Looking for a new electric bike? Join the back of the queue: so is everyone else. The last year has seen an unprecedented boom in interest in e-bikes, with demand unfortunately outstripping supply. However, there will shortly be a new bike in town, in the form of Gocycle's G4i, and based on my test ride this week, it's about as much fun as you can have on an e-bike in town.
Gocycle has been making electric bikes for years, and every year – or so – they refine their offering and come out with something even better than before.
The G4i retains Gocycle's distinctive, futuristic look. You can immediately see that it's an electric bike, which is in contrast of a lot of the other best electric bikes of recent times, which go out of their way to look like standard bicycles.
I took a G4i, fresh off the production line, for a spin around the plague-ridden streets of London's south bank. And let me tell you, it cheered me right up.
- Pure Electric has two new bikes: Pure Free City and Pure Free Step
- The premium Angell ebike like a smartphone on wheels
- Halfords Carerra Impel is on sale now and highly impressive
Something that may not be immediately obvious about Gocycle's latest and greatest e-bike is that it is also a fold-up, inna Brompton stylee. I've got nothing against Bromptons – they're fantastic bits of engineering – but to my eyes they do look kind of stupid.
The G4i looks a lot more fun and futuristic, but it actually folds down almost as well as a Brompton, in a matter of seconds.
With a new carbon fibre mid-frame joining the hydroformed aluminium front frame to Gocycle’s patented magnesium Cleandrive, the G4i is 'only' 16kg – come on, that's light for an e-bike. As a result is just about light enough to carry for semi-prolonged periods, as long as you are reasonably strong.
Perhaps more realistically, you can also wheel it along on its front wheel, like one of those men from the council who pushes the wheely thing along, in order to see how long streets are.
- Want something way cheaper? I rode the cheapo E-Trends Trekker E-MTB
But anyway, never mind about folding and carrying. What's the G4i like to ride?
It is a blast.
Gocycle has given a futuristic flavour to how the G4i moves, as well as how it looks. Powered by the all-new G4drive, where a lot of other e-bikes can feel sluggish and boring, this baby never feels less than zippy, right from the moment you start pedalling.
Why? Take a look at this handy graph, which compares the torque of the G4i to its predecessors – neither of which felt slow by any means.
As you can see, almost from the moment you hit go (start pedalling), the G4i puts a large amount of power at your disposal.
To test this, I tried to find a hill in central London, which is not the easiest thing, to be honest. However, there is one quite nasty, if short, incline from the Savoy hotel, where I once saw Dr Stephen Hawking promoting Betfred's World Cup betting – true story – up to Waterloo Bridge.
The G4i made this testing slope feel like a straight road, both with a short run-up and, more impressively, from a standing start. I'd love to see what it can do on a 'real' hill, like they have up North.
In fact, the increase in torque was, Gocycle tell me, largely at the insistence of Northern users of previous Gocycles. Another strong bit of customer feedback came from the Germans, who apparently hated the noticeable hum that used to issue from the older Gocycles' motors. The result is that the G4i is all but silent. Good thing too; nobody wants to upset the Germans.
The whole experience of riding the G4i was enough to cheer even the dourest of Teutons. A big problem with electric bikes is that they feel slow. Little wonder, as the electrical assistance is legally limited to just 15mph, which is simply not all that fast.
This Gocycle, however, feels fast. In fact I was a bit aggrieved when I kept getting overtaken by users of normal bikes, as clearly I wasn't going all that rapidly after all. The good news, however, is by putting the hammer down I was able to catch them up, rather than being held at the 15-16mph mark. This is down to the relatively light weight and the way the high torque pushes you to the aforementioned 15mph very quickly indeed. Plus I am just really fast. No seriously, I am.
The wheels on the G4i are small enough to make it feel incredibly manoeuvrable, but not so small that you feel like you're riding a toy bike that could vanish down a grate in the road at any second. Believe it or not, this actually once happened to me on a Brompton.
Helping to keep it sure-footed, there are fat, 'MotoGP-inspired' tyres infused with silica compound for extra grip.
There are also some cool, techy touches such as a new, carbon fibre, single-sided front fork. This houses the G4drive motor and 'reduces stress and overall weight' but I think its true purpose is to look bitchin'.
Similarly icey, the handlebars house a minimalist display that shows you remaining battery life, and what gear you're in.
The gears are also quite interesting, as gears go. There are only three of them, but you have the option of letting them automatically gear down when you stop pedalling. This is potentially useful when you stop at traffic lights – an unusual occurrence for most bicycle users, admittedly – as it means you always start again in the bottom gear, for a smoother take-off.
If that sounds like something you'd find annoying, you can turn it off. Good. Cos I don't want no computer telling me what gear I should be in, dammit.
Range anxiety is an issue for some potential e-bike buyers. The G4i can do about 30 to 50 miles per charge depending on assistance level used, and how and where you ride it. Obviously I didn't get anywhere near that, but the good news is that the fast charger means you can get a full recharge in just three and a half hours.
Gocycle G4i: price and release date
So, the first G4i e-bikes should arrive in the UK next week, commencing May 24. Availability in other territories such as America and Australia is TBC at the moment.
Pricing is as follows: £3,999 / €4,499 / US$4,999 for the G4i. Also available will be the G4, which loses some of the techno flash and costs £3,399 / €3,699 / US$3,999, and the swanked up G4i Plus which boasts carbon wheels and retails for £4,999 / €5,499 / US$5,999.