Gocycle GX E-Bike Is the Perfect Urban Commuter

This beautiful bike folds in 10 seconds.

Gocycle ebike in snow
Gocycle e-bike with carrier.

Lloyd Alter

We have often written that the three things needed for the e-bike revolution are great bikes, a safe place to ride, and a secure place to park. A bike designer can't do much about the safe place to ride, but Richard Thorpe, the designer of the Gocycle, is doing something about the other two. Gocycles have always been great e-bikes that fit in small spaces, but now the new GX folds up in 10 seconds, so you don't have to worry about parking; you can just take it with you.

Motor on front wheel
Motor on front wheel. Lloyd Alter

The Gocycle doesn't look like an ordinary bike, and Richard Thorpe is not an ordinary designer, having come to bikes after designing Maclaren race cars. It feels different too, and cured me of a few misconceptions. It has a 500-watt hub drive motor on the front wheel, which I always thought was a bad idea; I once had a Solex moped with the motor on the front wheel and the steering had a mind of its own. But I never felt this motor pulling me at all; it was hard to tell where it was. And the great virtue of a hub motor is that it is independent of the gears and the pedals, unlike a mid-drive like I have on my Gazelle. As Richard Thorpe explains:

"Most of us are not elite athletes, and therefore we usually are in the wrong gear when riding, and mostly, we are in the wrong gear when we come to a stop. We all know the feeling of starting out in a high gear, and if your ebike has a center mounted crank drive solution with a derailleur system, the motor is not going to help you much if you are in the wrong gear!"

This happened to me at every single red light for months until I learned to downshift before I stopped. You can also change gears on the 3-speed mechanical shift while you are at a stop. On the other side of the coin, mid-drive motors are smooth and you barely know they are there. With the Gocycle there is a latency, a period of time when you are pedaling before the motor kicks in. I found it disconcerting at first, but came to like it because I had a real sense of when I was pedaling on my own and when I was getting an assist. The bike is also light and agile enough that you don't mind pedaling without power. I did not try to go from a standing start up a hill, but suspect that the latency might be an issue then.

Folded Gocycle

I also thought the smallish 20-inch wheels would be an issue for stability, even if they enable it to fold up into a smaller bundle, but according to Thorpe, they are a feature, not a bug.

"Compact wheels are simply better. They are lighter, stronger, and allow for more space for carrying luggage. They also allow freedom of design for frame shapes better suited to how we use and live with a bicycle in our everyday lives."

They also make it really agile and maneuverable. Combined with the big tires and the shock absorber on the rear wheel, the bike ate up bumps and potholes. It had a comfortable, upright riding position.

Battery compartment
Lloyd Alter

The 300Wh battery is removable when you open up the bike for folding – which is a great feature if you cannot plug it in for charging where you store the bike – and it will pull the bike for an estimated 40 miles. It is fully charged in seven hours, although there is an optional high capacity charger that will do it in four.

brake integrated with motor
Lloyd Alter

Everything is so elegantly designed, from the hydroformed aluminum body to the magnesium wheels; look at the way the disk brake is integrated with the motor and the hub. The chain is enclosed, and it is all designed to be low maintenance.

App on phone
Lloyd Alter

And of course, there is an app that gives you all the information you would ever need, and lets you set the bike for eco, city, or your own programmed mode of how much boost you want. There are handy rubber straps to mount your phone on your bike. I prefer the little LCD display on my Gazelle that is always there, rather than having to use the phone to find out my speed; the slightly fancier GXi model has a row of LEDs that give you speed information without the phone.

Gocycle middle
Lloyd Alter

The Gocycle GX is not inexpensive at $3,299, but everything about it says quality and durability, and if you are commuting every day on it that is something you want. And the fact that it folds means that you probably will have it for a long time; I always worry about parking my e-bike even with three locks. I actually found the Gocycle difficult to lock, there are not too many places for a D-lock to go around. The one-sided wheel mounts mean that you can even change a tire without removing the wheel, but with those high-quality Vredestein tires with their anti-puncture layer, you probably will never have to.

The Gocycle doesn't fold up as small as other bikes, and it isn't as light; at 38.6 pounds it will be a schlep on the stairs, although it rolls nicely while it is folded, as demonstrated by Aaron at Toronto's Curbside Cycle. But it does everything well and rides beautifully. It would be a great commuter, but also a lot of fun on the weekend. It is serious transportation, at a time when we have to take e-bikes as transportation seriously. Last words to Richard Thorpe, who explains why:

"Congestion, lack of parking space and poor air quality are rendering today’s automobiles, and the internal combustion engine in particular, unsustainable as the core of personal urban transportation. Inevitable pressure on urban populations and health is driving a paradigm shift in awareness and adoption of sustainable personal electric urban transport. And that’s where Gocycle comes in!"

More information, and lots of other reviews, at Gocycle.

Lloyd Alter with a Gocycle
Lloyd Alter with Gocycle. Emma Alter