Gocycle G4 electric bike review
A premium folder from UK bike company Gocycle, the Gocycle G4 — the company's entry-level model — has some superficial similarities to the Brompton Electric C-Line Explore. It's similarly priced and has a similar heritage; both are from small UK makers, are design-forward and feature motors designed with F1 team engineers. But the Gocycle is a decidedly different beast than the Brompton, meant more for fun and adventure than getting you from point A to point B efficiently.
Where (electric motor aside) the C-Line Explore is almost quaint, with a classic design, steel frame and rim brakes, the Gocycle G4 is sleek and futuristic, with a thoroughly modern build based around a hydroformed aluminum frame with composite elements, magnesium wheels and hydraulic disc brakes. And most importantly, where the Brompton is clearly best suited for getting you where you’re going slowly and surely, the G4's bigger wheels give it a much sportier ride. While it makes a perfectly good commuter, it's not a utility vehicle like the Brompton, the Rad Power RadRunner 2 or the Co-op Cycles Generation e1.1. Rather, it is a bike that's about enjoyment rather than utility or sporting performance.
Is it worth the price? We put one through its paces over several months of hilly rural riding to find out.
The futuristic Gocycle G4 is the rare folding bike that rides like its full-sized relatives. With sure handling, plenty of power and a quality build, it's a great recreational ride if you can afford the price of admission.
The Gocycle simply rides better than any other folder we tested, with a smooth road feel, responsive steering and stable, predictable handling. We didn't feel like we were really compromising versus a bigger bike with the Gocycle. Considering that this is Gocycle's entry-level bike, it impressed us quite a bit with its road manners. (The more expensive models use more carbon fiber and other composites in their builds and offer added tech features, like electronic and automatic shifting.)
The G4 may only be a three-speed, but we never felt a lack of gearing was an issue around our test course. There's plenty of power on tap courtesy of the G4's 500-watt front-hub mounted motor; the bike easily handled the 10% and 12% grades and the boost button took care of any need we had for extra oomph. Hydraulic disk brakes provided plenty of easy-to-modulate stopping power.
There's not much to think about while riding the G4, and that's a good thing — the electric motor is very well-integrated into the overall ride experience, and with quick torque sensing and a handy boost button, the G4 accelerates and starts up very quickly, with an organic feel. On the road, it is more reminiscent of the performance of more fitness-oriented high-end offerings from Specialized and other road brands than it is like other folders. The G4 is very responsive to pedaling input, and translates what you do immediately into motor power. Basically, like the best-riding e-bikes, the Gocycle just makes it seem like you’re stronger, not like you’re riding a moped. It's a particularly impressive achievement for a folder.
The hydroformed aluminum frame, 20-inch magnesium wheels and clean lines and overall great fit and finish give the Gocycle G4 a futuristic look unlike most other bikes you’ll see on the road and a solid feel that put it on par with the even pricier Tern HSD S+. Even the kickstand is a streamlined unit that integrates cleanly with the bike's overall lines. Everything operated smoothly and the G4 required pretty much no setup at all (at least mechanically — more on the app below) to get going. Right out of the box, after a quick check and tire inflation, we were out and riding.
As with the Brompton, the front drive allows the use of an internally geared rear hub (a smooth-shifting Shimano Nexus three-speed model on our test bike). That, along with an enclosed chaincase, makes for a clean, low-maintenance overall package. It's also reasonably lightweight for an electric at a hair under 39 pounds — not much more than the more minimal (albeit full-sized) Velotric Thunder 1.
Charging can be done via a port on the frame, though the Gocycle battery is removable. It's tucked away inside the frame and can only be removed when the bike is folded — it's a very slick system. This gives it the best of both integrated and removable batteries, combining the protection and clean lines of an internally mounted battery with the flexibility of external-mounting systems (you can get a spare for long ventures, for instance).
We found very little to dislike about the Gocycle, aside from price (which is more or less in line with other premium folding bikes). If you can afford it and can use a sporty luxury bicycle that's meant not for performance or utility but something in between, we think it's worth a try, with a few nitpicks.
The Gocycle's biggest downside relative to other folding bikes is that it folds into a much larger, bulkier package than the Brompton. While it's lightweight, and you could certainly park it next to your desk, it is ungainly compared to the Brompton, and a complete fold involved removing the seatpost and saddle and tucking it away someplace. While like the Brompton, the Gocycle has an integrated luggage carrier mount, it is located on the folding stem, which means you must remove your bag to collapse the bike.
This isn't the kind of folder that's suited to carrying onto a crowded bus or train or taking into a grocery store. Rather, it's great for rolling along where you can't ride and storing in the trunk of your car, in keeping perhaps with the Gocycle's affinity for sportier use.
Similar to the Brompton C-Line, the Gocycle doesn't have an integrated cycling computer. You do get some degree of bar-mounted control via a configurable "boost" switch hidden away by the left hand grip that can be configured for, well, a short boost of extra power or to step through power assist modes.
You only get visual feedback on your settings via a smartphone app — which is actually required to use the bike. After a 60-mile intro period you’ll need to create a free account, otherwise the bike will shut down until you do. The app is very full-featured and gives you fine-grained control over all the bike's functions, handles software updates, keeps track of your rides and even has a power meter if you want to log your wattage.
Frankly, all e-bikes in this price range should have some sort of onboard display and controller unit, even if it's something minimal along the lines of the top-tube-mounted Turbo Connect Display that Specialized uses on their high-end electric bikes.
Certainly a modern smartphone is a better display than you’ll get on a bike computer, but we don't really like the idea of having to strap an expensive mobile device to the handlebars (the bike ships with a pair of thick, grippy rubber bands wrapped around the bar/stem that are meant for this purpose). Nor do we think touchscreens are the best way to interact with a bicycle — they’re hard to manipulate on the fly without looking directly at them, and really you are better served keeping your eyes on the road ahead.
The Gocycle G4 is hands-down the best riding folder we’ve tried — electric or not — and one of the best-riding electric bikes overall. As a folder, it is a bit bulky (especially compared to the ultra-compact Brompton Electric C-Line). It isn't well-suited to multimodal city commuting or load hauling, but given the fitness and fun orientation of the bike, that may not be a downside. The Gocycle is much better-suited to having a good time than getting you to work or shopping
If you can afford to spend the money and you’re looking for something that rides great and folds small enough to fit in the trunk for vacations or travel, it’d be hard to find a better e-bike than the Gocycle G4.