One of the positive things about the impending Papal visit, is that it has spurred on a few friends to consider riding a bike. In lieu of a public transport system stressed by thousands of pilgrims, the humble bicycle now seems like a far better option. Needing only a spark of enthusiasm, I pounced on my friends with all the manipulative force of a cult leader trying to get followers to join their religion . I quickly organised a loner bike (from my BUG), some riding lessons and became a 'bike buddy'.

The bike I borrowed is called a Gofa. It markets itself as a utility bicycle that comes with everything on it for new riders. Being something of a bikesnob it was interesting to test-ride a bike that was one-sixth the value of my racing steed. Just how much bike could you buy for that? A lot it would seem.

The Gofa is built around a very strong step-through aluminium frame with a very relaxed or upright riding position. Its designed to suite people of varying heights, between 155cm and 186cm. At 177cm, I was towards the upper end of this spectrum but I didn’t feel too big on the bike. The Gofa comes with mudguards, a rear rack, front basket, quality front and rear lights and a combination lock. The great advantage of this bike is the value for money. It saves you nearly $300 of extras that you might otherwise spend on a basic commuter/hybrid. In this regard, it suits a very novice bicycle rider who doesn’t want to get caught up in all the confusing decisions that can come with buying bike accessories.

The ride quality of the Gofa was very good and I had no trouble pushing it into higher speeds in the traffic. The mountain bike slick tyres are a sensible compromise between comfort and speed. I did touch the ground with one pedal when charging through one roundabout, but provided you don’t corner like your on a criterium circuit, this is not really a problem. One of the things I really liked about the Gofa was the quality pedals. Having snapped many a plastic pedal in my youth, it was nice to see that they were made out of metal with some rubber edges for better grip. The next thing I liked was drive train set up. Based around a single front chainring with an 8 speed rear cassette, the Gofa gave me all the gears I needed for riding up and down big hills. Knowing the total confusion that comes over many a novice when faced with a triple chainset up front, I can see the appeal of having at single chainring. The Gofa also uses a single “Revo” gear shifter, which is much like the older “GripShift” motorbike-style shifter that Shimano made in the early 1990s. I’ve never been a fan of “GripShift” (especially if mountain biking) but the Revo shifter is an improvement and is fairly reliable.

The Gofa comes with a front basket that is very Euro chic in style, however it didn’t win me over in practicality. The front basket hangs off the handlebars using its weight to leverage it downwards. Other front baskets will have three contact points with the basket firmly attached lower to the frame with a ring that connects it to the bottom of the headset. The advantage of the Gofa’s front basket is that it is detachable, however I found it to be very jumpy when riding and was worried that my stuff would fall out of it. The weight of the basket was also a problem when parking the bike. When carrying a load in the basket, it was impossible to use the kickstand because the baskets weight would tilt the handlebars and tip the whole bike over. Given that the Gofa has a rear rack, I thought the addition of rear basket (or perhaps panniers) would have been a more functional and secure option. The only other problem I had with the Gofa was the lock mount. I found it fiddly to use and it didn’t feel very study. The cable lock offers low security however if you wanted to use a D-lock, I don’t think one would fit around both the frame and the front wheel.

The Gofa offers incredibly good value for money and is a excellent option for enticing someone back on the bike. At only $200 more than some department stall bikes it captures a niche between quality and mass appeal. It’s a highly rideable and practical choice of bike within a market where people are often sold bikes that are not suited to everyday urban cycling. As a machine designed for comfortable everyday cycling it works very well. However, as a load-carrying utility bicycle it could benefit from further refinements to make it even more appealing.

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Nice review. My first thought was "hub gears would be good on that bike, for that market", and then I find that the next model up has exactly that, plus a hub dynamo for lighting:

Would it be easy to steal the lights?
Possible, but not easy. They're screwed into the rear rack and the mount on the from right fork.
great review

where do you buy it from?

what you say is very true, there are alot of people who just want a bike to ride around for commuting or exercise, they don't care about going the fastest, what material it is made from etc

my colleague loves her base model apollo mtb commuter that has served her for over 3-4yrs

we all need to keep in check our bike snobbery
I helped a friend choose a bike (I LOVE helping others to buy a bike) and I found that the Gofa was the best one for her as she was just starting out riding and she wanted to have a bike that she could have a baby seat on the back. The Gofa is designed to have a baby seat and the low step through is great because a chick can wear a dress or a skirt. A lot of people, including me, don't like the idea of having to wear special clothing to go cycling and it's a drag to get changed to ride your bike to the shops. I really want one to leave down stairs in my unit so if I want to go to the shops it's just there and I can climb on and take off, the way cycling should be.

Rob, my friend got her bike from Cheeky Monkey in Newtown. Adrian has included the Gofa website link above so your workmate can check out her local dealer.

By the way, as for the comment about not being a bike snob, my friend I have mentioned above is in the army. She rocks up to work in her tracky dacks on the Gofa with her baby seat on the back and she parks her bike next to the expensive road bikes and mountain bikes. The guys (she works mostly with men) don't give her a hard time, they think it's really cool. They don't care what she rides, they just care she rides, and that's the way it should be.
I think this is a pretty sound review. I'm a total Gofa convert. I've owned: 2 no speed back-brake bikes, 2 10 speed racing bikes and a mountain bike and I love the Gofa best. After a few years not riding due to being freaked by traffic and irritated by the whole palaver I bought my Gofa for local short shopping trips and to ride my baby daughter around the local neighbourhood. I ended up commuting to work on it, up hills, in heels, dresses, flares, whatever I feel like. I love the front dynamo light that turns itself on when it gets dark (and off again), the comfy saddle, the easy gears, the chain guard, the step through frame, the upright position, the dead easy on-off baby seat. The bike makes me appear friendly and slow, especially in a frock! so traffic seems to be politer than my old mountain bike days. Where I'd like to see improvements are: the basket bracket is way too flimsy and I have indeed had things jump out of it, so I'm careful packing it. The frame is really heavy. The kick stand is functionally useless and downright dangerous with a kid on the back and I don't ever use it. I'm thinking of putting a pletscher two-prong one on but it's possible that there's no suchthing as a truly safe kickstand for loading a kid. I upgraded the lock but no big deal. I'm starting to see heaps of Gofa girls like me out there spinning along and we're looking good!
Oh, good to know, thanks!

Wow that sounds serious, were you hurt!

I have no interest with Gofa bikes or an LBS, but would it be better if you included a photo or two give evidence of your claims

Hi Julia,
It might be worth taking up with the manufacturer. I don't believe the bike is made anymore but because your bike has broken doesn't mean that all gofa bikes are deathtraps. The rewiew was written 5 years ago. Most bicycle frames haves frame warranty from 1 year to 5 years... To a lifetime replacement warranty.. All bikes will fail eventually if they are ridden for long enough, but it is usually the way they are ridden and the loads they are subjected to which determines the how long they last. Fatigue stresses can cause a frame to fail for a number of reasons but it does not make a bike faulty. Bikes have to pass safety standards to be rideable and there is a life expectancy with all bicycle parts. as a rule of thumb alluminum frames cannot snap in half twice. When I broke one several years ago, it went straight in the recycling bid.

Hi Julia,

That sounds terrible. I'm sorry to hear you were hurt and hope you're on the mend. Was the bike new or second hand when you bought it? I know many Gofa riders who've had their bike for years without problems but it sounds like you got a raw deal.

Yikes!

Gives new meaning to the phrase "Gofa broke".

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