Foldable bikes offer an obvious trade-off: the convenience of something you can easily pick up and store in the corner of an office or small apartment, but with some compromises in the cycling experience. Often, putting more emphasis on one of those means sacrificing less on the other.
But e-bikes offer the possibility to avoid some of that trade-off, enhancing aspects of cycling performance without adding much in the way. And the Gocycle G4 provides an excellent demonstration of just how well that formula can work, offering excellent performance in a thoughtfully designed package that’s easy to pick up and lug around. It’s not so good that it completely replaces a regular bike, but it comes a lot closer than I expected, and it has a number of brilliantly designed features.
All that said, the bike had a couple of issues that dampened my enthusiasm.
Gocycle is an English company founded by a designer from performance automaker McLaren. The original idea was to create a bicycle that performed well while transporting people to and from a train station but folded well enough to be carried on the train. The result is a highly customized design. It has some standard components, but the frame and many parts are custom-made for Gocycle. The good news is that freedom from conforming to standard features is allowed for some truly inspired features.
But it also means that if you want some accessories that come in standard sizes—like mudguards or a rear rack—you’ll have to buy them from Gocycle. Buy parts off the shelf, and there’s a good chance they’ll be the wrong size or have no way to attach to the frame.
What are the positive aspects of customization? This is a very long list. Instead of a standard kickstand, the G4 has a pair of legs that neatly attach to the frame when not in use. Push one down, and both extend and spread to provide a sturdy tripod on the rear wheel that keeps the bike upright, even when it’s fully folded. Attached to the frame is a small bungie and a clasp; the bungie is just the right length to allow the hook to latch onto a knob on the handlebars when the bike is fully collapsed, holding it in the folded position even when you lift it up and move it. And the shape of the frame provides a clear place to hold the bike when carrying it folded.
The seatpost is inserted into a tube that is not part of the frame, which allows you to adjust the height and lock the seat in place before inserting the frame assembly. This design allows you to get the seat without losing the adjustment. Gocycle has thoughtfully placed an allen wrench for adjusting the height of the seat to the bottom of the seat itself, and also has a convenient handle for tightening the assembly to the frame.
Finally, most e-bikes with a suspension put it on the front wheel, where it improves the sudden braking of many frames. But the G4 doesn’t have a big frame, and the suspension is on the rear wheel, which makes for a nicer ride when sitting. This effect is accentuated by the high seat post, which turns a small compression of the suspension into a larger small flex.