Tecnologia

Gocycle GXI (2020) Review: The Folding Ebike to Beat

A dizzying amount of gear flows in and out of my home every year, but Gocycle’s GXI is the one that’s brought me the most joy during this pandemic. With the help of this electric bike, I saw my family for the first time in months. I also managed to go all the way from Brooklyn to midtown Manhattan (a long trek) for a dentist appointment. These are things I could have done on my regular bicycle, but I know I would’ve struggled on the longer trips and ended up a sweaty, exhausted mess.

Unfortunately, at $4,799 it’s also the most expensive product I’ve ever tested. No, you do not need to pay this much for a good ebike (here are our fave ebikes). But this one folds! And it takes up a minuscule amount of space in my tiny New York apartment, shifts automatically, feels (relatively) lightweight, and provides a smooth ride without needing to fiddle with anything. It’s like a car—just hop on and off you go.

Fast Folder

There are a few things I love about the GXI.

First, it folds—fast and easy. You unlatch the handlebar stem to collapse it down, then unlatch the middle of the frame and fold the bike in half. That’s it. It takes a few seconds to shrink this thing down to a little under 3 feet in length, which means it takes up very little room in my small apartment (around half the length of my normal bicycle, and not much thicker). A strong two-legged kickstand keeps it upright.

I fold it everywhere, like when I’m entering a bakery to grab a cake (with a mask on!) or before I step into an elevator. I never need to lock it up somewhere—and risk it being stolen—because it’s compact enough to tote or roll around. That brings me to my second favorite part of the GXI.

Photograph: GoCycle

At 39 pounds, it’s also one of the lighter ebikes around. It’s about the same weight as the 7-Speed Propella ebike, and it’s a godsend compared to the 63-pound Lectric XP I’m testing. Sure, it’s not as light as my 25-pound non-electric bike, but I can still carry it with ease—handy when my building elevator stops working. (That might not be the case for everyone; my colleague Adrienne So tested a different Gocycle ebike that’s about the same size, and she found it too heavy.)

Unlike ebikes that have you choose levels of pedal assist while moving, the GXI has an app that lets you preset when you want the 500-watt motor to kick in and how much. If you want to break a sweat, you can have the motor start after harder pedaling, with its full power jumping in later so you’re forced to exert more effort. If you want an easy ride, the motor can immediately ramp up to full power after just a little pedaling.

I prefer this system over choosing levels of assistance while I’m pedaling. I did start and stop several times during my first trip so I could dial down exactly when the front-hub motor dished out pedal assistance, but once I had it down, I didn’t need to tweak the app much after. I set up two modes, one for when I wanted to feel the burn and one for the hot days when I wanted to enjoy the ride and the cool breeze on my face.

Finally, I love the GXI’s automatic gear shifting. There are three gears (it uses a Shimano Nexus 3-speed transmission), and while you can manually shift through them with the right handlebar grip, I mostly relied on what Gocycle calls Predictive Shifting. As the name suggests, it figures out when you’ll want to shift and does it for you! It almost always nailed the exact moment I’d have shifted—one less thing to think about.

Hassle-Free Ride

The GXI is a smooth ride. The thick “all-weather tires” handle everything from a grassy field to pothole-ridden Brooklyn streets without a hitch, and the front and rear hydraulic brakes halted me in my tracks as quickly as needed. The rear suspension never made things feel too bumpy, though I will say the Velo D2 Comfort saddle isn’t super comfortable on longer rides. I recommend some bike shorts to keep your derrière pain-free.