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GONOW Electric Bicycles in Cape Town
Whizz through the Mother City on one of these self-powered and environmentally-friendly rechargeable bikes
We all know that Cape Town traffic can be an absolute nightmare at times. Let’s face it, no matter whether it’s off- or in-season, peak-hour congestion or the holiday-rush, the Mother City is busy – a constant vibrant hub of activity, in fact – and her roads are even busier.
So, what if I told you there is a mode of transport – that is completely-green and 100% hassle-free – that is as ideal for the local looking to whizz through rush-hour traffic as it is for the visitor wishing to explore our pretty city at ease? You’d want to know more, right?
Well then, let me introduce GONOW Electric Bicycles, a brand-new innovative rental and retail electrical bike company co-founded by Laurence Haskel and Brad Levitan in August 2016.
Having both travelled overseas quite a bit and seen how the electric bike phenomenon is taking over the globe (these two-wheeled rechargeable devices are a dime a dozen in America as well as in some European countries and are fast becoming one of the most well-used modes of transport worldwide), the duo decided to bring the electrical concept back home to the streets of Cape Town.
“In high-density and over-populated areas where traffic is unbearable, you must have an alternative means of transport and bicycles only work to a certain degree,” Laurence explains. “You don’t want to ride your bike to work in your suit and arrive at the office sweating.”
Seeing a demand (for residents and tourists) in the well-populated (and much-loved) Mother City, Laurence and Brad wish to enlighten Capetonians to the new and improved power-driven bicycles as well as strive to enliven experienced visitors who may already use the bikes back home. “Cape Town is a high-density populated area and we need to find ways to not only get citizens to work easier and quicker, but also a means to get tourists around,” Laurence continues. “It’s a great alternative to a scooter or a car that takes up space, uses petrol and causes noise and pollution.”
Self-powered and easy to ride (it’s like riding a normal bicycle, just with a little extra turbo), the custom-made bikes do all the work for you so no level of fitness is required. Ideal for all ages, the two-wheeled vehicles give riders the freedom to do what they want without having to hassle about traffic, parking or fuel, not to mention, physical exhaustion.
Currently operating outside of Strolla Café in Sea Point, GONOW offers clients guided rides, rental (by the hour, half-day or full-day) and purchasing opportunities. Providing guests with three suggested coastal trips – a Camps Bay and Clifton Tour, a Promenade and V&A Waterfront Tour and an Atlantic Seaboard Tour – the rechargeable bike company strives to give cyclists a completely unique and wonderful experience of the Cape.
“You don’t realise just how much you see on an electric bike compared to a normal bike,” Laurence continues. “If you ride a normal bike for an hour, you might get to the end of the Sea Point promenade and back [and be all tired and sweaty] whereas on an electric bike, you can cycle all the way to Llandudno, have a coffee and come back [care-free and still smelling fresh].”
“You can see a lot more than what you would see on a bike because you can go that much further with ease,” Laurence enthuses. “What an unbelievable Go-Pro moment.”
Although the various cycle components are imported from around the globe, the bikes are assembled in Cape Town and comprise only the highest-quality parts possible from big brand names in the biz – Shimano gears, Kendra tires and Samsung lithium batteries (to recharge the batteries, it takes as much energy as it does to recharge a cell-phone battery). Following the legal requirements of a traditional manual-bicycle, a hired electric bike can go as fast as 25-km/h and drive a total distance of 40-kms (exerting no more than 250watts of energy) and all cyclists must be over the age of 16 years to ride on the road.
The main prerequisite for hiring a bike is that you must be able to ride a standard pushbike; however, as emphasised you don’t have to be physically fit. For those worried about safety, GONOW complies with the European standards of safety and road-worthiness and provides all riders with a security-brief as well as a rundown of the bike, the roads and area. Helmets are also provided and riders are encouraged to wear closed shoes and comfortable clothing.
Using the international electric bike-design as a reference point, Laurence and Brad have custom-designed four different devices – The Defender, Double 07, The Italian Job and The Double Espresso – specifically suited to Cape Town and her road and travel needs. In the near future (end of 2016), GONOW will open its lifestyle concept store complete with a showroom and second pick-up point on Sea Point’s Main Road (beneath The Ritz Hotel).
Taking a closer look at the uniquely designed models; The Defender and the Double 07 are identical devices besides for its cross-bar – The Defender has a straight cross-bar whereas the Double 07 has a step-through bar, which is more suited to an older rider or woman. Complete with fat tires, these two bikes are ideal for touring the city as they have great mileage and can be taken off-road. The city-slicker Italian Job is a much lighter bike and is more suited to the tarred road while the Double Espresso (GONOW’s entry-level bike) is a great ‘beginner’ bike for all ages.
Set to arrive in Cape Town in October 2016, the various electric vehicles will cost between R16 000 and R30 000 depending on the chosen model. All bikes come complete with a one-year warranty on all electronics as well as service opportunities from GONOW (breaks and tires are not included in warranty).
“I would like to see the city work with electric bikes as I think it could make a huge difference to our city. I love Cape Town and I love to show her off – I want visitors to see the city in the best way possible and get the best experience of the city. Not have to worry about parking and traffic,” concludes Laurence. “We want people to enjoy the bikes, to just have fun and enjoy them. We hope that the bikes are going to enhance Cape Town and that the city of Cape Town is going to embrace them.”
Rental Fee: 1 Hour: R150 | 2 Hours: R300 | Half-day: R400 | Full-day: R700
Assisted Tour Rides: Camps Bay / Clifton Tour: R495 | Promenade / Waterfront Tour: R495 | Atlantic Seaboard Tour: R995
Duration of Tours: Camps Bay / Clifton Tour: 1 hour | Promenade / Waterfront Tour: 1 hour | Atlantic Seaboard Tour: 2 hours
Opening Hours: Daily: 8am – 8pm
Showroom and Pick-up Point 1: 253 Main Road | Sea Point | Cape Town (beneath The Ritz Hotel)
Pick-up Point 2: Strolla | 309 Beach Road | Sea Point | Cape Town (in front of The Peninsula)
+27 (0) 64 393 8231 | +27 (0) 82 492 5367 | email@example.com | www.gonowtours.co.za
by Krysia Gaweda
Video Credit: Josh Oates
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