Review: GoCycle GX is an awesome urban folding ebike
Although there are now a slew of manufacturers offering folding ebikes, UK-based GoCycle was one of the first to popularize them. The company's GX model is an excellent urban commuter, as I recently discovered when I tried one out for a week.
First released in 2019, the GX gained a few notable improvements in its 2020 incarnation. These included a more ergonomic front fork (inherited from the higher-up GXi model), better-streamlined internal cable routing that allows for easier folding and battery removal, and a claimed 300-gram reduction in overall weight. The whole bike reportedly tips the scales at about 17.5 kg (38.6 lb), although my demo unit came out at 18.3 kg (40.4 lb).
As far as basic specs go, the 2020 GX features the following:
- Hydro-formed 6061 T6 aluminum alloy frame
- Magnesium wheels with house-brand 20 by 2.25-inch all-weather tires
- Front and rear hydraulic disc brakes
- Sealed chain drive with a Shimano Nexus 3-speed rear hub transmission
- Microshift grip shifter
- Polymer rear shock offering 1 inch (25 mm) of travel
- GoCycle 500-watt front hub motor powered by a quickly removable 13.7-Ah/22V lithium-ion battery pack
One 7-hour charge of that battery is claimed to be good for a range of up to 40 miles (65 km) depending on pedal input, which is roughly in line with what I got. Set to its North American configuration, the GX has a top pedal-assisted speed of 20 mph (32 km/h). There's also a throttle mode for those times when you just don't feel like pedaling, or for when the selected level of electrical assistance needs a temporary boost.
Riders choose between four assistance modes (City, Eco, On-Demand and Custom) utilizing an iOS/Android app on their Bluetooth-linked smartphone. That phone can be mounted on the handlebar utilizing an included pair of rubber rings, displaying an electronic dashboard that provides information such as battery level, speed and distance travelled.
However, once the app has been used to select the mode, the phone doesn't have to be near the bike anymore. A row of red LEDs on the handlebar still shows the battery charge level, which is the main thing that most riders will care about.
Unlike some other ebikes, the GX doesn't have a built-in LCD screen or mode selector switch of its own. While this does make for a less cluttered handlebar, riders who want the extra data and controllability might feel uncomfortable putting their phone on the bar when riding in the rain, or while traversing particularly rough roads.
On a related side note, because the handlebar is relatively fat and not round (cross-sectionally), mounting third-party accessories such as headlights or bells could prove to be challenging. Gocycle does offer its own line of compatible accessories, but existing gizmos probably can't be transferred over from other bikes.
Riding the GX was great. I stuck mainly to City mode, with the motor smoothly kicking in once the pedal torque sensor determined that I had reached the required threshold. The ride was quite comfy, thanks in part to the cushy Velo Sport saddle, the flared GoCycle Sport Ergo grips, and perhaps that little bit of rear suspension.
Because the handlebar height can't be adjusted, though, I do wonder how shorter riders will feel about having their hands sitting relatively high. That said, according to the company, the one-size GX should comfortably fit riders ranging in height from 4'8" to 6'4" (142 to 193 cm).
Folding and unfolding the GX is as quick and easy as advertised, taking about 10 seconds and mainly involving just two latches – one on the frame, and one at the base of the handlebar tube. I did have to do some Googling and emailing to get all the details of the process, though, as they aren't fully presented in the videos included in the setup app.
Additionally, in order to remove the seatpost when folding the bike, a thumbscrew on the frame has to be manually loosened off. I found that when putting the seatpost back in, that screw had to be tightened very firmly in order to keep the seat from twisting around while riding. It would be nice if there were simply a lever that did the job.
For that matter, it might also help if the seatpost had a groove running down it that fit into a corresponding ridge on the frame, so there would be no guesswork as to whether or not the seat would be straight when everything was tightened down.
One other small thing I noticed was the fact that when the bike is unfolded, its lack of a top tube makes it rather awkward to pick up and carry up steps, etc. This is common to many folding bikes, however, and isn't a drawback that's specific to the GX.
Minor niggles aside, the 2020 GoCycle GX offers pretty much everything you could want in a smooth-riding, nimble, fast-folding and cool-looking electric city bike. It's available now in color choices of white, blue or matt black, priced at US$3,299.
Thanks to Edmonton, Canada-based GoCycle dealer Redbike for supplying the demo bike.
Product page: GoCycle GX