Short review: Storck Raddar Multitask and Multiroad (early 2012)
A first impressions report on two high-end electric bikes from Germany, the Storck Raddar Multitask and Multiroad. Read the full short review...
Posted by Peter Eland on Monday 13 Feb 2012
This review appeared in Electric Bike magazine Issue 4. Click the viewer below to read the review with the original print layout - or scroll down for the full text and images online!
Storck Raddar Multitask & Multiroad
Established for over 15 years in Germany, Storck Bikes make both unassisted and electric cycles, the latter being their ‘Raddar’ range and the former a well-regarded range of racing bikes, MTBs and city bikes. Father and son team Ian and Trevor Hughes of Storck Raddar UK have been importing the bikes since 2010, and recently opened a ‘concept store’ at their base in Newcastle/Gateshead. A second concept store has since opened in Maidstone, and a network of around 20 dealers across the UK also sells the electric range, and conduct ‘demo days’ when you can come and try the bikes.
I travelled up north to visit Storck, to chat about the electric bike business (Ian’s background is as a senior staffer with a major mainstream bike company, so it was fascinating to hear an insider’s view of how the ‘big boys’ of the bike business operate), and of course to try the bikes.
Storck are based just a few miles from Newcastle’s train station, at a modern business park on the southern shore of the Tyne – indeed the shop overlooks the river. It’s also near the Metrocentre shopping centre, and just beyond that is the steep escarpment of the Whickham district, rising around 100m vertically in not much more than a kilometre. Ian directs visitors looking to test the bikes’ hill-climbing up this bank, where quiet residential roads with unrelenting gradients make a perfect testing ground of assistance power on the way up, and of braking and handling as you come down.
I performed the ascent twice: first on a Raddar Multitask (£2899), then on a Carbon Multiroad (£3159).
The Multitask is an electric version of a popular commuting-type bike of the same name from Storck; it comes equipped with (somewhat short) mudguards, rack, stand and hub dynamo-driven lights as standard. The tyres are noticeably wide and voluminous: they’re Schwalbe Big Apples on full size 700c wheels, designed to add an effective suspension effect without significant rolling resistance, and they are a favourite of mine for commuting use. The large cross section also means you can bump through even the worst of potholes without risk of damaging rims. The alloy frame is very well finished, and high end disk brakes and Shimano derailleur gearing complete the bike package.
The electric motor is in the rear wheel. It’s a Swiss-made ‘direct drive’ type, with no gearing inside, so it should be (and was) silent in operation. The 26V, 11 Ah battery slides onto a mount attached to the bike’s frame, so leaving the overall geometry (and weight distribution) of the bike largely unaffected. It’s controlled by a non-sprung (i.e. it stays where you set it) thumb ‘throttle’, which varies the power assist level. A torque sensor measures your pedalling effort and adds power to match automatically.
The battery pack is frame-mounted, and can be charged in place or off the bike. At 286 Wh it’s not the largest around, but with torque sensing drive it’s plenty for most purposes.
First impressions were really good: the bicycle side is hard to fault, with high-end components for gear and brakes all performing as they should, and the rest of the bike feeling rigid, smooth and rattle-free. The big tyres take out the vibration and feel secure even on very broken surfaces. And the electric assist is also smooth and seamless, responding instantly as your pedal effort varies, in complete silence, but with enough power that even 1 in 10 and steeper gradients were overcome with very modest effort on my part.
It looks like a throttle, but the thumb control below is actually used to set the assistance level. The battery status display and power switch are also built in here.
As ever with torque sensing systems, you have to adapt your riding style somewhat to get the most out of the assistance. So instead of spinning the pedals in a low gear for the easiest hill-climbing, as you would with a normal bike, you use a slightly higher gear. This ‘tells’ the system that you’re pushing a bit harder, so in turn it provides more help. After a few minutes this becomes instinctive, and overall the assistance effect is very natural. Using a thumb ‘throttle’ to set assist level is also very good, much easier than pressing little + and – buttons.
I deliberately pushed the system, attempting to get it to provide maximum assistance continuously for the whole ascent. Despite speeds dropping fairly low on some of the steepest section it never faltered or overheated. It was assisting my pedalling, rather than dragging me up on its own, of course, but that’s still impressive.
The direct drive motor is silent, smooth and didn’t suffer even after a steep stress test. Brake and gear components are all high end models.
Repeating the exercise on the Carbon Multiroad, which is more of a flat-barred racing bike, with minimum accessories, didn’t differ very much at all as far as the electric assist went. It is a very different bike, though, with a much ‘sharper’ feel and more instant response – as you’d expect with the narrow tyres and lower weight.
The Multiroad is a considerably lighter, sharper bike to ride. Here it is towards the top of my Whickham test ride.
Overall my impression of the Storck Raddar bikes was very positive – and they have a lot to live up to, with prices very much towards the top end of what’s available in the UK. On the basis of my admittedly brief rides the quality does seem to be there, not least in the electric assist system, as long as it’s a torque sensing/effort matching system you’re after rather than something to pull you along unassisted.
And the bike quality is first rate: I suspect a fair bit of those high prices is going into making the bikes relatively lightweight, in the case of the Multitask despite its level of equipment. Overall weight for this model is said to be under 20 kg, including battery. There are four frame sizes, too, not always the case with electric bikes, so you should get a bike which fits well.
It would have been nice to see a more informative handlebar display for the money, mind, and battery capacity isn’t huge. That said, torque sensor assist is usually efficient by nature, so it should give plenty of range (they say 30 to 60 miles, depending on conditions), and the size chosen makes for a reasonably light pack (1.9 kg) keeping bike weights down. The lithium-polymer pack apparently uses best quality ‘balanced’ cells, and a spare costs £499.
There’s also a full two year guarantee, extending to three years if a servicing plan is followed. Frames have a five year guarantee (carbon) or lifetime (alloy), both for the original owner.
I’d certainly recommend a test ride for anyone looking for a top quality electric bike. They are pricey, but the sophistication and performance do go a long way to justifying the premium.
Storck Raddar: Tel 0191 493 2654 or see www.storck-raddar.co.uk.
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