James's Story – Riese & Müller Homage
Which Electric Bike Did You Purchase?
A Riese & Müller Homage GT Rohloff, with GX option. This has the Bosch Performance Line CX Motor, 625Wh Battery, Nyon Display, Rolhloff E-14 gears and Schwalbe Johnny Watts tyres.
Why Did You Purchase This Electric Bike?
I’m 64 and 6’4” tall. I have cycled all my life and previously owned a Kalkhoff ebike. I decided I wanted an electric bike suitable for riding off-road as well as on tarmac. My choice was limited because I also wanted a step-through – getting my leg over a cross-bar is becoming tricky at my age! And I had further demands: full suspension… a powerful motor… puncture-resistant tyres… and bomb-proof, easy-to-operate gears (I’ve had too many broken chains and slipped gears in my time). The only bike that fitted the bill was the Riese & Müller Homage GX Rohloff. I researched it extensively online before coming into the showroom.
Graham gave me a test-rise on a Super Delite – not really comparable to a Homage but it made me appreciate the engineering excellence of Riese & Müller bikes.
How Does This Electric Bike Ride?
It took 5 months to get the bike because each Riese & Müller is custom-made and the company faced a backlog of orders during lockdown. In those 5 months I fretted over my choice – the bike was three times the price of my old Kalkhoff. Would it live up to expectations?
There were endless hold-ups. The delivery date kept slipping back. First it was mid-December… then mid-January… then early February… finally the big day arrived. I was on tenterhooks as I walked into the showroom. Fortunately, I was immediately reassured by what I saw. The Homage gleamed. It looked so… solid. Like a Land Rover on two wheels. The cockpit was tidy. There were lots of thoughtful touches like a brake light and a built-in lock. Lucy gave me a rundown of the controls and I was off. I rode the 9 miles back to Lewes with a ridiculous grin on my face. The torque on the new Bosch motors is a colossal 85Nm – so powerful that I hardly ever use the highest (Turbo) level of assist. The suspension is floaty but firm. Even on rutted farm tracks the bike handles well. As for the Rohloff gearing system, it takes a little getting used to but to change gear all you need to do is press a button on the handlebars. It also allows you to move up or down three gears at once – handy when you stop at lights or go from hills to flats. Having said that, the Rohloff system is an expensive luxury: it’s not a must-have. You may prefer the Enviolo or derailleur systems.
One thing I would definitely recommend is the Bosch Nyon. It’s a brilliant bit of kit, essentially an onboard computer, complete with GPS. It gives readings like the percentage of your input vs the motor assist, heart rate, distance to destination, cadence and ascent. You can also plot a route and it will show you both the fastest and the most scenic way. I’ve discovered a lot of great bridleways over the South Downs as a result.
Do You Think Your Electric Bike Has Helped Your Health?
I’m out cycling 10-15 miles every day, rain or shine. I no longer use my car (a Land Rover, incidentally). I power up the steepest hills and along the most inaccessible tracks. The Johnny Watts tyres give a very secure grip on loose earth, grass and tracks. I return feeling like I’ve had a good cardio workout.
Is There Anything You Have Changed Or Would Change About It?
There was one thing that bugged me: the riding position. As I said earlier, I am very tall and I find leaning forward to grip mountain bike handlebars (supplied with the GX option) makes my shoulders ache. Unfortunately, the new Riese & Müller handlebar stems cannot be raised. After discussing this with Jake, and trying various options, he ordered some Comfort handlebars from R&M. They have a higher rise and, importantly, swept back handles. Brad fitted the bars and the difference is astonishing. What before was merely pleasurable is now a joy!
I customised the bike with front carrier and a dropper post – handy when tackling vertiginous descents.
If there’s anything I can find fault with it is that the bike is HEAVY: around 30 kilos. The Homage also comes in a double battery version, tipping the scales at around 33 kilos. I can’t imagine carrying one of those monsters up a flight of stairs! All R&M bikes are weighty – R&M don’t skimp on the quality of the components – but it does mean that the bikes are unwieldy to push or carry. One other thing: I replaced the gel Selle Royale with my old Brooks leather B17 saddle.
Elctrc gave me a free 6-week service at which Brad tuned the bike, checked the suspension, updated the software on the Nyon and fitted the handlebars. Throughout the process the team at Elctrc have been first-class – fixing things free of charge, ordering extras and making sure I could fully enjoy the delights of ebiking.
Ebikes are the way forward. Once you’ve ridden one you’ll never go back to an ordinary bike. You may even find you no longer need a car – Elctrc sell some mean-looking cargo bikes. With good dealer support (take a bow, Elctrc!) ebikes are easy to care for and a bundle of fun to ride. Expensive? Possibly. Life-changing? Definitely.
- Jake Rowe
Mark's Story - Haibike Sduro FullSeven LT 4.0
This story starts in Halfords when I was buying something else. I was eves-dropping a conversation between a customer and sales staff over a Carrera X over an electric bike and was impressed by the range and the way you could adjust the amount of assist given. Further info was gleaned from the interweb and there seemed to be an issue with it cutting out sometimes so really dismissed this bike.
Further investigation into E-MTB soon revealed that better brands had drive to the bottom bracket rather than the motor being built into the wheel hub. I must admit that the some of the prices made my eyes water, one I noticed was £10k, when I bought my car (new) 8 years ago that was only £5k more.
I soon found Electric Bikes Sussex and rang them up and spoke to Lucy who arranged for me to come down from Surrey the next day for a meeting with Graham.
Being near the end of the year all the new bikes would soon be for sale but I had my eye on some 2018 bikes and they also had the new 2019 Haibike AllMtn 3.0 on display which is very nice but a bit more than my spending limit I had set. But they did have the one that first took my eye, the Haibike Sduro Fullseven LT 4.0.
So keeping my sensible head on I went ahead and purchased the bike and headed home. I didn’t get a chance to ride it until the next day. So I popped into the car and drove to an area I knew that had some trails.
I started off with the power off to get used to the bike and after about five minutes popped it into ECO setting pedalled a bit harder and Wow! The bike seemed to take off. I don’t know what I was expecting really but the assist was great. I should add at this point that I am 56, a few stone over weight but reasonably fit due to my job. I used to ride a lot but not done anything off road for around 12 years and have decided to make a real effort to lose the excess weight.
I rode for just over 10 miles and only used the max power setting to try it out really. I managed to go up a hill around 150 meters long and around 1in8/9 in ECO mode and didn’t have to get out of the saddle and only pleasantly out of breath at the top, don’t let anyone tell you E-MTBs are cheating because you can still turn the assist down or even off.
After the ten miles I still had 91% in the battery. If the going was level I turned the assist of completely and didn’t really come out of ECO mode much a lot of it when needed was spent in ECO+, the lowest setting.
So I would like to thank Graham and his team for their advice and time. I was made to feel welcome and there certainly was no ‘hard sell’ and certainly recommend them.
- Graham Rowe
Matt's Story - Haibike AllMtn 6.0
Many years ago, I used to do a lot of motorcross, petrol ran through my veins, I moved to Wales to pursue my weekend hobby of green laning and enduro riding across the Black mountains, the Ridgeway, Peak district and anywhere I could.
I fell off and snapped my neck, paralyzed my left arm and took 6 months to regain use, I then banned myself from riding motorbikes...
About 3 months ago I was sitting in a car near Beachy Head and said to my friend how nice it would be to ride across the seven sisters and beyond, he said why don't I, and I explained you can't with the noise and legal side. He said how about electric!
That's what re-opened the world of off road to me again, I looked, studied and researched, I trawled through Ebay daily until a 250w electric bike came up on Ebay, used but as new for £500. I bought it, did some miles, the Cuckoo trail, Seaford beach and a little off road on paths and tracks, however it was a mountain bike with a pedal assist motor and nothing more other than a big weight to carry over a stile at about 28kg. Thin tyres made ruts tricky, even though it had full suspension it wasn't designed to really go off road, small bumps and gravel were it's limit.
I then re-considered my options, 1. go outside the law and get a Bultaco Brinco, 2000w of throttled power with pedals, Stealth E-Bikes, same thing but also an accident waiting to happen, both are heavy, fast and also not legal. Being caught in a public place on an illegal bike would probably lead to the bike being confiscated, me being charged the same as riding a dirt bike on public land and even worse, what if some dog walker got hurt.
With 250w as the only option to stay legal, especially with the amount of Police interest in the growing market of electric bikes, I researched again, youtube and more youtube.
Haibike AllMtn kept coming up, local dealership was in Brighton Marina, very handy for help, spares and warranty concerns. I popped in and the two chaps were very helpful, I was shown the features and the benefits, it was obvious this is what I needed to conquer mountains, albeit whilst trying to loose weight, get fitter and live longer.
My Doctor put me on heart pills 6 months ago, I am 46, 15 stone and a long time smoker, he said do some exercise but don't over do it.
£3200 was the price tag, I thought and then decided yes, I could not afford it, but on the other side, could my health afford me not too, if I didn't buy it now would I buy it next year? or the year after...so I jumped in.
I bought a Haibike AllMtn 6.0, about 4 weeks ago, it was big, built to do the job, a tool for covering large areas, fields, tracks and steep paths I wouldn't normally consider walking down.
Initially my arse hurt for 2-4 days, then my knees ached for about a week, then my left leg sciatic nerve got really painful for 3-4 days on week 3 and I thought I wouldn't be able to keep doing this, having finally come through the pain of adjusting my body to it's new routine, I am loving it, I have fallen off, I have cut myself, I have bled...I have sweat and I have also found myself on top of a mountain with the most amazing views.
190+ Miles of adventure over 4 weeks, Firle Beacon, the South downs, The seven sisters, Mount Caburn, I have been everywhere and with a smile on my face, absolutely loving it.
I get about 25 miles of off road, hill and track riding from 1 charge, more if I turn down the assistance and push myself harder, it doesn't do the work for you but it makes an adventure out of what I would do on a normal bike, I might go from Newhaven to Seaford and back on a mountain bike, now I will go to Seaford, over the golf course, view Alfriston from above, follow round to Firle Beacon, wizz down the hill and over to Piddinghoe, back up on the top of the downs, through into Telscombe, follow the coastal path to Newhaven fort and return home muddy and happy and having had a great 4 hours of exercise whilst witnessing all manner of things I couldn't have imagined.
I am just about to leave right now to ride from Newhaven to Beachy head and back over the Seven sisters.
The Bike is a tool for the job, for sure.
- Lucy Rowe
Alison's Story - Raleigh MotusWhich Electric Bike did you purchase?
Why did you purchase this Electric Bike?
My previous e-bike, that I had bought in Switzerland when I was living there 5 years previously, was stolen, so I needed a replacement. I wanted a city/touring bike and having tested a couple of bikes, this one was the best in terms of usability (ease of gear/motor use) and feel, i.e. balance, sturdiness, comfort.
How does this Electric Bike ride?
On the whole the bike rides really well and I feel an e-bike is essential for riding around hilly Brighton! The condition of the roads in central Brighton is diabolical (try Western Road, or North Laine, or London Road) and the bike copes well as long as the tyres are fully pumped up. If not, balance is affected and the tyres slip. Otherwise it is a very comfortable ride. It doesn’t feel as stable as my old bike, but it is so much easier to charge and range is way better, the technology has advanced since I bought my first in 2011.
At my first service I was pleased to discover that I don’t use Turbo (top) mode as much as most other e-bike users! I most often use touring or sport and only switch to turbo for the steepest hills, and there are a few of those around Brighton. I recently rode all the way up Ditchling Road for a festival event, everyone was super impressed! I always switch down to Eco when going downhill or if I have the wind behind me on the flat and I hope this saves the battery a bit. Riding without any assistance is like riding through treacle, but it is easier on this bike than my old one. I only do that by accident anyway, if I’ve forgotten to switch it on!
Do you think your Electric Bike has helped your Health?
Since having an e-bike, I go out on it every day (I don’t have a car), which means I get more fresh air and my leg muscles are in good shape. With the improved range on the Motus, I regularly cycle over to visit family in Worthing. Before I had an e-bike I would avoid using my bike for long, uphill or shopping trips, and the e-bike has even made riding in poor weather bearable. I won’t go back to a normal bike now, it’s just too much fun.
Have you ridden your Electric Bike more or less than you expected? Why?
I used the new bike less than the old one, simply because I was living in North Laine and walking everywhere was easier than hauling the heavy bike out of the house. Now I have moved to Hove and can keep it securely outside, I will use it much more often.
Is there anything you have changed or would change about it?
I bought some relatively cheap waterproof panniers online - the rack on the back isn’t much use for transporting stuff. I also want to get a basket for the back - when I hired one a few years ago I put a basket on the front and it badly affects balance. Also Brightonians have a habit of leaving beer cans in baskets it seems.
I love that the lights are on a dynamo unconnected to the battery. This means I can keep the lights switched on at all times for extra safety.
I have considered changing the tyres, to improve grip on our crummy roads, but the ones I have are for touring, were recommended by you and should cope. I’m concerned that going to heavier tyres will affect performance, so the jury’s still out on that one.
I love my bike!
In the last week alone I have had three people come up to me and ask about the bike. They say it looks great, and are really impressed when I tell them about the performance, and they agree it is good value for money. I do tell them where I bought it :-).
- Jake Rowe