by Larry Carley copyright 2021 AA1Car.com
Like many other older adults who enjoy riding a bike but who are not in training for the Tour de France or an Ironman Triathlon, I decided to look into the exciting new world of electric bikes (ebikes). I wanted an electric bike for everyday riding, that had a folding frame so it could be easily transported in the trunk of a car, and didn't cost a fortune. I wanted reasonable range on a full battery charge, and the option of no pedal assist, partial electric assist or full electric assist. And it had to be street legal and able to travel on bike paths anywhere. Finally, I wanted a bike that was small enough my 5ft. tall wife could also ride it.
After doing a LOT of research and reading online, I found a bike that met my requirements: the G-Force T12 folding ebike.
One of the things most ebike reviewers stress is the importance of buying an ebike that has a powerful enough electric motor not only for normal everyday driving, but is also strong enough to handle most hills you are likely to encounter. I live in the flat plains Midwest so there's no need for a serious mountain-climbing ebike. But there are hills that can wear you down on a long ride, especially on a windy day when the wind is blowing against you.
The minimum sized motor and battery I would recommend are a 350 watt motor and a 48-volt battery. A 350-watt motor will give you plenty of torque for pedal assist as well as no pedal cruising. Many of the smallest foldable ebikes have 250 watt motors, which is okay for flat riding and pedal assist, but may be underpowered for pulling you up a long hill.
If you want an ebike for offroad trails and hill climbing, you'll want a bike that has fat tires and a full suspension. Offroad ebikes should have a motor with a minimum power rating of 450 watts, with 550 to 750 watts being preferred. A 48-volt battery is also the better choice since it can produce more torque and range than a 36-volt battery.
The G-Force T12 that I bought is a street bike with 20-inch wheels, a 350-watt motor in the rear hub, and a 48-volt 10.4 amp battery inside the aluminum frame. The chain drive has 7-speeds, the handlebars and seat have considerable height adjustment, and the seat is a padded cruiser style design that is very comfortable. The battery can be removed to prevent theft or for remote charging. A key lock secures the battery in place.
The G-Force T12 ebike has a very sturdy welded aluminum frame (lighter than steel and corrosion resistant) that is hinged in the middle so it can easily fold in half. All you do is unlatch the handle bar column support, fold it over, then unlatch the frame and flip it around.
Although some folding bikes (non-electric) are very compact and lightweight, this one is not. The G-Force T12 tips the scales at 50 lbs., which is probably 15 to 20 lbs. heavier than a full-sized conventional bike. Most ebikes are heavy due to the added weight of the battery and motor, with some weighing 55 to 65 lbs.! Even so, I can handle 50 lbs. and load the bike in and out of the trunk of my car with relative ease. My only complaint is that there is no built-in latch to lock the bike in a folded position when it is folded in half. So I use a small bungee cord to hold it in place. Also, the bike has a built-in handle between the seat post and frame that gives you a good place to lift the bike.
Some people are totally obsessed with speed, and ebike buyers are no exception. The first question many ask is, "How fast will it go?"
Most ebikes will travel up to a maximum speed of 15 to 25 mph, although there are some that will go faster. The controller on the G-Force T12 is speed limited to a maximum cruising speed of 28 kph (about 17 mph) with full assist. If you pedal faster than 17 mph, the assist cuts out and you are on your own. Actually, 17 mph is a good, safe cruising speed, and it conforms to most rules regarding the use of ebikes on public streets, sidewalks, parks and bike paths.
The G-Force T12 has a small LED display mounted on the left handlebar that shows battery state of charge (four bars indicate a full charge), speed and distance traveled. Unfortunately, the ebike is made in China for worldwide export so the display only reads in kilometers per hour, not miles per hour, and there is no way to switch the units of measure. The speedometer on any bike that's sold in the U.S. should read in miles per hour, so that is one thing G-Force should serious consider changing. Ditto for the odometer reading (miles traveled, not kilometers). Also, the LED display is too dim to see in direct sunlight. Again, they need to make the display brighter and easier to read, or add a brightness adjustment feature.
Many electric bike companies make exaggerated claims regarding how far their bike can travel on a battery charge. Typically, the claims range from 20 to 40 miles (with maximum assist), and maybe 30 to 50 miles with partial assist.
It's had to quantify the exact range of any give ebike because it depends on a number of variables:
(1) The amp rating, voltage and condition of the battery (a higher amp rating equals longer range).
(2) The watt rating and power consumption of the electric motor (a more powerful motor proves more torque but also consumes more power).
(3) The combined weight of the rider and bike (lighter is better), plus the weight of any additional gear you might be carrying.
(4) The terrain you are riding on (flat is easiest, hills really eat up the amps, and downhill is a free ride).
(5) The speed at which you are riding (faster creates more wind resistance and consumes more power).
(6) Whether you are riding into the wind (requires more power and reduces range), there is no wind, or you have a tailwind (reduces power consumption and extends range).
(7) The roughness of the road or trail you are riding on (smooth is better, rough consumes more power).
So far, my The G-Force T12 has proven to be very power efficient, using only about a third of a full battery charge for a 22 mile ride on mostly flat terrain, but with several steep hills and at maximum pedal assist. I did very little pedaling myself and was cruising along at maximum speed (20 mph) on full power for most of the ride. I must say, I was favorable impressed with how little power the bike used and how well it scooted along.
The G-Force T12 is a smaller frame bike with 20 inch wheels so it don't expect it to ride as smooth and stable as a fullsize bike. On a relatively smooth paved surface, it rides and feels like a fullsize bike. No complaints. If riding on an unpaved trail or a rough road, it doesn't feel as smooth, and the twin tube front suspension (which is only spring-loaded, not pneumatic or hydraulic) makes quite a bit of clunking and rattling noises.
My advice: If you want an ebike for offroad riding (hills, unimproved trails, beaches, sand, snow, mud, etc.), get one with fat tires and a full suspension regardless of wheel or frame size.
Stopping power is just as important as go power, so most ebikes come factory equipped with mechanical disc brakes. This type of brake provides greater stopping power than rubber-faced squeeze clamp style brakes, and they won't face if they get wet.
NOTE: G-Force does NOT recommend riding the T12 ebike in rain or through standing water more than an inch deep because the battery, controller and wiring are not water proofed.
I've had my G-Force T12 up to 35 mph going down hills and it feels as stable and controllable as a fullsize conventional road bike. The upright riding position also feels more stable and less tiring than most conventional road biked with drop handle bars. Yes, it creates more wind resistance sitting upright, but so what? You have electric assist to overcome the additional drag.
The G-Force T12 comes with a handy and sturdy carrying rack over the rear wheel, one that is stout enough to support a second rider (although G-Force does not recommend carrying a second passenger). The rack can also accommodate clip-on side bags for additional cargo carrying capacity.
A reasonably bright LED headlight and taillight are included, that can be switched on or off from a button on the handlebar, along with a button for a rather loud horn.
The handlebars also have rubber grips with palm support, which makes long rides much less fatiguing. The handlebars can be rotated to change their angle, and raised or lowed to suit the rider.
One thing the G-Force T12 lacks and should be included is a rear view mirror. I found one online that fits perfectly and provides a much-needed view of what's coming up behind me when I'm riding. A rear view mirror is essential to prevent collisions with other bikers who may be passing you on the left, or from passing cars if you are riding on a highway or public street.
Another accessory I added is a detachable carrying bag on the front handlebar post that can hold a water bottle, Starbucks coffee, cell phone, tools or anything else I care to stuff into it.
HIGHS: I must say I am impressed with my first ebike and am very happy with the way the G-Force T12 rides, handles, brakes and looks. The grey finish has a high tech look to it, and the full front and rear fenders with mud flaps help keep road splash off the rider.
The torque the 350 watt motor provides is just right (not too strong, and not too weak) for the kind of riding I do, and 20 mph feels just right for cruising along on full electric assist.
The way the electric motor provides pedal assist on this bike takes a little getting used to because it is not a steady assist, but more of a surge assist when the controller senses you are pedaling. There is a slight delay of perhaps a second or so when you start to pedal before the motor kicks in. When it does, it adds the amount of assist you choose on the LED display. There are four settings: 0, 1, 2 or 3. Zero is no assist, 1 is minimal assist, 2 is medium assist, and 3 is maximum assist. You can barely feel level 1 assist, and level 2 is fine for pedaling under light load on a level surface. Level 3 is full assist and really gives you a nice push and increase in speed when it the motor revs up.
The G-Force has a small twist grip throttle similar to a motorcycle on the right handlebar that you can rotate anytime the ebike is turned on for motor assist. You can start out from a dead stop without pedaling using the twist throttle, or stop pedaling at any time and just twist the throttle to keep on going. It's very simple and intuitive to use.
Overall, I think the G-Force T12 provides good value for the price ($800 to $1000 depending on where you buy it). G-Force has more expensive ebikes, including offroad fat tire ebikes and fullsize ebikes, but for my purposes the T12 was the right choice.
LOWS: There are a few things that should be changed on the bike: as mentioned earlir, the speedometer/odometer should read in miles, not kilometers fr the U.S. market, the LED screen should be brighter for easier daytime readability, and a rear view mirror should be included as standard equipment.
The wiring harness on my bike also looks like it is too long for the frame. There needs to be some slack to accommodate raising and lowering the handlebars, but the extra wiring hangs out in front in a big floppy loop. I added a zip tie to help support it and pull it in closer to the front fork.
Also, the location of the battery charging port is on the WRONG side of the frame (left side). When you fold up the bike you can't access the charging port. If they relocated the charging port to the right side of the frame, you could easily charge the battery with the bike in the folded up position. How they overlooked this simple design mistake is beyond me, but it is something they should fix on future ebikes.
If you order the G-Force T12 online (not sure if it is available in any bike shops), it arrives in a folded position inside a large well padded cardboard box. The only thing to have to do is open the box, lift the bike out, slide the seat post into the frame, unfold the bike and mount the pedals. Nothing to it, quick and simple.
There are a pair of keys that look like ignition keys that come with the bike. Don't waste your time searching the frame for an ignition switch like I did because there isn't one. They keys are for removing the battery only. You turn the bike on and off by pressing a button on the LED speedometer/odometer display. Maybe an on-off key switch would have been a better idea since that's what most of us are used to on motorcycles, scooters and cars.
My wife has also ridden it (the first time she has ridden any bike in years!) and she really enjoyed it. The wheels and frame are small enough so she can easily climb on and off the seat without throwing her hip out of joint, and she can adjust the seat height so she can stand with both feet on the ground. The normal pedal effort in low gear is super easy, and the effort required to squeeze the brake handles is no problem. Thirty seconds after riding the bike, she was zooming around under full power like a pro.
We may buy a second G-Force T12 so we can go riding together. We'll see.
I should also mention that ebikes very similar to the G-Force T12 are being sold online under a variety of different brand names. These are pretty much all the same ebikes with somewhat different wheels, tires, motor and battery ratings, and other features. These other brands of ebikes are using the same folding aluminum frame and are adding their own components to build out the bike. I can't say if these other brands perform as well or not, but if the specs are similar you should expect to get the same results.
Here is the original ad for the G-Force T12 bike: