Which ebike to buy? GoCycle, Vello ebike+, any others?

rafalima

New Member
Region
United Kingdom
hi everyone, I'm looking to buy a folding ebike, and first I will explain why I need a folding ebike and then which models I have been looking so far.

I live in London and I currently own a Whyte hybrid bike (I'm 1m 67cm / 5'5), but I will start to make more distance travelling soon, around 30km (18 miles) round trips. For now, it will be once a week, but soon could increase to twice or three times a week. So, having an ebike will help a lot for this commute, but the reason why I would like a folding one is to have the option of doing a hybrid trip of cycling + public transport. I also might move to a place further away (in the next couple of years) from London, and the folding feature will play a major role.

Now for the bikes I have been looking so far:
  • GoCycle - I tried this one yesterday, and it was really cool. Felt like a regular size bike. It was comfortable, gave me an excellent powerful kick and there various assist modes. However, the motor is on the front wheel, so one needs to be extra careful. It also has 3 gears. For maintenance, only in GoCycles specific service shops, which it is not convenient at all.

  • Vello Ebike+ - it was an excellent ride and the regenerative breaks (zehu motor) seems like a great feature. It did not give the same initial kick as the gocycle, but it was a nice help. You can have a single gear or a 2 gear systems (belt drive). It is very light, 14kg and the folding system is unique. The vendor said that I can do maintenance anywhere, except the motor.

  • Brompton ebike - disliked it, felt too small, and it was not as good when it came to doing quick movements on it (like to avoid a hole). I also disliked the fact that it uses rim breaks.

  • Carbo - it was ok, better than the bromptons, but worse than the GoCycle and the Vello.

Those bikes are pretty expensive (specially the GoCycle and the Vello Ebike+), but here in the UK there is a benefit called CycleScheme, which reduces taxes on bikes and can go up to 38% discount. I also don't mind paying for quality product, specially considering that I will be cycling among cars, motorcycle and other cyclists. It needs to be a really reliable bike.

To be honest, I really liked the GoCycle and the Vello Ebike+ as they felt as a regular bike. However, the GoCycle I will have to take to specific shops for maintenance, which is not convenient or cheap. The Vello Ebike+ is a regular bike, except for the motor, but based on what I read, this kind of hub motors requires less maintenance. The regenerative battery also seems fascinating, but based on some reviews, depends on what kind of mode you use.

Each vendor that I spoke to is biased to the bike they are selling, and this does not help me at all making this decision. The mechanic of a shop near my house told me to avoid chinese motors and that the german motors are the best.

Although I liked the GoCycle and Vello, are those the best models to get? are there any other at a lower price point that are also reliable?

For me, it is important the following:
  • needs to be a folding ebike
  • that I can take to any shop for regular maintenance (except for the bespoke parts of course)
  • it has to be waterproof for rains (rains a lot in London)
  • It has to be able to do, at least, 18 miles round trips


Thanks for the help
 
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harryS

Well-Known Member
This might be more location centric. Note that the Vello isn't in there. If you've seen my comments elsewhere, I think the Vello is flawed concept. Regen doesn't work in the city. It makes for a weaker motor, as you've noted in your test drive. I really like the GoCycle, but hate its price.

 

rafalima

New Member
Region
United Kingdom
This might be more location centric. Note that the Vello isn't in there. If you've seen my comments elsewhere, I think the Vello is flawed concept. Regen doesn't work in the city. It makes for a weaker motor, as you've noted in your test drive. I really like the GoCycle, but hate its price.

Thank you for the link.

Yes, the price of the GoCycle is a beast, although is a little cheaper than what is displayed in that link (in their website is £3300, which is still expensive). But I know it is a reputable brand.

If the brompton ebike was cheaper, I would consider giving it another chance, but it is £2800 bike, with rim brakes and an ebike system that looks like a Swytch conversion.

In that link, I also saw the mirider, but read some bad reviews about them.
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
For me, it is important the following:

  • that I can take to any shop for regular maintenance (except for the bespoke parts of course)
  • it has to be waterproof for rains (rains a lot in London)
Ebikes are subject to sudden failure of the propulsion system. Welds in batteries can break, connections in wiring harnesses can fail to connect, solder joints & components in controllers can fail, sensors can suffer wiring damage or cease to operate due to rain or humidity. Shops that accept ebikes for service, that are not warranty representitives of the brand, run the risk in case of failure (even if not their fault) of buying the owner a new bike. Adjustment of brakes, shifters, spokes, wheels, etc, may not cause an electrical failure but may happen at the same time. For this reason most bike shops refuse to work on ebikes that they are not warranty reps for.
I've found connectors with pins .5 mm apart uninsulated by plastic inter pin barriers, can short and burn pins off in the rain. ASI controller, in particular did that. I've found connectors with pins 2 mm apart, with plastic shrouds around each pin/socket connection, when hung with a drip loop under the seat, will not short & burn in the rain. At least I've had no damage with such a controller in 4 years of riding, frequently in rain. You see my controller mounted under the seat with the connectors under the controller in a drip loop, in the picture of my bike shown to the left of my posts. A new kind of connector is gaining market share, the "juli" connector, which has a rubber surround shielding the pins. These are typically sold with bafang motor systems. I have not used these yet except on the motor end of my bafang motor activated June 22.
With reference to the direct drive motor versus the geared hub motor, in general geared hubs accelerate quicker with the same amp drive. I've found DD motor not fast enough to clear green lights on some intersections in my riding experience. I ride a bike typically with 20 lb tools & water and sometimes with 80 lb supplies. I weigh 160 lb. My cargo bike with motor & battery weighs >80 lb.
Geared hub motors can wear out the plastic gears in ~4500 miles (my first one did) and the one way clutch can fail (a Mac 12t motor came with problems with that 1 times out of 10, that got worse over 2 years ~4000 miles, 2 times out of 3). Geared hub motors are cheap enough IMHO to replace with aftermarket parts when this occurs. I'm paying $38 + freight for used front hub motors at this time. I find front hub drive very useful, excepting on ice, wet or muddy rock or steel plates, wet or mossy wood decks. In those places, I walk the bike. I didn't like a rear DD hub motor weighing 12 lb on the rear of the bike where I carry supplies.
 
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harryS

Well-Known Member
Bromptom uses their own electronics which has contributed to what I think was a painful start up phase, with several recalls, as they tried to teach a cadence based pedal sensor to do what a torque based sensor can do. I don't think it's possible.

Were it not for the advantage of getting your ebike subsidized, I think a nice light folder with a Swytch kit might make for a decent low power ebike. Battery is on the small size.
I have DIY'ed my own ebikes. In our fleet are three 20" folders with rear hub motors. Batteries are the weak spot for DIY. It's hard to place them on a small bike and have them be inconspicuous or not look like big warty appendages. I mostly put them on the rear racks on my bikes.

All three were cheap and while we probably have eight thousand miles aggregate on all three bikes over four years, I consider them pleasure vehicles, maybe not up to the rigors of daily commuting. I've still worn out out two sets of rear tires with that 70-30 weight distribution, one set of pedals, and a freewheel on mine,
 

mojoe

Member
Region
USA
hi everyone, I'm looking to buy a folding ebike, and first I will explain why I need a folding ebike and then which models I have been looking so far.

I live in London and I currently own a Whyte hybrid bike (I'm 1m 67cm / 5'5), but I will start to make more distance travelling soon, around 30km (18 miles) round trips. For now, it will be once a week, but soon could increase to twice or three times a week. So, having an ebike will help a lot for this commute, but the reason why I would like a folding one is to have the option of doing a hybrid trip of cycling + public transport. I also might move to a place further away (in the next couple of years) from London, and the folding feature will play a major role.

Now for the bikes I have been looking so far:
  • GoCycle - I tried this one yesterday, and it was really cool. Felt like a regular size bike. It was comfortable, gave me an excellent powerful kick and there various assist modes. However, the motor is on the front wheel, so one needs to be extra careful. It also has 3 gears. For maintenance, only in GoCycles specific service shops, which it is not convenient at all.

  • Vello Ebike+ - it was an excellent ride and the regenerative breaks (zehu motor) seems like a great feature. It did not give the same initial kick as the gocycle, but it was a nice help. You can have a single gear or a 2 gear systems (belt drive). It is very light, 14kg and the folding system is unique. The vendor said that I can do maintenance anywhere, except the motor.

  • Brompton ebike - disliked it, felt too small, and it was not as good when it came to doing quick movements on it (like to avoid a hole). I also disliked the fact that it uses rim breaks.

  • Carbo - it was ok, better than the bromptons, but worse than the GoCycle and the Vello.

Those bikes are pretty expensive (specially the GoCycle and the Vello Ebike+), but here in the UK there is a benefit called CycleScheme, which reduces taxes on bikes and can go up to 38% discount. I also don't mind paying for quality product, specially considering that I will be cycling among cars, motorcycle and other cyclists. It needs to be a really reliable bike.

To be honest, I really liked the GoCycle and the Vello Ebike+ as they felt as a regular bike. However, the GoCycle I will have to take to specific shops for maintenance, which is not convenient or cheap. The Vello Ebike+ is a regular bike, except for the motor, but based on what I read, this kind of hub motors requires less maintenance. The regenerative battery also seems fascinating, but based on some reviews, depends on what kind of mode you use.

Each vendor that I spoke to is biased to the bike they are selling, and this does not help me at all making this decision. The mechanic of a shop near my house told me to avoid chinese motors and that the german motors are the best.

Although I liked the GoCycle and Vello, are those the best models to get? are there any other at a lower price point that are also reliable?

For me, it is important the following:
  • needs to be a folding ebike
  • that I can take to any shop for regular maintenance (except for the bespoke parts of course)
  • it has to be waterproof for rains (rains a lot in London)
  • It has to be able to do, at least, 18 miles round trips


Thanks for the help

I have owned a Gocycle GX for about 15 months. I have about 600 miles on it. It would be more, but I have another ebike that I use for long rides.

Yes, the initial purchase price is high. The new G4 models are even worse. Having said that, even though I have a full-sized ebike, I will not be parting with my GX. It is so convenient to tuck behind the seat in the truck, or simply take out for a short (15-20 mile) ride.

As for maintenance and repair, I worried about that also, initially. However, what is there to work on? The brakes and tires are something that any shop can deal with. I changed the stock tires myself, to something with a bit more tread. I didn't even need to remove the wheels.

The motor would need a Gocycle shop, but how often do motors fail on ebikes? I have no idea. Why do you think that a front motor is a problem? I've not noticed any issues, nor been able to note any difference in handling vs my full-sized ebike with a mid drive.

The Shimano hub shifter is another standard part that most shops should be able to work on. I do wish it had a 4th gear, though.

As for the chain drive, I don't have enough history with that. It is totally sealed, and Gocycle says that it is maintenance free. So far, I have no reason to doubt that. The housing is removable, so if it becomes necessary, I imagine that a competent shop could open it up and work on it. After all, how different can it be?

I did get an email from Gocycle recently, about them trying to expand their network of authorized repair shops. With my short experience so far, I haven't needed any maintenance, and am not too worried about taking it to a local shop, if necessary.

I took a look at the Velo+ website. The bike does look interesting, but the battery and range are much less than the Gocycle. Also, Velo is a new company, which was a kickstarter. Personally, I'd wait at least a few years, to see if they survive.

Before purchasing the GX, I also did a lot of research. As you found out, the selection of good, light weight folding ebikes is very small. From that limited selection, I decided that the GX was the best for me. Eventually, some other manufacturer may come out with something better, lighter, and less expensive. We can always hope.
 

FrankR

Active Member
Region
USA
City
Milky Way Galaxy
Welcome to the deep rabbit hole.

I don't have much info to offer - I'm new to this world. But, that Gocycle is a pretty sweet looking bike.

I don't know with 100% certainty, but I think the Gocycle motor has more power than the Carbo.
 

mojoe

Member
Region
USA
Gocycle has a 250 W motor, to comply with GB and EU regulations. It seems to have plenty of torque. I have ridden some fairly steep and long hills without much difficulty. Occasionally, I'll use the Boost button for some extra assist.

The new G4 motor is also rated 250 W, but is supposed to be even better. They also added the ability to use Boost from a standstill, from what I read. With the GX, you need to be moving at least 4 mph for the Boost to work. Given the price differential, if I were buying now, I'd probably try to find a new or slightly used GX, even though the G4 does have a few improvements (mine is not for sale :) )

The assist levels seem to be dynamic, unlike the numbered levels on my other ebike. You can also customize the levels, to create your own profile. I found that on other than flat terrain, Eco wasn't quite enough, and City was too much. So, I started with Eco, and bumped it up just a bit, for use on mixed terrain.

BTW, when you first setup the Gocycle with your phone, you choose which region you are in, so it updates to the correct firmware. I'm in the US, so I get 20 mph, instead of 25 kph. Once setup, you don't need your phone to ride, but if you want to change assist modes, you do need to use the phone app. The app also shows you your speed and other stats. I don't like the silicone bands that they use for a phone holder, so after pairing the phone, I just put it in my pocket. I look at it later, to see how many miles I have ridden. I think that they should have put some type of display on the Gocycle, but I guess they wanted to keep that sleek look.

One minor downside to using a phone - if you switch phones, you loose the stats from former rides. The data is stored on the phone. When I asked, I was told it wasn't possible to migrate the old data. The total miles ridden on the odometer is correct, as that seems to be stored in the bike. In my option, the app is a weak point that needs improvement.
 

mojoe

Member
Region
USA
I had a heck of a time finding a mirror that fit the Gocycle handlebars. After trying a few, I found one in a local shop that attaches with a Velcro strap. I attached it at the extreme end of the rubber grip, to get the best view of traffic. It works well.

Here is an Amazon link to what looks like the same mirror: https://www.amazon.com/Sunlite-Deluxe-MTB-Mirror-Strap/dp/B007BWPTX8

Rotate the Amazon picture 90 degrees, to see how it attaches with the strap.