BIKE TEST: Riese & Müller Delite25
Dual-battery trekking beast
Riese & Müller is a highly regarded German bike brand that has been among the pioneers of the modern e-bike movement. After 25 years in the bike-building business, the founders of the company, Markus Riese and Heiko Müller, wanted to do something special to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their company. What they came up with was a new flagship bike for the company, one that truly thinks outside the traditional bike.
The Delite25 looks like a tank. Truly German-engineered and purposely overbuilt, it’s one of the only full-suspension bikes made for on-road use that we’ve ever tested. It’s obvious just by quickly glancing at the bike that Riese & Müller paid meticulous attention to details in building it. It’s an all-aluminum frame, which makes it stiff, strong and light. That would make it unforgiving on bumpy surfaces, but Fox Float Factory front and rear suspension with 120mm of travel should take out all but the biggest of bumps.
Of particular note is the motor and battery. It’s a Bosch Performance CX motor designed for mountain bikes and, in this case, set up with Bosch’s new e-MTB mode, which seamlessly and automatically adjusts power output from Trail to Turbo modes based on rider torque input. We love this setup. Once you ride it for a few minutes, it’s absolutely intuitive and lets you concentrate on enjoying the ride, not which power level to select. It’s the same platform found on the Delite Mountain, and the CX motor gives you more torque than the Active Line (75 versus 50 N/m). But since it isn’t a speed pedelec (28 mph), it is a Class 1 bike that can easily and legally go on—or off—any bike path.
By running on two 500-Wh Bosch Dual Battery system batteries, the power unit is unique to say the least. On paper, this gives you twice the range, but the implementation actually does slightly better than this. It doesn’t pull from both batteries at once; instead, it draws from one battery until it uses about 10 percent, then switches to the other battery for 10 percent, then back to the first and so on. This allows less stress on the batteries during use, effectively giving you even longer range.
When charging the bike, the charger charges one battery fully, then switches to the other to charge it. If your commute isn’t far, you can run with just one battery on the bike to save a little weight, and one or both batteries can be removed for charging if that is your preference.
Another great detail is the included ABUS Bordo 90cm folding lock with a mount integrated into the spacious rear rack. Conveniently, the key is the same as the one for both of the batteries, so one key works for the entire bike.
“The thrill of the powerful and rapid-accelerating CX motor is intoxicating.”
There’s no room in the front triangle for a traditional bottle cage, so there are two mounting studs up near the head tube on either side for cage-less water bottles made by Fabric (Fabric.cc). It’s a simple and very elegant solution, actually placing your bottle in a very easy-to-reach place on the frame.
The handlebars are carbon fiber, wrapped in directions that create a solid, precise feel with just a slight amount of give to cut down on vibration. That’s the cool thing about carbon fiber—you can design it to have whatever flex or stiffness you want, in one direction or many, based on how it’s formed and what direction the fibers run in.
WHO IT’S MADE FOR?
The Delite is beyond a commuter bike, though it would—and could—serve well just as that. It’s aimed at those who want a comfortable ride on any type of terrain and who want to travel long distances where cost is much less of a concern than ride quality and range.
Just glancing at the bike, it looks serious. It’s overbuilt in a very German way and just plain cool-looking. The engineering on the bike does almost make it look like something that Batman might ride, especially being mostly black. It’s a substantial bike, which you’d expect with full suspension and two batteries, plus the included lock and a sturdy rack.
When you turn the system on, the Intuvia display lights up and indicates battery life on both batteries. It starts with the system on but the motor off, then you can toggle up through Eco, Tour, e-MTB and Turbo.
E-MTB has replaced Sport mode, so you can’t set the control to lock into Sport mode only. When in that mode, it automatically adjusts the power output of the motor between Tour (120-percent assist) and Turbo (300-percent assist) steplessly. We love this mode on mountain bikes, and the feeling of it is no different here. Set it and forget it. You do have to remember it a little when accelerating out of corners, but with just a few minutes on it, you get used to it.
In traffic, we yearned for a faster Active Line motor, but for other situations, the thrill of the powerful and rapid-accelerating CX motor is intoxicating. The addition of the e-MTB mode on this bike made that even better!
This bike comes with everything, including Shimano’s great Di-2 electronic shifting. It’s integrated into the bike, so there’s nothing to charge; it’s fully powered from the bike’s batteries. The shifting is smooth as silk and both quick and precise. Single press the shift lever to go up a gear, or hold and it will glide through several or all the gears at once. It’s a 1×11 setup, so there’s no front derailleur.
A big, heavy bike that can accelerate rapidly should also be able to decelerate and stop quickly, so Riese & Müller chose Shimano XTR mountain bike disc brakes with 180-millimeter rotors for quick stopping and great control. On fast rides down steep hills, even in traffic, we had no fear that we wouldn’t be able to stop, and the brakes offered outstanding control.
The Fox Float Factory 34 air fork is set up with a Boost thru-axle, and in conjunction with the Fox Float Factory rear shock, the ride is as plush as a 1970s Cadillac. We set it softer (more sag) than we would for an off-road bike, since we weren’t planning on taking it off-road. But, because it was fun and riding a bike brings out our inner 10-year-old, we took it off-road anyway! It was incredibly capable on climbs near the office, and the only reason we couldn’t climb higher was that the dirt was soft and the Moto-X tires were street tread, not knobby.
Though the bike is heavy, the weight is centered nicely, with both batteries slightly to the front and even with the one mounted on the bottom of the top tube. The bike is definitely heavy to carry upstairs, but because the weight is centered, it isn’t unwieldy.
The saddle isn’t the least comfortable we’ve ever ridden, but it certainly wasn’t the most. For the most part it didn’t matter, because the suspension made the ride so nice, but on long-distance rides, something softer might be nicer. While we’re on the subject of soft, the Ergon grips are made of a very soft rubber compound that definitely is comfortable on long rides, and it’s a slightly smaller diameter than most, which made for a pleasant overall feel.
Night riding is made easy thanks to the IQ-X lamp from Busch & Müller, which puts out a blindingly bright 100 lux. It is controlled from the Intuvia controller, and it throws a great directional beam to the front with a wide wash on the sides for peripheral vision. The Schwalbe 27.5×2.4-inch Moto-X tires have a retro-reflective stripe for excellent visibility from the side at night. Those tires also are big enough for great road contact and control while still taming rougher surfaces. We always felt like we had plenty of grip, even on smooth, sand-dusted bike paths.
You’re paying more than a premium price for the Delite25, which is on par with the price of a Stromer ST2x, which has a single 1000-Wh battery. But, you’re also getting top-quality full suspension, which makes a massive difference on long rides. We could ride this easily on long touring trips for days, whereas an aluminum bike with no suspension on imperfect streets, which is practically everywhere, can be really jarring and cause fatigue quickly.
If you like to do long rides and love full assist and a plush, comfortable and precise ride, take a test ride on one. It’s one of the most comfortable and fun street bikes we’ve ever ridden.
SPECS: RIESE & MÜLLER DELITE25
Motor: Bosch Performance Line CX
Battery: Bosch Dual Battery, 500 Wh x 2
Charge time: 8 hours
Top speed: 20 mph (with assist)
Range: 50–150 miles
Drive: Shimano XT Di-2, 11-speed
Brakes: Shimano Deore XTR hydraulic disc, 180mm front/rear
Controls: Bosch Intuvia
Fork: Fox Float 34 DPS Factory
Frame: 6061 aluminum
Tires: Schwalbe Super Moto-X, 27.5×2.4”
Weight: 67 lb.
Color choice: Signature Black
Sizes: 49, 54, 56cm