- A vintage electric drive system from ~2006 designed to work with a wide range of bicycles offering throttle on demand power in Economy or Power mode
- Solid 10+ mile range, spring loaded friction drive motor, clean sleek aesthetic, decent price point
- No longer being produced, requires 3/4" to mount to seat post, may not work with carbon posts
The GoBike Power Rack Kit is essentially a beam rack for hardtail bicycles that’s capable of hauling cargo on top with elastic straps but also features an integrated battery and direct drive motor designed to deliver power and convert a pedal power bike into an ebike. The unit weighs about 15 pounds and is easy to attach to the seat post of most bikes (must be aluminum or steel, carbon fiber may be too brittle) using a quick release clamp. There are a few requirements here including at least 3/4″ of vertical space on the seat post and no more than 5″ height difference between the top of the seat tube and wheel size. The system was made in limited quantity in the USA around 2006 and is no longer available for sale. I was able to learn about the GoPed GoBike from Sam Townsend, the owner of Myron’s Extreme Machines and The Electric Bicycle Center in Fullerton California. Sam has owned the system reviewed here since 2006 when he mounted it to a classic Murray cruiser bicycle.
Driving the bike is a side mounted 400 watt DC motor which spins a friction drive canister which makes contact with the rear wheel – much like a traditional Go-Ped kick scooter. Basically, the metal canister has grip tape on its exterior surface and this helps it grab at the perimeter of your bicycle tire to move it forward. I wasn’t able to test performance in wet conditions but it worked surprisingly well on the clear dry day of our review.
Sam pointed out that the unit is spring loaded and actually “bites into” the rear wheel when activated which improves traction. The motor is relatively quiet and features a simple but sturdy hanging clip to disengage from the wheel if you want to ride the bike like normal and reduce friction drag. Compared with the Rubbee 2.0 that I reviewed recently, the disengage system feels sturdier because it doesn’t have to hold the entire ~15 lb unit up, just the motor and canister system which probably weigh under 4 lbs. One downside to the GoBike however is that it likely will not work with full suspension bikes or those with extreme height differences between the seat post mounting point and rear wheel height while the Rubbee likely can.
Powering this unique electric bike drive system is a 25.9 volt, 8 amp hour Lithium-ion battery. It is advertised to last between 8 and 12 miles depending on whether you ride in Econo or Turbo mode but Sam said he has reached 20+ with light pedaling. The unit we tested at his shop was still functioning well, batteries and all, after almost 10 years of sporadic use. The key to achieving this kind of longevity is storing the battery in a cool dry place and keeping it charged between 20% and 80% while inactive for long periods… check in on it after a few months and top it off to avoid a deep discharge. While I was unable to peer inside of the Go-Ped GoBike and actually see the battery cells, the exterior plastic casing looked tough and well protected against water. That’s important because this thing basically doubles as a rear fender ;) Given the quick release design and nice integrated handle at the rear, taking this thing inside for protection against the elements or to recharge seems very convenient.
Activating and using the GoBike is pretty simple. The involved part is actually installing a trigger throttle (usually to your right grip) and running the power cable from there to the seat post mounting area with zip ties. To make this kit more versatile, Go-Ped sold additional wired throttles so you could swap between bikes easily. I did notice that on Sam’s kit the disconnect point was fraying a bit and this is one area where there seems to be room for improvement… if the throttle cable breaks, the unit won’t work. Once the GoBike is charged and mounted to the bike and the canister is engaged and you’ve plugged in the trigger throttle you basically choose between two power modes (Econo and Turbo) and then activate the variable speed trigger throttle for instant power. I found it to be very satisfying and while there was a bit of drag when coasting, it wasn’t terrible. You may notice increased wear on the rear tire after extended use with a kit like this and there will be more noise with knobby tread tires. Considering the old age of this kit, I was happy that they included an LED power level indicator on the trigger throttle. It’s very basic and lacks speed and range information but it is easy to see while riding should help you avoid running out of juice far from home.
In 2006 when it was launched, the GoBike was proclaimed as being “the worlds lightest electric bike kit” and was advertised as having “only two moving parts” making it durable. Amazingly, it advertised a carrying capacity of 100 pounds using the included bungee straps (not shown in the video or images here) and I’ve seen a picture of a person standing on top of it to demonstrate strength (though Sam encouraged me not to try that with his unit). I was told that Steve Patmont, the CEO of Go-Ped, was exploring new designs and electric bicycle concepts when this launched but the unit never caught on and has since been discontinued. The motor chosen for this kit is still used on some GoPed Hoverboard units and newer updated models continue to be sold at the time of this review. Having tested a wide variety of purpose built electric bikes and some unique kits and add-ons, I love the simplicity of the GoBike and the price is hard to beat. It looks a little funky but performs well given the right platform (a city or cruiser style bike with smooth or hybrid tires). Maybe we’ll see future products like this from Go-Ped or other companies looking to help people repurpose their traditional pedal-power cycles for improved range and climbing ability with electric assist :)
- With two modes to choose from, you can improve range and limit speed easily, the variable speed trigger throttle functions well
- Even though there’s no LCD display showing speed or distance, the basic LED battery level indicator helps you determine when to head home to avoid running low
- The disengage lever design feels sturdy and only raises the drive canister instead of trying to lift the entire unit like the Rubbee which is more vulnerable to breaking
- Relatively quiet and very powerful with a top speed of ~18 mph in Turbo mode, the drive wheel bites into the tire at high speed for improved traction
- The wooden handle at the back of the unit makes it easy to carry when not attached to the bike
- Sleek aerodynamic style with water resistant plastic tub and classic Go-Ped wooden deck complete with grip tape
- The unit should be compatible with a wide range of wheel sizes though I was only able to test a standard 26″ on the Giant Revel hardtail mountain bike
- Installation of the unit is super easy and fast, having the ability to store it separately from the bike makes charging more convenient and protects the battery from extreme temperatures which can damage cells
- The cargo deck was advertised as having a carrying capacity of ~100 pounds so you could actually use this thing to transport stuff in addition to powering the bike
- Integrated “smart charger” only requires a standard light weight computer power cable (the rest of the charging components are built into the GoBike), this makes charging on the go very convenient, normally I would think of this as a con due to increased weight and repair complexity but the GoPed is very light and seems to be very durable
- May wear down the tread on the rear bicycle tire faster than the front, consider rotating the tires with use
- The power cable disconnect seems a bit weak and prone to coming undone over time (as seen with the older unit in this review)
- Requires an aluminum or steel seat post and at least 20 mm of tubing space to connect which means the seat may have to be raised higher than some riders would prefer
- While coasting, the friction canister is still engaged with the wheel which slows you down a bit faster
- On bicycles with studded tires the GoBike system may produce extra noise because it interfaces directly to the tire
- It may not work with full suspension bikes given the limited spring range and mounting setup
- Mounting limitations include: 26″ inch bicycles frames must have a seat tube no taller than 31″ inches from ground and 20″ inch bicycles frames must have a seat tube no taller than 23″ inches from ground, If your frame’s seat tube is taller than these respective measurements for each corresponding wheel size then the GoBike Power Rack will not have proper tire contact.”