The early bird gets the worm! We accompanied photographer Oliver Graf and the Riese & Müller Multicharger GT Vario on their way to work. Can the € 5,298 R&M transport all of his photography equipment? And how does this short and agile cargo bike compare to the competition?
Click here for an overview of the best cargo bike in review
The streets are bursting at the seams, the daily hooting and chaos of traffic wear you down even before you get to work and you’re fed up with spending more time sitting in traffic jams than you are moving forward. If this is you, then, like our friend Oliver Graf you should take a closer look at the R&M Multicharger GT Vario E-cargo bike! With a maximum payload of 65 kg on its integrated rear rack and relatively compact dimensions, it’s a versatile pack mule that’s easy to manoeuvre in and around the urban jungle. On this bike, you’ll quickly come to the realisation that stress is for other people. Life is so much better when you’re out and about in the open, away from the hustle and bustle of traffic! It’s a lot better for creative work too because the ride helps clear your head and allows you to come up with new and fresh perspectives.
Do you commute to work on cobblestones? No problem! Thanks to the air fork and suspended seat post, you’ll remain nice and comfortable.
Riese & Müller Multicharger GT Vario
Motor Bosch Performance Line CX 75 Nm
Battery Bosch PowerPack 500 Wh
Display Bosch Purion
Brakes MAGURA MT5 / MAGURA MT4 (f/r) 203/180 (f/r) mm
Drivetrain Enviolo Cargo 380 %
Tires Schwalbe Big Ben Plus 26 x 2,15"
Size One size
Weight 38.2 kg
Length 197 cm
Width 66 cm
Height 112 cm
Perm. total weight 175 kg
Max. payload (rider/equipment) 65 kg
The design of the R&M Multicharger GT Vario baker’s bike looks edgy yet iconic with its matte black finish and bright orange accessories. However, with use, you’ll quickly notice that the paint on the rear rack starts to chip and wear, which doesn’t harmonise with the otherwise excellent workmanship of the R&M Multicharger GT Vario. The rear rack is based on a modular system which can be adapted for different scenarios, allowing you to transport people, children and cargo with the help of voluminous pannier bags or even another bike with the optional mount. Oliver was able to fit all of his camera equipment, weighing 50 kg, making the E-cargo bike the perfect car replacement for his daily commute. Note: converting from one carrier system to the other isn’t quick since you have to remove and replace a lot of bolts that aren’t always easy to reach. You have to keep that in mind and plan ahead. The bike stand is sufficiently stable when unladen but it isn’t stable enough for loads heavier than 40 kg. If you park the Multicharger on a slight incline, it tips over quite easily.
Combined with the limited gear range of the Enviolo Cargo drivetrain, the old, second-generation Bosch Performance Line CX motor struggles to push the bike with its payload up steep climbs. The Bosch Cargo Line motor would have been a more powerful alternative. Riding above the 25 km/h threshold is super strenuous too and it only becomes more evident how much better the new Bosch Performance Line CX motor really is. Having said that, if you’re only going to do leisurely riding on flat terrain below the assistance threshold, the motor is more than powerful enough. The 500 Wh battery is quickly emptied when you’re riding around fully loaded in a hilly city like Stuttgart, meaning the 1,000 Wh dual battery option is definitely worth considering. The minimalist Bosch Purion display only provides you with the most basic data, so if you want more connectivity you’ll have to add Bosch’s clever SmartphoneHub in the online configurator. As with the R&M Load 60, the RX anti-theft chip is also available as an optional extra. Should thieves make off with your E-cargo bike, Riese & Müller will be able to track down your loyal companion thanks to it.
The Multicharger cuts through the city centre like a hot knife through butter. Tight corners, crowds of people or downtown traffic are no problem – the handling of the R&M is precise and controlled.
If you’re in a hurry, you could also go for the s-pedelec Multicharger GT Vario HS version, which will usher you and all of your goods through city traffic at speeds up to 45 km/h. The GX model comes with knobbly off-road tires, making it ideal for anyone who spends a lot of time riding on gravel and forest paths. The illumination and the position of the Supernova light on the handlebars are good and thanks to the wide cone of light you’re clearly able to see where you’re headed even as you’re going around a corner. However, you shouldn’t stack the front rack too high at night or you’ll risk obstructing the light.
Tuning tips: more powerful brakes | brake light as found on the Riese & Müller Load
Whether it’s riding at slow speeds through the congested city or chasing a fox across the fields, there isn’t much this cargo bike can’t handle. The R&M Multicharger GT Vario has a much longer wheelbase compared to a conventional bike, though it’s one of the shortest cargo bikes on test. The handling feels very precise, making it easy to navigate tight corners, wind through crowds and weave around downtown traffic. Even off the beaten track, the bike instils you with confidence and feels very composed without going over into feeling cumbersome, thanks to the agility of the front end. It offers lots of comfort on cobblestones and off-road, with the air fork and suspended seat post doing a great job of absorbing small bumps. The only things we were slightly disappointed with was the performance of the MAGURA MT5/MT4 brakes and the lack of a brake light. On an E-cargo bike that can weigh up to 175 kg when fully loaded, you can’t blame us for wanting more powerful brakes. Like the other cargo bikes in the test field, the Multicharger is only available in one size and is likely too big for people under 1.60 m. We highly recommend taking the bike for a test ride beforehand to see if it fits!
The R&M cargo bike performed just as well with a typical everyday load (around 20 kg on the rear and 3 kg on the front). You’ll hardly notice the added weight’s influence on the handling which remains agile and precise. However, the centre of gravity is quite high, which is most noticeable in winding corners at slow speeds. The Tern GSD S00 cargo bike sets the bar in this regard. If you add another 20 kg on the bike, riding at slow speeds, in strong winds and through corners can become very tiring. However, this has nothing to do with the bike as such, but with its concept: not many baker’s bikes remain stable with a 40 kg load high on the rack, in which case long john bikes, with their low-slung cargo bay are at a clear advantage. The great thing about the Riese & Müller is that you can easily use it for extensive trekking tours with handling that is very similar to a classic bike!
The Riese & Müller Multicharger is two bikes in one: a trekking bike with stable handling and a versatile cargo bike! It delivers a convincing performance when commuting, on family trips and on moderate off-road terrain while coping just as well with photography equipment, shopping or kids on the rear. Cornering only becomes a challenge when you carry loads beyond the 40 kg mark. If you often transport heavy loads or small children, or simply want even more carrying capacity, we would recommend taking a look at the Riese & Müller Load instead. But if you’re looking for a versatile bike that can be configured in numerous ways, the Multicharger GT Vario is a great choice.
- numerous configurations possible
- very comfortable
- composed handling at all speeds
- edgy, iconic looks
- finishing quality of the rear rack
- not the most stable stand
- high centre of gravity when loaded
- weak brakes
- low gear range
You can find out more at r-m.de
The test field
Click here for an overview of the best cargo bike in review
All bikes in test: Bergamont E-Cargoville LJ 70 (Click for review) | Butchers & Bicycles Mk1-E Automatic (Click for review) | Larry vs Harry STePS eBullitt E8000 XT Di2 (Click for review) | Muli-Cycles Muli Muskel (Click for review) | Riese & Müller Load 60 Touring GX (Click for review) | Riese & Müller Multicharger GT Vario | Tern GSD S00 (Click for review) | Urban Arrow Family Performance CX Disc Zee 500 Wh (Click for review) | Croozer Cargo Tuure (Click for review)
Words: Photos: Robin Schmitt