Courtesy of Electric Bike Review
The Gocycle GS is a simplified, more affordable “sport” product that’s based on the G3 platform. That means, you get torque-sensing pedal assist, smartphone app support, and the same lightweight magnesium frame, wheelset, and cleandrive casing that make the bike so unique, durable, and beautiful. This product does fold, but not in half like most competitors… It pivots inward and both wheels pop off. Gocycle sells a broad range of accessories that add utility or allow for easier transport, including a $299 portable docking station.
The design is fantastic, there’s a spot for the bike frame, both wheels, and the seat post. Once zipped, the bag protects your bike from dust and water splashes, and makes it easy to wheel around on caster wheels. You can really tell that every aspect of the Gocycle has been custom engineered. There are active leads for attaching lights that run off the main battery, slots for connecting the optional rear rack… and plastic covers to conceal the slots when not in use, the locking pin for the rear shock can be replaced with a cable-lock holder, and there’s even a little hex wrench holder underneath the saddle! Yes, Gocycle has been refining this same core product for over a decade, and it really shows. The only thing that hasn’t been engineered to perfection is the high price point.
The founder, Richard Thorpe, left his dream job at McLaren Automotive in 2002 to launch this company. I suppose he’s used to some very complex, custom engineered, and expensive transportation products. We got to speak for an hour before I filmed this review, and I spent all day with the bike to get a real sense for all of its unique features. Richard told me that felt like he had been 10-years too early with the first generation Gocycle in 2009, but really started to find a niche with the G2 in 2012 and G3 in 2017. The GS was launched on Kickstarter, a popular crowdfunding website, in late 2017 and has become one of their top selling products.
The biggest compromises that I noticed were the lack of a telescoping up and down adjustment on the stem, removed daytime running light on the front of the handlebar, and removed LED dashboard. You can technically ride this ebike without using the smartphone app, but you won’t know how fast you’re going, precisely how much battery remains, or have the ability to adjust speed settings. The product is great, in my opinion, but it does compromise a bit on handling and comfort because of the smaller 20″ diameter wheels… most folding and compact ebikes do.
The kickstand works well, once it is deployed, but can be tricky to deploy because the plastic ridge to kick down on is a bit small. The throttle does not offer variable speed output, it’s just an on/off button, and it won’t work until the bike is moving ~4 mph (6 km/h) which defeats the purpose of using it to start from standstill. You definitely pay a lot for this product, even though it’s the most affordable Gocycle in the family, but the $2.8k price point doesn’t feel overly expensive compared to the much heavier and more simplistic competing products.
Driving this bike is an extremely compact canister motor mounted to the front wheel hub. Richard told me that this thing offers nearly four times the energy density of a traditional hub motor, meaning it is smaller and lighter but delivers comparable power. It is indeed small, nearly disappearing into the base of the front fork and disc brake housing. Depending on the firmware that’s loaded for your Gocycle, this motor will operate at 250 or 500 continuous watts. It peaks out around 60 Newton meters, and you can definitely feel it. All of the Gocycle products I have test ridden feel very satisfying to ride in throttle mode, which is where power is the easiest to test and gauge. Of course, throttle operation is going to spend your battery the fastest too. Zipping down an empty street at ~20 mph (~32 km/h) on such a compact bike with small wheels like this feels a little thrilling. I was able to ride with no hands, a test I like to do with each electric bicycle I review, but this did feel a little squirrely. The steering setup is responsive, and that’s a mix of good and bad depending on your ride speed and personal coordination and balance. I felt most comfortable with both hands on the grips, making big swooping turns. I mention all of this because the optional smartphone app may or may not be within reach of your right thumb, which could be necessary to switch drive modes on the go.
I suggest picking a mode and just leaving it once you start to ride. The only other controls to manage are the two-finger hydraulic disc brake levers and a Shimano Nexus grip shifter on the right. I mentioned earlier, how custom everything seems to be on this product. And, even the grips have been customized and branded as Gocycle. The left grip blends into the throttle button housing and the right is a half-grip that blends into the shifter mechanism. You can see the beautiful end result in the photos and how it all operates in the video review above. The only drawback to this motor design is that it produces more noise than some similarly specced, larger and heavier hub motors. The noise isn’t especially high pitched or annoying, more of a fan noise, depending on which level of assist or throttle mode you are utilizing. I do like how the front motor allows the rear internally geared hub and cleandrive casing to stay clean and separate. You won’t ever damage the drivetrain by using the motor as you shift gears, as is the case with many mid-drive motors. I was not able to weigh the motor independently but was told that it’s around 2.2 lbs, and it definitely tips the bike forward when lifting at the nose of the saddle… in large part because of the Vgonomic seat tube angle (basically, the seat goes up and back as you extend the seat post).
Powering this ebike is a compact, Lithium-ion battery that’s completely sealed within the main frame section. I haven’t actually seen or weighed one of these in person, but got feedback on the details from Richard and saw a photo on the Gocycle accessories website here. Take good care of this battery, because a replacement will set you back $900! That’s a lot of dough for a relatively low capacity pack, offering 21.6 volts, 13.5 amp hours, for a total of 291 watt hours of capacity. I’d say that 36 volt 10 amp hours is about average, many full sized ebikes are now offering 48 volt 10 amp hour packs (so that’s ~360 wh or ~500 wh respectively). Perhaps it’s the custom size of this battery that makes it expensive or the lower volume of production? I’m sure they went with a lower capacity to reduce the weight of the bike and felt that 18 to 50 miles was good for a compact platform… which I agree with. The wide range estimate comes back to use case, are you a heavier rider who has lowered the tire pressure and is climbing hills with the throttle only? Expect to go further ;) but most of the time, riders will probably use one of the three assist levels which rely on pedal torque activation. In Eco or City mode, this bike should get fairly good range. I do really appreciate that the battery powers add-on lights and that you can purchase a four amp quick charger for ~3.5 hour fills vs. 7 hours. I’ve been taught that it’s best to keep Lithium-ion packs charged above 20% to avoid stressing the cell chemistry. The default two amp charger may be slower, but sometimes slow charging can be easier on the cells… and this charger is definitely compact and lightweight at ~1.5 lbs. If you find yourself getting near 20%, one or two hours of charging will easily get you back up over 60% and you can hop back on for a ride. The only real downsides that I found, with regards to the battery implementation, is that you have to plug the bike in vs. being able to leave the bike outside and only bring the battery to a charging outlet. If the bike is wet or dirty, this means that you could be bringing a mess inside… and even though it’s lighter than most, you still have to lift ~37 lbs vs. a 6 lb battery. Also, you cannot tap into the battery capacity with a USB port to maintain your phone, it just doesn’t offer that. And your phone may be drained quickly when using the Bluetooth app to adjust power settings and display your ride speed, battery level, trip stats, and other bicycle details. If you’re concerned about this, an affordable workaround is to get a phone case with integrated battery like one of these.
Activating and using the Gocycle can be quick and easy (just turn the bike on by pressing the rubberized button near the charging port for a couple of seconds), or a bit slow and interesting (the app is impressive, but pretty deep). Gocycle has great YouTube and Vimeo channels with bite-sized video tutorials for almost every accessory, folding process, and app setting. This is why I didn’t go super deep in parts of my video review, they’ve got it covered. It’s nice, but can also be time consuming. The app setup involves a few main steps: downloading the app, activating Bluetooth on your phone, turning the bike on and standing nearby so your phone recognizes it, connecting with the bike, then launching the app and selecting the bike, then walking through a 15-step setup process… and there’s a two-minute video for most of those steps. Once the app has been setup, you’ve got an additional level of security and control, because Gocycle can remotely de-activate your bike if it’s stolen. That might not aid in direct recovery, but does serve as a deter to theft… and you could always purchase independent bicycle insurance to cover both the bike and expensive accessories that might have been added. So, back to the app, there are options to activate the button throttle to work without pedaling (only for the USA) and sections for changing the power characteristics of each assist level, you can make a manual assist profile to compliment Eco, Sport, and Sport Plus, you can change what shows up on the dashboard… it’s pretty great. The only downsides I found were the tedious onboarding process, phone power use while riding with the app on, and the potential for your phone to overheat in the hot sun, not show up very well because of glare, and bounce around a bit in the rubber band holster. The bands were very tight on my iPhone 6 Plus, but it’s a one-size-fits-all approach, so that’s understandable. Again, I was able to reach the display and change assist settings on the go, but am not sure this would really be necessary while riding. And, I love you don’t have to have a phone connected in order to ride the bike with the default assist, or have the display of your phone switched on to use the app and stay synced. I never saw the app crash and it always recognized the bike pretty quickly when re-connecting for each ride.
At the end of the day, this is definitely one of the nicest folding electric bikes on the market today. Richard and his team have done an incredible job creating a comfortable, reliable, and high-performance product. They seem to have approached the market like Tesla has with automobiles. Beginning with ultra-expensive premium builds and then whittling down to a more affordable mass-market build. That’s what the GS is, still way above average, but not quite as fancy or expensive as the G3. I didn’t get a chance to test out every accessory, but the rear rack was pretty neat… it attached securely in two places, was positioned well to stay clear of the saddle and tires, and it was sprung to keep your gear from getting banged around. I would definitely opt-in for the light kit to be safe, but the white frame and reflective tires made a big difference on their own. My father is over six feet tall and I’m 5’9″ but we both felt comfortable on this bike, and I think it would work very well for petite riders as well. It made me smile to see the aqua and pink Cleandrive casing options. It’s amazing how much this one electric bike can do, given that it only comes in one frame size. Richard said that they really haven’t had to change the main frame at all since the G2. It’s easy to feel sensitive about price if you’re on a budget, but I’m thankful that a product like this exists at all because it just works so well. If you could only get one folding or portable ebike, this would be one of the top contenders. It strikes a balance of performance and cost, probably leaning more towards performance than what you have to pay. Yes, the accessories are expensive, but they are all custom too, and they work very well. The bike is quiet, durable, and folds fairly easily. As a quick point of clarification, the Gocycle will stay in whatever mode it has be set up in last if you do not pair with the smartphone app.
- Considering the lower frame position of this bike, because of the smaller 20″ wheels, and the potential for riders to be in new unfamiliar locations,since it’s a compact folding ebike, I love that they are offering a highly visible white frame option, and that the tires have reflective stripes, it’s also great that they sell a bunch of integrated light options including one on the rack!
- Even though the Gocycle doesn’t come stock with lights, I love that it’s pre-wired for them! This makes using lights a lot more convenient and saves waste on individual disposable cells like a lot of cheaper folding e-bikes
- The bike is fairly comfortable because it uses fatter 2″ tires and has a 25 mm suspension bumper in the rear, the grips and saddle are a bit more active vs. padded ergonomic, but they are lightweight and make pedaling comfortable vs. chaffing your thighs
- It would be easy to mistake the Gocycle for a non-electric bike because the motor is so compact and the battery is completely hidden inside the frame
- The Gocycle frame and wheelset are made from magnesium, which tends to be lighter than aluminum, the bike weighs just over 37 lbs (according to my own measurements) and gets even lighter when you remove the wheels for transport
- The bike is solid, sometimes folding electric bikes feel flexy or simply cannot handle as much weight, but this bike is responsive and also sleek, there are no bulging joints to bump your knee on or cheap rattling components
- Gocycle offers a huge assortment of accessories including a storage bag, fast charger, fenders, lights, bags that you attach to the frame for running errands (the founder likes the front bag the best because of how simple and quick it is), as well as replacement batteries
- The company has been around since 2002 and still supports their G1, G2, and G3 products, that creates a lot of trust and a sense that you can invest a good sum of money but have someone to turn to for parts down the line
- The Cleandrive drivetrain keeps your pant legs or skirt clean, it also reduces the noise of the chain, chainring, rear sprocket, and chain tensioner as you pedal, it protects these sensitive parts from dust and water but also from damage if the bike tips or is folded and pushed up close to some other gear
- I like the internally geared hub concept because (three-speed in this case) because they tend to be reliable and you can shift gears at standstill, this makes accelerating and climbing much easier if you forgot to shift before slowing down
- The dashboard area is pretty clean on this bike… especially if you don’t use your phone as a control center, just power on the bike and go
- The optional iOS / Android smartphone application allows you to dial in performance for the different assist modes, enable the throttle (in the USA) and create a custom dashboard with the readouts you care most about… and there are a LOT of readouts to choose from
- There’s a little bracket mounted to the saddle rails which holds a 4 mm hex wrench that has a T20 Torx star on the other end, this allows you to adjust the saddle height and other components on the bike without bringing a multi-tool along
- Hydraulic disc brakes tend to be easier to pull, offer some reach adjustment, and provide excellent stopping power, especially with the smaller 20″ wheel diameter
- I feel like safety has been addressed with the white frame option and reflective tire stripes, but you could always get some black reflective stickers like this to place on the magnesium wheel arms
- Plastic folding pedals don’t usually offer a lot of surface area or rigidity, but the VP pedals that were included with the Gocycle work fairly well and have a nice folding mechanism, you could always upgrade to alloy folding pedals for more stiffness or try to find some VP-F80 flip folding models
- The button design they developed to boost pedal assist with additional power or activate throttle mode (only in specific geographies) is pretty comfortable and easy to reach, it’s a neat concept that balances simplicity with control
- The body and wheels are magnesium, which is known for being rigid and lightweight, apparently it’s more environmentally friendly than carbon fiber and also more resilient
- The various quick-release levers and pins allow the GS to be quickly folded up quickly and are positioned to stay clean, I was amazed that the rear rack was designed to fit over the optional rear light and also had a light of its own… and you simply unplug whichever light is not in use, it’s all just super thoughtful
- The unique Pitstop wheel design allow for quick and easy installation or maintenance and flat fixes on the go, I prefer this design to standard quick release skewers which can get overtightened
- Because the Gocycle GS uses a torque and cadence sensor combination it feels both smooth and responsive, not jerky and surprising like cadence only or finicky like some cadence-only designs
- The wheelbase is longer than a lot of other compact and folding products so the bike feels steady and can accommodate taller riders (as the seat post angles up and back), many other folding ebikes with 20″ wheels feel more squirrely when riding, especially at higher speeds… there is still some compromise in ride feel and stability here, but it’s better than most
- Almost all of the wires are all internally routed, making for a clean and sleek look as well as reducing the potential for snags
- The smartphone app is tied to the bike and Gocycle can de-activate the bike if you report it as stolen, this has helped in the recovery of bikes and deters targeted theft
- While more affordable than the G2 and G3, the GS model (which stands for Sport) is still expensive compared to the majority of folding electric bikes, the generous warranty and growing network of dealers helps to justify the price
- The forward-stow kickstand stays out of the way, doesn’t rattle when riding over bumpy terrain, and stabilizes the bike well… but it can be tricky to deploy, there are small protrusion on both sides of the legs that you catch and push down on with your shoe, I wish it were just a bit larger
- The Gocycle motor is extremely compact but surprisingly zippy, it makes the bike satisfying to ride but also produces a bit more noise than larger more traditional hub motors
- With today’s battery technology, there’s always a compromise between weight and range with electric bicycles, and the Gocycle product line aims to be lightweight and compact, range can feel limited if you rely solely on the throttle or ride in City Plus mode (the highest assist) or use a manual setup that emphasizes power
- In order to use the Pitstop wheels, I found that the bike had to be set down on the plastic casings that surround the disc brakes (which can scratch them up), installing the wheels can be a little tricky while also trying to stabilize the bike frame and the disc brake rotors are very close… be careful not to touch them or the oils form your hands and fingers might make the brakes squeak
- Suspension is somewhat limited, the rear Shocklock only offers 25 mm of travel and the front fork cannot be swapped for a suspension post, it was recommended to me by the founder that the rear tire be inflated to ~60 PSI and the front be inflated lower at ~35 PSI or 40 PSI to help it absorb bumps and cracks, the smaller 20″ wheels have a higher attack angle and don’t span bumpy terrain the way that larger 26″ or 28″ wheels do
- The frame feels stiff and sturdy but steering is a bit twitchy and fast, this bike doesn’t feel as stable to ride with no hands… and can be a little thrilling to balance at 20 mph
- My friend Brent did a range test (he weighs closer to 200 lbs) and was able to get 17 miles on a single charge in the highest mode of assist, the range is somewhat limited and really depends on your weight, the terrain, even the wind and tire pressure level
- The push-button throttle does not offer variable power output like the twist throttle on the Gocycle G3, it’s more of an on/off setup that uses power faster and isn’t as smooth
- There doesn’t seem to be a sleep mode with the GS, so if you forget to turn the bike off after using it you could potentially run down the battery
- If you set the bike up for use in the United States as a Class 2 ebike (where the throttle can work without the rider having to pedal) you still need to have the bike moving ~4 mph (6 km/h) before the throttle will work… which eliminates the use case of having a throttle to help you get started
- In order to adjust all of the ride mode settings, see your speed, and get a precise idea of battery charge level on this electric bike, you need to have a smartphone and use Bluetooth… but there aren’t any USB charging ports to keep your phone full on the go, so consider a phone case with built-in battery to extend range, at least you can ride in whatever mode you last used without using your phone or you can also turn the phone screen off and put it in your pocket or a backpack while Bluetooth is still connected as this will save some power
- Minor gripe here, if you install the optional lights, you have to physically switch on the headlight vs. being able to do it with a button on the handlebar or with the app… thankfully, there’s just one switch that turns both lights on, but there is only one mode (constant on, no blinking options)
- Because the battery is not designed to be removed for charging (just service or replacement) you’ll need to bring the Gocycle near a wall outlet to charge each time and possibly bring it indoors… but at least it’s compact and lightweight
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