A few weeks ago, I traveled out to Long Beach, California for a work-related trip. I had never been to California (I am from Tennessee), so I was excited to see another side of the country. While I was there, I was loaned a Riese & Muller Tinker Vario by a friend of a friend to travel around the city.
The city is packed with challenges: commuter hold-ups on the streets, full buses and trains, sometimes heavy luggage and all this even before the sun comes up. But don’t panic. The solution has a name: Tinker. With this compact E-Bike featuring 20” wheels, you can effortlessly glide past all of this with a broad smile. Its frame is so cleverly designed that you can quickly carry it up a few steps or store it in the boot of your car. Even in a full bike store, there is always space for the Tinker. Just as straightforward as the Tinker is in everyday life, it is with regard to the rider: tall, small, man or woman, the bike can be perfectly adjusted for everyone in a few easy steps. And with the Tinker you don’t have to forego speed either: the HS version offers assistance up to 45 km/h. The daily commute has never been so fast.
Propel is one of the most well-known e-bike dealers in the country, and they are preparing for their grand opening in Long Beach (their other store is in Brooklyn, NY). I got to take an early look at their new store, and I can say without a doubt that it will be a premier place to purchase e-bikes in Long Beach and Los Angeles.
Chris Nolte, the owner of Propel, showed me the various bikes that they sell, and let me pick out one to demo. I was really drawn to the Tinker model due to its small size. It would be easy to store in my hotel room, easy to load on the elevator, and also navigate around the city.
Being new to e-bikes, I really had no idea what to expect from the Riese & Muller Tinker Vario. While I was in Long Beach, I got my first experience using Lime scooters, so I felt like moving onto an e-bike from there was a natural step.
One of the first things I noticed about the Tinker is the seat or saddle in bike parlance. It was without a doubt the most comfortable bike seat I’ve ever sat on – the Selle Royal Lookin 3D Athletic. All of the electronics in the Tinker are from Bosch. In talking with Propel’s owner, he said that Bosch makes the majority of electronic drive trains for high-end e-bikes.
One of the more interesting aspects of the bike was the transmission system. Instead of a system where you pull a lever to change gears, it’s a rolling system to where you can comfortably adjust the gear up or down depending on the terrain you are on. The area I was staying had a number of hills, and I found this method of gear shifting to be quite enjoyable. I was able to roll my wrist a bit to easily adjust the gear and get up the hills.
On the electronics side, the Riese & Muller Tinker Vario included Turbo, Sport, Tour, Eco, and off. The highest option (Turbo) provides the most assistance, but will use the most battery. As you cycle down, you get less assistance, but more battery life.
When driving around town, I found it best to use Eco as I was starting and stopping a lot to cross the street. On my final full day in Long Beach, I took the bike to the beach to see how it performed on long straightaways. I cranked it up to Sport mode and let it ride. Considering this was my first time using an e-bike, I was really blown away by how nice of an experience it was. I was able to travel multiple miles without feeling like I had just gotten a workout in. For daily commuters, this is a game-changing experience. You can travel long distances without feeling like you’ll need to take a shower when you arrive. For the times when you want more of a workout, you can easily adjust the settings to fit your desired level.
Overall, everything about the Riese & Muller Tinker Vario was first class. From the first time I got on it, to changing gears, driving in the day, driving pre-dawn (the built-in light is perfect for early morning rides), and to storing it at night.
If you are looking for a bike to become your daily commuter tool, the Riese & Muller Tinker Vario would be a perfect option. If you want something to take on light off-road or gravel, it’s also a great option with its thick tires. It’s one of the “can do a little of everything” type bikes. It can be folded to load into SUVs and mini-vans as well. The back of the bike can hold plenty of storage with an easy “snapit” system with plenty of accessory options.
At just under $5000, it obviously isn’t cheap but you get what you pay for here. If you are looking for fully foldable options or a cargo level bike, check out Tern’s Vekton and GSD which we reviewed previously.
The transportation industry is changing by the day, and if your commute is 20 miles or less, an e-bike is certainly a great option to simplify your life. I would have no hesitation recommending the Riese & Muller Tinker Vario as your daily commuter bike. It’s robust enough to go anywhere you want, but small enough to easily fit on elevators and store in smaller living quarters.
I’m now looking for something similar to get me to work and back on nice days in Tennessee. I’m converted!
Subscribe to Electrek on YouTube for exclusive videos and subscribe to the podcast.