GoCycle GS E-Bike Review: Worth The Money
Photographs: Peter Stuart
I take my hat off to GoCycle. The company has designed a unique electric bike that’s fantastic to ride and will suit a certain type of commuter down to the ground. I am not that commuter, but I enjoyed riding the GS and applaud the smart, creative design.
That commuter is going to be flush, first and foremost, or at least be able to swallow the upfront cost of £2,499 with an eye on the savings they’ll eventually start to make in the third, maybe fourth year of commuting. And they’re going to live no further than 30 minutes away from their place of work. If that describes you, take a good long look at the GS – I think you’ll love it.
If you also live in a reasonably small apartment, where space to store a bike extends to a cupboard, crack out the credit card because the GS folds up to fit such a space, although it’s not a folding bike proper (GoCycle is releasing one of those shortly). For one, the procedure is not as quick as you’d get from a folding bike, but even with some newbie faffing I had broken it down and safely stored it away in five minutes – that’s comparable to how long it takes me to lock my bike up in my garden and put its cover on.
You begin the fold by taking the wheels off. There’s a two-step locking mechanism which means they can be removed quick-smart. Once that’s done, the body pivots at the point where the pedals are and folds in half. The final steps are to unscrew the handlebar lock, fold it down and remove the seat post, and you’re left with a neat, storable package.
It’s a new, creative way to reduce the size of the bike for storage and I liked it, but never mastered it. I struggled with the wheels for no discernable reason, including when I tried to demonstrate how clever the design was to a colleague. I also almost destroyed a floor, because once the wheels are off you’re left with a reasonably sharp edge and to fold the bike in two you need to put pressure on one end, which duly slipped. Thankfully, I was being precious about a newly laid floor and had placed cardboard underneath, otherwise it would have left an unsightly gash. It’s a clever design, then, but not idiotproof.
Those above the ground floor who have to take the stairs to their front door will be delighted to know the GS is the easiest e-bike for getting up and down stairs. Part of that is the lack of crossbar which makes it easy to grab the bottom of the frame, but at 16.5kg it’s also lighter than any other e-bike I’ve grappled with.
Most importantly, it’s enjoyable to ride. Despite its ability to fold I didn’t feel like a bear on a circus bike as I did when I tried the Volt Metro Commuter or a Brompton. To be fair to the latter, I hadn’t realised at six foot tall I should be asking for a taller seatpost and different handles, but it’s a plus that GoCycle’s single size is more versatile.
As befits a high-end e-bike, there’s a torque sensor that applies force from the motor in proportion to the force you put through the pedals, lending a smooth, natural feel to the ride. And although the motor is in the front wheel I never felt like was being pulled forwards as with the Volt Metro. It delivers the experience you expect from a bike in your dreams – it’s responsive when you want to speed up and you glide up hills without breaking a sweat.
One great touch is that you can change between the three gears once you’ve stopped, avoiding the problem of either pedalling frantically to change gear as you approach a red light while also trying to slow down, or having to set off in too high a gear. How it’s done is above my level of technical knowledge, but I do know it’s a really useful feature that improves the riding experience.
Another thing that makes it ideal for commuters is that the chain is hidden away so there’s no chance you’ll get a grease mark on your work trousers. For the first time I wore my work clothes on my ride to the office and arrived both clean and not sweaty. My only complaint is that once I passed the 35-minute mark, the seat got a little uncomfortable.
It’s also not too bad to ride when you run out of juice. As I was about to set off on my first ride I realised the previous tester had left me just 10% battery. I spent 30-45 minutes adding another 10% but after one bit of assistance it cut out for the rest of the ride, probably to continue powering the set of lights included on the bike I was testing (they’re £85 extra). While it was a slower ride than on a hybrid, I could keep up with most cyclists on the road (bar those decked out in Lycra) and I made it up the approximately 60 metres of climbing that finishes my ride without getting off and pushing.
The place where I feel the GS really lets itself down is the app. The bike itself marries a totally unique form with great functions, while the app is clunky and ugly. It does have features you won’t find elsewhere, like power and cadence readings, but the former feels like unnecessary detail and the latter are performance metrics on something that isn’t a performance road bike. You do have to connect the bike to change the mode you’re in, but thankfully most of the time you can pretend the app doesn’t exist.
The other problem that doesn’t have a neat solution is security. The model I tried had the lock holster kit accessory (£115) attached but the lock isn’t big enough to lock up the body and wheels. You can lock the body to a post, but while it looks like you could slip the lock over the body we were assured that wasn’t possible. All the same, if I’m leaving a highly covetable two-and-a-half-grand bike on a London street I prefer the avoidance of doubt, so apart from very brief stop-offs I kept the GS in my house or the office.
So is it worth it? I’d say yes. For one it offers better value than the GoCycle G3 at £3,499. GoCycle has achieved those savings by removing some of the G3’s accessories, like the stand (available to buy for £300) and integrated lights, and dropping high-end features like the console on the handlebars. The battery specs have been reduced and the frame is made from magnesium rather than carbon. While I’ve never ridden the G3, the GS didn’t feel as if it was missing anything essential.
More importantly, there are plenty of e-bikes that cost £2,500 but none of them really stand out from the pack like this one. While there are things I’d improve, it justifies its price. Hopefully, as battery technology gets cheaper, future GoCycle generations will become more affordable.
Buy from GoCycle | £2,499