GoCycle GS e-bike
Price £2,499, gocycle.com
Top speed 15.5mph
Range up to 40 miles
Recharge time 4 hours
Lennie the bulldog is a big fan of bikes. So much so that when I stopped, he wandered over and lifted his leg against my rear wheel. “Sign of respect,” said the dog’s gruff owner with a sniff. Lennie certainly seems to know his stuff. The bike he’d taken aim at was a box-fresh GoCycle, which its own makers describe as the “best electric bike in the world”. That’s a bold claim. And how on earth would you prove that anyway? But here’s the thing. If you ask me – or Lennie – they might be right. I’ve ridden dozens of e-bikes:over the years some cheaper, some lighter and some more powerful, but I’ve yet to ride one I thought was better.
The brand was established in 2002 when Richard Thorpe left his design job at McLaren – manufacturers of some of the world’s most coveted sports cars – to try his hand at building electric bikes. It shows the confidence he had in his own product – at that time it was little more than a concept cycle for an almost nonexistent sector. I wonder how much pleasure he now gets from telling his naysayers: “I told you so!” The business he started was Karbon Kinetics and after seven years of trial and error he launched his ground-breaking GoCycle G1. In many ways it was the bike that kickstarted the e-bike revolution. It was, for one thing, the first “injection-moulded magnesium alloy” bicycle in history.
Before you glaze over with technical overload, this means that Richard was able to create lightweight and durable bikes with the exact frame shape he wanted. Gone was the old “diamond geometry” that had served bike-makers so well for more than a century. The new geometry now had the flexibility to accommodate riders of either sex, ranging in height from 4ft 10in to 6ft 7in.
Since the G1, we’ve had the G2, the range-topping G3 and later this year we’ll see the GX (which will fold in 10 seconds or less). The GS, which Lennie and I have both taken a liking to, is the “entry-level” model. GoCycle doesn’t expect to sell too many of these as the hope is that once you enter a dealership you’ll quickly trade up to the G3 as you’ll be tempted by its safer daylight running lights, informative dashboard and automatic gear shifting. These extras do make life on a GoCycle even more pleasant. But in terms of the essentials, the cheaper GS has everything covered.
The drivetrain is enclosed, keeping your clothes free of oil. The single-sided design makes the five-spoke starfish wheels quick and easy to remove. There is bump-smoothing rear suspension, torque-sensing pedal-assist power and a fully integrated battery. Other brands (Brompton) have gone for a detachable battery which isn’t nearly as useful. The bike can be folded, though it’s a bit of a faff. The whole thing weighs just 16.5kg and if you grab it round the waist you’ll find it has “neutral” balance, which makes it simple to lug up a flight of stairs. All its settings can be accessed through a free app on your phone. The GS also comes with a sturdy built-in lock and kickstand – which I love. Why do most bikes not have kickstands any more?
Portable, clean, light: the GS is an incredibly easy bike to live with, especially as the ride it delivers is smooth, stable and engrossing. And so it should be – it’s the best electric bike in the world. Even Lennie thinks so.
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