While outside Aucklanders were rushing around in their cars in increasing numbers, getting frustrated with traffic, yelling at cyclists, and generally getting stressed, I was learning about the future… and that is eMobility.
I met with Catrin and Timo visiting from Germany — who look after international markets for Riese & Müller. They were visiting Maurice from Electric Bike Team, their dealer in New Zealand. The company was the brainchild of engineers Markus Riese and Heiko Müller whose first creation was Birdy, an innovative folding full suspension bike, that is still produced today. Their focus has shifted away from regular bikes to eMobility, including ebikes and e-cargo bikes.
The first thing I needed to clear up with Catrin and Timo was how to correctly pronounce the company name. Drawing on my Secondary-school Deutsch I was right there with “Rhys-a oont Mewler” which sounds more natural coming from real real German lips. Sometimes referred to as R&M but Riese und Müller is preferred. And it’s definitely not ‘Reise’ which means to travel.
They are focussed on the premium and innovative segments of the eMobility market. Buyers are often second-generation ebike owners who want real quality and great engineering from their ebike, and appreciate the value. Their Nevo is possibly the best step-through available (according to me), and the Delite full-suspension tourer with two batteries is really quite stunning — I have ridden one and it is pure joy. More than $10k, but so well configured. If you want the best, look no further folks. They are big on e-cargo bikes, supplying the Swiss cargo bike share scheme carvelo2go.ch
I asked about the near future, will ebikes get cheaper, will batteries get cheaper and bigger. Nope. We all agreed on that, if anything batteries will go up in price as Lithium cells are demanded by electric cars. “Ban electric cars” says Maurice. Anyway, hydrogen is the future for cars according to Toyota so maybe batteries will be OK.
They have settled on Bosch motors. It makes sense being German and all, but they say that the Bosch system is reliable and very well supported in the markets they sell their bikes (including NZ) and that is very important to them. Bosch now has the Powertube battery for sleeker integration which Riese & Müller will be adopting. For all new bikes, the 32km/h option is standard. Another future trend is “connected mobility” with Bosch’s COBI smartphone connectivity system. See cobi.bike
They’ll sell around 50,000 ebikes this year (up from 35,000 last year) so avoiding support trouble with electrics is important. They also configure a lot of their bikes with NuVinci continuously variable hubs which they reckon has been a success.
Riese & Müller has changed their distribution model a bit, enabling the purchaser to order a custom bike which is expected to take around two months to arrive. This means you can get exactly what you want and the dealer doesn’t have to hold stock of a huge array of permutations, and there is no distributor in the middle of it all. You can still test ride something not unlike what you will get. This isn’t a direct sales model – you still buy from a dealer who will order and assemble your bike for you. They believe very much in good service underpinning a great customer experience.
Some of their new designs look really stunning including a hybrid commute/tour/MTB bike also featuring the ability to take two batteries. And the best thing is, you can just order one as long as you don’t mind waiting a couple of months. A small price to pay for the very best.
Thanks to Timo and Catrin for making the long journey here and agreeing to spend some time talking to me.
NZ Dealers: Electric Bike Team Auckland, perhaps others to follow