Three e-bikes to give your all this autumn

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If you’ve never ridden an e-bike, it might be easy to miss the appeal. You don’t get the exercise of a regular bicycle, nor the speed of a motorcycle or, for that matter, a 50cc moped. But e-bikes are sneaky fun. Most of them go at least 20mph, with some models providing assistance up to 28mph.And while that’s not enough to stay in traffic on a two-lane highway, it’s a lot around a local neighborhood or downtown. , and the feeling of silently sliding down the road is unexpectedly satisfying. It’s the rush to release the brakes of your old BMX and get off a big hill wherever you go.

“It makes you smile,” says Richard Thorpe, a former McLaren design engineer who founded the e-bike manufacturer Gocycle. “People get that. It’s a transformative product. Just this year, I saw a lot more in my commute.”

Or, as one of our 11-year-old girls said while riding a hill on a Gocycle, “I’ll never ride again!”

(He’s been cycling a lot on his old-fashioned bike since then. Uphill. Either way. Because that’s how we had to do it.)

As e-bikes are constantly evolving and transforming into new forms, this summer we took some time to test three examples that appeal to very different riders and price ranges: the Lot Comfort step-through, the Biktrix Dirt-bike in disguise, and the Gocycle GXi, a carbon fiber folding bike with a usual feature: two-wheel drive.

Charging comfort

Sandy CarsonCar and driver

The Charging comfort ($ 1699) is a step-through city bike that, with the twist of a few levers, can turn two-dimensional. The handlebar rotates to align with the frame and the pedals fold vertically, allowing you to place the bike flat against a wall in your home or garage (or, as we did, flat on a hook-mounted roof rack without worrying about the handlebars scraping the sidewalk). Great idea, especially if you have multiple bikes.

Car and driver

The Comfort comes almost fully assembled, with an easy-to-follow printed guide that makes it hard to go wrong: the valve stems on the tires turn green even when the air pressure is high enough, just in case you don’t have a pressure gauge. Actually, all you need to do is install the front tire and tighten a few nuts with the included T-handle torque wrench.

Car and driver

A Suntour fork offers about three inches of travel, which is enough to clear the edge from cracked pavement – it’s not like this is a stump jumper – and a 6061 aluminum frame helps keep the weight down to 51lbs. This is an e-bike that you can actually pedal without assistance if needed (range is up to 50 miles, depending on how much you use the motor). It is also one that you will pedal along with the electric assistance, because the rear hub motor is only 250 watts. On flat roads, it will get the charge up to the 20mph limit, but on hills you may need to pedal to keep things moving. Especially if you’ve loaded the rear rack up to its 44-pound capacity. Our only other criticism? Placing the thumb throttle on the left bar is a bit awkward. But this is good news if you are a left handed.

Biktrix Motorcycle

Car and driver

We have traveled over 100 miles on the Biktrix Motorcycle ($ 2499) before it occurred to us to try pedaling. In fact, with its off-road moped style, 750 watt hub motor, and low seat, you can forget that Biktrix is ​​a bike. And once we actually tried to ride it like one, we quickly got back to the throttle: with a single speed, non-adjustable seat height, and weight of 75 pounds, the Moto’s pedals are vestigial symbols of human-powered travel. If you have to use them, something has gone terribly wrong.

Car and driver

The Moto is available with 20-inch or 24-inch wheels, capable of accommodating riders from 5’5 “to” 5’10 “plus”, which we assume means Tacko Fall. We tested one of the first bikes offline, and then the assembly instructions were a bit confusing, as there weren’t any. Biktrix soon released a video guide, but in the meantime we had everything assembled except the headlight and fender so we are just starting to ride. And the bike is a blast. It’s nominally rated for a top speed of 20mph, but usually hits 25mph before grudgingly tapering off. The motor feels 750 watts stronger, an impression supported by the onboard computer’s power screen, which can peak at nearly 1000 watts when climbing a hill. Even carrying a 190-pound rider up a steep hill, the bike never lacks power and the battery is good for a range of up to 50 miles. The Moto also has a dual battery option, with a second battery under the seat that doubles the range. Maybe you would need it if you are a courier who drives all day, but otherwise the single battery is enough.

Car and driver

Apart from the front fender, we have never engaged the front hydraulic brake. It felt like the front wheel or brake rotor was slightly out of place, so the rotor scraped the pads slightly with each rotation. It would probably be an easy fix for a bike shop, but in the DIY spirit we just ignored it and kept driving.

Gocycle GXi

Gocycle ebike

Gocycle

“The key part of what I was doing there,” says Richard Thorpe, Gocycle CEO at his time with McLaren, “was working with lightweight, composite engineering. For example, when you’re packing an F1 car or a Le Mans car, aerodynamics model it.As engineers we had to go out and assemble everything inside.

“You have this outer skin and you have to make it work. There is no compromise. It is something that I have truly gained appreciation for and carried forward at Gocycle.”

Thorpe’s e-bike business started as Karbon Kinetics in 2002. In 2009, the Gocycle G1 was introduced and the last 12 years have seen the constant evolution of that first e-bike. The GXi We Got to Play Ann Arbor was introduced in 2019 and featured another carryover from the McLaren days: a premium price ($ 4,799).

Earlier this year, the fourth generation Gocycle G4 it came with multiple improvements and a base model price of $ 3999. (The next step up, the G4i retails $ 4999, and the G4i + premium can be yours for $ 5999.) The biggest change is the introduction of the new G4Drive, after two years of development, which replaces the decade-long GX system in the bike we tested. “One of the areas for improvement is the low-end starting torque,” says Thorpe.

The GXi had us do just a touch of work before we could crank the engine and scare the neighborhood walkers as we silently fired at them at 20mph, which we knew because the Gocycle smartphone app offers all kinds of information, Allows you to play with driving mode and easily attaches to the top of the handlebar. It also connects to the bike with an ease you don’t always find with Bluetooth technology.

The bike is light, around 36 lbs. Charging time is between four and seven hours, and when done, it’ll give you around 50 miles of range, depending on how you’re driving it and how much you want to help the engine.

Gocycle ebike folded

Gocycle

What all of the models have in common is the exact way they assist in servicing that engine. Gocycle’s electric motor powers the front wheel, your legs drive the rear, which means you have a well-balanced two-wheel drive at your disposal.

The other feature that helped Gocycle stand out from its first model is that it folds neatly. Really easily. And this is also Thorpe’s desire at work. He lived and worked in London, traveling around the city on his conventional bicycle, and had stolen two. So he wanted something to fold and take to the office, or to his home. It’s great for city life, but it also makes it easy to load it into the car and drive it through the city for a ride. “It’s a product that is very, very easy to live with,” says Thorpe.

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