Written by Ben Ellison on Jan 2, 2015 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub
Testing 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...
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.