The Riese & Muller Homage GX is a high-quality, high-ticket bike that in this build is capable of a huge range of riding from city trips to multi-day off-road touring. The dual-battery setup is very neat and the excellent Nyon display offers full mapping and navigation functionality
Ebiketips has already tested a Riese & Muller Homage model which was specced as a low-maintenance city model with Enviolo ‘stepless’ gearing, belt drive and Bosch ABS anti-lock braking on the front wheel.
Whilst we praised the superb ride qualities and very high build quality then, we felt it didn’t really justify it’s eyewatering almost £7k price tag; as the reviewer said, ‘The Homage is a really nice bike to ride, but it doesn’t – for me – do enough to justify the price tag. If, though, you really need full suspension or ABS, or the price just isn’t much of a problem, it’s a very nice thing indeed.’
Now comes the 2021 version that gives the option of a dual battery with two of Bosch’s largest 625Wh batteries both integrated into Riese and Muller’s own unique Homage full-suspension frame design.
Also new for the 2021 Homage is the option of Bosch’s all-singing, all-dancing Nyon display (reviewed separately here) which we requested on this latest test model. Riese and Muller has also redesigned the handlebar stem area so it is adjustable for position to suit a wider range of riders. It’s not quite as simple as Tern’s tool-less Andros stem (you will need the right size allen wrench and star wrench for the Homage) but it does a similar thing, allowing fore and aft movement of the bars and rotation of them as well as letting you alter the angle of the display and headlight independently of the bars. It’s a useful addition in our book as it will widen the appeal of the bike to allow for both sporty or sit up and beg riding positions.
The original review of the Homage looked at the bike as a city option. But for our 2021 Homage test bike we specced an extra battery and off-road tyres (Riese and Muller’s so-called GX option), meaning the alluring prospect of an e-bike that will now be able to do long distance off-road tours where the good quality full-suspension will perhaps be of more value.
Now A Viable Long Distance Off-road Tourer?
A full day’s riding encompassed city centre cycle lanes and full-on bridleway circuits beloved of the local mtb community. The Homage coped more than admirably: the combination of full suspension and powerful Performance Line CX motor meant the pretty steep and rocky tracks were effectively flattened – the real challenge being the technical one of balance and handling over rockier ground.
The rear suspension appears to have been upgraded to a Suntour Edge unit with 80% lockout feature which stiffens the ride up whilst on smooth surfaces, but you can flip the lever for a super forgiving ride on rougher tracks. There’s also a lockout feature on the front suspension. Add in the fast-on-tarmac-and-dirt Johnny Watts tyres and you have a great town and country bike that’s more than up to anything the city can throw at it but will also handle pretty testing bridleway trails – in other words great for challenging leisure style rides rather than adrenalin inducing downhills.
Steep off-road climbing sucks the life out of batteries, so the dual battery option perhaps makes most sense for those wanting to head off into the wilds and ride all day. Add in the 20kg rated rack and the option of a front rack and the Homage GX promises e-bike campers the possibility to really get away from it all – if ridden with a careful control of your power level it could even mean trail riding for a whole weekend without the need to recharge, with a night’s camping thrown in.
The larger frame width on the dual battery model, needed to accommodate side-by-side batteries, didn’t prove in any way cumbersome or interfere with pedalling action and the 6amp superfast charger option will ensure overnight charging even if you have to make an early start the next morning. The charging socket is conveniently high up and central on the frame, just behind the headset, but if you need to pop out one or both batteries that is easily doable too as both are side-exiting; a much better design than bottom drop out frame-integrated batteries which can be awkward to get to and can foul on the front forks. It also allows a space on the top of the frame for a bottle holder mount. In short, if you decide you need a dual battery model this is a fantastically convenient arrangement.
Add in the option of a small headtube mounted front rack to the rear rack and you could undoubtedly take full camping gear. World touring types who want to take everything but the kitchen sink might want to add a trailer but would need to get Riese and Muller’s own thru-axle adapter to tow a two-wheeled trailer; rather disappointingly for single track fans R&M say the bike should not be used for a single wheel trailer but don’t say why. A wide range of downloadable mapping from countries around the globe and the ability to wirelessly download GPX route files to the Nyon unit just adds to the ‘world is your osyter’ feel of the bike.
Lighting is superb. The 150 Lux front Supernova M99 headlight is boostable to a main beam of 260 Lux so at the push of a button you have lighting power almost on a par with motorbikes and cars (just be sure to dip that main beam if there is oncoming traffic…). The Supernova rear light is plenty bright but becomes superbright when you brake and a following rider told me it was instantly recognisable as a brake light function.
Everything else about the bike behaved just as you would expect from a machine at such a premium price; the gear changes from the 11 speed Shimano Deore XT Shadow+ derailleur were industrially crisp and the braking from the Magura hydraulic disks was more than adequate even for the considerable 34kg heft of the dual battery Homage. If you wanted a super low maintenance setup you could spec an electronically shifting Rohloff hub and a belt drive but this would add weight and considerable cost to what, even in it’s lowest spec, is one of the more expensive e-bikes out there.
Our test rider also used his Wahoo Tickr heart rate monitor which took around a minute to Bluetooth connect with the Nyon, in order to check out the fitness screen (which our original Nyon reviewer didn’t get a chance to look at). This shows rider watts expended, cadence, calories burned and heart rate in beats per minute. For those on a training regime or for those needing to exercise their heart within strict parameters for medical reasons this could be very helpful. During an evening fitness ride the fitness screen behaved perfectly and the bluetooth connection was maintained faultlessly. With the ability to turn power up and down (or off) at the touch of a button you have very fine control over your heart rate and no terrain will push it uncessarily high. And even if on flat tarmac turning the motor off and clicking up through the gears gives your heart plenty of exercise given the weight and design of the bike.
In summary, would-be adventurers looking to blow some of their life savings might sorely be tempted by a bike that blends step thru convenience and plush full-sus comfort with excellent on and off-road performance - the only proviso being, as highlighted in the original Homage review, they would want to make sure they were happy and able to haul around the considerable weight of the bike when not riding it.