Gocycle G2, the ultimate boat bike?

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jan 2, 2015

Ben_on_GoCycle_in_Lauderdale2_cPanbo.jpgTesting a Gocycle G2 folding electric bicycle outside a tent at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show almost cost me dearly. Aside from the beautifully clean design, I found the bike easy to learn and comfortable to use, and it's a thrill to get some power assistance when you put extra pressure on the pedals or hit the red boost button. I started picturing all the enjoyable and possibly useful trips I could make around cruising ports and the dangerous internal voice of gadget lust began murmuring about the ample credit in my wallet and how I deserve what may be the coolest boat bike around. Consider yourself warned before proceeding to the impressive details...

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Few cruising boats can carry full size bikes easily, so the folding aspect is quite important. The 16kg (35lb) Gocycle can get pretty small and the How to Disassemble Your Gocycle video suggests that the process only takes a few minutes (and similar for assembly). Note the availability of a padded and wheeled travel case. I think the whole kit would fit in one of the lazarette compartments on my boat Gizmo and I can even see getting it ashore in the tender. But note, too, the U.S. suggested retail of $5,199, not including travel case and some other desirable accessories like the dual kickstand; this is a serious gadget investment.

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But the Gocycle G2 is also a tech marvel. The lack of visible cables and wires is not a Photoshop trick. They're all internal, and combined with the injection-molded magnesium parts, make for a purportedly high level of corrosion resistance. In fact, the whole pedal and 3-gear chain drive to the rear wheel is so well sealed that Gocyle claims it will never drip oil, let alone catch on a pant leg. The Gocycle also has hydraulic disc brakes -- very smooth in my experience -- and while I don't know much about other electric bike designs, I suspect it's smart to have the motor mechanically isolated on the front hub. And I doubt there's any other bike that electronically integrates the two power sources so thoroughly.

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The clips above from the Gocycle manual helped me to understand the all-LED "dashboard" with the photo showing a bike in 3rd gear at full speed with a full battery. I quickly got used to how you upshift with right-hand thumb button and how the bike conveniently auto downshifts as you lose speed. I'm pretty sure that the demo bike was in "Eco" mode, which meant that the motor didn't automatically kick in until I was pushing the pedals pretty hard, but the setup is quite adjustable, and I could left thumb the Power button whenever I wanted a boost anyway.

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This table shows the four possible modes that you can select using a series of long presses on the gear and power buttons. However, for full customization you use the Gocycle's Bluetooth connection to their iOS app or Android app, which can also track miles and calories, disable a stolen bike and even upload diagnostics to Gocycle customer support (see below). With judicious use you can supposedly get "up to" 40 miles of assisted bike travel on a 5.5 hour charge of the 10.75Ah 22v lithium battery built into the frame, burning a few calories to boot. Is your inner gadget lust voice speaking up yet?

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But what's a Gocycle like on hills and will all this high tech hold up? Most reviews out there are for the orginal model but The Telegraph's Chris Knapman liked the G2 for urban use, and I also ferreted out a G2 Up Slope Demo video that looks encouraging. I think it bodes well that the GoCycle G2 is a second generation product that's been out for a couple of years. The great Torqueedo electric outboard that I now find very reliable went through a similar development process.

More good news is that UK-based Karbon Kinetics has already established Gocycle sales and support outlets in south Florida and you can test one right now at the VanDutch Yacht Center in Fort Lauderdale. Note, too, how the new Gocycle Marine brochure was smartly photographed around superyachts - a high budget environment where these bikes make lots of sense for passengers and crew alike. For the record, though, even an old trawler guy with a bad hip enjoyed a Gocycle G2 demo immensely and might have reached for his wallet if he cruised full time.

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Comments

As for legality, the Gocycle meets the EU definition of an electrically assisted pedal cycle -- "Cycles with pedal assistance which are equipped with an auxiliary electric motor having a maximum continuous rated power of 0.25 kW, of which the output is progressively reduced and finally cut off as the vehicle reaches a speed of 25 km/h (16 mph) or if the cyclist stops pedaling" -- and that seems to work well with U.S. federal and state laws.

In Florida, for instance, it looks you don't need a license or even a helmet as long as you're over 16. In Maine you need "any class" of operator's license but no registration or inspection. More here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_bicycle_laws#Federal_Laws_and_Regulations_Pertaining_to_the_Sale_of_Electric_Bicycles

Posted by: Ben at January 2, 2015 4:13 PM | Reply

Nice little power bike, if you're disabled or in your nineties.

Do you really need any help pedaling a bicycle around the marina or to nearby stores? I have an old stainless steel and aluminum folding Dahon that gets the job done for a whole lot lower cost and provides some good exercise for a cruising person, too. It has a nice rear fender carrier (coaster) that will hold a milk crate with a bungee. It has full front and rear fenders and a chain guard. The fenders are nice when you have to go through puddles.

I bought it at a BOAT/US store a few years ago on sale for small money.

Posted by: Butch Daqvis at January 3, 2015 7:06 PM | Reply

Very nice, but $5000+ for a bike. Yikes. Maybe if you are super careful with them and don't suffer any corrosion / nicks / ... Let alone the pain when they get stolen.

I'm still pretty happy with our pair of cheap aluminium built-by-Dahon folders. At their price of EUR 250 or so I can abuse them without feeling guilty so much.

Posted by: Kees at January 4, 2015 10:05 AM | Reply

I recommend the Montague folding mountain bike. Although it folds up on itself and stores in a zippered bag, it doesn't feel like a compromise. Pricing is realistic as well. I trolled craigslist in Seattle and got mine for about a fifth of the list price. I put road tires on it and have done as much as 50 miles in a day with no discernible difference between it and other mountain bikes in the non-exotic category. http://www.montaguebikes.com/paratrooper-folding-military-bike.html

Posted by: Brian Engle at January 4, 2015 12:09 PM | Reply

Butch, you might have more sympathy if you saw my hip xrays! These days I have a hard time just swinging one leg over my regular bike, so the step through design is much appreciated.

I may get a new hip joint fairly soon, but I still think a good e-bike could provide more range and more fun. No denying, though, that the Gocycle is a luxury item...but at least not a sports car.

I did find a detailed review done by a tech blog in Singapore:

http://techielobang.com/blog/2013/05/06/hands-on-on-gocycle-g2r-and-group-trial-ride-video/

It's interesting that these bikes are being considered for alternate transportation and even delivery. Amazon is using cargo models in NYC:

http://electricbikereport.com/e-bike-news-gocycle-amazon-bike-deliveries-fat-e-bikes-trikart-mid-drive-gearbox-more-videos/

Posted by: Ben in reply to Butch Daqvis at January 4, 2015 4:41 PM | Reply

Ben,

I fully understand and sympathize with the disability thing. I'm st an age where all my fishing buds are getting new hips and knees and glad to have them. My knees are about shot from too many years and miles of running. I prefer limping and manageable pain to surgery and a chance of MRSA. When the pain gets unmanageable I'll risk the MRSA.

Posted by: Butch Davis at January 4, 2015 7:26 PM | Reply

Ha. A friend sent along this 1933 video of his inventor uncle test driving the energy efficient Vest Pocket Cycle:

http://www.havefunwithhistory.com/movies/pocketCycle.html

Butch, thanks for warning me about "methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus"...I think.

Posted by: Ben at January 5, 2015 5:22 PM | Reply

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