- A comfortable urban cruiser with monoshock fork and adjustable suspension seat post, tool-free adjustable stem, swept-back handlebar, ergonomic grips, and premium Selle Royal Hz saddle with rubber bumpers
- Extra long fenders with flexible mud flaps and a fully encased chain cover keep you dry and clean, more so than a lot of the competing electric bikes I've tested, ebike rated puncture resistant tires, durable hydraulic rim brakes with tool-free adjustable levers
- Custom rear cargo rack is supported by a paint-matched main arm that reduces frame flex and boosts carrying capacity to 60lbs (27kg), it was designed with a Yepp child seat window, has pannier blockers, and a bungee strap
- Offers some of the best ebike lights I've ever seen, both are wired into the main rechargeable battery and both have side window light tubes to increase your visual footprint, the tires have reflective stripes, the bike comes in three sizes, three color choices, and keeps weight low and center on the frame for balance and handling, it's one of my favorites in this category
To run the forums, host the website, and travel, I charge a universal service fee for my reviews. This review was sponsored by Gazelle North America. My goal is to be transparent and unbiased, this video and written review are not meant to be an endorsement of Gazelle products.
The Arroyo C8 Elite is a feature complete, high quality city cruiser introduced to the North American market for 2019. It delivers approachability with a deep wave step-thru frame available in three sizes and three colors. Unlike some of the other more affordable models from Gazelle, this one positions battery weight low and center on the frame, freeing up the rear rack for transporting cargo or a small child. It can support up to 27kg (roughly 60lbs) which is above the average 50-55lbs seen on most competing products. Notice how the frame color is carried through the main rack support? This reduces frame flex and adds a unique aesthetic touch. It’s positioned far enough back to stay clear of the saddle in lower positions and connects to the rear fender to reduce rattling noise when riding on bumpy terrain. Ebikes tend to be ridden more frequently and for longer periods than traditional acoustic bikes, according to many shops and customers I’ve spoken with, so comfort and safety become a big focus. And, the Arroyo C8 Elite delivers well on both. You get a lightweight monoshock fork and adjustable suspension seat post here, along with classic upright Dutch geometry, tool-free adjustable stem, swept-back handlebar, ergonomic grips, and a nice saddle. The suspension fork does not match the frame color but the grips match the saddle beautifully here. This is an electric bicycle the feels good, offers plenty of utility, and keeps you dry and safe. Both fenders are custom designed with longer coverage, flexible rubber flaps that will stand up to occasional curb strikes and kicks, and the chain cover is a full surround design. The fenders also incorporate very nice lights that run off of the main rechargeable battery pack. In the video review above, we activate the lights and I point out how each is channeled through a light tube on both sides to increase your visual footprint. The tires are ebike rated with puncture protection and reflective sidewall stripes that further expand your presence and I love that one of the three color options is silver, because it will stand out the most in dark riding conditions. There’s so much to say about this electric bike, it’s really well done and incredibly intuitive to ride. An eight speed internally geared hub from Shimano allows you to shift at standstill and the ultra-responsive Bosch motor controller listens for shifting, to minimize drivetrain wear. You get a fast four amp charger for the high capacity 500 watt hour battery pack, and the pack can be charged on or off the bike. This is one way to reduce weight, given the heavier 58.2lb build, and the same key that unlocks the battery can be used to secure the rear wheel lock. Now, I do have some gripes about how the key cannot be removed from the frame lock unless it’s locked… which means you could have a keychain dangling as you ride. And, I would have liked to see bottle cage bosses on the seat tube. I want to acknowledge that the motor is less zippy and powerful than the Arroyo HMB from 2018 (which is still for sale and has seen a price decrease). You get better range with the Active Line Plus motor because it uses energy slower. It also weighs less and is much quieter. Gazelle has a rich heritage dating back to 1892 with recognition from the royal family of the Netherlands and you can see that in the details of this product and the quality fo the frame. In my opinion, it’s well suited to neighborhood cruising, riders who want a low easy-approach frame for any sort of city environment, and regular commuting where reliability and safety are a requirement.
Driving this bike is an efficient planetary geared mid-motor from Bosch, called the Active Line Plus. It ranks just above the Active Line, providing a more powerful feel with increased torque (50 newton meters vs. 40nm) and faster motor output capabilities (105 rotations per minute vs. 100 RPM). This translates to zippier starts and consistent support when downshifting for climbs. It’s not quite as capable as the 63nm meter 120 RPM specced Bosch Performance Line motor that was featured on the 2018 Arroyo HMB model, but it’s much quieter, lighter (7.1 pounds vs. 8.8lbs), smaller, and smoother feeling as mentioned earlier and shown in the video. For a mostly-urban ebike like the Gazelle Arroyo C8 Elite, I think it’s a solid choice. Notice how the motor is almost hidden behind the chain cover and blends in with the black plastic there. It’s really tucked into the core of the frame where the chains stays, seat tube, and downtube intersect. Other notable aspects of the Active Line and Active Line Plus motors are that they can pedal backwards, actually cycling the chain through the cassette. This can be handy for servicing, but is less relevant when there’s only one sprocket at the back since all of the gearing is internal in the Shimano Inter8 hub. All current generation Bosch ebike mid-drive systems include an advanced motor controller that measures rear wheel speed, pedal cadence, and pedal torque over 1,000 times per second. This feedback is used in conjunction with the display panel, and chosen level of assist, to provide natural power output. It measures your pedal stroke pressure, aiming to reduce power surge (the on/off wave feeling often associated with heavy pedaling). And, it measures sudden changes in drivetrain pressure outside of pedal strokes that indicate shifting. This is called shift detection, and the goal is to reduce motor pressure when the derailleur is redirecting the chain or making an internal switch in this case. In my experience, it’s still a good idea to ease off on your pedal pressure when shifting because the internally geared hub may not shift fully (and you’ll here this clicking noise until pressure is reduced). I’d expect to see less drivetrain maintenance with this bike and better shifting experiences overall because of the motor controller and sealed off internal design. The half-grip twist shifter on the right grip is easy to reach and activate, there’s even a clear window showing your active gear. Shifting isn’t as fast and crisp as triggers with a derailleur… and the internally geared hub weighs more, but I think it’s another good fit for this sort of bike. When you look at how durable the drivetrain is and consider the hydraulic rim brakes (which won’t get bumped and bent at racks like disc brakes can), it becomes increasingly clear how reliable the bike will be for daily use.
Powering this ebike is the highest-capacity Bosch battery on offer this generation, the PowerTube 500. It fits neatly inside the downtube of the Arroyo C8 Elite, completely out of view… aside from the black plastic cover. The cover provides some protection and matches the rounded look of the main tube, blending in best with the navy blue color scheme. This battery keeps weight as low as possible on the frame while still being removable and somewhat universal. I’m actually sort of mixed on the PowerTube batteries because they weigh almost a full pound more than the older PowerPack batteries (which mounted externally on top of the downtube or in a rear rack) and the PowerTube is not as easy to swap between bikes because each company has made a different cover system. In this case, the battery seats down front the top, which is easier than up from below. At the end of the day, this battery is reliable, can be charged on or off the frame, and the frame charging port is positioned high up on the side of the downtube where it won’t interfere with the crank arms or require you to bend down to reach. Big win! However, the key is required for both removing and re-inserting the battery pack. This surprised me because many competing PowerTube integrations allow the battery to simply click in using a ramp. One final note on the battery, and really any lithium-ion pack, is that extreme temperatures can be harmful to the cell chemistry and allowing it to drop below 20% can decrease the overall lifespan. For this reason, it’s great that the pack is removable, so you can bring it into your office or home for safe keeping and convenient refills.
When you’re ready to ride and the battery has been charged and mounted properly, simply press the power button on the top edge fo the Bosch Purion control panel. This display is mounted within reach of the left grip and features two main buttons: plus and minus, for raising and lowering the power level of pedal assist. It boots up in Off, so pedaling is just like a traditional, albeit heavy, bicycle. From here, you can navigate up through Eco, Tour, Sport, and Turbo for increased power and speed. To truly maximize your ride speed, you’ll also need to shift up into higher gears. On the LCD screen, a five bar battery infographic communicates charge level in 20% increments but there’s actually a range estimator menu that is much more precise. To navigate to this menu, simply hold the minus key for a couple of seconds. If you hold it again, you’ll find the Trip Distance and Total Distance (odometer) readouts. Note that you can reset Trip Distance by holding the plus and minus buttons simultaneously. There’s one more button at the bottom edge of the Purion control unit, and that’s walk mode. To use this feature, navigate up into any of the four levels of assist, press the walk mode button, then hold the plus button. The bike will propel itself forward at a gentle ~4mph (6km/h) speed which can be handy if you get a flat tire or decide to walk across grass or step hills. Maybe you’ve got the rear rack loaded with gear and would rather walk than ride? Anyway, the 1.7″ LCD display is constantly backlit with a faint white glow, provides good contrast with monochrome readouts, and shows your current speed at all times. You can cycle units from miles per hour to kilometers per hour by holding minus and tapping the power button when the display is turned on. All of the critical readouts are present with this display and I’d count Range as a useful bonus. However, as cool as it is, there are some compromises with the Bosch Purion. It’s not as large as the Bosch Intuvia display, and it’s not removable. You may be able to swivel the display to reduce glare, but it could take weather damage and scratches at public racks more easily. Also, despite the inclusion of a Micro USB port built in to the right edge of the unit, you cannot charge portable electronics with this display, the port is merely for diagnostics and software updates. Compared to the Intuvia, the Purion does not show your average speed, max speed, trip time, clock, motor power output, or shift recommendation. I have found that the plus and minus buttons are also a bit less consistent to press (aim for the right edge vs. the lower left or center because they pivot in towards the right). Some shops have told me that they will upgrade to Intuvia for $200 by customer request, which is nice if you’re near sighted or very set on one of the additional features I mentioned.
While there are a few minor areas where the Gazelle Arroyo C8 Elite could be improved in my opinion, and the price and weight of any ebike could always stand to be lower, I think that the company has produced a real winner here. Keep in mind, an electric bicycle that doesn’t come with all of these great accessories: rack, fenders, lights, might weigh and cost less… but it’s difficult to find parts that fit so perfectly and operate so reliably. This is a purpose built ebike with a beautiful aluminum alloy frame, internally routed cables, and streamlined suspension hardware. It’s built to last and backed by an award winning company that was founded in 1892. To many of us in the North American market, this brand might feel new… but they’re really just bringing over some of the most successful products from a more developed market where ebiking daily has become a way of life. I feel that the Arroyo C8 Elite is one of the few ebikes on the market today that would withstand such heavy use, and I’ve discovered that the company rigorously tests their paint and hardware against UV, water, and even salt water (check out their testing page with videos here). Maybe you’re a family that shares a single bike? The tool-free adjustable stem makes it easier here, and the step-thru frame with lower seat tube means people with shorter legs can comfortably pedal. You could always swap out the suspension seat post for a rigid one to get even lower… but in that case it might make sense to buy the smaller frame from the git go. The wheel size here is a bit taller, 700c (28″) which lowers the attack angle for smoother rides and adds a bit of air volume for cushion. I’d like to call out the nice rims with reinforcement eyelets that add strength, the strategically positioned kickstand that won’t block your pedal path and offers length adjustability for different parking situations. And finally, I’d like to invite you to chime in with feedback and comments below if you’ve tested the bike or chosen to purchase one. It’s neat to hear about different accessories and even see pictures or videos if you care to post in the Gazelle electric bike forums. Have fun out there, enjoy the neat bell that comes with this bike, and ride safe :)
- Three unique color choices to choose from, I like the silver because it will stand out more in low light riding conditions, but they all have integrated lights and reflective tires for safety… so the navy blue and petrol green are good as well
- All of the shifter, brake, and electrical wires are routed through the frame which looks great and reduces snags if you’re parking at a crowded rack or hauling the bike on a car or bus rack
- Three frame sizes provide optimal fit, the wave step-thru frame is extremely easy to mount and comfortable to stand over, this is an approachable and comfortable ebike
- Very comfortable saddle, ergonomic grips, and swept back handlebar, the tool-free adjustable angle stem allows for a more upright body position if you wish, the basic suspension monoshock fork cushions cracks and potholes, and the wider 700c tires span cracks and smooth out small bumps
- I appreciate the ebike rated puncture resistant tires, large custom lights which both have side windows to keep you visible from more angles, and friendly rotary flick bell to signal fellow riders and pedestrians (it’s a half-grip twist design vs. a flick bell like most other ebikes)
- Hydraulic rim brakes are easier to pull than mechanical, the Magura HS22 levers offer tool-free adjustable reach, and they won’t get damaged at bike racks as easily as disc brakes because of the high position
- Custom made plastic fenders keep you dry and clean, the front fender goes extra low to protect shoes and pant legs or dress ends, and they each have a light built in which is’t going to get obstructed by cargo accessories, even the chain cover is upgraded to be fully enclosed for cleanliness
- Shimano Nexus Inter8 internally geared hub allows you to shift gears at standstill and won’t get banged up the way that a traditional derailleur and cassette might, especially at crowded racks
- The Bosch motor controller is incredibly fast and smart, it detects pedaling motion and can even back off when it senses shifting which protects the chain and geared hub from stress and damage
- The monoshock suspension fork is raked forward a bit to relax steering and keep the fender from being in the path of your feet while pedaling, this reduces toe strikes, even though the suspension is fairly limited (30mm travel) it definitely takes the edge off of larger bumps and curb drops and doesn’t add as much weight as a full sized suspension fork
- In addition to the monoshock, Gazelle has specced an adjustable stiffness suspension seat post to further cushion your ride, it’s a welcome feature for an upright city bike… especially if you have back and neck sensitivity like me
- The cargo rack is positioned well, it’s mounted far enough back that the saddle can be lowered all the way without colliding and is capable of carrying more weight (up to 60lbs for a child seat), it also includes pannier blockers to keep bags from rubbing against the tire as well as a bungee strap for securing light items
- Another cool accessory that Gazelle includes right out the gate is an AXA Defender frame lock to secure the rear wheel for quick stops, it’s keyed alike to match the battery pack to reduce clutter and add convenience
- The bike is really well balanced, notice the battery and motor are both positioned low and towards the center of the bike for stability and improved handling
- Great kickstand hardware, the length is adjustable without tools (so you can stabilize the bike on flat or angled terrain) and it’s positioned near the back of the bike to support the rack with cargo and stay clear of the left crank arm
- Given the higher capacity Bosch PowerTube 500 battery pack, it’s nice that the bike comes with a faster-than-average 4-amp charger, I also appreciate how they positioned the charge port near the top of the downtube vs. low near the cranks (where the cord could get snagged or the plug could get bent)
- The mid-frame battery improves balance and handling while freeing up the rear rack for cargo, it’s a big upgrade from the older Arroyo C8 HMB I reviewed in 2018
- The frame was designed to reduce flex as much as possible, notice how the main rack support is a thicker paint-matched bar vs. bolt-on rod like most aftermarket racks, Chris and I shook the frame and pushed it pretty hard but and it performed better than most competing products with deep wave frame designs
- Gazelle opted for bolts on both wheels and the seat clamp to reduce tampering for people who commute and park at public racks… you could always replace this, but I think it’s a smart move given the utility of this bike and possible daily use as a work horse sort of ride, it’s reliable all the way around
- The spring suspension fork doesn’t offer lockout and isn’t as smooth as a full sized suspension fork with two sliders, it might take some time to break in
- The Bosch Purion display panel is effective and easy to reach, but it isn’t removable and some menus have been removed as compared to the larger Bosch Intuvia, remember to hold plus to activate or de-activate the lights and hold minus to cycle through menus, the Micro-USB port is only for diagnostics and not charging
- I love that the battery lock core and frame lock use the same key, but discovered that the key gets locked into place when the cafe lock is disengaged, this means that you basically have to lock the bike every time you stop or someone could lock it and steal the key and battery… if you’ve got the key attached to a keychain, it will rattle as you ride, but if you do not have it on a keychain, it could get lost easily when you take it off… I just wish they let you remove the key from the AXA Defender frame lock when unlocked as well as locked so this wouldn’t be an issue
- In order to lock the battery into place, you have to insert the key and unlock the core whereas some competing designs I’ve seen from BULLS just allow you to push hard and the battery will click into place without the key which is faster and easier
- There’s plenty of room for bottle cage bosses on the downtube and seat tube but they didn’t include any, you could always get a trunk bag and panniers for cargo and accessories, but it’s nice to have a bottle within reach, consider an aftermarket SKS Anywhere adapter
- The Bosch Active Line motors have a bit of “clunk” feeling when you stop pedaling, I think this relates to the gearing inside that produces friction when you pedal backwards… there’s some momentum built up that doesn’t stop as smoothly, but at least it freewheels efficiently without any reduction gearing drag
- Minor consideration, the PowerTube battery looks great but isn’t as widely available (or affordable) as the older PowerPack 400 and 500… if you already own an ebike with a PowerPack, you can’t use those batteries with the new PowerTube interface because it’s not backwards compatible, I do like how Gazelle implemented the PowerTube and kept the shield lighter than many competitors like Bulls and Haibike which use metal in many cases
- Official Site: https://www.gazellebikes.com/en-us/gazelle-arroyo-c8-hmb-elite
- More Pictures: https://photos.app.goo.gl/3D4R5JCXJnNX7TQt8