Pseudo Review: R&M Charger GX Touring Or How I Gave Up A Car For An E-Bike

R-M Charger GX Rouring with 10 yr old bags.jpg

Picked up my R&M Charger GX Touring the other day. For those not in the know, R&M stands for Riese & Müller. Or it could also stand for: two well endowed German engineers that couldn’t get jobs in austerity ridden #eurowasteland so they decided to adhere to their passive/green post WW2 upbringing and start making really, really cool electric bikes while at the same time flipping the bird to BMW, VW, Audi, Mercedes, etc.

This is a restricted 25km/h version of the bike. It’s also available in a 45km/h version but then you have to get permission from some cocksucking bureaucrat to ride it and when you do ride it you can only ride it on roads with cars and not bike paths or in pedestrian areas and you also can’t use bike parking spots, you have to park it where the cars park.

Needless to say it was an exhilarating first ride on this communist-like regulated bike. In just a few days I’ve managed to put well over 200km on it–which says more about the bike than it does my semi-early-retired nature. And before anyone starts calling me bourgeois for paying such a high price for friggin bicycle, heed this. The bike has been purchased as a commuter vehicle, it’s a tool. Also. I’ve literally replaced a car with it. Not sure about you, but I’m about done with gas-guzzling automobiles where politicians are incapable of planning, adjusting, working–on better transportation infrastructure. With that in mind, German Autobahns, especially the congested area I live in, are in a perpetual state of contruction as though they are being built for the first time. Go figure. Yeah. Politicians! And so. With this new tool, a tour to the coast of Holland this summer is already in the works where it might take me two days to get there but it’ll be funner than blowing bubbles through #Trumps comb-over.

R-M Charger GX Touring cockpit.png
Left: phone mount. Centre: info display. Right: GoPro mount.

Before I get into any details of the bike, allow me a few worst-words about the dealer and purchase experience. I really wish this or any of this caliber bike could be purchased w/out a dealer. The only thing I got from the dealer (i.e. old school business model) was the opportunity to test ride a variety of these bikes. Other than that, dealers are a waste of time and, most important, money. Goodness knows what R&M has to sacrifice to dealers for their ill service and whatever it is it ain’t worth it. Add to that I wasn’t informed about the outrageous delivery time of these bikes… In the end, it took two months to get it.

Moi: How long do I have to wait before delivery?

Dealer: Two months.

Moi: You mean two weeks, right?

Dealer: No. You’ll wait two months and you’ll like it!

Moi: Wow.

By-the-by, when I tried to contact R&M about my order they just blew me off saying that I need to talk to the dealer. How f’n rude! Wouldn’t it be great if R&M could at least provide some “tracking” info? Oh wait. We live in a day & age of just-in-time assembly lines (R&M does not manufacturing any bike parts) that most likely utilise every means of modern communication yet the company is not able to provide it’s customer with order info? What am I saying? Knowing how #eurowasteland works, especially at this  bourgeois price-level, I shouldn’t be surprised at the wait time–or the corporate rudeness. And that’s not all.

R-M Charger GX Touring Rhein 1.png

The Bad.

After pick up and initial ride on the bike, something wasn’t right. The handlebars or the stem was out-of-whack. Not only that, but the small front rack, which is part of the GX series, wasn’t properly attached. Luckily the rack is easy to adjust. There is also something wrong with the cork grips. One of the grips is lower than the other. As of the writing of this post, I’ve not got around to figuring how to adjust them yet. Call me lazy (since I do ride an e-bike). All of this has got me thinking that maybe there is something wrong with the handlebars. I’m gonna put off dealing with this for a while because when I look at the bars from the front, they look straight. There aren’t any useful measuring lines on the handlebars to check if something is out of whack. These are the widest bars I’ve ever had on bike–so maybe there is some adjusting I need to do… on me.

Some sadness.

R-M Charger GX Touring - paint damage.jpg

The first thing the dealer did was point out the paint damage. There is a 2-3mm chip in the paint of the top-tube. I have since heard from the dealer that R&M will be sending a new frame for replacement–but it will take till at least winter before I can get it. Something about the spring and summer riding season and frame inventory, I guess. It’s a good thing that imperfect paint doesn’t effect how this thing rides. Indeed.

By-the-by, this is the second bike I’ve purchased in the last year. The first one was a cross road racer which I use for leg and cardio training. Would you believe that the manufacture had to replace that frame too? The thing started to crack where the top-tube meets the seat-tube. Is there a coincidence or conspiracy theory here regarding where/how bike frames are made? I mean, aren’t they all made in the same sweatshop factory in… China? Nomatter.

Oh, and one last bad thing about this bike. At this price they should put something more than cheap pedals on it! It’s like delivering a Ferrari with snow tires. The pedals suck. I immediately replaced them with some fancy Shimano XT pedals. Yeah, money is for burning, eh.

The Good.

This is by far the best bike I’ve ever ridden. It’s incredibly balanced and smooth, it oozes confidence. At a stand still this bike is The Panzer. Under power it is a well-tuned machine with topnotch components that work perfect together. The Bosch motor is so smooth that at times you don’t even now it’s there. It has enough torque to let me ride up steep inclines while remaining seated or cruise along at top speed easily blasting through heavy headwinds. Other than a slight humming and the occassional power surge, you can easily forget that it is an electric vehicle.

The brakes are nothing less than incredible and even provide motorcycle-like feedback. Although I’m not a fan of suspension on bicycles, this one may change my mind. (I’ve always preferred to spend money on a good frame instead wasting money on a mediocre forks.) These front air forks eat up terrain that is sometimes unbearable on my cross road racer or my trekking/cruiser bike. I’m not tickled with the Thudbuster seat post yet but I think I have to give that some more time and maybe change the rubber mounts to figure out how it works. But like I said before, maybe there are somethings on me that need to be changed for this bike.

R-M Charger GX Touring Rhein 2.png

As far as purchase decision goes and price, I based my decision on the following criteria:

  • Battery
  • Utility
  • Components

This is not just a toy. (Or is it?) And don’t bother asking about what I paid for it. (Way too miuch!) For those interested, R&M prices are online. I managed to get a farily decent discount on it, though. Perhaps I’ll post something about paying for this type of vehicle in Germany later. Anywho. I’ll mainly be using this bike to commute. Then there’s some shopping that needs to get done. And let’s not forget the Köln and Düsseldorf trek where I’m constantly testing the stability and viability of ancient pillars and citadels and old money, and finding out which tastes better: Kölsch or Altbier. Although I’m not a regular working stiff anymore, I still need to show up for an office meeting or presentation here and there–you know, to entertain the troops. And would you believe, I even have rain-wear to keep my suit and shoes out of the acid-rain.

charger groceries

Competition.

Of the bikes I looked at, I narrowed my choice to three–each, under other circumstances, I would still buy. There was the Haibike (either with Yamaha or Bosch motor) and the luscious Stromer St1. All these bikes start at around the same price range with the R&M topping them by a few hundred Euros.

As far as I’m concerned even the Stomer St1, their low-end offering, is the sexiest e-bike on the market. For 2017 the St1 can be purchased with a 600+watt battery, replacing or complimenting its standard 500+watt battery. The battery increase should provide significant range. The only problem is, for whatever stupid corporate greed reason, Stromer decided to put a 250watt hub motor on their new low-end bike. Now I doubt that the production cost difference between a 500watt hub motor and 250 watt hub motor is significant enough to warrant a totally different product offering than last year’s model. Which brings me to the following question for Stromer. Do you really have to be like Apple Computer–forcing arbitrary pricing and thereby taking advantage of customers?

And since I’m on the subject of Stromer, there’s the whole hub v. middle motor thing. Personally, I like the Stromer hub motor. To me hub motors feel more natural. But that’s neither here nor there at this point. In Germany it seems like all e-bike’s are going with middle motors. Of course there is the issue that Stromer has the best integrated battery system there is. Then there’s Stromer’s new integrated touch-screen monitor thingy on higher-end models, the St1X and for-rich-only buyers, the St2. To which I say: stupid! Sure, including a cellular phone (“connected”) on the bike is cool. But then again, I guess only rich buyers would actually put the bike in a situation where it could be stolen–the only reason for putting a cell phone in it? (Sarcasm off.) The price increase for the same frame as the low-end ST1 but with a stupid monitor on the top-tube that you can’t see or use while riding… Wow. Sounds like Stromer and Apple Computer have something in common. Can you say MacBook Pro w/ Touchbar, dear worst-reader?

Then there’s the Haibike. In the end, after lots of testing, feeling and licking, the Haibike’s mass produced feel wasn’t worth the price. (When my spendable income drops, it will be, though. Sarcasm off again.)

Hopefully paying the highest price for the Charger GX will be worth it in the end. We’ll see.

Rant and ride on.

-t

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