Due to the bulky nature of battery packs and electric motors, the current crop of foldable electric bikes isn’t exactly scintillating. Basic, relatively cheap and aesthetically questionable models from Lifecycle, Wisper and eLIFe look and feel bulky, while their e-bike tech is pretty basic.
At the other end of the scale, the Brompton Electric has been met with mixed reviews due to its backpack battery and overall heft, while something like the Tern Vektron might be easy to fold, but its e-bike bits and pieces still fee like an afterthought.
This is where Gocycle enter the stage (to rapturous applause), because this engineering-focussed outfit, made up of a bunch of ex-automotive and Formula 1 boffins, has started from scratch when it comes to the folding e-bike.
The resultant G3 is not only portable, it is also one of the only pieces of design to cleverly integrate the battery and motor workings into one, extremely elegant package.
Gocycle G3: the styling
As previously mentioned, the 375Wh lithium battery pack is neatly stashed within the lightweight frame, meaning the Gocycle G3 is not just one of the cleanest folding e-bikes around, it’s one of the cleanest bikes full stop.
There is no crossbar or crazy geometry to speak of, simply a high modulus carbon front frame that is connected to a trailing arm. Even the wheels are cutting edge, with the special patented quick-detach “Pitstopwheels” fastening to a central hub like a sports car.
On top of this, there’s a futuristic Knightrider-esque “cockpit”, which consists of numerous coloured LEDs that give slightly abstract readouts on battery range, gear selection and speed.
Lighting is taken care of via a super bright front LED lightbar and rear lamp that draw power from the main battery system, meaning owners don’t have to rummage around for AAA batteries or remember to plug them into a USB cable to charge.
Plus, neat shock absorbing suspension is cleverly built in to the front fork (singular) and those five-spoke rims look like a modern interpretation of a Raleigh Vektar, which was arguably one of the coolest creations of recent times.
It is an exciting piece of design and one that doesn’t fail to have passers-by scratching their chins as it silently scoots along the road.
Gocycle G3: the tech
The G3’s futuristic styling is backed up with some serious tech, starting with the front-hub electric drive and torque-sensing technology.
Gocycle engineers can talk all day about this kind of thing but in short, the team has developed a crank-based sensor that delivers smooth power to the front motor, as well as offering advanced traction control to make riding safer.
A key difference between Gocycle and more basic, cheaper rivals is the way that the plethora of on-board technology interacts. With many e-bikes, there’s a disparity between crank input and electrical assistance, often leading to a frustrating amount of pedalling before a bit of shove is offered or a sudden surge mid-corner when it is not required.
Riding the G3 is smooth and the power delivery is very intelligent, kicking in as soon as it detects additional torque through the crank or delivering a surge of power at the foot of an incline, as opposed to half way up when the thighs are already screaming for help.
It is also possible to connect the G3 to a smartphone app via Bluetooth, which allows users to tailor the power delivery to their needs, as well as receive information on distance travelled, top speeds, calories burnt, battery capacity and loads more.
Further to this, Gocycle claims that its machine is very rarely stolen, thanks in part to the built-in tracking technology and the fact that only a Gocycle charger is compatible with the batter packs. And yes, the company will ask for proof of purchase if you attempt to order a replacement charger.
Gocycle G3: the ride
There is an entire Vimeo page dedicated to unboxing, setting up, maintaining and riding the various Gocycle products and although not particularly taxing, it does take a little while to master the art of quickly assembling a G3.
Once wheels are snapped into place, the handlebar quick release carefully adjusted and saddle height set, it’s fairly simple to throw a leg over and put power through the grippy pedals.
Gear shifting is taken care of via a twist grip on the right hand side of the bars, while downshifts are intelligently taken care of by the software, which senses speed and automatically climbs the cogs to match the correct cadence.
Twist left-hand grip away from you and it’s possible to adjust the brightness of the front lamp, while holding that grip down will override the intelligent software and offer full electrical assistance.
The riding position feels very upright for anyone used to more conventional bicycles and the small wheels don’t exactly inspire confidence for the first couple of corners, but things settle down once you learn to trust the traction control systems.
Braking is sharp and responsive, while the claimed 40-mile all-electric range is utterly believable. We rode the G3 almost every day for a week and still managed to hand it back with plenty of charge left.
That’s probably because the bike’s numerous algorithms and sensors do a great job of offering smooth and linear electrical assistance, never feeling unwieldy with over delivery and rarely under delivering the power when it is was required. This constant monitoring of power equates to a silky ride and a battery that lasts longer.
Also, some e-bikes feel heavy and cumbersome when the electrical assistance tops out, but the G3 seems to cruise effortlessly and continuously delivers a gentle stream of power that makes high speed riding feel pretty effortless.
We’d argue that it would perhaps benefit from another gear, as we found legs spinning furiously when hitting the fast downhill sections, while the seating position is a bit tough on the buns, particularly if you are used to the drop bars of a race bike.
Locking the G3 is also a bit of an issue, as a lack of traditional frame means there isn’t much to throw a lock around. You can forget using a skinny D-lock here, as we found only a chunky motorcycle chain was long enough to get around the frame and standard bike rack.
Unfortunately, the time taken to fold a G3 is just slightly too long to and fussy to think about doing before boarding public transport or entering the office, for example, but an upcoming GX will be available to suit true commuter needs.
Instead, the G3 remains a compact, lightweight e-bike that can be folded away and stored in tight spaces if the mood takes, but most owners won’t. Invest in a suitable lock and you have a brilliant bike with impressive performance and a chunky all-electric range.
Gocycle G3: the verdict
Beautifully constructed and very easy to live with, this is a superb e-bike that draws attention wherever it goes. Slow folding means public transport commuters might want to wait for the upcoming GX model but it’s a great addition to any commute nonetheless.
The G3 also packs some of the most advanced torque sensing and electrical assistance algorithms we have ever ridden and as a result, offers a supremely smooth ride across town.