BIKE TEST: GOCYCLE GS

Our favorite folder for half the original price

When we first reviewed the original Gocycle G3 (February 2017), it not only proved itself incredibly innovative but simply a folding bike like no other. Its creator Richard Thorpe was a design engineer for McLaren’s Formula 1 program, and he brought with him design elements that are infused with a go-fast mindset.

Thorpe left his dream job to start Karbon Kinetics Limited and pursue the perfect electric bicycle. He went from designing cars that go over 200 miles an hour to an electric bike that goes a tenth of that speed. It took him seven years of research and development to produce the first Gocycle, which debuted April 2009. By 2011 they had sold out of the G1 and announced the arrival of a new G2. Gocycle entered the North American market in 2014, premiering at, of all places, the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.

The trouble was, that original bike cost $4500, which, for a folding bike, was definitely on the high side. Enter the GS. This new bike shares most of its design and functions as the G3, but at a price nearly half as much.

The front strut looks like it has some suspension travel, but that’s just a protective boot.

THE BIKE

The monocoque frame is made of magnesium, as are the wheels. The battery is hidden in the frame. It’s a two-wheel-drive bike in that the rear wheel is driven by the enclosed chain and the motor is located in the front wheel.

How do you make nearly the same bike for half the price? Simply by removing just a few, but expensive, features like the uber-cool Light Pipe daytime running light (a feature we loved!) and the handlebar LED display. Beyond those two items, that’s about all they changed. All of the cable routing is internal on the G3, and the GS has a few wires exposed. The GS also uses a mechanical shifter instead of an electronic one, an aluminum handlebar instead of carbon fiber and less expensive pedals.

This is really the only external wiring found on the GS model.

You can order the bike in a variety of colors for the Cleandrive cover and two colors for the frame. The wheels and tires are always black. The PitstopWheels are straight out of F1 tech, attached only on one side with an easy-release system that makes them easy to put on and take off for storage, and if you need to change a tube or tire, you don’t even need to take off the wheel.

The bike folds differently than any other folding bike. It does fold in the middle, but instead of a hinge, the clean-drive simply folds up under the downtube.

Detail of the PitstopWheels hub. The red part is the lock, and the three levers make it simple to take off or put on the wheel.

Brakes are hydraulic discs, and they’re hidden behind the wheel attachments. There are a variety of options available, including a front pannier, mudguards, an integrated light kit, a portable docking station and a rear luggage rack.

THE MOTOR 

Gocycle designed their own motor, and it’s a powerful 500-watt geared front hub motor. It works extremely well, and with the smaller 20-inch wheels, it produces impressive torque. When actually riding, it uses a torque sensor to add power to your own pedaling power. On the GS, it’s not nearly as smooth as it was on the G3. It can pulse in and out, and you have to get it going before it kicks in. There was more of a delay than we’d have liked.

The internal shifting gear has three speeds, and it shifts quickly and cleanly through the gears. Since it shifts internally, it’s easy to downshift if you come to a stop and forgot to downshift beforehand. You don’t have to be moving.

Three-speed internal shifting actuated with a twist-grip.

There’s a thumb button on the left side that works as a throttle. It’s not a controllable throttle; it’s an on/off switch. You have to get the bike going first, then when the motor kicks in, you can press that button and the bike will accelerate to 20 mph relatively quickly. You have to watch your thumb position on that left grip; we hit it accidentally and the bike took off. There are no brake cutoffs, so hitting the brakes won’t cut the motor. If you’re just using the pedal assist, the motor does cut instantly when you stop pedaling.

The GocycleConnect app makes the bike highly customizable, including the power output of the motor. You can tune it for performance or range, depending on where you’re riding. There are modes for city riding, eco for long range and a custom setting where you can choose the power curve. We selected the lowest pedal power to start, and it improved the takeoff speed.

WHO IT’S MADE FOR

The Gocycle GS is good for commuters with the right carrying accessories, but also great for anyone who wants a great folding bike that takes up very little room when folded. The bike’s weight makes it very easy to carry. The range isn’t really enough as a touring bike. The Eco mode is rated at “up to 40 miles” depending on pedal input and terrain. This really means a max of 15–20 miles for most riders. There’s a maximum weight capacity of 220 pounds, including rider and cargo, which is something to consider for heavier riders.

THE RIDE

When we got the bike in, it was in something half the size of a normal bike box. Even the packaging was well-designed!

Unboxing was done using instructions in the GocycleConnect app (there are linked videos; it’s highly recommended that you’re on a good WiFi network to play them). It walks you through all the steps of setup—from unfolding to putting in the pin for the shock, installing the wheels, and connecting to the bike via the app. There are 15 steps and nearly as many videos. It’s quite comprehensive yet still takes just a few minutes.

“How do you make nearly the same bike for half the price?”

The Cleandrive unfolds and connects in the back via a small shock that allows for an inch of travel. If you compare it to a modern mountain bike, it’s minuscule, but for riding on the road, it’s really just right.

The included phone mount was like using rubber bands for connecting your smartphone to the bars. The handlebars do have a flat spot that allows for easy mounting, though. Other mounts (e.g., Rokform) will also work well here for using the app. The app itself shows a lot of great info—from real-time speed to max speed, average speed, current gear and even battery life.

The brake levers have fittings that take the cabling immediately into the bars to maintain a clean aesthetic. The exposed wire is for the throttle button.

Turning the bike on is done via a button on the back. A quick press will simply show the battery life. A long press will light up a couple of LEDs on the left and then quickly show battery life. The charge port is well-covered with one of the best rubber covers we’ve encountered. It solidly locks in place to keep dirt out of the charge port. The charger itself is tiny. It will take seven hours to fully charge a flat battery, and Gocycle offers a faster charger to charge it in half the time.

You know when the motor is on. Not only can you feel it, you can hear it. It may not be obvious to some people you pass, but it is significant. However, we don’t know of many 500-watt hub motors that don’t make noise. It does power up hills with ease, though!

The bike comes with an under-seat-mounted 4mm Allen key to adjust the seat height. There’s a quick release for the main seatpost tube for folding it, but to adjust the height, you need the wrench. Unless you’re rotating riders, this isn’t really an issue. And, the quick release on the saddle is so unconventional, nobody looking to swipe a seat will know where to look!

There’s a quality feel to every part on the bike. It’s just solid. And despite being a folding bike with 20-inch wheels, it has a really stable ride. There’s nothing twitchy about it. At 42 inches the wheelbase is fairly long, almost the same as a mountain bike. With the slick, stock tires, it grabs the road and instills confidence.

The included security lock goes right through the shock, but the trouble is that it’s barely long enough to go through both wheels and a post. The wheels are easy to steal (if someone can figure out how to open the mechanism) if not locked, but then again, they won’t fit anything else. That’s why Gocycle offers a Lock Holster for a folding lock.

The kickstand is unique. It’s V-shaped to make it a proper bike stand. The springs are strong, and you have to be careful when it snaps back under the frame, lest you get an extremity painfully caught in there!

THE VERDICT

We were really impressed with the G3 when we tested it last year. To ride a bike that’s for all intents and purposes the same bike for almost two grand less is even more impressive. Solid performance; a truly stable, fun ride; stunning looks; and one of the lightest e-bikes on the market make this a fantastic bike for anyone who has a commute of up to 10 miles or needs a bike for short runs from an RV or boat that also takes up little room when stowed. It’s a fun and convenient around-town bike.

The small button acts as a “throttle,” though it’s either full speed or off. You can’t feather it to control speed. You also have to be careful of where your thumb rests, because you can accidentally hit it while riding. It can be disabled in the app.

 

 

This rear shock offers an inch of travel, which makes the ride surprisingly comfortable. The chain is entirely enclosed in the Cleandrive system. Factory tires are street slicks, replaceable easily by any 20×1.75-inch tire. We don’t fancy taking it off-road, even with knobby tires, because it’s built for paved roads and some light unpaved use.


SPECS GOCYCLE GS

MSRP: $2799

Motor: Gocycle proprietary motor gear

Battery:  22V/13.5 Ah/300 Wh

Charge time: 7 hours (3.5 hours with optional fast charger)

Top speed: 20 mph (with assist)

Range: Up to 40 miles (65 km) in Eco (claimed)

Drive: Front motor, plus Cleandrive rear fully enclosed chain drivetrain with Shimano Nexus internally geared hub

Brakes: 140mm hydraulic disc

Controls: Gocycle proprietary with GocycleConnect app

Fork: Gocycle Proprietary, single-sided, 6061 T6, Uni-form 3D forged

Frame: Injection molded magnesium

Tires: Gocycle Performance, 406-50, 20×1.75”

Weight: 36.3 lb. (16.5 kg)

Color choices: Front frame: Grey, white. Cleandrive: Blue, red, black, light blue, pink

Sizes: One size with optional shorter seat post for shorter riders.

www.gocycle.com


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