How we get around is changing. With people seeking out public transport alternatives, and even alternatives to their car, we’re looking at new modes of transport. While it’s hopeful a new government will legalise electric scooters, for those looking for something a little bit more familiar, e-bikes are a great solution. Thanks to the team over at Green Aer, I was able to take the Riese and Müller Charger 3 out for a few hours in Dublin to put this top-selling e-bike through its paces.
Who Is Riese and Müller?
Riese and Müller is a bicycle manufacturer from Darmstadt in Germany. Founded by Markus Riese and Heiko Müller. While the company makes a wide range of bikes, they are fast becoming best known for their work in the e-bike space. In the Green Aer showroom, I got to see a few e-bikes they have on offer. I also got to take a quick spin on the incredibly impressive Riese and Müller Delite.
While you’ve probably never heard of the Delite, in a short space of time I both witnessed people speaking about it like I’ve seen people talking about top sports cars. I also took it for a ride and was blown away by it.
However, the big test of the day was taking out the Riese and Müller Charger 3 GT.
The Riese and Müller Charger 3 GT
The Charger 3 is your Kia Cee’d, Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf of e-bikes. By that I mean thay aren’t cheap but they’re also not stupidly expensive. Also, for your money, you get enough bells and whistles to feel like you’ve bought yourself a nice e-bike. From chatting with the guys in Green Aer, it became clear quite quickly that when people are shopping for an e-bike, they’re generally shopping for the Charger 3.
Riese and Müller Charger 3: Design
To look at, the Charger 3 is a bike. Some e-bikes on the market have unorthodox looks but if this was to pass you on the street, you’d likely not give it a second look. It’s got a nice looking sporty design that’s at home in a big city centre or going cross country in a national park. Already, you can see some of the broad appeal this e-bike has to offer.
Typical of Riese and Müller is minimal design. When you take this bike out for a spin, you don’t feel like you’re climbing aboard a spaceship. The experience remains very much like taking a bike for a cycle.
The frame of the bike is heavier than your avergage bike and an important consideration. For me, having become used to the weight of Dublin Bikes, it didn’t worry me. In fact, the additional weight combined with assisted power left me more confident to take up position on the road where I normally wouldn’t have. The result is safer cycling.
What else is there to say about the design? At the end of the day, this is a bike. While there’s a motor on-board, you get two wheels, a frame and a handlebar. Where things start to change is in the mechanical side of things.
Riese and Müller Charger 3: The Hardware
Sure, many parts of the hardware are similar but when you buy an e-bike there are a few additional things that you need to consider. These are the elements that make e-bikes a significantly larger investment that a regular bike.
The Bosch Performance Cruise Motor
I don’t have a whole lot to compare the motor too. I have taken Moby Move for a test drive and was a regular rider of an electric scooter, but this is different. E-bikes only assist you, they don’t do all the work. When I took out the Moby Move e-bike, it was my first time on an e-bike. I thought it was awesome as you felt somewhat superhuman in having a motor aid your movement. While I thought that was great, the Bosch Performance Cruise motor that features on the Charger 3 is just next level.
While you can control the level of assistance the e-bike gives you, in top Turbo Mode as soon as you start cycling you can feel the additional power trying to take the effort away from you. Moby Move bikes don’t have that.
The reason is the quality of the motor. This Bosch motor is capable of 340% pedal assistance. If you’re not into the maths, like I just said above, this means the bike just needs a small bit of effort from you to ramp up the power the bike dishes out. While you can cycle as fast as you like, the motor will only provide assistance up to 25kmph. This is the case with most e-bikes for legal reasons, though some are capable of up to 45kmph.
The motor itself is under warranty for two years too, but much like a car, if something doesn’t go wrong in your first couple of hundred kilometres, you’re unlikely to experience massive issues.
There’s only so much you can tell from a few hours when testing a motor, but it’s powerful, reliable and fun.
The “e” stands for electric so naturally, there’s a battery on board. The base model of the Charger 3 comes with a 500 Wh battery. Additional upgrades give you a 625 Wh battery or 1125 Wh battery. I was cycling for about two or three hours and only saw the battery reduce to 90% from 97%.
There are so many variables when it comes to batteries before we even talk about the e-bike specific ones. Again, tough to test over a short period of time, but for most journeys I couldn’t see you running out of juice. While your cycling, you are recharging the battery, but it’s not going to be enough to cancel out how much power the batteries are using in general. This means you do need to plug the Charger 3 in.
To recharge the battery you can either plug the bike itself in or remove the battery from the frame and charge it at home. This is handy if you don’t have power near where you charge the bike. It’s also a bit of a security feature as e-bikes are no craic to cycle without batteries. Before you ask, don’t work. An ABUS locking system keeps your battery in place so if you’re just locking it on the street for a few minutes, someone can’t make off with your battery.
I was actually a bit surprised with how simple the on-board computer is. Once again, there are a few different computer options. The one I tested out is the Bosch Kiox.
While not standard, the Kiox is a definite optional for me to recommend particularly if you’re leaning towards the sporty side of reasons to own an ebike. The colour display lets you see what power mode you’re in, how much juice is left in your battery pack and also loads of nerdy cycling data too. You can even sync this up via a smartphone app and track all of your stats.
Another optional extra is the chest strap heart monitor. You’ll know if you need this. The guys in Green Aer told me that loads of people buying e-bikes are retired, elderly or people who’ve had a medical scare. With the chest strap, you can manage how much the bike assists you and keep your heart rate in a save range, under medical advise of course.
The gear change on the Charger 3 is all handled by a single twist shifter on the handlebar. It’s a little bit silly, but I really love the indicator which the guys in Green Aer affectionately refer to as “Watson”. While a little silly, I love things like this in place of “third gear” because it makes it more visual and helpful to know what gear you should be in.
Is there a more hated part of a bike than the chain? It does it’s job and goes unloved, until the day it fails you and becomes the very bane of your existence.
Well, with the Charger 3 comes an alternative to the bike chain. In it’s place sits a carbon belt drive. While more effective than a chain, this belt is also more reliable and should never give you trouble.
Riese and Müller Charger 3: The Ride
I appreciate that referring to anything as “the ride” in Ireland will usually get a giggle so I apologise. Try to focus.
Most of the bikes I’ve taken out lately have been bone rattlers. Dublin Bikes, Bleeper Bikes, Moby Move and even my own electric scooter are all suspension-free. The only thing connecting you to the road is the tyres. The Charger 3 has plenty built in to stop the fillings from being shaken out of your head.
Front air-fork suspension does, no pun intended, lots of heavy lifting when it comes to a smooth ride. Chunky tyres help out too, but with no space for mid suspension, the Charger 3 has a clever trick up its sleeve, or more under your arse, to keep things smooth.
The seat is connected to the frame with a Thudbuster suspension system.
Overall, the entire ride was incredibly smooth. I found myself aiming the bike at bumps or deliberately going over cobblestones because I knew I could.
These are comfort machines.
Security: Locking And Securing Your Charger 3
E-bikes aren’t cheap. That’s why I spent quite a lot of time chatting with the Green Aer team about how you secure these bikes. If you’re going to park on the street, you want to make sure your bike will be there when you get back.
I mentioned earlier that the battery can only be removed with your ABUS key. This doubles as a security feature as without battery power e-bikes are a lot less attractive. The Green Aer team also require that you bring your frame to the shop if you need a replacement battery. While partially to ensure you get the right one, they also check for proof of purchase to ensure the bike is yours.
ABUS also supply the ABUS Bordo Granit X-Plus lock that’s included with the bike. It’s really neat and tidy too.
Finally, if you opt for the Kiox on-board computer, you can pair this to your Charger 3. By doing this, the Kiox becomes a key that starts your bike. Another neat little bit of security for what is a valuable piece of micromobility to own.
The Riese and Müller Charger 3: The Verdict
I’m by no means a hardcore cyclists. I’m a filthy casual as some might say. I do enjoy a traipse through Phoenix Park on a bike or getting across down a little quicker on one, but that’s about it. However, recently I find myself cycling more than ever. Dublin City is seeing heavy investment in cycling infrastructure making bikes a much most popular option. So, should you buy an e-bike?
It’s impossible for me to know what your personal circumstances are, but I’d imagine you know whether or not you need to buy an e-bike. Perhaps your workplace doesn’t offer on-site shower facilities? Maybe you’ve had to stop cycling for health reasons. For me, I’d buy an e-bike because I noticed when riding the Riese and Müller Charger 3, I was taking the long route because cycling was effortless.
There’s no arguing with the fact that e-bikes like the Charger 3 are expensive. This particular model that I was testing out costs just over €4500. Even if your workplace offers the Bike to Work scheme, you’ll only receive support up to €1000. So, e-bikes are for certain people in certain circumstances. Beyond that they are a significant expense to justify.
The wildcard here is “what’s around the corner?”. A new government with a green lean will likely look to invest in cycling. This will hopefully include e-bike grants.
This is my long-winded way of saying there’s no questioning of the quality the Riese and Müller Charger 3. It nails everything. The question is much broader. Do you need an e-bike? If the answer is yes, the Charger 3 is the perfect choice.
The team over at Green Aer did nothing more than lend me a bike and their time. They haven’t paid for this but I do need to say, they’re brilliant. I never knew buying an e-bike could lead to so many questions. They are more of the bike dealership. They’ll help you find the best bike for you with no extras or just the extras you’ll need. Also, they only service e-bikes they sell, so you’re supporting local business while also ensuring you have somewhere to get it fixed too. They’ve also just opened a store in Cork and are servicing the entire Munster area.