Young, brash, and proudly impractical
Never has an electric bike caused more commotion as I rode it through Amsterdam, the world’s bicycling capital, and home to a culture known more for practicality than flash.
“Where’s the battery?” a passerby would ask, admiring the stunning simplicity of the carbon fiber Gogoro Eeyo electric bike. “It’s in the wheel,” I’d say, motioning to the Smartwheel, a brilliant bit of Gogoro engineering that houses the motor, computer, and electrons required to power the lightweight bicycle.
The Eeyo 1S bike, which goes on sale today in the US and begins shipping in limited quantities August 10th, is exactly what you’d expect from the mind of Horace Luke. Gogoro’s CEO was the head of design at HTC before making electric scooters, showing competitors like Nokia, Ericsson, and Samsung how to maximize the appeal of Windows and Android smartphones.
It’s been said that a designer knows they have achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. But the $3,899 Eeyo 1 and my $4,599 Eeyo 1S test bike are so stark that they verge on the impractical, for which Gogoro is proudly unapologetic.
Rightfully so, because the Eeyo 1S is fun to ride and fun to be seen riding.
The removal of the seat tube, the vertical section of frame that normally extends from the seat post to the pedals, is the first sign of Eeyo’s commitment to minimalism. It helps make the Eeyo 1S incredibly lightweight for an electric bike, weighing just 26 pounds (11.9 kg). Its feathery physics are assisted by the use of carbon fiber for the frame, fork, seat post, rims, and handlebar, and by forgoing urban accessories like fenders, a chain guard, or even a kickstand.
It’s so light that I was able to hoist the diamond-frame design over a shoulder when traversing long flights of steps in train stations, but that’s not something everyone could do. Fortunately, the rubber cover hiding the seat post assembly also makes for a convenient grip when lifting the bike underhand on smaller flights of stairs. Nearly all the weight of the Eeyo is in the back, allowing you to stand up the front end when entering a shallow elevator or when storing in the corner of your home, since that’s where you’ll be charging it anyway (more on that later).
The weight distribution of the Eeyo means easy wheelies and a thrilling ride. The back-heavy design coupled with a sporty, forward-leaning riding position makes steering quick, bordering on the performance edge of twitchy. But this riding position can be especially uncomfortable if you’re wearing a heavy backpack to work.
The Eeyo’s carbon fiber diamond frame is remarkably stiff with zero noticeable flex, despite the lack of a seat tube. That’s either a positive or negative depending upon the condition of the roads you ride. On one particularly long stretch of brick road, that rigid frame sent every vibration straight through the stock saddle and into my sit-bones. I’d highly recommend an aftermarket seat for any Eeyo owners with long bumpy commutes in their future, because the Gogoro designers also removed any sense of padding from the stock saddle.
The Eeyo 1S performance is tuned perfectly for my aggressive riding style. In sport mode, the 250W Smartwheel starts powering the single-speed Gates Carbon Drive from the first downward press of the pedal for instant starts. Then the torque and speed sensors provide just the right amount of power to assist with pedaling. Power delivery felt totally intuitive, without being overly jerky or laggy. Mind you, I rode on mostly flat terrain. When I did find myself climbing easy-to-moderate hills I never longed for the missing throttle. I did find myself lacking the oomph I desired when climbing the steepest hill I could find in Amsterdam, a bridge that causes many to get off their bike and push. Although I traversed it with relative ease, I imagine that moderate-to-extremely hilly terrain will likely present a challenge for the Smartwheel and riders.
Overall, riding the Eeyo felt remarkably similar to riding a second-generation Cowboy, an electric bike with a comparable power and weight distribution profile that I tested last year.
I’ve ridden other all-in-one hub motors in the past, but none compare to Gogoro’s Smartwheel. Gogoro says it spent three years in development, and it shows — the company has certainly learned from its electric scooter operation. The most obvious competitor is the Zehus Bike+ all-in-one motor I tested in the Byar Volta e-bike. While the Smartwheel doesn’t offer the regenerative capabilities on the Zehus, riding the Eeyo is much more natural, making it feel like your muscles are supplying the extra power, not the motor. Gogoro’s Smartwheel also isn’t as unsightly as the bulky Copenhagen Wheel all-in-one.
Although I tested my Eeyo 1S review bike in Europe, I was able to easily set it to the higher US speed limit in the app. That gave me access to pedal assist at speeds up to 20 mph (32 km/h) instead of the European limit of 25 km/h (16 mph). When riding outside the Amsterdam city center I would often get the peppy Eeyo 1S up and over its max assist speed causing the Smartwheel to enter a “Protective Mode,” cutting off the pedal assist until my road speed dropped to 12 km/h (7.5 mph). This was annoying. Gogoro says the cutoff is necessary to protect the battery, but it’s an unexpected limitation on a bicycle billed as the “sports car” of e-bikes.
I was always dubious about the claimed 40-mile (64-km) range from a 123Wh battery in sport mode (or 55 miles / 89 km in eco mode). And sure enough, my testing came up well short of that, but it still did surprisingly well. I performed two tests: one ridden over long distances, the other in real-world city riding over a period of four days. Both tests were conducted over flat terrain with very little headwind — ideal conditions for maxing out the range. I weigh 180 pounds (82 kg) and managed 28.3 miles (45.6 km) during the long-distance test, and just 25.5 miles (40.96 km) in the stop-and-go city test. I’m also being generous as those numbers were the higher values calculated by Google Maps and a Garmin fitness watch — Gogoro’s own numbers measured in the Eeyo app were way off.
The Smartwheel is super efficient, using just 4.4Wh of energy per mile (2.7Wh per kilometer) based on that 28.3 mile (45.6 km) test result. My equally aggressive VanMoof riding, for comparison, yields about 37 miles (60 km) from a 504Wh battery, or 13.6Wh of battery consumed per mile (8.4Wh per kilometer). The 42 pound (19 kg) VanMoof bikes also weigh significantly more than the 26.4 pound (12 kg) Eeyo 1S, while costing less than half as much.
You’ll likely have to charge your Eeyo in your home or office because the non-removable battery is integrated into the Smartwheel. It uses a clever clamp that attaches directly to the outside of the motor. There’s also an optional charging stand coming in September. The battery charges from zero to full in 2.5 hours as the company claims, with my test bike charging to 50 percent in 1 hour and 15 minutes.
When my Smartwheel battery did die, it created some additional friction when pedaling. Not as much as when the wheel is “locked” via the app, but enough to make it uncomfortable to ride long distances — akin to being in third gear on a traditional seven-speed bike when you’d prefer to be in first.
As to the antitheft wheel “lock” feature, don’t assume it’ll prevent someone from stealing your Eeyo. While it does make the bike very difficult to ride even short distances, the e-bike is so lightweight that any thief of reasonable fitness will just throw the open-frame design over a shoulder, or lift up the rear and roll it away on the front wheel. By comparison, VanMoof e-bikes have an integrated kicklock that also arms the bike with both a loud alarm that’s tripped by motion, and a location tracking service that allows the company to hunt down the bike should it be stolen. You’ll definitely want to buy a sturdy lock or two if you want to park your Eeyo outside.
The only way to power on the Eeyo is with the Gogoro Eeyo app; there’s no physical button on the bike or the Smartwheel. I’m not a fan of this because your phone can be lost, stolen, or just run out of juice, making an already bad day worse when trying to ride home.
I almost got burned when commuting with the Eeyo on a train. Gogoro gives you the option to “auto lock” the motor after a predefined time (options are 5, 10, or 15 minutes, or never). My phone was about to die when I remembered to turn on the bike and shut off the auto lock, else I might have arrived at my destination with a locked motor, unable to ride home until my phone was charged.
During my testing, I ran into two software-related issues. The first prevented me from unlocking the Smartwheel despite the battery being charged and the Gogoro Eeyo app reporting its status as unlocked. After multiple app relaunches, rebooting my phone, and toggling settings, I eventually got it unlocked. It’s unclear if the issue was related to my phone running the iOS 14 beta, or if it was to do with the Eeyo app or Smartwheel firmware. It only happened once over a period of eight days. Nevertheless, it illustrates the potential pitfalls of e-bikes with a phone dependency.
The second software issue left my battery range indicator borked. I was traveling down a long hill (over a bridge) and tripped the Protective mode. I rode along without power assist for a few kilometers with my battery meter reading 8 percent. I then turned a corner, dropped my speed purposely to 12 km/h to re-engage the pedal assist and saw the app reset, lose connection to the motor, then connect again showing the wheel locked even as it kept rotating (thankfully!). I clicked unlock but got no power, despite the battery now showing 31 percent. So I stopped, swiped the app away to kill it, then relaunched it and the power was back. But the bike eventually died with 8 percent power showing in the app, causing me to bike back home the last few kilometers fighting the added resistance.
The Gogoro Eeyo app is as minimalist as the bike itself, which I like. What I don’t like is the animated purple bubble that overtakes the speedometer as you ride. It bounces around constantly, shrinking and expanding in a dance that’s distracting, particularly at night. Fortunately, I could put my phone to sleep to ignore it, or swipe over to my navigation app.
A few other observations:
Who is this bike for, is the question I kept asking myself over the last week of testing. It’s not a race bike, despite the sports car pitch. It’s also not a city commuter, in the traditional sense, as Gogoro doesn’t offer mudguards, lighting, a kickstand, or carrier options for the Eeyo range. The cheap little bell that ships with the $4,599 bike made me laugh out loud at the juxtaposition.
When I asked Gogoro who they built Eeyo for, they responded with this: “With Eeyo 1 we’re focusing on a new era of urban e-bike riding for people living in cities that are looking for a more agile and fun ride that also provides maximum portability and a low-to-no maintenance ownership experience.”
In other words, it’s for anyone that wants to use a Ferrari as a daily driver, despite the impracticality of racing a supercar from stoplight to stoplight. It’s for the fixie rider who wants to take a victory lap down Sand Hill Road after taking their bike messenger service public.
One thing is certain: Eeyo is an attention-grabbing showcase for the Smartwheel which is the real star of the show.
As with the launch of the original Gogoro scooter back in 2015, that super-specced two-wheeler was a showcase for the company’s innovative charging solution that relied upon a network of battery swapping GoStations. Gogoro is taking the same approach with Eeyo by offering to license its Smartwheel tech to prospective bike makers. While its GoStation tech hasn’t exactly taken over the world, the company might stand a better chance with its innovative all-in-one motors. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a surge in micromobility demand, and interest in electric bicycles in particular is booming.
Sure, Gogoro wants to sell a few bikes, but Eeyo is priced, built, and accessorized for a niche audience. It’s not a mass-market play. Maybe that will come later in the form of a new bike design, kick scooter, or some other form of rideable built around the Smartwheel. Eeyo is nevertheless the perfect vehicle for Gogoro to peddle its impressive all-in-one motor. And there’s more money to be made selling blades than razors.
While I can’t recommend the Eeyo 1S to most people, I also can’t wait to see what comes next.