- A wonderful commuting platform with full-coverage fenders, premium integrated lights, suspension fork and suspension seat post, adjustable stem and more
- Clean single-sprocket drivetrain with fully enclosed chain guard cover, eight speed internally geared hub that can be shifted even when the bike is stopped
- Professional rear rack with included bungee cords for quick stow use, plastic skirt guard keeps your pants, dress and panniers from rubbing on the tire
- Available in three sizes and two frame styles, the deep step-thru is approachable but more flexy feeling at times, the bike weighs a bit more given all of the accessories
The Gazelle Arroyo is the kind of electric bike that could truly replace a car for local transport. With it’s extra-long fenders, fully encased chain guard, skirt guard, integrated lights, reflective sidewall tires and complete adjustability, three size choices and the deep step-thru version shown in the images and videos here… it’s just incredible. And I don’t say that lightly! There are other electric bikes out there with a similar list of features, perhaps not quite as complete, but those extras aren’t as tightly integrated or high quality. A perfect example is the bell. Instead of tacking on a cheap flick bell that takes up space on the bars and requires a bit of extra dexterity to reach and use, Gazelle has included an integrated twist bell on the left grip! And the grips themselves are custom ergonomic that fit both the bell and a twist shifter perfectly while matching the brown accents of the saddle.
Comfort is a big deal to me… as I’ve gotten older and ended up with sensitive knees, a stiffer back and neck electric bikes have offered some solutions for climbing hills, dealing with wind and making it easier to say “yes” to riding to work or the grocery store vs. taking the car. One downside of riding a lot is that the back and neck can end up taking more abuse when riding over bumpy roads and sidewalks. This is especially true with bikes that have narrower, more efficient tires like the Arroyo C8 here. Thankfully, to balance this out and add the comfort back in, Gazelle has included a thin suspension fork and seat post shock that work wonderfully. Also of note is that adjustable stem which can bring the already swept-back handlebars way up and back so you don’t have to bend over as far. This is nice for chatting with friends, spotting traffic and general comfort.
While the Gazelle Arroyo C8 HM does come in two frame styles, I’m a huge fan of their deep step-thru model because I’ve bumped my leg more than once trying to swing it over racks and both designs positions the battery pack in the rear rack. It’s not a perfect trade-off because that rear weight impacts handling and maneuvering (even walking the bike) but it frees up the mid-section. Unfortunately, despite all that space in the mid-section there aren’t any threaded eyelets for use with a bottle cage, mini-pump or lock… I think that’s even the case on the diamond frame (though I did not have one to test, I just saw images). Again, the rear rack mostly solves this and there are lots of trunk bag options out there that can store your gear and even some cheap ones with bottle holsters included. It just would have been nice to have another mounting option because sometimes you don’t want to park your bike outside with a bag left on and taking the bag off each time can be a hassle.
While we’re focusing on complaints, the only other trade-offs I felt with this bike were that it costs a bit more… completely understandable given the name brand parts like hydraulic Magura disc brakes, Nexus Inter 8 internally geared hub and Schwalbe City Lite tires with Kevlar… and that it’s heavier. The front wheel offers quick release to make repairs and transport easier, the battery is also removable, but the bike still weighs more due to all of the accessories. I also found that maybe because of this weight and how it’s arranged, the step-thru frame version felt a little wobbly when riding with no hands at the highest assisted speed of ~20 mph. In practice, I don’t think this would be a big deal but it does speak to the compromises of different frames.
Ultimately, the bike is designed to be hassle free, safe and efficient. It uses the famed Bosch mid-drive motor that is super responsive. I had no issues climbing or hitting higher speeds but never felt like it was doing something I didn’t want. There are four levels of assist and the first one doesn’t get you going too fast too quickly (perfect for crowded areas or relaxed riding with an unpowered cyclist friend). I usually ride in the second level but enjoy going to 3 or 4 when climbing a hill. The display panel is large, easy to learn and use (thanks to an easy to reach independent button pad near the left grip) and can be removed completely for safe storage. This bike uses the Bosch Active Line motor which is a bit gentler than their CX mountain version and I think it works perfectly with the neighborhood/urban setup. As you change assist levels you get feedback about how far the bike thinks you can go in the “Range” menu and if you’re really concerned, the charger is fairly light and compact so you could bring it along for a quick top-off.
I love that there are now many different types of electric bicycles and pedelecs to choose from. The Arroyo C8 HM would perform very well for a wide range of use cases and even though I said it’s a bit more expensive before, I think the value you get really justifies the price. Gazelle is a part of the Pon Group which also includes Focus and Kalkhoff. Their products come with a two year comprehensive warranty (five years on the frame!) and they have an office in California and a growing network of dealers. It’s a big, real company that has mastered the technology for e-bikes in the European market and is now entering the US. That’s exciting to me because it brings new innovative designs that no other brands have adopted here yet. This bike is a winner, one of the more popular models overseas and certainly a good choice here. Note that it is forward compatible with the larger Bosch Powerpack 500 battery if you decide to replace the Powerpack 400 someday or just want extra range. Pretty cool :) Big thanks to Gazelle for partnering with me for this review.
- Designed to keep you clean regardless of weather with full length fenders (the front one is extra long) that have mud flaps on the ends, a fully enclosed chain cover and a skirt guard / pannier protector on part of the rear wheel
- Stylish LED lights that run off the main battery pack so you don’t have to worry about replacing cells or attaching / detaching every time you stop… the front light is very unique
- Beautiful frame available in three sizes and two styles, the deep step-thru is my favorite because it’s easy to approach and stand over
- Shifting cables, brake lines and electrical connections are all internally routed for a clean aesthetic, I like the black and gray color scheme because it helps the motor, battery and cables blend in and is professional looking
- Hydraulic rim brakes offer similar benefits to hydraulic disc, you don’t have to squeeze as hard to stop and can modulate your speed more precisely
- Adjustable angle stem, swept back handle bar and ergonomic grips promote upright body position that feels comfortable and allows you to spot traffic or talk with friends in a more comfortable way
- The cockpit is clean and easy to understand with a twist-shifter on the right, button pad controller for assist on the left and a fully adjustable removable display panel in the middle… I like that it even has a Micro USB port on the right side for charging portable electronics
- Even though the suspension fork is kind of basic with limited travel it combines with the seat post suspension to dampen the ride… this is a big deal when you’re riding further and navigating bumpy roads or sidewalks
- Premium Schwalbe City Lite tires are Kevlar lined to reduce punctures and have reflective sidewall stripes that keep you visible in low light conditions
- Excellent rear rack with standard gauge tubing for use with most clip-on panniers, extra tubing on the sides supports panniers and bags so they don’t bounce around or drag on the wheel, the rack includes a bungee cord set for quick and easy attachment of supplies without adding bags
- Adjustable horizontal dropout lets you dial in chain tension and since the bike uses an internally geared hub, the chain shouldn’t drop easily and you shouldn’t have to get as much service as with a derailleur
- Internally geared hubs allow you to shift at any speed, including stops, so you don’t have to worry as much about mashing gears, the Bosch Centerdrive motor does have some shift sensing technology so that should provide even more drivetrain support here
- Two more of the unique little extras that this bike adds are a cafe lock, basically a rod that slides through the rear wheel immobilizing it… someone could still carry the bike off but given its weight and size this sort of minimalist quick-lock can be handy if you’re making a quick stop “at a cafe” as well as an integrated bell twister thing on the left grip… very cool!
- The bike comes with plastic pedals that aren’t as stiff or grippy as some metal ones I’ve used on other bikes, not a huge gripe but if I was riding in the rain a lot I might swap them out for something more like this
- I was a little bummed that the step-thru model didn’t come with bottle cage bosses on the seat tube or downtube, perhaps this decision was made to enhance strength while keeping the bike lighter vs. using a thicker tube that could have holes drilled into it?
- As you might expect, this is not the worlds lightest electric bike… the rack, fenders, lights and internally geared hub add some and then the suspension fork, longer bars and adjustable stem add more, you can reduce the weight by ~5.4 lbs if you remove the battery pack
- The rear wheel does not have quick release so you’ll need a little tool kit in order to change flats on the go, also if you took off the front wheel (which does have QR) to reduce size for transporting the bike it’s fender would still take up a lot of space and is not as easy to remove given the integrated headlight
- If you opt for the step-thru wave style frame it might flex more than the diamond, I think this is due in part to the rear mounted battery… I noticed that when riding at higher speeds with no hands there was some speed wobble due to the flexing frame qualities (shown in the video review above)