April 9, 2009 One of the most compelling examples of urban transportation we've seen in recent times, the Gocycle is a lightweight electric bike developed with professionals and families in mind which brings a number of style and performance firsts to city-specific two-wheelers. Gocycle's design engineer and founder of Karbon Kinetics Limited (KKL), Richard Thorpe, cut his teeth working in lightweight vehicle design for companies such as McLaren and turned his attention to bicycles in an attempt to break the mould of conventional design - and with its lightweight magnesium alloy construction, push-button access to electric propulsion and an innovative enclosed multi-speed chain-drive, the Gocycle does just that.

Functioning as a normal pedal powered bike, the Gocycle can switch to instant electric power at the touch of a button located on the handlebars. Its entire frame and wheels are injection-moulded in light-weight magnesium alloy in a process called Thixomoulding - a type of injection moulding for metal, which is more durable than plastic and commonly used to create magnesium casings of products such as laptops, digital cameras and mobile phones. This delivers the smooth, seamless look and performance of carbon fiber, but at one-tenth of the cost and allows the Gocycle to be produced at a much cheaper price than comparable carbon fiber bikes according to Thorpe.

Gocycle's electric motor and controller are packaged in the easily replaceable front motor fork assembly and the motor is hidden away in the cycle's front hub. The rider can quickly reach 15mph and a single charge, which takes approximately three hours, will provide a travel range of up to 20 miles depending on pedal input and terrain. The Gocycle is also the world's first production bicycle to feature a completely enclosed multi-speed chain-drive with side-mounted wheels. This patented 3-speed Cleandrive system means no grease and grime on your clothes, and the side-mounted and interchangeable PitstopWheel means fixing a flat tire is easy. The unit is also designed to be easy to store, disassembling to a size of 65x54x26cm for packing away into a soft bag or hard case.

In another first, Gocycle will be introducing a virtual business model to the cycling industry to cut out the middlemen and deliver the Gocycle directly to the customer. While specialist high-end retail partners will also deliver a traditional face-to-face consumer service for those that prefer to buy the old fashioned way, Thorpe says he wants to, 'bring Apple design and Dell distribution to the current two-wheeler marketplace,' so the Gocycle will be available online as well as through in-store displays at Gocycle Certified Dealers. KKL also offers total replacement of parts under warranty and stock fulfilment of in-store purchases within 24 hours to UK mainland and two to three days to Europe.

Bicycles are big business in Asia and parts of Europe, but as urban commuters contend with ever stagnating traffic in major cities and government attempts to reduce traffic congestion around the world, KKL research predicts that the electric two-wheeler market is expected to have double digit growth in the next decade. KKL's attempt to harness this market opportunity with the Gocycle provides a city-specific transport solution that is designed to be not only cost effective, but also fun – and really, is there anything more fun than cruising past backed up traffic on a bike? I think not.

The Gocycle only comes in white and will be available across the UK from this month. Customers will be able to purchase Gocycle directly online or by visiting one of Gocycle's Certified Dealers across the UK. It will cost between £599 (approx. USD$895 at time of publication) and £1,198 (approx USD$2,480) including VAT, depending on the point of purchase. KKL also offer a Gocycle-to-Work scheme, whereby an employer hires a Gocycle for a year which the employee then hires from their employer for the same year, at the end of which the employee is then given the opportunity to buy the Gocycle for £38 (approx. USD$56).

The GoCycle took out the Best Innovation at the Taipei International Cycle Show '08.

Darren Quick

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