Over the last few years I've ridden something like 30 electric bikes, not including the various hire ebikes currently littering London – literally littering it, in some cases. When people ask me what the very best ebike is, although my overall verdict changes depending on what I've tried most recently, what the weather is, and what day of the week it happens to be, I often mention the brand Gocycle. Right now, I'd say the Gocycle G4 is the best all-around ebike you can get, taking into account price, quality, how fun it is to ride, and how practical it is, being as it can be folded like origami to a surprisingly small size.
The Gocycle G4 is very much like the Gocycle G4i, which is the current T3 Award winner for best, no less. In fact, in terms of looks and how it folds, you would be quite hard pressed to tell the difference between the two. You'll certainly be able to tell the difference when it comes to price, though. The G4i is £4,999 and its even fancier sibling the G4i+ is a testing £5,999. The G4? It' starts at just £3,299. The Gocycle G4 can also be bought via the Cycle to Work scheme, saving you 'up to 48%' depending on what tax bracket you're in, and on credit from £82 per month.
I've been riding a G4 for the past week, and I am knocked out by how good it is and how surprisingly similar to the pricier G4i it is.
The design of the G4 is close to genius. Unlike a Brompton – the brand most people think of when they think of folding bikes and, more recently, folding ebikes – the Gocycle is not designed to be as compact as possible. As a result it's more comfortable and enjoyable to ride, straight out of the box. Sure, a lot of people swear by Bromptons because they get used to their ultra-compact design and come to love the ride experience, but anyone can enjoy the G4.
The G4's wheels are 20 inches – to Brompton's 16 inches – and they are also very fat in comparison. This adds an amazing amount of comfort and stability.
The Gocycle only comes in one size. I've had a few issues with other ebikes that take this approach. I'm not outlandishly tall at 6ft1, but such rides are usually too small for me in one way or another, and I have to modify how I ride so I am not clipping my foot on some element of the bike. However, another brilliant part of the G4's design is its slightly diagonal seat post. This means that as you raise its saddle to suit your height, you are also moving it slightly further away from the handlebars. The result is a geometry that perfectly suits riders of all sorts of different heights, and that definitely includes me. The riding position and feel are very much like a non-folding bike.
Gocycles don't have any kind of screen. Instead, they come with an app – hooray! – and a handlebar mount so you can attach your phone and use it as a kind of simplified bike computer, seeing your speed and distance stats. I must admit, I have not used it in that way a great deal, as the idea of attaching my very expensive phone to a bike and then riding it through London's potholed streets is just not that appealing.
However, that's not all the app does. You can also use it to change the assistance level the bike offers.
I started with quite a slow ramp up of power. This meant I had to pedal quite hard to get going, before the motor really kicked in, so I could cruise at 15.5mph – the legal top assisted speed for an ebike in the UK and Europe. This was quite good in terms of getting a workout but I soon found I was using the handy 'turbo' button on the left grip to get me up to speed, instead of my own pedal power. So ultimately, I switched to a setting that gave me all of the power, all of the time.
At 17.6kg and with 3 gears, it is very possible to kick on from the aforementioned 15.5mph using your own steam. I've been able to get up to 20mph on a regular basis, which is not something that's at all easy on most ebikes, let me tell you. With the turbo button, it's also easy to pull away from lights, and recover speed if you need to brake. Speaking of which, the hydraulic disk brakes are also excellent.
The G4 doesn't fold down as small, nor quite as quickly, as a Brompton but the transformation is still pretty radical. It's easily small enough to take on most commuter trains – when they're running – and then secrete under your desk when you hit work. The folded Gocycle also fits in car boots and small storage areas at home.
Unusually, the motor powers the front wheel, rather than the rear wheel or cranks, as is the ebike norm. One notable rival that takes a similar approach is the electric Brompton, which feels similarly nippy as a result. However, the e-Brompton also houses its battery at the front, which does give it slightly odd weight distribution. B contrast, the Gocycle G4's 250W battery – 500W in the US due to their different ebike laws – is mounted inside the mid-frame, which seems like a better idea to me. The Gocycle's battery is apparently removable, although I have been recharging with it in situ.
The 300Wh battery is good for up to 40 miles in theory, although I always work on the assumption that it'll run out after 20-30 miles, as I tend to use a high assistance level, due to general laziness. One thing that really impressed me is that the G4 can be recharged in just 3 hours.
The G4's hydro-formed 6061 T6 alloy front frame, injection moulded composite mid-frame and injection moulded magnesium 'Cleandrive' system and one-sided front fork really do look very sporty and futuristic, without tipping over into looking outlandish. On the whole, I prefer bikes to look like bikes, but I have no problems with the eye-catching styling of the G4. There is possibly one issue here, which is that you can clearly see that it's an expensive ebike. Which is nice, but it's also going to be obvious to any passing bike thieves, so be careful that you use one of the best bike locks if you have to leave it on the street.
Of course, the other great thing about the G4 is you may not need to leave it on the streets, because it folds up. I found this could be done in seconds, even by someone as cack-handed as myself, and while it doesn't fold down to Brompton size, it is remarkably compact in its origami'd state. Easily small enough to hide under your office desk, car boot or somewhere convenient in your home. It's also small and light enough to carry on to public transport. I took it on the brand-new Elizabeth line of the London Underground in its folded state, and nobody tutted at me or anything.
The real joy of the G4 is definitely the ride experience, but the fact it can be folded so easily and efficiently as well is a brilliant bit of icing on the cake. I can honestly say I haven't encountered a single issue with riding the G4. The small but phat wheels and front-wheel drive mean it feels super-stable but also zippy. It can be ridden effortlessly, or you can dial down the assistance and get more exercise from it. Everything about this ebike feels well considered and well put together. In short, I love it. The G4i may be our T3 Award winner and an aspirational and excellent bike, but the G4 is much more realistically priced and really doesn't suffer much at all when you compare the ride experience. It also folds in exactly the same way, as far as I can tell.
The one problem I have encountered is that Gocycle has even innovated when it comes to the kickstand. That's great and all, but I haven't quite mastered lowering it into place as yet. That is a very minor quibble, though, and I dare say that with more practice I'd get the knack eventually.
So yeah, this is my new favourite ebike to recommend to anyone who asks – and also probably anyone who doesn't ask. I seldom have any qualms about returning ebikes after trying them – I get sent 2-3 every month these days! – but handing back the Gocycle G4 will be a wrench. An electric Brompton may be more compact but overall the Gocycle G4 is the best all-round folding ebike I've tried at this price.
Gocycle G4: price and availability
Gocycle G4 is available at Gocycle.com for £3,299. There's also a more expensive model which replaces the composite mid-frame with a swanky carbon fibre one. The Gocycle G4 is also available at selected retailers in the USA and worldwide.
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- Should I buy an electric bike?
- What to look for when buying an ebike