At 65 pounds, and 47 inches high at the handlebars, the $1,549 GoBike Speed is one of the biggest, beefiest electric bikes I’ve ever ridden. It’s built like a tank, designed to take on challenging terrain, and it does that well. Unfortunately, the name “Speed” is something of a misnomer, as it’s also one of the most sluggish bikes I’ve ridden on the road.
The initial setup was simple enough. Like many bikes that come in a box, I had to attach the handlebars, pedals, wheels and seat to the main frame. The Speed came with everything needed to get it done, and it took around an hour to ensure everything was aligned correctly and tightened up.
Pro tip: Always make sure to tighten everything again once you’ve taken the bike out for a mile or so of riding. Your initial setup is never quite tight enough, and a short ride will seat all of the nuts and bolts in a different position that will likely need securing again.
Once everything was re-tightened, a strange rattle remained on the front suspension fork, but with a little adjustment to the dials on the top, I got it working right. I’m glad because that suspension made all the difference on my off-road ride.
GoBike Speed Specifications
|Tire size||26×4 inches|
|Motor||750-watt hub motor|
|Battery size||10.4 Ah|
|Max speed||20 mph|
|Factory max mileage||36 miles Pedal Assist System (PAS)|
|Gear type||7-gear Shimano|
|Brakes||180mm mechanical disc|
This isn’t the fastest bike, despite the name. The 20 mph limit and the half-turn throttle put it firmly in the Class 2 electric bike category. While that may not be the fastest bike, it does feel like it could maintain that speed regardless of the amount of weight it’s carrying. Whether you are 110 pounds or, like me, 270 pounds, this bike will get up to 20 mph and stay there the entire trip, if that’s what you want.
Read more: Best Electric Bikes
While that’s a good thing, the lack of acceleration is not. Whether you are using pedal assist or the throttle, the Speed doesn’t want to get moving using the motor. I timed the acceleration on flat ground over multiple attempts, and getting up to 20 mph from a dead stop took an average of 24 seconds. That’s a painfully long time when you are trying to go anywhere, especially from a standing start. If you are trying to cross a busy intersection and the pedal assist doesn’t kick in until you’ve reached the other side, it’s pretty pointless.
Where the Speed does shine, though, is off-road. I took it for a long ride down through some country trails where I live in Virginia consisting of gravel tracks, muddy verges and log bridges, and it was one of the smoothest rides I’ve had on an e-bike. The suspension performed wonderfully, smoothing the ride, and the giant 26-by-4-inch tires gave me stability and grip throughout. The slow acceleration wasn’t so much of a problem here as I never wanted to ride at the top pace, often using the bike’s pedal-assist system at level 1 or 2 to stay safe.
The PAS feels different from most of the other bikes I’ve tested. Not just because of the lag, but because it often feels underpowered. The pedal assist should allow you to set a steady pace for yourself while taking some of the load from your legs. This should work on any gear on the seven-gear Shimano set, but it doesn’t. I always felt like I was working hard in any of the high gears, regardless of the PAS setting. The most comfortable setting I found for long rides was sixth gear on PAS 4, which uses a lot of power and reduces the mileage to about 22 to 25 a charge.
Bike computers can often be hit or miss. While almost all of them give you the basic information of mileage, trip, speed, PAS level and battery level, there is room for them to improve. GoBike’s bike computer is a good size and easily visible, but it’s wide and its placement in the center of the handlebars means there is no room for a phone mount. This is doubly upsetting because one of the things the bike computer does right is having a USB-A output on the bottom to charge your phone. Phone chargers on e-bikes should be standard, so I’m happy to see it here.
One last word of caution when looking at the GoBike Speed for your e-bike: This thing is huge. Even my 6-foot-1-inch frame needed the seat at almost its lowest point, and none of the rest of my family — heights varying from 5 feet, 8 inches to 5 feet, 4 inches — could even get on it safely. If you are doing any serious off-roading, you want to have a large, strong bike underneath you. But if you are of average height, the GoBike Speed might be a literal stretch.
The GoBike Speed may have several negatives, but overall I wouldn’t say it’s a bad e-bike. Most of my issues with it are small, and it’s good at off-roading, the thing it was designed to do. On the road, though, it suffers from a lack of acceleration, pedal-assist lag and overall oomph that, taken together, keep it off the top of my list.