rear rack.
The Homage is a dual citizen: the low-step and spec knobless tires make it excellent for urban riding, but it’s also blessed with full suspension in the front and rear of the frame and has a GX option available, making it a wicked bike for off-road riding as well. An integral rear rack that “floats” above the rear wheel means that you can carry whatever you want without affecting the significant pothole-dampening capabilities of this bike. If you’re looking for a bike that fits into both urban and off-road worlds seamlessly without breaking a sweat, choose the Homage as your loyal companion.
For those seeking an urban bike that can do some serious heavy lifting on trails while maintaining a streamlined look on the street, the Charger and Supercharger bikes fit the bill. They have more robust seat-stays than the Roadster bikes, but aren’t as beefed up as the Delite or Superdelite models. Their thick-diameter frame construction provides extra strength for harsher road conditions and they are reliable rides for on-and off-road adventuring.
The Tinker is small enough to navigate city streets with ease, but not so big you can't bring it indoors out of the rain. (Photo by Lars Schneider)
These bikes are heavy hitters on any trail. Unlike traditional mountain bikes, they feature optional rear racks that “float” above the rear wheel, allowing the bike to maintain its full suspension capabilities while carrying panniers - perfect for off-road expeditions and long-haul wilderness tours. They feature Suntour or Fox Float suspension systems and up to 150mm of travel within the front fork, allowing for massive drops with minimal pain and maximum rebound.
The Delite and Delite Mountain bikes are packed to the gills with features that put all other competition to shame. Each component is hand-picked for resilience and reliability in the field, and Riese & Muller cut no corners in designing these bikes for rough terrain and terrible conditions. The essential differences between these two bikes is the Delite Mountain comes spec with mountain tires, an XFusion Dropper seatpost, no rear rack, and Fox Float suspension system, whereas the Delite has an opt-in choice for these features (preferring a knobless tire for varied roads and trails) and instead comes stock with a suspended rear rack, or more minimal pannier rail, to keep things sleek and classy. Optional front carrier racks on both models add even more versatility for long-distance touring while hauling everything but the kitchen sink.
When you choose the Superdelite and Superdelite Mountain over the Delite models, you are favouring bikes that are even more robust. These models come with DualBattery systems for twice the range on a single charge - up to 250km versus the 125km possible on the Delites. All the same distinctions regarding suspension, tires, and rear racks apply as above when comparing the Superdelite and Superdelite Mountain to one another.
As mentioned in CIty Bikes, the Homage is a bit of a wild card. Its low-step design makes it look like a city bike, but a full-suspension frame begs to differ. The GX option includes a full kit of knobby Schwalbe tires and XFusion Manic Dropper seatpost to make trail-shredding after work a very real possibility without needing to swap bikes out at home first. The integral rear rack makes bringing a set of panniers and long-haul touring gear along for the ride more than a possibility.
A Charger bike can handle the roughest gravel roads with Schwalbe's GX tires. (Photo by Lars Schneider)
IS A RIESE & MULLER FOR ME?
At Curbside Cycle, we do a lot of thinking, debating, and planning as a team on which bike brands to carry in our store. We built our business understanding that urban cyclists have different requirements than weekend warriors riding for Strava and personal bests in hot and dry California, and our lineup of bike brands reflects this in their dedication to practicality. Internal gear hubs, dynamo lighting, upright positions and hauling kids and cargo is our bread and butter.
By carrying Riese & Muller bikes, we are continuing to push the boundaries of what cyclists see as possible - our goal is to see more people riding bikes not just for recreation, but for everyday life. E-bikes have opened the world of cycling to people who thought they could never do it on their own, who have found a renewed sense of freedom in the saddle. And as this technology becomes more widespread, we see the demographic of e-bike riders widening to include people travelling long distances, touring, and seeking e-assist to get themselves and their bikes into remote places otherwise impossible to access. We have sold and shipped bikes all the way up to the Yukon, remote Newfoundland, and across the US from Oregon to Maine. We think everyone should have the opportunity to ride their bike for transport, no matter where you live - and in our stalwart commitment to carrying only the best-made products, we stand behind Riese & Muller as simply the best e-bike brand on the planet.
In short, if you’re looking for an e-bike that can withstand everything you throw at it, take you places you never imagined, and excels in every venture - choose Riese & Muller.