We tested Gaya, a Parisian electric bike, affordable and full of good ideas

We tested Gaya, a Parisian electric bike, affordable and full of good ideas

The arguments to make you prefer the electric bike to the car during your daily urban journeys are countless. If the relevance of such a means of transport is no longer to be demonstrated, the choice of its future steed can on the other hand prove to be complicated as the offer is prolific. Gaya, a French builder installed in Paris, is one of the latest to arrive on the market. And it’s not really a handicap since the young brand can thus offer, with hindsight, two intelligent, innovative VAE (electrically assisted bicycle) models at very competitive prices. Requested by the brand, 20 minutes was able to put the “compact” through its paces on a 400 km road trip to Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Gaya is a very young Parisian box created a year ago by Amélie Guicheney, ex-advisor in marketing strategy, and Jacques Bonneville, mobility specialist. Both took the risky gamble of embarking on the design of electrically assisted bicycles (VAE), a very competitive sector largely occupied by the big brands. The idea was to manufacture innovative, robust, practical and accessible bicycles. For this last point, Gaya hits hard indeed, with a compact at 1,700 euros and a longtail at 2,300 euros. “To tighten prices, we rely on direct sales in our shop in Paris or online and on the maximum use of standard parts on the market whose reliability has been proven”, explains Amélie Guicheney.

Like an air of a small motorcycle that does not go unnoticed

Gaya has also taken care of the design and the two models do not go unnoticed, in particular thanks to the original options which give it a little air of a mini-motorcycle. As standard, the bikes come with a large headlight that is particularly effective at night, turn signals and a rear brake light. Their squat, low-span frames and small white-tyred wheels also help catch the eye. They are also equipped with a large, very comfortable saddle with an adjustment system reminiscent of office chairs. The latter must nevertheless be reviewed since in the lowest position, the saddle touches the rear luggage rack, damaging the paint.

The compact Gaya on the roads of the Netherlands.
The compact Gaya on the roads of the Netherlands. – Mr. Freedom / 20 Minutes

The real innovation, still standard, is the intelligent anti-theft system integrated into the bike. A motion sensor triggers an audible alarm, blocks the electric motor and sends an alert via the Gaya mobile application. The bikes also carry a GPS tracker with an autonomous battery that allows them to be located in the event of theft. A system that we tested successfully despite a latency of a few minutes between locking the bike and triggering the alarm. Gaya must nevertheless correct a bug which sometimes disrupts the operation of the GPS.

For the test, we chose the compact version which still allows you to carry 80 kg of load at the rear and 10 kg at the front for a total loaded weight of 160 kg. It is in a journey between Lille and Rotterdam that 20 minutes tested the machine. If the 15 kg bag at the rear is forgotten, the 5 kg tent at the front affects the stability of the bike as soon as you let go of the handlebars. However, in eco mode, on the flat, the rear wheel motor has no trouble taking everything. In normal mode or in boost mode, the slopes are climbed effortlessly. But for how long ?

A real concern for autonomy or a defective battery?

The serviceable battery Gouach manufacturer from Bordeaux promised us 70 km of autonomy in eco mode. It has never been possible to reach them near or far. At most, we were able to ride 52 km, fear in our stomachs of falling out and having to carry the 23 kg of the bike and all our load with the strength of our thighs. Undoubtedly a defect of the battery which had been provided to us since the latter finally gave up the ghost at the end of the trip. In use, the pre-series that we had in hand also revealed a few other faults: central stand too low, headlight support to be reviewed.

However, the Gaya arrived in Rotterdam without flinching: not a loose nut in 400 km, not a puncture. The riding position and the comfortable saddle spared our backs and buttocks. The machine is pleasant to drive, handy despite its weight and loading. Even though the manufacturer makes it clear that it’s not a bike suitable for such adventures, but rather for everyday urban use, it did the job. The defects of the pre-series will be corrected for future buyers, in particular the crutch, the design of which was entrusted to a specialized design office. The experience was therefore rather conclusive and we had a little heartache when the Gaya returned home.

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