Gtech eBike City review: A cheap and simple eBike that lacks finesse but requires minimal effort to ride and maintain

Gtech eBike City is the bike to buy if you really don't care for details and just want some reliable wheels

Gtech eBike City review
T3 Verdict

Although the Gtech eBike City now has a growing number of electric bike rivals under £1000, it remains a solid option for ease of use. It may look as if the battery has been bolted on, the range isn't hugely impressive and the number of assistance levels is limited, but it's an easy and affordable bike to live with

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Belt-driven for easy maintenance

  • +

    Good value

  • +

    Easy to ride

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Some doubts over longevity

Gtech eBike City review in a sentence: if you want an electric bike that's easy to maintain and ride, and don't want to go off-roading or anything too brutal, this VFM ebike remains a great option

Super yacht owners in the Netherlands are no longer the investment bankers and lottery winners of this world, they are CEOs and founders of eBike companies.

Why? Because according to Forbes, 40 per cent of all bicycle sales in the Netherlands last year were eBikes, with revenues reaching the heady heights of €823 million. If you want to get rich quick, move to Amsterdam and bolt an electric motor to a bicycle.

We may be slower on the uptake here in the UK, but more and more commuters are cottoning on to the fact that a bit of battery assistance can make even the most arduous of journeys less sweaty, while avoiding the spiralling cost of public transport equates to a few more coins in the wallet at the end of the month.

Gtech, the manufacturer of electric lawnmowers and proud producer of mildly irritating TV ads for vacuum cleaners, was among the early runners in the UK eBike game and its simple range of two-wheeled machinery was certainly up there with the most affordable.

Annoyingly for Nick Grey (owner of Gtech and the bloke that loves to chat about his AirRam), a handful of other eBike manufacturers have come along offering a sub £1k product that arguably integrates the electric technology with greater stylistic flourish.

That's not so say the Gtech eBike City and Sports are no longer worth your consideration, because they still propose low maintenance, ease of use and a comfortable ride without breaking the bank.

Gtech eBike City: the looks

Did you, by any chance, notice the battery pack?

The Gtech eBike comes in two flavours: Sport or City. The former is a vague homage to an urban hybrid or stripped-back mountain bike, while the latter features a 17-inch step-through frame, upright riding position and squishy saddle for more relaxed cycling around town.

It's a very simple thing to look at, with your colour options limited to white and green or... white and green. The electric motor is neatly stashed in the rear hub but the battery pack is the same thing you'll find on the company's range of outdoor products and is merely bolted to the frame.

It looks shoddy, particular on the step-through City variant, and we didn't really want to test the fallout of aggressively yanking the front brake, sliding off the saddle and clipping the delicate nether regions on that bulky plastic battery unit.

There's your digital display

The low asking price means you don't get any fancy integrated lights or a little digital display for speed, distance travelled and remaining battery life, but you are presented with some fairly comfortable handlebars, trouser-saving mudguards and a small screen on the battery with a percentage read-out.

Whichever model you plump for, it is unlikely to turn heads, but that's not really the point here. Instead, it's a stripped-back bike that should require very little care, even if you punish it every day.

Gtech eBike City: the tech

Gtech offers City and Sport models

A motor in the rear hub, which takes a feed from the lightweight, 200Wh bottle-shaped removable battery pack, provides electric assistance, which is activated when the sensor detects input through the pedals.

There are two choices of power output, normal or eco, which determine how much the motor assists on the ride. Gtech claims you can get around 30-miles out of a single charge, but this is reduced if you opt to receive the full power in standard mode.

Neatly integrated motor doesn't get in the way

Like most of Gtech's outdoor products, the battery clicks out of its holster on the bike's frame and slots into a dedicated charging stand, where it takes around 3-4 hours to get back to 100 per cent. 

The technology is some way behind more expensive rivals, which offer many more assistance levels and pack more advanced torque sensing systems, but it works and it's simply a case of pedalling gently to keep a good level of assistance flowing. 

There's nothing in the way of a digital display, with only a tiny screen on the battery giving a read-out on remaining charge. A display isn't mandatory, but it's nice to see a live feed of assistance levels, speed and overall miles covered.

 

Gtech eBike City: the ride

Easy to cruise and easy to maintain

Assistance is fairly predictable and despite the lack of really clever torque-sensing technology and Formula 1-derived algorithms, like those found on the GoCycle G3, there's enough power where you want it for regular rides.

Stamp on the pedals and there is a slight delay in the delivery, but keep a nice constant cadence and the Gtech will keep a dribble of power on to smooth out the lumps and bumps in the road.

There are no gears, no chain to muck up your trousers (a carbon fibre belt is used instead) and the rest of the experience will feel familiar to anyone who has ridden a bike, no matter the level.

No gears means there's not much adjustability 

In short, a computer monitors how hard you're having to work to pedal, and applies the electric motor as required. So you mainly feel its helping hand as you pull away from lights, coming out of corners, and of course, going up slopes.

Speed is capped at 15mph, which the regulated standard here in the UK, but unlike other eBikes, the Gtech City only weighs 16kg, which is fairly featherweight for something with a battery and a motor. The result is a machine that doesn't feel too hard to hustle along the flats, when the electrical assistance is at its most measly.

Gtech eBike City: the verdict

It is not the most handsome eBike but it works

There are now a few rivals in the price bracket, including the Emu Crossbar and Step-Through, which might be slightly heavier but certainly look a tad cooler and dangle a bit of additional tech in front of the buyer.

But the Gtech remains a really easy bike to live with day-to-day and its distinct lack of optional extras make the buying process refreshingly simple. Some owners have reported that battery life deteriorates over time and some components aren't particularly hardy, but this hasn't been confirmed or addressed by the manufacturer.

One T3 rider noted that there have been sacrifices made in the comfort of the saddle and the grips, while the brakes could have a bit more bite to them, but these seem like acceptable compromises to the rest of us that gave it a go.

A simple, no-frills eBike that could act as a good stepping stone into cheaper, greener commuting for the masses.