There’s no doubt Gocycle’s e-bikes are real head-turners. Their design is as distinctive as any Brompton; while I was riding it, two separate cyclists struck up a conversation with me about it.
Gocycle’s e-bikes are also a really good ride. I reviewed an earlier model, the foldable Gocycle GS, earlier this year and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The design mirrored the geometry of the large hybrid I normally ride, the assistance was smooth and in line with the power I put through the pedals, the chain was enclosed so I could cycle in my work clothes without the risk of grease smears, and the mechanical gear shifting – which allows you to change gears when you’re not moving – was a revelation.
Although it can be packed down, Gocycle refers to the GS as foldable rather than a folding bike as, among other quirks, the design requires you to remove the quick-release wheels first.
The biggest change on the new GX is a central hinge, which makes this Gocycle a proper folding bike. Combined with the hinge on the handlebar shaft, this makes for a quick and easy basic fold. The final folding step is to remove the seat post. A plastic cap folds down from under the seat which fits the seat post hole.
However, I rarely bother taking the seat post out because you can leave it in and still use the seat to flip the bike off the stand and wheel the GX about. It’s a feature no other folding e-bike I’ve tried has – that’s the Brompton e-bike, Raleigh Stow-E-Way and Volt Metro – and it’s incredibly useful. Like all e-bikes, folding or not, the GX is heavy at almost 18kg and as a tall but not particularly strong man, I found it a strain to carry even short distances. So when I caught a flat halfway through my 40-minute commute, wheeling it – even on one wheel – was a godsend. I could make it easily enough to the lift on the Tube and to the platform, then back up when the entire Victoria line went out of action and to the bus stop. Then I covered the final leg walking 20 minutes through Soho. It was OK hoicking it on and off buses (two buses, the first one kicked everyone off after one stop), but without the ability to wheel it I would have struggled to make it to my desk before lunchtime.(opens in new tab)
Once the puncture was fixed and I was back on the road I was reminded of how much fun it was to ride, but also of its limitations. There are only three gears, with the lowest only useful for steep hill starts. I found myself sticking to the highest gear and wishing for something that could give me a bit more oomph. It’s fine for low-effort cruising, but not so good when you’re in a hurry.
It makes the type of stats cycling enthusiasts pore over – like watts and cadence – in the app seem a bit odd, because this isn’t a performance bike. That said, the app has improved since I last used it to review the GS, when it would crash intermittently. The app allows you to switch between assistance modes in the app or customise your own, as well as keeping tabs on the battery level.
The battery is the same as on the GS, offering a maximum of 65km and a recharge time of seven hours. The battery is housed in the frame, but can be accessed when the bike is folded in two and removed in case that makes charging easier.
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As you may have gathered, I think the GX is an improvement on the impressive GS and it’s only £400 more – very reasonable when you’re operating in the ballpark of two to three large. Do bear in mind though that price rise is for the very basic version, and the host of useful accessories (opens in new tab) – lock and holster, integrated lights, mudguards etc – cost extra.
The funny thing is, because the GX is closer to being an e-bike I’d recommend without hesitation, a practical problem I’d glossed over in the past loomed large. What exactly are you supposed to do with it when you’re not riding it?
You’re certainly not going to lock it up outside. While e-bike security is not a problem unique to Gocycle, the issue does seem more acute for the GX. The distinctive design attracts attention so it’s safe to assume it’d attract more of the unwanted kind from thieves than an electric hybrid with the battery removed. The GX isn’t the easiest to lock up with the standard U-lock and cable combination – certainly not when folded up – and when it’s in bike mode the seat post and wheels are easily removable, making me fear the bike could be slipped out pretty quickly. Again, a bike with a triangular frame feels easier to lock up more securely.
Not being able to lock it up in public for brief periods matters less when you’re choosing an e-bike that can handle weekend bike rides, but all of Gocycle’s bikes are designed to be – forgive the jargon, mine not Gocycle’s – urban transport solutions. Without more convincing security features Gocycle’s only a partial solution, because you’re obliged to use it to travel from one location with secure inside parking to another.
On top of that the GX suffers from being pretty large when folded down, even with the seatpost tucked away. I felt it was too big for the small family home I live in. I tried it in the small porch where my children’s fold-up buggy is also kept, but then you couldn’t open the front door; when folded up, the GX is a bit awkward and heavy to shift around easily – especially when you’re trying to not waste the time of a delivery driver. It could have fitted in the cupboard under the stairs if that wasn’t chock-full of junk already, and by the back door was fine but not a permanent solution.
I think taking it into work will also present a problem for many office workers. For one, the GX didn’t fold down small enough to fit under my 70cm-high desk unless the kickstand was folded away and balanced on one precisely placed pedal, making the bike unstable. Also, I can imagine there are plenty of businesses where pushing a folded bike with dirty wheels through the office is going to be frowned upon.(opens in new tab)
That large size when folded down also makes me doubt its use for “last milers”. If you’re travelling in rush hour on a crowded train (is there any other type, amirite?) the GX is going to take up the footprint of two people crammed together and while I haven’t tested this, it’s touch and go if it would fit in the oversized luggage areas at the end of carriages.(opens in new tab)
While the GX compares favourably to the sizes of the GS, Raleigh Stow-E-Way and Volt Metro e-bikes that I’ve tried, it dwarfs the compact folded-down Brompton Electric.
For all the GX’s positive points, there were too many practical issues around storage and security for me to recommend it. If I can’t use it to make detours and stops between my office and home I’ll stick with a less nickable bike that runs on huff and puff, and if I’m going to store it inside I need it to pack down smaller. I loved riding it, so I’d love to recommend it, but it’s one or two generations of refinements away.
Jonathan Shannon has been the editor of the Coach website since 2016, developing a wide-ranging experience of health and fitness. Jonathan took up running while editing Coach and has run a sub-40min 10K and 1hr 28min half marathon. His next ambition is to complete a marathon. He’s an advocate of cycling to work and is Coach’s e-bike reviewer, and not just because he lives up a bit of a hill. He also reviews fitness trackers and other workout gear.
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