- A feature complete city-oriented electric bike with premium enviolo stepless CVT drivetrain, Gates Carbon belt, and Bosch drive systems. It's approachable, efficient, and extremely quiet! Safety upgrades include reflective puncture resistant tires, extra-bright integrated lights that are positioned perfectly, and durable aluminum alloy fenders. The rear rack design is one of the best I've ever seen.
- Purpose-built step-thru frame offers an extremely low standover height without suffering from frame flex. The downtube-integrated battery and internally routed cables look beautiful. Available in three frame sizes for optimal fit. The adjustable angle stem, swept-back handlebar, and shorter wheelbase provides an upright "dutch" ride position that is comfortable and functional for spotting traffic.
- Custom bladed fork includes a 40mm monoshock to minimize stress and strain on wrists, arms, shoulders, back, and neck while riding on chopping terrain. The included suspension seat post offers adjustable preload, the large Selle Royal saddle is super comfortable, even the grips are upgraded to soft faux leather with an ergonomic shape and lockers to stay secure.
- The continuously variable transmission hub adds ~4lbs of additional weight compared to a traditional derailleur and cassette. The 500 watt hour battery is decent, and they do include a four amp fast charger, but they didn't go for the highest capacity battery from Bosch for this model... probably so they could make a small frame with shorter reach. The key cannot be removed from the frame lock when riding, so you have to lock it each time you stop. The Purion display offers limited menus, does not include USB charging, is not removable, and is not compatible with Bosch ebike apps.
This review was provided for free, but Reckless Shipyards supplied a temporary demo bike for me to test. My goal is to be transparent and unbiased with you, this video and writeup are not meant to be an endorsement of Gazelle products. I welcome your corrections, additions, and feedback in the comments below, and the Gazelle electric bike forums.
- Although I do not speak to this point in the review, I believe that Gazelle will be launching a range extender option where you can purchase a Bosch PowerPack 500 and mount it to the seat tube (where the bottle cage bosses are) to double the range of the bike. This would greatly extend range and transform from a city commuting platform to a trekking touring platform. I do not know if it has to be done at time of purchase or how much it would cost.
- Gazelle is a Dutch bicycle company with a rich heritage dating back to 1892. They earned national recognition based on their product quality, employee treatment, and sustainable practices receiving the “Royal Dutch” honor in 1992 after 100 years of operation. In the Netherlands, where Gazelle is based, cycling is an integral part of the culture and many people do not own a car. Bicycle ownership per capita is higher than anywhere else in the world, and this article includes some fascinating statistics if you’re interested in learning more. All this is to say, they scrutinize the little details and are very hands on with their development and testing. Their bikes use stainless steel hardware to prevent rust, have multiple layers of paint and UV protection to last longer, and are accessorized with the highest quality drive systems and components including Bosch.
- The Ultimate bicycle was one of Gazelle’s more popular models in years past, but it was only available as a non-electric bike. As of this review, they now sell an “Ultimate” line of ebikes including the C8 (utilizing an 8-speed Shimano Nexus internally geared hub), the C380 (utilizing the enviolo stepless trekking groupset and a Gates Carbon belt), The T10 (with a 10-speed Shimano Deore drivetrain), and the T10+ (with an upgraded Shimano 10-speed and faster Bosch Performance Line Speed motor). Note that the internally geared hub version of the Performance Line Cruise motor cannot be upgraded to eMTB mode the way that the derailleur version of the motor can. It does offer backwards pedal chain cycling, which is handy for drivetrain maintenance and lining up the belt.
- A few side notes about this bike: they designed the frame with a shorter length and more upright geometry with matching steer tube and seat tube angle, the seat post connects to the seat tube using a 27.2mm to 29.8mm shim which is kind of unique, the bike always starts in assist level “off” vs. remembering your last setting and you can use the power button on the display or on the battery pack, if you find that the display isn’t working properly then try power cycling the bike using the on/off button on the battery pack (this has helped me in the past when it appeared that the display was on but I could not change assist levels by clicking the up and down arrows).
- The Gazelle Ultimate C8 and C380 are two of my favorite electric bikes on the market right now if you’re looking for a city, commuter, or trekking model. This is because they have approachable frames available in three sizes, offer two color choices, feel comfortable, ride extremely quiet, and are sold through shops that provide fitting and post purchase support… Gazelle offers a two year comprehensive warranty (supported by Bosch and enviolo for the C380) and a ten year warranty on the frame! You can just tell that the little details were scrutinized and chosen well when you see the bike, take the battery pack off, see that there’s a memory foam pad at the base to reduce rattling noises, notice the additional supports for the fenders and rack, and ride through choppy terrain to hear how solid and quiet it actually is.
- To make this frame work with the Gates Carbon belt drive system, they had to design a break in the frame (on the right seatstay). This adds a bit to the cost and could compromise load capacity and frame stiffness if done improperly. From what I experienced, it was done well and the result is a super durable, clean, and quiet belt solution vs. a chain.
- For me, the updated Bosch Performance Line motor and controller systems (used on this ebike) offer the perfect blend of power, efficiency, and low noise. It offers up to 65 newton meters of torque and provides 120 pedal strokes per minute of support (pedal RPM) compared to the Bosch Active Line Plus used for the Gazelle Ultimate C8 which only offers 50 newton meters of torque and 105 RPM.
- Just like all of the current generation Bosch mid-drive ebike motors, this one measures rear wheel speed, pedal cadence, and pedal torque over 1,000 times per second! The controller is capable of sensing shifting tension and is designed to ease off on motor power output to reduce mashing. This is less relevant for a CVT compared to a cassette and derailleur, but still impressive and unique to Bosch vs. Shimano, Brose, or Bafang.
- Along with the beautiful motor integration, the battery pack is also done well. I appreciate that they chose the top mounting pack but still use the security lock so it won’t tumble out. The plastic shield cover is lightweight and blends in pretty well with the dark blue frame. Overall, it isn’t too heavy and the charging port and key ports are both up high so you don’t have to bend over too far to engage with them. Motor and battery weight are both kept low and center for improved stability and handling.
- Even though the display is small and has some trade-offs that I’ll discuss in the cons section further down, it is fairly easy to read and interact with. The bike boots up quickly and has a nice range estimator feature to help plan trips, which is much more useful than the five bar battery charge level infographic. I love that the bike comes with the faster 4 amp Bosch charger, and that it’s fairly compact and lightweight at just 1.7lbs.
- I love the reflective tires and integrated lights. Gazelle chose a four LED Herrmans rear light that is partially surrounded by metal from the rack itself. This keeps it from breaking if you bump into a wall or take contact at a bike rack. Most rear lights only have one or two LED lights in them. Furthermore, the positioning is high up vs. low and exposed on the fender, and has side cutouts. The headlight is also awesome and mounted perfectly. It puts out 50 LUX and shines forward as well as through windows on both sides. The positioning on the handlebar just above the stem helps you be seen more easily by cars. Again, both of these lights run off of the main rechargeable ebike battery as you’d expect.
- The rear rack is excellent, and appears to be fairly custom. It offers above average weight capacity at 27kg (59.5lbs), has a flat top for trunk bags or child seat like the Thule Yepp Nexxt Maxi, features a double bungee with plastic handle attachment for quick and easy use, also has bungee loops at the base (which can be used with some side panniers that clip at the bottom to reduce flapping and bouncing), and the tubing design is close enough to standard gauge that I think many clip-on panniers would work. The rack even supports the rear fender in two places to help reduce rattling noise! It’s the best rack I’ve ever seen on an ebike.
- The fenders on this ebike are also excellent. They’re wide enough and long enough to offer great coverage, they don’t rattle, and they won’t rust because they are aluminum alloy. I also appreciate the minimalist chain cover (belt cover in this case) that matches the look and color of the fenders and other parts of the bike.
- Great wheel choices. The black spokes and rims match all of the other black hardware ont he bike. The rear spokes are a bit thicker to help support the rack. The rims are mid-dish and aero design for aerodynamics (like the bladed fork). Gazelle spent extra for name brand Schwalbe Energizer ebike tires rated up to 50km per hour (30mph) for stability. They use premium ADDIX rubber, have puncture protection, and are 1.75″ wide for improved stability and comfort with extra air volume. The large 700c (28″) wheel size delivers a lower attack angle that smooths cracks and other bumps in the road.
- Hauling gear, riding for extended periods and at speed, riding in the rain… this calls for nice brakes. The Ultimate C380 comes with upgraded Shimano hydraulic disc brakes with a larger 180mm rotor up front. This improves leverage for stopping (smoothing it out, requiring less hand effort), and also cools faster. The rear 160mm rotors are adequate, but both calipers use four pistons (quad piston) for greater surface area and more even brake feel. They require less hand effort and both brake levers offer adjustable reach. Both levers are two or three finger design which means you can actuate them with just a cuople of fingers and use the others for steering and simply holding on. These are the type of brakes I’d normally see on a mountain bike.
- The padded, faux leather, locking, ergonomic rips used on this bike are excellent. I didn’t see a logo on them so they may be custom for Gazelle. They look beautiful and function very well. They are some of the best stock grips I’ve tried on any ebike in a while.
- The suspension seatpost, suspension fork, and medium volume tires combine to offer a good amount of comfort. The saddle is fairly large and super soft and comfortable. I appreciate that the location of the seat isn’t set too far back, which could obstruct and limit the rack. When you add the adjustable angle stem, it all works well and can accommodate many types of riders. I suggest swapping the suspension seatpost for a rigid 27.2mm seat post like one of these to achieve the lowest standover height (for petite riders).
- Sleek and beautiful visual appearance thanks to internally routed cabling, premium satin paint with tasteful minimal accents, and the flawless integration of the PowerTube battery into the downtube. The kickstand choice was superb, as it is positioned clear of the left crank arm (so it won’t cause pedal lock), and offers tool-free adjustable length fo the bike will be stable in many parking situations. I also appreciate the bottle cage bosses on the seat tube here, some ebikes completely skip them, but it’s a nice option to have if you can design around the battery and not compromise frame strength or seat post positioning options.
- High-value Ebikes such as this can be a target for theft, so I appreciate that Gazelle has taken some measures to help prevent it from happening. There is no quick-release skewer on the seatpost or rear wheel, and the bike comes with an AXA Defender cafe lock. These locks function by sliding a steel bar through the rear spokes, preventing someone from riding off on your bike if you’re making a quick stop somewhere. They could try to pick it up or drag it, but at 63.4lbs, that will be difficult and time consuming. AXA also has a chain accessory that can wrap around a solid object and connect directly to the cafe lock (in a hole on the right side of the bike, where the slide lever is) for more security. As a bonus, the key for the included cafe lock is the same key used to unlock and remove the battery from the downtube, so you don’t have as many things to keep track of ;)
- Even though this ebike is $4k USD, I feel like it offers great value. It should last, will definitely ride comfortably and handle most types of terrain and weather, and comes with excellent support. Great job.
- Weighing in at 63.4lbs, this particular version of the Gazelle Ultimate is 5-6lbs heavier than some of the other Gazelle models that I’ve reviewed in the past. The enviolo stepless continuously variable transmission (CVT) hub contains traction fluid and metal orbs, which adds weight. The metal fenders, rack, suspension fork, suspension post, and lights all contribute to the weight as well. Consider removing the 6.9lb battery before lifting and transporting on car racks.
- The enviolo NuVinci CVT hub system used here is using a more basic twist shifter mechanism that does not include an indicator window or LCD readout system. This means that you won’t know what “gear” the bike is in when you start riding and instead, you have to kind of twist and guess. NuVinci does offer a little infographic readout and electronic display for some of their other models, so I guess this one is designed to be less expensive and maybe more durable or reliable? It’s just more basic and leaves you guessing a bit.
- The key for the cafe lock must be left in the lock when it is unlocked (presumably when you’re riding). This means that you should probably lock it whenever you stop, so nobody locks it and steals your key. This adds an extra step and just annoys me. Some other frame locks from ABUS do not require that the key be left in. Furthermore, if you’re riding around with the key left in the AXA lock here, it could cause some noise and snag points if you have a keychain with other keys… if not, then you’ve got a single key that would be easy to lose whenever you lock the bike. It’s madness, lol!! A possible solution to this is to attach a small carabineer to the key so that it can be easily connected to a keychain when removed.
- The suspension seatpost from Post Moderne is pretty basic, even though it’s a brand that I recognize and does have preload adjust in the base. The ride experience for me was more abrupt when the seatpost activated… it wasn’t as buttery and smooth for all of the little bumps, it has more stiction when sliding up and down and sort of locks in the up or down position. Perhaps that would change based on rider weight, age of the post, and temperature outside?
- The suspension fork looks beautiful and probably saves weight compared to a more traditional double-stanchion design, but it only offers 40mm of travel and is not adjustable. You cannot adjust compression, preload, or lockout as far as I can tell. For some heavier riders, it may bob when pedaling and could even bottom out on hard hits.
- I feel like this electric bicycle is marketed as a trekking or touring solution, and I’ve categorized it as such, but with a single 500 watt hour battery pack I feel like range would be more limited than competing products with the Bosch Powerpack 625 or double battery option. The Performance Line motor is super efficient, and you can bring the fast 4 amp 1.7lb charger fairly easily, I just see this as more of a commuter and city bike than a cross country trekking model.
- The lack of a quick-release skewer for the seatpost means that adjustments are more difficult and time-consuming, requiring you to keep some tools handy. This can be especially annoying if you share this bike with a differently-sized family member and need to adjust the seat and stem on a regular basis. Of course, the trade-off here is that the upgraded suspension seat post saddle is less of a theft risk. Interestingly though, the front wheel does use quick release… so that is a theft risk.
- The Bosch Purion display is not removable, offers limited readouts, lacks a USB port for charging personal electronics, and is not Bluetooth compatible for use with the Bosch smartphone apps. You can find some of these other features on the Intuvia, Kiox, and Nyon models which you can pay a shop to install for you here, since Bosch has an open system. All things considered, the small and basic Purion display is nice on this bike because it leaves the stem area clear for the light to be mounted up high on the handlebar, which maximizes your visibility and safety.
- Areas to consider upgrading are the suspension seatpost (consider Suntour NCX, Thudbuster, Kinekt, or ShockStop from Red Shift Sports), as well as the pedals (consider Wellgo magnesium platforms with wider surface and better traction, they come in multiple colors) for wet or snowy conditions.
- This is a minor complaint, but I had to spend extra time and focus when re-inserting the battery charging port cover. I feel that some other companies have done a better job creating a solution for this and it’s a low hanging fruit for Gazelle to fix. It would also be nice if both the charging port and battery lock were on the right side of the frame and enable the pack to be put onto the bike without using the key.