In the earliest days of the ebike boom, Richard Thorpe tried to sell his unique folding design to the bicycle industry’s largest companies. None of them wanted it, so the McLaren Automotive engineer left his dream job designing race cars to start his own company.
Gocycle, founded in England in 2002, produces bikes that look exactly like what an automotive design engineer would create: They’re sleek, space-agey, and distinctive, with batteries integrated into their hydroformed frames, powerful proprietary drive systems, and patented “Pitstopwheels.”
The company offers four models: the GS ($2,799), built on a magnesium frame; the GX ($3,299) and GXi ($4,799), built on aluminium; and the G3C ($5,499), built on carbon. We reviewed the $3,299 GX model, dubbed the “fast folder” of the family.
What Is a Gocycle GX?
The Gocycle GX is a Class 2 (pedal and throttle assist up to 20 mph) electric bicycle. Like all Gocycles, it folds into a compact shape, making it ideal for multimodal commutes and fitting into small spaces like cubicles, apartments, and boats. Where it differs is its fast folding process, which maximizes its practicality for commuting.
It takes just four steps and 10 seconds to transform the GX from a rideable bike to a rollable bundle measuring 33x15x30 inches. Need to fit it in a slightly smaller space? Put up the kickstand to shave 6 inches off the height, and fold up the pedals so they’re flush with the frame.
Powering the GX is Gocycle’s proprietary front hub gear drive, a compact 500W motor and chassis that’s tidily covered by its patented Cleandrive case, eliminating the oily mess of gears and a chain. The bike’s 22V lithium-ion battery provides 300Wh and a range of up to 40 miles, depending on the usual factors of terrain, load, and level of assist. It takes seven hours to fully recharge the battery.
The GX’s patented magnesium wheels serve up benefits: They don’t need to be removed for flat-changing, and they require far less maintenance than spoked wheels. In addition to being aerodynamic world speed record holders, they’re durable, aesthetically pleasing, and side-mounted to enhance the bike’s compact folding.
Absent from the GX is a display screen. An LED light in the handlebar indicates battery life, but all other cockpit data flows through Gocycle’s smartphone app, an arguably more robust tool, but nevertheless one that requires the user’s phone to be turned on and fastened to the handlebars. The bike comes with a rudimentary smartphone mount to facilitate that, but other practical items like a daytime running light, taillight, lock, and rear rack must be purchased separately.
The GX, offered in three colors (blue, black, and two-tone black and white), weighs in at 39.2 pounds and accommodates riders who are between 4-foot-8 to 6-foot-4—another of its deliberate nods to automotive design, which offers one size of vehicle and adjustable driving positioning. The carrying capacity of the GX is 220 pounds for rider and cargo combined.
How Does the Gocycle GX ride?
At first glance, it was hard to imagine that the folded GX could possibly turn into a bicycle, but this was the first of many surprises. Not only did it morph quickly, it was easy to adjust and its touch points were comfortable, from its form-fitting ergonomic grips, to its Velo Sport saddle and folding pedals.
Another pleasant surprise about the GX was its handling. Despite the expectation that its small-diameter wheels and lanky front end could make it feel twitchy, the GX was stable and easy to control, even at speed. Turning was smooth and confidence-inspiring.
The pedal torque-sensing drive system of the GX activates differently depending on which mode is selected; Eco made for a sluggish-feeling initial start, but a switch to City delivered a quicker engagement of the motor, as intended.
Both riding modes offered smooth and natural-feeling power acceleration overall. With four riding modes to choose from (City, Eco, On Demand, and Custom), it does behoove the rider to study the owner’s manual and Gocycle’s instructional videos to get the most out of their GX.
Regardless of which riding mode was selected, the mechanical three-speed Shimano Nexus gear hub shifted flawlessly. At the 20 mph mark, assist from the motor discernibly disappeared, but the bike still felt zippy and efficient. The “boost button” (Gocycle’s cheeky term for ‘throttle’) on the left-hand grip assembly was a fun accessory for maintaining an even speed and taking breaks from pedaling.
With a front hub motor and 22V battery, the GX lacks some of the oomph of non-folding mid-drive ebikes, but it delivers a fantastically nimble ride nonetheless. Hydraulic disc brakes on the front and rear wheels make for smooth and effective stopping.
Back home in the garage, it was easy to access the charging port and maneuver the folded bike around, but tricky to work the kickstand. Another critique of the GX is that it lacks theft protection features such as a built-in physical lock or electronic lock-out option—and Gocycle’s aftermarket lock costs a hefty $170.
On the whole, the Gocycle GX is a modern and sophisticated folding ebike that delivers a terrific ride and overcomes challenges of messiness, maintenance, and storage.
How Much Does the Gocycle GX Cost?
The Gocycle GX can be purchased from Gocycle’s website or from a Gocycle dealer for $3,299. If purchased online, sales tax and a modest shipping fee (about $100 to ship to Southern California, for example) are added to the transaction.