A comfortable, stable and capable cargo bike... that's almost like a cruiser with large sweeping bars, an adjustable stem, oversized comfort saddle and puncture-resistant balloon tires
Impressive two-year comprehensive warranty, thoroughly tested against UV and salt water exposure, unique styling and accents, two color options and three frame sizes to choose from
Tough Aluminum fenders, fully enclosed chain cover, 7-speed internally geared hub that can be shifted at standstill (requires less maintenance), sturdy front and rear rack with bungee cords
Heavier and more expensive, oversized double-leg kickstand, unique locking headset (to keep the front rack stable for loading), integrated LED lights, reflective tires and powerful hydraulic rim brakes
Wide Alloy Fenders, Oversized Alloy Rear Rack with Bungee Cords, Oversized Front Rack (10 kg Max Load), AXA Defender Cafe Lock, Enclosed Plastic Chain Cover, Integrated Trelock Rear LED Light, Integrated Spanninga LED Headlight, Center Kickstand, Twist Bell on Left
Locking Removable Battery Pack with LED Charge Level Indicator, Motor Starts at 20 RPM, 2.2 Amp Charger 1.7 lbs
Speed, Assist Level (Eco, Tour, Sport, Turbo), Battery Level (1-5), Odometer, Trip Distance, Estimated Range, Clock, Max Speed, Average Speed, Trip Time, Shift Recommendation
Independent Button Pad with Tactile Button Feedback, Micro USB Charging Port
Advanced Pedal Assist
(Combined Torque, Cadence and Speed Measured 1,000 Times Per Second), (Eco 40%, Tour 100%, Sport 150%, Turbo 25%)
20 mph (32 kph)
Royal Dutch Gazelle is a practically legendary, highly trusted, bicycle company from the Netherlands dating back to 1892. They design, test and build their bikes with passion and attention to detail. There’s a lot of fun history that I’m learning about the company with each of these visits to shops and their US headquarters in Sourthern California including a children’s cartoon, hand-painted emblems and other artistic accents on some of their bikes. One such accent can be seen on the NL C7 HMB electric bicycle here, note the little writing on the saddle that says “Miss. Grace, this is not a bike, be happy, Miss. Grace lifestyle. Make today ridiculously amazing” with little butterflies and a heart stamped emblem. As a gentleman rider… the matte black frame would probably fit my style more than the pretty baby blue seen in the video and photos here, but I can still appreciate the artistic quality of this product, the quote and the overall experience of the bike. And I can only dream of the day when I meet this mysterious “Miss. Grace” out on a bike ride! Perhaps someone can chime in with a comment about this quote as I’d love to learn about its origin and inspiration :)
What you’re getting here is a comfortable but heavy, easy to mount and adjust but expensive, feature-complete electric bicycle powered by top-level drive systems from Bosch. Whether you’re tall or short, the bike can be adjusted for good fit and there are multiple frame sizes to start from. I love the Dutch style of cycling, it’s much more relaxed and enjoyable than the sporty American styles I mostly see here. This is definitely a cruiser style electric bike with the larger bars but it also fits into the small-cargo category with front and rear racks. You could ride it as a commuter, put a child seat on the back or level the playing field with more active friends zipping around town. The top speed is 20 mph and you can easily hit and maintain this in the highest level of assist. The motor is decidedly gentler than the Bosch Performance or Performance CX variants but that soft quality contributes to better range and a more stable predictable feel. There are some compromises with the design however, mounting the battery up high in the rear rack increases frame flex, degrades handling and makes for a more dangerous tipping hazard… Thankfully, this last point is fully addressed by a large double-legged kickstand. And you can take the battery off if you want, it can be charged on or off the frame. The kickstand is useful for parking the bike but also critical for loading up the racks. And the front rack is interesting to me because it turns as you steer the bike. This can be intuitive and natural but because it’s not frame-mounted there is a change in how steering works, it’s slower and heavier and there is the chance of dumping your load if the weight overwhelms you… But wait, there’s actually a headset lock that keeps this from happening if you’re parked. This is something I’ve never seen before and a very clever solution for loading. One final note, you get bungee straps in the back but nothing up front, I guess you’d use velcro or other tie downs? Honestly, I’m not sure I’d ever use the front rack myself because I don’t have a basket full of cute kittens to put there… but oh, I wish I did! And I am excitedly searching Pinterest for pictures of others who are already doing it.
Powering the drive system and a set of integrated LED lights is a 400 watt-hour Lithium-ion battery pack that I’d call average in capacity. Expect great range however because of the mid-drive motor, smooth tires and lack of suspension. Again, the bike is heavier than most (about 10 lbs more) but for that weight you get reliable hub shifting, sturdy but quiet Aluminum fenders, the two racks, the lights, the larger handlebar, the oversized saddle and a sturdier frame. It’s a trade off that seems worth it for many situations. The battery doesn’t take a huge hit from the extra weight and as long as you shift properly the bike will do fine. Expect to reach upwards of 30 miles per charge on even the highest level of assist if conditions are good to moderate. You can even hit 60 miles if you help out and lower the assist setting down somewhat. One neat feature on the most recent Bosch display panel is a shift recommendation arrow indicator. this tells you when the motor would like you to shift up or down to optimize efficiency. When I ride, I rarely pay attention to this arrow because I like to shift late to reduce knee-strain (this is how I got into ebikes to begin with, needing extra support). If you’re someone who hasn’t been cycling a lot and are unsure of when to shift, or even intimidated by shifting, this is going to be an enjoyable ebike to start with. Shifting can be done at standstill and you don’t have to worry about mashing and grinding as much because of the internally geared hub AND a shift sensor built into the motor controller that tells it to ease off as it detects your actions. The system isn’t perfect and I may be overselling it but truly, this is a great and reliable combination of technologies.
Operating the bike is quick and intuitive. Once the battery is charged and mounted into the rack (it slides in from the back), just press the power button at the lower left corner of the Bosch Intuvia display panel up front. This display is large, has an automatic backlight for use in dark conditions and can be swiveled to reduce glare AND removed for safe keeping. Just like the battery, taking the display off when parked outside will reduce wear and prevent tampering. At ~5.5 lbs, the battery is easy to carry along (it has an integrated handle at the rear) and there’s an LED indicator that tells you how full it is without having to mount and power up the bike. I use this feature when I haven’t gone riding for a time to make sure I don’t have to do a quick fill-up. The charger is light and portable, weighing in at about 1.5 lbs and putting out 4 Amps (that’s twice as fast as the average charger). To maximize battery life I suggest charging every month if you haven’t used the bike and storing in a cool dry location. Okay, so back to the display! Once it’s on, you can press the light bulb button at the lower right corner to activate the front and rear LED lights. You can hold the reset button to clear your trip stats or you can press the i button at the top right to cycle through odometer, max speed, average speed, clock range and other sections. Range is very cool because it gives you much more feedback than the four-bar battery info-graphic. I do wish the battery indicator had more bars or a percentage vs. the simple 20% bars. While in the Range menu, just arrow up or down on the button pad mounted near the left grip to see how far the bike thinks it can take you before running out of juice. As a fit person, I am capable of riding a 60 lb electric bicycle unpowered but I’d much rather pay attention to the range stats and battery indicator to reduce my chances of being stranded… much better to lower the assist level and make it home with help. It’s a cool feature and that i button I mentioned before is replicated on the left button pad so you can click it and the up/down keys without taking your hands off while riding. It becomes intuitive and there’s a satisfying click with each press, letting you know that the bike will be responding.
As a higher-end, more expensive and more polished e-bike product, there’s a lot to say about this thing. The grips match the saddle and offer a large ergonomic touch point. I love the twist-bell near the base of the left grip that stays out of the way but is still easy to use and kind of matches the grip shifting piece on the right. The stem can be adjusted to angle up and swivel the bars. The chain cover so completely surrounds the chain that it probably won’t need cleaning or lubrication unless you really get wet and dirty… and even then, this electric bicycle only has one cog up front and one in the rear. There is practically zero chance of the chain bouncing off or getting broken. You do pay a lot for this bicycle but it’s sold through quality dealers that will help you get setup correctly from the start and continue to service your ride for years. Bosch motors are known for being trouble-free and if by chance it does get messed up… they simply slap a new one on. Same deal for the battery pack, because it’s made by a major international company, you can get replacements more easily. You get a two-year comprehensive warranty with this bike and a sense that you’re supporting a company with employees who are cared for… creative designers that are permitted to express themselves. The seat quote on this bike is unique, something I have not see on any other electric bicycle product to date (and I’ve reviewed over 500 models). None of them have anything like it… and that’s really neat :)
Despite being built around a completely rigid frame (no suspension fork or suspension seat post) the Gazelle NL feels good thanks to its larger tires, comfort sprung saddle and swept back bars with rubberized ergonomic grips
As someone who has had to ride in traffic and commute in the dark on occasion, I love the integrated lights, white accents and reflective tires on this bike, it shows up and also helps you see where you’re going without needing to buy and fiddle with accessories
Not only are the tires reflective and larger (for better stability and comfort) but they also have a protective lining to reduce punctures… changing flats on an ebike is less fun given the weight, it’s easier on a mid-drive like this because there are fewer wires going to the wheels
The rear rack comes with an integrated bungee strap for securing loose items quickly, has a nice large platform on top and smaller gauge bars on the sides for clip-on panniers (though the tubing was a little fatter than I’m used to seeing and might not fit all pannier clips)
You get lots of stopping power with the hydraulic rim brakes on this bike, they produce more leverage than hydraulic disc brakes because they grab further out on the wheels and have adjustable reach levers so people with smaller hands can reach easily (or if you’ve got gloves on), one reason they might have chosen these vs. disc brakes is because of the internally geared hub at the rear which takes up more space at the dropout
In addition to full-length fenders, there’s a fully-enclosed chain cover that will keep your pants or dress clean and help the drivetrain to run longer and quieter
This step-thru frame comes in several sizes for the correct fit and is reinforced with double-tubing so it’s less flexy feeling than some others, this is important with the racks in front and rear
I must have some Dutch in me because the swept back bars, adjustable stem and upright body position this bike delivers feels great… my back and neck weren’t stressed and I could comfortably look around while riding
Whether you’re loading the front or rear rack, the large double-leg kickstand offers a stable platform for the bike, this is considered a mini-cargo bike and is truly capable, could also work well with a child seat
The motor is efficient and responsive, it measures three signals (wheel speed, pedal cadence and pedal torque) 1,000 times per second so you feel in control, it’s also centered on the frame which keeps the weight balanced
Bosch makes three mid-drive motors (at the time of this review) and the Active Line is their most efficient, smoothest functioning version, it’s perfect for neighborhood cruising but still very capable for climbing and hauling as you pedal along, especially with 7 gears
Being able to switch gears at standstill is pretty neat, it comes in handy when you have to stop at a signal or start on an incline, you get that from the internally geared hub on this ebike and it’s also going to stay cleaner and get bumped out of tune less easily than a traditional cassette and derailleur
The Gazelle NL C7 HMB comes with a cafe lock designed to secure the rear wheel for short in/out visits to the “cafe”
I was AMAZED by the locking headset that keeps the front rack from tipping as you load and unload the bike, be careful transitioning from loading to riding and vice-versa however… rememeber to lock and unlock this accordingly while also keeping the bike stable
Apparently Gazelle puts their bikes through a gauntlet of tests including UV fade and salt water exposure to make sure they hold up to a myriad of real-life conditions… I wonder if they ever toss their bikes into the Amsterdam canals? I hear that’s popular with locals :P
All of the cables for shifting, braking and powering the bike are internally routed through the frame to reduce snags and make it look nice
The headlight is mounted below the front rack so it shouldn’t get blocked by cargo, it also aims wherever you steer and can be tilted up or down manually
Clever bell built right into the left grip interface, just twist and it rings! No bulky tacky thing mounted to the bars like on other bikes
The display has a littel Micr-USB port ont he right edge so you could maintain your phone for GPS or a music player or other lights (like holiday lights on the bike for fun!), the bar is pretty big so this is a good place to mount your stuff or maybe a cup holder since there are no bottle cage bosses
This is a heavier electric bike weighing in at around 62 lbs, I weighed it with the the front and rear racks attached to the bike… the lights, fenders and internally geared hub all add to the weight
The front rack is connected to the fork and turns when you steer the bike, this isn’t as sturdy or stable feeling as a headtube mounted rack but their design doesn’t seem to dump side to side as easily as some I’ve seen and it can be more intuitive to see the rack turn vs. not
Rear-rack batteries take up weight that might otherwise be used for cargo and tend to increase frame flex and a sort of “crack the whip” feeling vs. being low and centered, it’s an understandable trade-off to keep the downtube open and make mounting and standing with the bike easier
I didn’t see bottle cage bosses on the top tube or seat tube, you could always get a trunk bag with a bottle holster like this but I feel like they could add these in the future and it would be nice to use with a folding lock, mini pump or other accessory
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