Pseudo-Review #7- Charger GX At 6,000km, Winter Is Coming

Psuedo-Subtitle: The good, the bad, and not much to report.

Here is a tag-link to all my e-bike posts.

Let us begin, dear worst-rider, with the truth. The truth is, as of the writing of this worst-post, I’m surpassing 6500km in the next day or three. With that in mind, there is no need to answer any inquiries regarding the stature of my trusted Germania e-vehicle. It is and has been pretty much in the same shape since about 4000km. Or was that 2500km? Nomatter. This transport device has been holding up very well. Then again… it’s not quite two years old. Anywho.

The Good

Other than some standard tear & wear, i.e. brake pads, tyres (“tires” for my #Americant brethren) and a part removal–plus a recommendation for a few other part replacements (more on that below)–this e-bike extraordinaire has held-up better than all three of my x-wives. (Or is it 4?) And I assure you, fellow e-traveler, them x-wives were never as enjoyably ridden as this vehicle. Yes. Oh wait. (It was 3!) But on that note, I do… die-gress.

As you may or may not notice in the pics, I’ve finally gotten around to removing that silly rack from the front. Don’t get me wrong, dear worst-rider. It was a gallant effort on the part of those German engineer-types that put this and any Riese & Müller together. But in the end, unless you used it just like that dude in the video from the R&M website last year… You know, the long haired, bearded guy that peddled around a dessert with full panniers and a rolled up blanket or camping matt attached beautifully to the front rack? Yeah, that guy. Anywho. Unless you used the rack in the same manner, i.e. storing something on it that is soft and light, it was a useless rack. I did, of course, try to make it useful. I tried lugging around a case of wine once. You know, six bottles of Chianti along with a can of fava beans. Although the effort worked, i.e. I got the wine home unbroken, it was a terrible riding experience. I also tried lugging around a spare 500W battery strapped to the rack. Yeah… No. For you see, fellow worst-rider, the rack is truly meant, as indicated in the minimalist manual issued with the vehicle, to carry no more than 3kg. If I were to give R&M any advice, I’d tell them to stick with the 3kg weight allotment for the front rack but add that whatever is strapped to it, should be soft and cuddly. Anything above 3kg that is also hard & heavy means not only that your steering will be obnoxiously uncomfortable, but your bike balance, your tip-weight when using the kick-stand, etc., is waaaaaay off. In fact, while breaking my distance record last spring by riding 90+ km and carrying a spare battery strapped (with protection and cushioning) to the front rack, I decided then and there, the rack was a goner. By-the-buy, I have noticed that R&M has completely changed the front rack design of their new Chargers. The rack is attached to the frame of the bike and not the the steering/head tube. Well learned, grasshopper!

All in all, at this point, pushing two years old, replacing a car, I really can’t complain about this bike and there’s not much new to report. Even without the front rack, it’s still quite a useful carrier vehicle. As you can see in the pics, for the onslaught of Euro-winter, I even use the vehicle to carry ca. 15kg of firewood. Also, when it’s dirty and I clean it, it feels like new again. As long as I keep the chain and derailleur clean, I never have the feeling the drive train is even close to needing replacement (more on that in a sec). I do perhaps have one regret. When I replaced my rear tyre (tire) for the second time, I actually went ahead and ordered another tyre knowing that the rear only lasts about 2500km. I’ve since concluded that I want to replace the knobby tyres with something more urban, perhaps Schwalbe super-moto-x tyres. I’ll decided that soon enough. But if I do replace them, that means I bought an extra tire for naught. Oh well.

The Bad

When I had the 5000km inspection done a few months back, where I also had the rack removed, the shop told me that although not needed immediately, probably by the next inspection, it’ll be time to replace the chain and sprockets. At first I let the remark pass. Then I got to thinking. From the beginning I vaguely remember being told/sold the idear that this quality of chain and derailleur would last around 10000km. Why then is the dealer already talking of chain renewal?

Soon after the inspection, I gave my Charger a thorough cleaning, especially the chain. With a second and more thorough look, for the life of me, I don’t see why I can’t squeeze another 3000-4000km out of this chain set. Am I being naive? Of course, I might just invest in one of those chain measuring tools on account I have the feeling the bike shop might be taking advantage of me and my generosity for actually paying/affording all these inspections. Heck, the only reason I give the bike up for these dealer inspections is to protect the value of it on account I might want to trade it in after three years. Here in Germany proof of inspections can be an advantage. On the other hand, 100 ,-€ per inspection, plus whatever parts are needed, is adding considerable cost to this vehicle. Which raises another question: should I have taken the Rohloff transmission? The Rohloff is supposed to cost less than a chain/derailleur in the long run, is it not? But when I think/remember test driving a Rohloff I still vividly remember all those gears churning at the behest of every pedal movement. Yeah, churning gears are a big turn-off.

Not Much To Report

Yeah, I’m still diggin’ this e-bike. In fact, I haven’t touched my Giant TCX in almost all year. Then again, once I started to get into e-biking, I kinda knew that analog biking’s days were numbered. Which begs another worst-rider question: what to do, what to do, what to do… when the weather turns as it’s doing as I worst-write this? Winter is indeed coming. And if I learned one thing from last winter… The region of Germany I live in (NRW) has had great weather this summer and fall. I’ve been doing a lot of biking. But my temperature limit for biking is around 7° celsius. Anything below that makes me nervous for various reasons.

  1. Frozen fall foliage on the streets lets tyres slip away no matter how sharp your knobbies and then there’s German curbs and other road knots hiding underneath all that foliage and when you can’t see them and your front tyre gets caught while trying to ride around mothers and strollers… WHAM! You’re on arse toot-sweet.
  2. I learned last winter that gear shifting with thick gloves is a pain in the arse and urban riding requires constant gear shifting and when it’s cold and your worried about freezing your arse off you’re not thinking about gear shifting which means at every traffic light your in the wrong friggin gear… (How’s my bitchin & moanin solar?)
  3. Riding with thick clothes is a pain in the arse and even though I know, if managed correctly, you can ride an e-bike without breaking a sweat… but still, after too much wine the night before, the sweat comes out all the same and then those thick clothes turn out never to be thick enough and and and…
  4. Hours of cold riding has no comfort zone cause I’m such a wuss and when e-biking and sweating out too much drink from the night before… Oh wait. I’m being repetitive.
  5. And let’s not forget how a cold and hard that leather saddle from heaven is…
  6. But enough bitchin’ & moanin.

This bike is just too good to be true. (Knock on wood.)

Worst-ride on, baby.

Rant on, too.


3 thoughts on “Pseudo-Review #7- Charger GX At 6,000km, Winter Is Coming

  1. Trying to work out how to upload some pics here. Might have to paste a link. Anyway in appreciation for your writing and advice, an update on my R&M purchase will follow shortly.

  2. Supercharger GX Rohloff was the dream machine.

    … but with the additional cost of AUD 3k (2019 model only available), I gave it a miss. Any shipping time to the land of Oz did not factor in due the $ difference. With having the ability to pay this I just could never bring myself to handing over that amount, even after getting a fair price for my 2013 Landcruiser Prado. Yep I also sold my car to be a part of the e-bike community. So I’m left with a 2018 Supercharger with derailleur. Very very happy.

    Some specs:
    Commuter use, 36km+ each day, 5 days a week.
    •Batteries: Two 36v 13.4Ah 500Wh, an extra $987 AUD for the 2nd battery
    •Bosch Intuvia display
    •Cane Creek Thudbuster seat post (I have back issues and I rate this highly)
    •Rear rack
    •Shimano 11 speed and Deore brakes
    •Swalbe Moto X road tyres
    I’ve added:
    •GP5-L hand grips
    •Ortleib dual panniers
    •In lieu of the Supercharger not having a front rack I bought 2 frame mounted small Ibera velcro storage bags (needed to stitch more velcro on to get around around the supercharger frame – great for keys, RF card, phone, etc)

    I had to replace the bell as the screw on the mount rattled loose after 2 weeks, no biggie, just annoying when I tried to use it and annoyed at having to replace it.

    The front light is good but i still use the 760 lumen Moon for my rides through the dark zones, at 30-40km/h I need the light to throw 3 times the distance of the Busch and Muller light.

    I’ve made a couple of visits back to the store to change the handlebar grips, grab a new water bottle, and have it serviced (the first free service). Not sure what the first service really achieves apart from checking that it’s holding together ok. They don’t plug the display thing in until the next service so there’s no diagnostics for now. They do appear to have eliminated a squeak in the crankcase, if that’s what you call it on a Bosch. The squeak was there from the day I rode it home and they said just wait until the first (free) service. I picked up on this one though, the sales and service staff often repeated the phrase ‘the free service’ or, ‘that’s the free service’. Hmm like I’m being prepared for something. They appear open about the service charge and they have documented that service is needed about every 3, 6, 12 months depending on your level of use and how you use your e-bike. That will be AUD$149 plus parts if needed, nice to know.

    Each visit back to the store is really quite interesting, I can’t help checking out what’s turned up for sale, including the 2019 Charger (Shimano hub / Gates belt drive). Anyway my derailleur with its noise and occasional clunks appears to be going well, only twice had it jumped to a higher gear and it was due the first service (that’s the free service) 2 days later.

    Anyhow the killer hill. With 5 route options to get up it, it’s 8 km/h up either of the 2 tidy yet steep dirt tracks or 13 km/h on the steep road up it. The 4th route up I can’t remember the speeds, but it’s just a quiet less challenging suburban option. Really there’s no need to give the 5th easier, but much longer route a go – it will still be there for me when I choose to take the Scott Sub back out. The Swalbe tyres handle the short dirt tracks well, no slip but as i say they are very mild even if steep tracks.

    I still wonder how that belt driven Rohloff would go up the killer hill.

    The pics I’m going to try to upload are from the root canal journey last week, the bike locked to the fire escape staircase at the back of the dental surgery. I’ve enjoyed stopping off at the grocery store on the way home, never thought I’d be riding a bicycle with panniers.

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