A few tens of kilometers from Frankfurt, Germany, picturesque villages surrounded by forests and countryside welcome visitors, where life flows peacefully like the calm waters of the placid rivers that cross them. One of these villages, Mühltal, is the destination of our journey.
On the hills to the south, stands the Frankenstein Castle (the very one that inspired Mary Shelley’s novel), but that’s not why we are here.
Today, we are not chasing legends, but rather the solid reality of Riese & Muller, which has its headquarters here.
The company is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary in 2023 and is still expanding. The recently constructed facility is immense and state-of-the-art.
What immediately strikes you upon arrival is the number of bicycles—obviously all R&M bikes—parked under a large canopy right in front of the entrance. These belong to employees who pedal to work every day. Workers and executives, without distinction, are privileged if they arrive by bike (around 30% of them), while those who choose cars must park a little further away.
It’s impressive to see the number of cargo bikes—both Long Tail and Long John models—in this parade of two-wheelers. Many people use bikes not only for the bike-to-work commute but also as a practical daily means for grocery shopping or taking children to school.
Quality is one of the constants that accompanies our visit to the production facility.
Every component—many of which are supplied by German manufacturers—is assembled and meticulously inspected by skilled workers operating on different lines. There is no conventional assembly line; instead, work is organized by product types: cargo Long Johns on one side, Long Tails on the other, eBikes with Control Technology in another section, and so on.
This way, each group performs its tasks to the best of their abilities. Moreover, there is no predetermined timing; work progresses in unison, respecting the timing and any hiccups at each station, in order to coordinate the overall work.
Flexibility is another important word that defines Riese & Muller’s production.
And it couldn’t be any different, given their range of over 30 models and countless equipment and optional variants. Additionally, one must consider that no two bikes are the same, which is why we can’t speak of an assembly line.
Each Riese & Muller bike is individually manufactured according to the customer’s specifications. Through authorized dealers, customers can configure each model based on their needs.
Therefore, every eBike is accompanied throughout the entire process by a card summarizing its features and optional extras. Each frame starts with the name of the dealer who placed the order.
This process results in approximately 500 bicycles being produced each day. Without dwelling too much on calculations, in 2022, 113,000 Riese & Muller bikes were manufactured.
Despite the impressive volume, it’s important to remember that Riese & Muller started as a family-run company. About ten years ago, they had around a hundred employees. Now, the workforce—ranging from management to production lines, logistics, and offices—comprises over 900 individuals from 48 different nations.
Yes, there are also Italians at all levels. The growth has been consistent, without ever missing a beat from a production or logistical standpoint.
Sustainability, another cornerstone of Riese & Muller, is implicit in every step.
To begin with, the entire factory is self-sufficient in terms of energy consumption, thanks to photovoltaic panels covering the entire roof surface. Water is also not wasted: the sophisticated fire extinguishing system is powered by an external collection basin.
The warehouse is managed by a computerized electronic system to reduce energy and time waste.
Additionally, the packaging used to ship the bikes worldwide is made of cardboard sourced from certified forests and fully recyclable materials, with minimal use of plastic.
Speaking of shipments, each frame that leaves the warehouse in the morning arrives at the shipping section as a complete bike by evening, ready to be delivered to the dealer who placed the order.