By Warren Rossiter
Big-load carrying ‘Etility’ machine is a hoot to ride and super practical
Our rating: 3.5 (out of 5 star rating)[…]
A rare and impressive mix of riding fun and cargo-carrying practicality
Pros: Practical; easy; fun
Cons: Single-sided kickstand; weighty
German bike designer Benno Baenziger had a skateboard and snowboard background before he founded Electra bikes back in 1993. Electra is less well known in the UK, but its retro-looking Townie is said to be the USA’s most popular cruiser bike.
Baenziger later sold Electra to Trek and went on to found Benno Bikes, an electric bike brand specialising in what it calls ‘Etility’ bikes – electric bikes that blend an easy, fun ride and a massive cargo-carrying capacity.
Whereas many of Benno’s e-bikes feature long wheelbases, the one-size-only RemiDemi 9D is a more compact model based around a 1,130mm wheelbase. This makes it nice and manoeuvrable in city traffic and its super-fat Duro tyres also help make it one of the most enjoyable utility machines I’ve ever ridden. Who says you can’t combine practicality and fun?
While it is reasonably compact, which makes storing it that much easier, Benno Bikes has still designed the RemiDemi to have the versatility and massive load-carrying capacity of a dedicated cargo bike.
Carry that load
The RemiDemi has a solidly mounted 20kg capacity front rack and it can carry 30kg at the rear, with the chunky chromoly steel frame itself doubling as the rear rack.
The total carrying capacity is a massive 180kg (400lb), including the 30kg bike and a rider up to 120kg (260lb), so most of us will be able to load up both racks to the max and carry a backpack.
Bosch’s Purion controller is simple to use. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
This haulage capacity is enough to handle a weekly shop and take your kid to school at the same time, depending on your weight, of course.
The RemiDemi also comes with a raft of load-carrying options for just about every eventuality and potential customer. Want to fit a Thule Yepp EasyFit child seat at the rear? A rear delivery box and front tray for commercial cargo deliveries? A secure frame-mounted front tray? Or perhaps a Carver Surf Rack? The RemiDemi can be adapted for all of these uses and more.
Wide tyres and a plush saddle keep the ride comfortable. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
The RemiDemi’s versatility extends beyond merely carrying stuff too, as its frame is designed to accommodate riders from 155cm (5ft 1in) to 185cm (6ft 1in) in height, but in practice I found the range wider still. I’m 6ft 2in tall and had no trouble fitting the bike and the same is true for my partner who’s 5ft tall.
Unless your size disparity is even greater than ours, the RemiDemi is genuinely a bike for the whole household rather than a single-owner machine.
It has mudguards and lights powered by the battery. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
In addition to the front rack the RemiDemi comes with full-length mudguards, which provide a solid platform for the front and rear lights that are both powered by the battery.
The Herrmans MR8 front light puts out 180 lumens and the Herrmans twin LED rear, with its 220 degrees of visibility, is an ideal setup for city riding.
Feel the power
The mid-mounted Bosch Performance Line system is the perfect match for the RemiDemi’s design, as you have so much torque on tap that you never really feel the bike’s near-30kg weight.
If you like to roll along swiftly, you’ll also love the RemiDemi’s massive slick tyres, as these offer an unholy amount of grip when you lean it into corners.
Benno’s RemiDemi is practical…and great fun. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
In addition to this, their huge air volume lets the RemiDemi roll over the roughest surfaces and stay comfortable, and you’re further helped by the luxurious couch-like saddle and the bike’s relaxed upright riding position.
The best range I managed on a largely flat urban test ride was 74.3km (46.2 miles) with 311m (1,020ft) of climbing. That’s plenty for a school run or a day’s worth of local deliveries.
The bike is powered by a Bosch PowerPack 400 battery. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
The range was also pretty impressive over some tougher rural test rides, and I managed 57.8km (35.9 miles) with 613m (2011ft) of elevation on an excursion over some of Wiltshire’s rolling hills.
Fun and functionality
I’ve loved my time riding the RemiDemi. It impressed me with its simplicity and practicality and it’s supremely comfortable but, best of all, it’s a shedload of fun to ride. It’s compact for a cargo bike and the folding pedals reduce its width.
Although, I would like to have seen a Speedlifter-style stem, as seen on Cube’s Compact. This lets you turn the bar independently from the fork and would have made the RemiDemi even easier to store.
I’d have also preferred a dual kickstand rather than the single-sided kickstand that comes as standard (though dual-sided is an option). The stability of a double-sided stand would make loading a bike of this weight that much easier.
I’d have preferred a double-sided kickstand. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
But even with those provisos, the RemiDemi is a fabulous bike that’s full of charm.
It’s also a machine that could take over a lot of duties presently carried out by a car and it would make going car-less that much less of a hardship.
|Weight||29.6kg (One Size)|
|Available sizes||One Size|
|Brakes||Brakes Shimano BT-MT200 hydraulic discs, 180mm/ 160mm rotors|
|Fork||4130 chromoly steel|
|Frame||4130 chromoly steel|
|Grips/Tape||Benno Ergonomic grips|
|Handlebar||Benno alloy 700mm riser|
|Motor||E-Bike system Bosch Performance Line 250W motor, Bosch PowerPack 400 battery (396Wh), Bosch Purion display/controller|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano Sora nine-speed|
|Stem||Benno alloy 60mm|
|Tyres||20in x 4.25in Duro Street tyres|
|Wheels||20in Benno HJC double-wall 80mm wide alloy rims; 36-hole KT cartridge bearing hubs|
Senior Technical Editor Road
Approaching two decades of testing bikes, Warren can be found on a daily basis riding and exploring the road and off roads of Wiltshire’s Salisbury Plain in the UK. That’s when he’s not travelling the world to test the latest kit, components and bikes.