- A highly adjustable, feature-complete, city style electric bike with long fenders and enclosed chain cover to keep you clean and integrated lights to keep you safe, keyed-alike frame lock adds convenience
- Available in four frame sizes and three colorways, premium paint and marine-grade hardware were chosen to withstand wet salty environments, lightweight suspension, seat post shock, and swept-back bars with ergonomic grips offer comfort
- Tool-free adjustable stem and brake levers, the Magura hydraulic rim brakes will hold up better than disc brakes at bike racks but are equally powerful and easy to actuate
- Sturdy rear rack attaches to a frame extension and metal plate below the fender, the main frame has inner walls to increase stiffness, Bosch drive system is powerful, responsive, and reliable, the internally geared 8-speed hub allows for gear shifting at standstill and won't go out of tune as easily as a derailleur
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The Gazelle Arroyo C8 got a big upgrade in 2017, moving to the higher capacity Bosch Powerpack 500, introducing a more powerful Bosch Performance Line Cruise motor, and dropping the price $200 over the 2016 model… The latest version for 2018 drops a pound off of the frame weight by switching to a monoshock suspension fork, which doesn’t offer as much travel, but balances things out with higher volume 1.75″ tires. You still get a suspension seat post, swept-back handlebars with ergonomic grips, and a tool-free adjustable stem, so the bike is very comfortable and adaptable. Gazelle is offering four frame sizes and three colors in North America, but it sounds like their high-step frame will only be available in Europe. That’s fine with me because approachability is one of the big selling points on this electric bicycle. Despite having a step-thru wave style frame and rear-rack mounted battery, the Arroyo C8 HMB feels stiff and responsive. I’ve experienced frame flex, speed, wobble, and a lack of stability on many other cruisers that opt for rack batteries but this bike coasted just fine and the rack wasn’t flexing when I turned hard. Notice how the main frame color extends up from the rear to meet the rack. There’s more strength in this design, thicker aluminum alloy support arms, and another support strut going from the front of the rack down to seat stays under the fender. While I did experience a bit of rattle from the plastic fenders, overall they felt very durable and the bike was quite. When Gazelle upgraded from the Bosch Active Line motor to the Performance Line Cruise, they raised the peak torque output by ~13 Newton meters and made it an even better climber. Mid-drive electric bikes tend to be efficient because they leverage the same drivetrain as you do as you pedal along. Bosch offers shift detection on their motor, and this reduces stress on the chain and cassette (or internally geared hub in this case). With the Arroyo C8, you’re getting sporty performance blended with durability and comfort. It does cost more, but the company has been in business for over 100 years, sells through leading shops all over the world, and has been formally recognized by the Royal Dutch family for their quality and social responsibility. The frames are rigorously tested, painted with four layers of paint, and designed to withstand the tough wet conditions of the Netherlands, where the company is headquartered.
Driving the Gazelle Arroyo C8 HMB is a Bosch Performance Line Cruise mid-motor. This internally geared centerdrive is unique in that it measures rear wheel speed, pedal cadence, and pedal torque over 1,000 times per second. It starts up almost as soon as you apply pressure and cuts out just as fast. It’s a motor that has been used on trail and mountain bikes in the distant past (before Bosch introduced the CX) because of how responsive and zippy it is. In a potentially wet urban environment, where cars are present, that may be just as important. As mentioned above, the Bosch mid-motor offers shift detection and in 2017 the company released a software update to make it even more effective with internally geared hubs like the Shimano Nexus Inter8 used here. The combination of shift-detection and thoughtful pedaling (where you ease off a bit when shifting between gears) allows for the super-responsive motor to smooth out shifts and protect the chain and hub so you should never have a chain drop and rarely require maintenance tuneups. The Inter8 is a big upgrade from the Inter7 used on some cheaper ebikes because it uses a roller clutch vs. pawls. It doesn’t produce a buzzing clicking noise when coasting, the way that most bikes do. And, because there is only one chainring and one rear sprocket, the chain is less likely to slip or produce noise. In fact, the chain is completely surrounded and protected by a plastic chain cover… and this should keep your pant legs or dress end from getting dirtied or snagged. The two potentially noisy parts of this ebike are the long plastic fenders and the motor itself. Most geared motors produce some rubbing sounds but there’s a distinct electronic whir from the higher powered Bosch Performance models in particular that can be heard as you arrow up into the higher power levels of assist and pedal faster. The motor can assist at up to 120 RPM while other systems cutout at ~100 RPM and that means you can ride more naturally and shift gears less frequently. For me, it’s a big upgrade over the current Active and Active Plus motors from Bosch. However, the smaller 15-tooth chainring used here spins at 2.5 rotations for every crank turn. This reduction gear design saves space, increases chain grab, and starts quickly but it also adds some friction when pedaling unpowered or trying to exceed the top assisted speed. It’s a minor consideration, not something that has caused me concern or frustration during ride tests and ownership (as I have owned Bosch powered ebikes in the past for multiple years). Shifting gears is intuitive with the half-grip twister and you can even shift at standstill, which could be handy if you live in a hilly environment. I like how Gazelle designed the motor casing to smoothly transition into the frame design, it’s nearly seamless on the black model. Most of the other shifter, brake, and electrical wires are internally routed through the frame which reduces snags and visual clutter.
Powering the Arroyo C8 HMB is a rear-rack mounted Powerpack 500 from Bosch. It contains high-density Lithium-ion cells and weighs about 6.1 lbs (which is about 0.3 pounds more than the donwtube Bosch PowerPack). Depending on the assist level you choose, this electric bike should go at least 30 and up to 100+ miles per charge. Because the motor is pulling the same chain that you pedal with, it’s up to you to shift gears thoughtfully and empower it to improve leverage. The Bosch LCD display has a little shift recommendation graphic that appears as an up and down arrow on the display panel when it senses that you could empower the motor more efficiently; look for it at the top left portion of the display screen if you are pedaling too slow or too fast. Again, it’s just a recommendation, and I love that Bosch supports you up to 120 RPM because I like to spin fast and some other systems made me feel like I had to shift even though I wouldn’t have chosen to do so on my own. So, the battery pack can be charged on or off the bike frame and it uses the same plug style in both locations, which is nice, there’s no adapter dongle to keep track of. The four Amp charger is two times faster than most generic chargers I see and is compact and relatively lightweight at just 1.7 pounds. When you unlock the battery and slide it out of the rack, there’s a handle at the end to make carrying safe and comfortable. The rack is designed in such a way that it completely surrounds and protects the battery, and has plenty of extra room on the top and sides for trunk bags, panniers, and child seats like the new Thule Yepp! Nexxt Maxi that mounts on the sides vs. the older center window. I love that both lights on this bike are integrated, powered by the battery pack, and positioned out of the way. The rear light, in particular, is less likely to be blocked by bags or even a long coat the way that seat post mounted lights are. The headlight is very cool looking, has an aim feature that allows it to point up or down (to avoid blinding oncoming traffic and riders), shines out the sides to keep you visible from more angles, and is no longer mounted to the front fender. The 2017 headlight was very iconic but possibly more expensive to produce and replace, it might have bounced around more as well. I love how the Bosch Intuvia display also powers off of the main battery and offers a little Micro-USB port for charging portable electronics on the go. It’s another reason that the higher capacity Bosch 500 battery is nice to have here.
Activating the bike is fairly simple and I appreciate how large and easy to read it is. Once you have charged and mounted the battery pack, just the power button near the left corner of the Intuvia display to activate the bike. It switches on quickly and is constantly backlit with a faint blue glow. The LCD system and remote button pad are are my personal favorite at this time because they can be utilized together easily without taking either hand off of the grips. The control pad, mounted near the left grip, has a + and – button along with a rubberized i in the middle. It doesn’t take long to become familiar with the feel and tactile clicks on this control pad so that you don’t even have to look down. The display panel itself is removable for safe keeping, just like the battery pack, and that could come in very handy for commuters who park at public racks. In some ways, this display offers a lot of information and is deep, but the extra reset and lights buttons make it easy to use. The main buttons on the display are power, i (which is like an information, screen selection button) reset, and lights. It’s cool that you can enable or disable the lights at any time, and if you hold the i and reset keys, you can adjust settings like the clock and units (miles to kilometers). One of my favorite default menus is Range. You can cycle through and see it by pressing either i button. This menu dynamically estimates and shows how far the battery can take you in the currently selected level of assist based on the last mile of use. This is way more useful than the five bar battery infographic shown at all times near the top of the LCD and on the battery pack itself. I realize that early on in this review I was praising the Gazelle Arroyo C8 HMB for being sporty and zippy, but it can also be very efficient and smooth if you utilize the Eco and Tour levels of assist. In those cases, you will maximize range and have smoother starts.
Gazelle didn’t have to change much for their latest iteration of the Arroyo C8 but I applaud the little adjustments that were introduced. The slightly wider Schwalbe Energizer Plus tires are rated up to 50 km/h (31 mph), offering a smooth efficient tread and puncture protective lining. They keep you visible, along with the lights, because they have reflective paint on both sides. The narrow fork and minimalist monoshock reduce weight and look more beautiful than the older full suspension, and there’s still a bit of adjustability built in. Those who are very short or have a short inseam may wish to swap the suspension seat post out for a rigid 27.2 mm post in order to fully lower the saddle, and you’ll notice that the rear rack is positioned far back enough that the saddle really can come all the way down. As someone who has commuted year-round on an electric bicycle, I can vouch for having fenders, lights, and both suspension points for comfort. I love how the stem can bring the handlebars up and back for an upright body position and was very impressed with how sturdy the stem was, even as one of the Gazelle employees took it over speed bumps and off of curbs. The three color options are classy and the graphics strike me as professional. This is a step-thru that would appeal to male, female, and other types of riders. Yes, there is some compromise in handling and weight by positioning the battery in a rear rack, but the main section of frame is just so easy to step through and stand over… it’s a big win considering the larger diameter 700c (28-inch) wheel diameter that raises the frame slightly. With those larger wheels, you get a lowered attack angle and more air for comfort. The hydraulic rim brakes shouldn’t squeak or zing as much as disc brakes and won’t get damaged at bike racks as easily when parking the front wheel close to metal rails. Big thanks to Gazelle and the US team for partnering with me on this review and inviting me out to Santa Cruze to go behind the scenes a bit. I always strive to be impartial and provide primary source images and video. Your questions and feedback are welcome in the comment section below as well as the Gazelle forums.
- I reviewed the smaller 46 cm wave step-thru frame style and found it incredibly easy to mount and stand over when stopped, you can get the Arroyo C8 HMB in four frame sizes and they also make a high-step version for Europe if you want a stiffer frame
- Beautiful and sturdy frame design, notice how smooth and seamless all of the welds are, how the rear rack support extends from the frame itself (and connects to a second piece of metal under the fender), there are walls inside the downtube that reduce flex
- Great blend of efficiency and comfort here… notice the monoshock, suspension seat post, wider 1.75″ tires (compared to 1.4″ on the 2017 version), plush Selle Royale Herz saddle, and rubber ergonomic grips
- You can adjust body position on the fly because the stem is fully adjustable and tool-free, put the bars forward and down for aerodynamic efficiency or back and upright for relaxed back, shoulders, and neck
- Hydraulic rim brakes offer the same consistency as hydraulic disc (the rear brake isn’t harder to pull than the front, despite having a longer cable), the levers offer adjustable reach for smaller hands, and they keep the front hub clear to reduce damage at bike racks… sometimes disc brake rotors will get bent up on bike racks in the city
- The rear rack is very sturdy and packed with features, note how far back it’s mounted so the saddle can be dropped into the lowest position without colliding, this rack surrounds the battery pack, has standard gauge pannier hangers and blocker bars, and comes with a triple-bungee for quick tie-down
- Premium integrated lights make safety convenient, you don’t have to worry about forgetting to turn them on or off and they won’t get stolen as easily when parked in public places because they are bolted on, the tires are also reflective so you will be noticed more easily from the side
- Both the headlight and backlight have side windows so the light can escape and keep you seen from multiple angles while riding in darkness
- They now offer the bike in three colors for the North American market, I love the Legion Blue but might opt for Industry Grey to be more visible at night, the black is professional and hides the battery, motor, and cables the best
- Changing flat tires is never fun but the effort and inconvenience is elevated on an ebike bolt-on rear wheel and internally geared hub (the front wheel does have traditional quick release), so I’m glad to see the upgraded Schwalbe Energizer Plus tires with built-in puncture protection
- A Shimano Inter8 internally geared hub makes shifting gears at standstill possible and reduces the possibility of chain slap and drops because the chain only runs through one rear sprocket, I have found that they tend to require less maintenance and are less vulnerable if the bike tips over or gets banked up at the bike rack because there is no derailleur
- Over the years, I have become a big fan of Bosch electric bike systems because shops tell me that they rarely need service, the motors are responsive and smart (including shift detection to reduce drivetrain stress) and the batteries are backward compatible so you could use an older Powerpack 400 rack style pack with this bike
- The 4 Amp battery charger is twice as fast as most standard chargers on other electric bicycles, weighing ~1.7 lbs it’s not super heavy or large and bulky, you can take the power cord out of one side to make it more compact
- The frame has an AXA Defender cafe lock built on to lock the rear wheel and it uses the same key as the battery pack! This is convenient for quick stops and reduces the expense and clutter of getting a heavy aftermarket lock (but I’d still recommend using a u-lock to secure the frame to a bike rack for longer stops because someone could still lift and carry off your bike with just the cafe lock activated)
- Perfect kickstand placement, and the stand is adjustable length without using a screwdriver so you can stand it properly on the fly, notice how it stays clear of the left crank arm and is directly below the rack which might have heavy bags or a child seat mounted
- The rims have reinforcement eyelets to spread weight out and reduce the chance of cracking if the bike is really loaded up with gear or a heavier rider, the spokes are slightly thicker as well (13 gauge rear and 14 gauge front)
- The front fender is extra long and low to really keep your feet and shins clean, it has a rubberized end piece so it can bend if you bump into a curb or kick it, I like that they removed the light from the fender and are using a more standard part now
- Your pants or skirt ends should stay clean and snag-free because the chain is completely enclosed here, the drivetrain is fairly quiet but the higher powered Bosch Performance Line Cruise motor does produce some whirring noise when used in the higher levels
- The Bosch Intuvia display panel is one of my all-time favorites because it has a Micro-USB port built in for maintaining a phone or portable electronic device on the go and it’s completely removable for safe keeping
- I was told that the paint on Gazelle bikes is marine tested and uses four layers so that it can withstand heavy use and years of riding, they use stainless hardware and sealed bearings to hold up well in wet conditions
- Royal Dutch Gazelle is recognized as a leading company in the Netherlands with over 100 years of service and no ethical faults, they offer an excellent two-year warranty and sell through a wide network of shops worldwide
- It’s not ideal to position weight up high and towards the front or rear of the bike (you want low and center) but the Bosch Powerpack 500 is fairly lightweight at ~6.1 lbs and the extra supports for the rack really minimize frame flex compared to other cruisers with this type of setup
- Minor consideration here, I feel that the diamond high-step version of this bike (which isn’t available in the US right now) could have used a downtube mounted Bosch Powerpack 500 vs. the rear-rack style, this would lower weight and improve balance, the rack could also support more weight and keep it lower to the ground because it wouldn’t have the bulk and weight of a pack to deal with
- I like this headlight a lot better than the 2017 fender-integrated design but it’s still mounted to the lower portion of the fork which goes up and down vs. being suspended above (mounted to the stem or handlebar)
- Despite having ample space for a bottle cage mount on the seat tube, there are none… which is too bad because reaching backward for water stowed in a trunk bag like this isn’t as convenient
- Weighing in at ~57.8 lbs, this is not what I would consider a super lightweight e-bike, but it is one pound less than 2017 and does include fenders, suspension, and larger handlebars so it’s not much different than similarly outfitted products from other companies and it’s very easy to remove the ~6.1 lb battery for easier lifting and maintenance
- The internally geared hub can sometimes click and not-shift when under load, I think it’s a safety mechanism designed to protect the gears inside but it can take some getting used to and isn’t as fast or lightweight as a cassette and derailleur
- The suspension fork doesn’t offer much travel, however, I like how streamlined it looks and appreciate that there is some adjustability, the suspension seat post is nice
- The Bosch Performance Line motors use a reduction gear system that produces a bit of drag when pedaling unpowered or pushing beyond the maximum supported speed of 20 mph (25 km/h in parts of Europe), it’s very minor but worth pointing out as a difference from some other mid-motors
- Official Site: https://www.gazellebikes.com/en-us/gazelle-arroyo-c8-hmb-v5
- More Pictures: https://photos.app.goo.gl/T6ZGk19CCs7L963e8