Between the age of 10 and 14, my favourite TV hero was the Knight Rider. The protagonist was David Hasselhoff, equipped with an omnipotent sports car that had many talents. The heart of the rig was a moody computer that was able to speak, express emotions, see through walls or catapult an unbeknownst passenger off the car, if need be. Inarguably, however, my favourite feature was “Turbo Boost”. It catapulted the car to such speeds that it was able to jump over basically any obstacle that life and the screen writers could throw at its way. You can see the Turbo Boost feature in action in the following video (the actual button can be seen at 1:15).
When I first pushed a similar red button on the humble dashboard of our test-GoCycle, it was like religious. Turbo Boost on two wheels! And this revelation characterizes well the first couple of days of use: you can’t push the red button enough. It makes pedaling suddenly effortless, it makes stopping at traffic lights fun and previously formidable climbs laughable. A few of our readers might know Dog Kennel Hill in South London: a short but rather steep climb. Nothing major, if you encountered it in the middle of your weekend ride, but it can be a dreaded enemy if your daily commute starts with climbing it on a single speed Trek Soho. It is hard to describe the elation I felt when arrived at the top of the hill without breaking a sweat.
If you are the gloating type, you might also find endless joy in overtaking struggling cyclist on inner city climbs. Some of these overtaken cyclists might voice their disapproval, so tread carefully. Especially, that if the battery ran out of power, we might be humiliated by the next climb, but more on that later. Once you arrived home, you just plug it in and next morning, you’re good to go.
Though I wouldn’t go so far to call the GoCycle an attention magnet, it is probably the only bike on the market, that attracts attention from all demographics, regardless of age, occupation, or gender. Yes, even girls checked me out on the bike, though maybe they were just thinking: poor guy, he’s not strong enough to pedal a proper bike, how lame is that. My commute consists of a 30 min train ride from Clapham Junction to Gatwick Airport and there were at least two people on average, who approached me and asked about the bike.
Speaking of commuting, it was much easier to wade through Europe’s busiest train station in rush hour with the GoCycle than with my good old Trek. Though, technically it is not a folding bike and therefore you are not allowed to take it down with you to the tube, the bike’s size makes storage and train rides much easier. The size and the material of the frame would suggest a very light bike but due to the batteries, it’s weighs much more than a similarly sized folding bike. To make its users life literally easier, there is a point on the bottom of the bike where you are supposed to grab it and then its weight is distributed perfectly, making bike carrying much easier.
So it’s all jolly-good, right? Well, almost. The first shock came when I looked at the price tag: £1500. In theory, I wouldn’t mind spending £1500 on an excellent bike, but I would never leave this bike chained to a railing while I’m meeting friends, or even just buying some groceries at the local shop. It’s too enticing for thieves and the loss would be a bad effect on my financial situation. The cheap and ineffective lock that is supplied with the bike doesn’t do much to reassure me that it’s safe to leave the bike outside while I’m buying some food for dinner.
Let’s assume, that I became very forward-thinking and was doing my shopping during the weekend, thus there’s no need to lock my bike. But what if I forgot to plug it in last night and the battery dies in the middle of my commute – as it has happened to me. The tiny electric engine, that provides the extra power, resides in the front hub and it doesn’t interfere with you cycling if you are not using it. It’s not nice to push all that extra weight up on even a smaller hill. Saddle height was another issue for me, though it probably won’t be for the majority, I couldn’t get the saddle up high enough for my 6’ 4” height.
What’s the verdict? I don’t know. I love the Gocycle, one of the most interesting bikes I’ve ever ridden but I wouldn’t use it for commuting if I didn’t have an absolutely secure storage space at work. I used to work for a media agency and every now and then I had to dress up properly – on these days, cycling to work wasn’t an option, I couldn’t afford to arrive sweaty at the office. A GoCycle could have eliminated that problem by making my journey much easier. Which takes us to another point: if you want to commute or cycle to get fitter, this is not a bike for you since it takes the majority of the effort out of cycling and you end up burning way fewer calories.
My heart was bleeding when I had to give the bike back and I’m sure, that one day I’ll buy one for myself. Until then? Burning legs every morning on Dog Kennel Hill.