Move Electric rating: three-and-a-half stars out of five
What does it cost?
What is it?
The Riese and Müller Tinker Vario is quite a distinct bike, particularly at first glance. There are obvious adjustment and folding points on the bike, but none that identify it as a 'folding bike', and that's because it isn't. The idea behind the Tinker Vario is to get the best of both worlds. The functionality of a larger, more typical bike frame, but the compactness of a folding one.
It’s quite clever, with folding points at the stem and the seatpost which can be pushed in to save space, making it a viable option for a busy commuter or someone who wants to take it on a weekend away in the boot of their car – you might need quite a large boot, but that’s beyond the point.
The Tinker Vario aims to join urban convenience with a genuinely enjoyable ride, but whether you think it’s worth over £4k is down to personal preference.
What is it like?
In terms of ride quality, it's quite easy to forget you're on a more compact bike. The frame adjustability is good enough that myself and a colleague both rode it (with a height difference of about a foot between us) with only minor adjustments. The stem and handlebar angle can be adjusted as well, meaning you can tailor the experience to your riding position.
The overall experience is heightened by the suspension – something I wouldn’t normally expect to see on a ‘compact’ bike. A Cane Creek Thudbuster seatpost provides a small amount of relief from the road buzz. I didn’t personally feel much of the effect of it, however, my taller colleague did. Where I did notice a difference was in the Spinner Grind OS fork, which provided about 50mm of travel. It’s not a great deal, but enough to take out the subtle cracks in the average British road.
Added together with the Schwalbe Big Ben Plus tyres and you have a smooth enough ride to provide enough relief from most British roads, and, if you are brave enough, towpaths or well-maintained bridleways.
In terms of urban appeal, it comes with the usual foray of accessories including lights, mudguards and a rear rack which can carry up to 25kg – more than enough for the average commuter’s laptop bag or reasonable food shop.
The magic really begins when you start to look at the components on the list – and for over £4k, you'd expect something special to warrant the price. Riese and Müller use Bosch motor and battery systems for all of their bikes (except the brand new urban range), and so it’s no surprise to see a mid-drive system on offer.
The Performance Line mid-drive motor is excellent, it’s intuitive, and isn’t overbearing on the ride quality. It never makes you feel like you’ve lost the feeling that you’re pedalling. This is paired with a PowerPack 500 battery offering plenty of range, with the assist levels controlled via the Bosch Intuvia display on the handlebars.
For the gearing, Riese and Müller have chosen the Enviolo 380 hub system, a fantastic and easy to use gear system which has the added ability of riders being able to change gear even when the bike is stopped. This is something I find quite key in urban situations where you might not always be able to plan your gear changes ahead of you. A Gates drive belt CDX provides a maintenance-free drivetrain that if tensioned correctly can offer thousands of fuss-free miles.
The only major drawback to this bike is the price. For an urban runaround, you might have a figure of half the MSRP of this bike in mind, and for £2k you can get some half-decent electric bikes to get yourself around the city or to work. However, that’s not to say the bike isn’t worth the price to the right person. Riese and Müller are renowned for the high-quality frames and engineering, and there is plenty of tech aboard the Tinker Vario to justify the cost.
Where can I buy it?
Fully Charged, one of Britain’s biggest electric bike retailers. They have showrooms across the south, like Silverstone, which is where I test rode the bike.
How does it arrive?
Largely assembled, simply adjust the handlebars and attach the pedals before you ride.
Another great option for urban riding from Riese and Müller, with plenty of tech packed into a compact bike. The only major drawback is the price.
Riese & Müller Tinker Vario
Frame size tested
Weight of bike
Enviolo 380 gear hub
Gates drive belt CDX
Tektro Auriga Comp HD-500 disc brakes
Schwalbe Big Ben Plus 55-406 Reflex tyres
Bosch mid-drive Performance Line
Bosch PowerPack 500
Up to 70 miles (variable dependent)