Summertime is prime bike riding time thanks to the lack of snow and rain to dampen spirits. But it can also be hot. Add to that the heat of a working body and what was meant to be a casual ride to the market quickly turns into a sweaty mess. And it’s only a mess because you weren’t intending to get a workout—you just didn’t want to be stuck in a car. This is where electric assisted cargo bikes shine.
I recently had the opportunity to put the latest model from Riese + Müller, the Load, to the test for a few days and loved it.
The Riese + Müller Load is a front loader bike so you can keep an eye on your precious cargo. The only place I’ve seen this style of bike of recent is in Amsterdam where people ride their bikes no matter what the weather or what they’re hauling. The front bucket is surrounded by a sturdy frame and there are a number of ways to configure walls around that frame to suit your cargo needs. My model had short walls lining the interior of the bucket frame with two seats for my young children (10 mo. boy & 4 yr. girl).
Passengers & Cargo
My kids loved this bike, and I loved being able to see them right in front of me as we cruised town. Our house is about two miles from my daughter’s school and it was always a thrill to plop her little brother into the Load and whisk off to get her. The kids can see everything going on around them while in the front bucket as opposed to either being right behind me in their safety seat or from behind the walls of a trailer. I was even able to look down at one point and witness (for the first time) the two of them holding hands even though they were looking in opposite directions as the world zoomed by. For year-round use, Riese + Müller does have a canopy to cover the kiddos or cargo. With the kid seat configuration, cargo could still be piled into the front bucket—even with one of the kids loaded.
The Riese + Müller Load is powered by a Bosch drive system with four pedal power assist modes (Eco, Tour, Sport, Turbo) as well as “off” for those keen to do all the work themselves. There are two 500 watt-hour batteries mounted on the frame to provide plenty of power for a good range even with big loads. The display has a number of settings to show battery status, range, daily mileage, total mileage, ride time, current motor power, time, speed and average speed. Even on bright sunny days the display was easy to read with or without sunglasses on.
To prolong battery health, the batteries discharge nearly simultaneously. They monitor each other and switch off when there’s a five per cent difference between them. The bummer about this process is, the charger (at least the one I had) could only charge one battery at a time. So if I wanted to charge the batteries overnight I had to be sure to switch them out on the charger at some point. Nevertheless, the bike will run on just one battery, no matter which slot it’s plugged into so theoretically, you could get away with a day of riding on the first battery while the second battery finishes charging at the house. Then add it on and it will use the new battery until the two are at about the same charge.
Ride Quality & Handling
The Riese + Müller Load is an incredibly comfortable bike to ride. The angled seat post stem simultaneously accommodates for longer legs and bigger boddies when raising the seat providing a comfortable ride range for those from 5’ to over 6’. Full suspension using Riese + Müller’s Control Technology not only makes the ride more comfortable for the driver but for passengers as well with specific cargo suspension. The Load easily handled big bumps in the road and transitions to and from pavement to trail while testing. Our little passengers never complained about being uncomfortable from the ride. A good suspension system also makes the bike safer because it does a better job at keeping the wheels on the road.
Handling takes a little getting used to because of where the steering rod is in relation to the front wheel—on the far front side of the cargo box. I didn’t notice it as much while getting used to riding the Load, but once back on my own bike, a standard diamond frame, the steering felt twitchy and I had to re-adjust to the more sensitive and quick response of my usual ride.
As you might expect, this is not a cheap ride. The Load starts at around $7,300. It’s like buying a small car, but so much more fun and versatile. Granted, it will take a lot of free parking to make up the difference, but along with that comes the convenience of always being able to find a parking spot (something we’re often challenged with when going to summer concerts in the park that is too far for us to walk). In our case, hauling kids are the main attraction. Once the kids can ride their own bikes it turns into a gear hauler—something I think my family would put it to use for, but it probably won’t get used as often as when the kids were younger.
More info available at https://www.r-m.de/en-us/e-cargo/load/