- Purpose-built with premium components from a company with over 129 years of industry experience. one of the first two bikes from Gazelle to offer a Gates Carbon belt drivetrain to North American customers. Supported by an outstanding warranty and global network of dealers.
- The belt drivetrain and internally geared hub from Shimano are quiet, smooth, and require almost no maintenance or cleaning compared to similar derailleur setups. Bosch's Active Line Plus motor is also quiet, incredibly responsive, and efficient enough to eke out up to 90 miles from the integrated PowerTube 500 battery pack. Optional Range Boost option adds a PowerPack 500 battery to double maximum range.
- Feature-complete with excellent integrated lighting from AXA and Hermanns, premium alloy fenders that don't rattle at all thanks to expert mounting, and a sturdy rear rack with weight capacity of up to 27kg (60lbs). Basic full suspension with a front monoshock fork and Post Moderne suspension seatpost, highly approachable and adjustable thanks to the step-through frame and wide-angle stem.
- The Purion display is non-removable more basic than other offerings from Bosch. The cafe lock key must be left in while riding, which can be a hassle and easy to forget. No Class 3 or high step frame options, those are only available on the T10+ line which lacks the Gates Carbon drivetrain.
This review was provided free of charge, the test bike was delivered to me in Fort Collins by Gazelle (thanks Shane for driving it up!). 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.
- Gazelle now has four different models in the Ultimate electric bike lineup. Fun fact, the Ultimate line has long been one of Gazelle’s most popular models of non-electric bicycles! In 2018 we covered the first electrified versions, the T10 and T10+, both of which feature ten-speed derailleur drivetrains with a Class 3 speed pedelec for the T10+ only. There’s also the C380 which we covered early this year, which has a Gates Carbon belt paired with the Enviolo stepless CVT transmission. This bike, the C8, is similar to the C380 but instead uses a Shimano Nexus 8-speed internally geared hub, also with a Gates Carbon belt, and costs about $500 less. If these differences are starting to sound confusing, have no fear! You can use our Comparison Tool to see all four of these bikes head-to head.
- The Ultimate C8 (along with the C380 and T10+) is compatible with a Bosch dual-battery setup, sometimes called Bosch Range Extender. An additional bracket is installed on the seatpost tube and the bottle cage bosses are used to mount a PowerPack 500 battery, effectively doubling your range! In this setup both batteries are drained and charged in sync to help them to both wear evenly over time. This setup costs $999 extra and can be pre-ordered with the bike, or added after purchase at an authorized Gazelle dealer. Note: This is only available on the 53cm and 57cm frame sizes.
- Gazelle hails from the Netherlands where cycling is a major part of the culture, and they have received Royal Dutch recognition for their positive environmental impacts, excellent employee treatment, and for making high quality bicycles – now for over 127 years! Cycling in the Netherlands means lots of exposure to moisture and salt, so all Gazelle bicycles are built to withstand sustained use in harsh environments.
- $3,500 is a serious investment, but you get a whole lot of ebike for that price tag. The C8 is feature-complete with excellent accessories, and virtually all components are electric-bike-specific, designed to handle the higher speeds and force from the motor. Gazelle also provides an excellent warranty with two years of comprehensive coverage, five years for the suspension fork, and ten years for the frame! A global network of dealers makes it easy to capitalize on that warranty, not to mention the benefits of being able to actually test ride a fitted bike before purchasing it, options that aren’t available for many of the more affordable direct-to-consumer brands.
- Flawless integrated cabling and premium satin paint make for a sleek and refined appearance, I like the two-tone look of the PowerTube battery mounted in the downtube – and I also love that Gazelle places it on the top side of the downtube, this feels much more secure and eliminates the possibility of the battery dropping out even if you don’t fully lock it into place. The charger port is placed high up near the head tube where it isn’t likely to tangle with the cranks, and the bottle cage bosses are located on the seat post tube, a great out-of-the-way location that won’t interfere with removing the PowerTube battery.
- The AXA Defender cafe lock is a basic anti-theft measure, it operates by inserting a steel bar through the rear wheel spokes, designed to prevent someone from jumping on and riding away… granted, it won’t stop someone from carrying it away, or throwing it in a truck, but even then the cafe locks can be a real pain to remove due to their frame integration. There are no quick-release skewers on the seatpost or the rear wheel either, making those components more difficult to nab at the bike rack. The key-to-like system means you can use the same key for the cafe lock and to remove the battery – a nice perk!
- Full suspension is done in a minimalist way here with a suspension seatpost from Post Moderne and a monoshock suspension fork, each with 40mm of travel. These provide adequate comfort for city riding, and the suspension seatpost can be adjusted for preload when removed from the seatpost tube, so that you can dial it in appropriately for your weight. The Schwalbe tires also have a good volume of air and a nice low attack angle which helps to further smooth out bumps in the road.
- The step-thru frame and geometry make for an exceedingly comfortable ride, with the adjustable stem able to accomodate an upright relaxed seating position, or a more forward and aggressive one if that is your preferred style. The Loire Gel saddle from Selle Royale is wide, extra soft, and will be a real butt-saver on longer rides. The stitched faux leather grips are a nice touch, they feel great on the hands with a good amount of padding that helps to dampen vibrations, and they’re locking!
- Stellar braking performance from Shimano’s hydraulic disc brakes with a 180mm rotor up front, 160mm in the rear – remember, up front is where most of your stopping power is concentrated. The dual-piston calipers are more than sufficient although not as beefy as the quad-piston calipers on the C380, although I thought those ones were a bit overkill. In any case, I am a huge fan of hydraulic brakes vs mechanical (which require more maintenance due to cable stretch, and require more force to actuate).
- The sturdy and functional rear rack is mounted well, positioned so that the saddle can be fully lowered without the two colliding as happens on many bikes. There’s a small bungee clip on the top of the rack for easily strapping down a jacket or small bag for quick trips, and latch points low down on each side for tying on other cargo or securing pannier bags. The weight limit is 27kg (about 60 pounds), slightly higher than the standard 25kg seen on most bicycle racks
- The C8 is rocking the latest edition of Schwalbe’s excellent Energizer Plus tires, they are ebike-specific (rated for 50 km/h) and made of a rubber compound called Addix-E, which is also ebike specific and intended to provide better durability and grip at high speeds. These are hybrid tires, the center is smooth with low rolling resistance, while the edges have a grippy diamond pattern to help maintain traction while turning and on loose surfaces. They also include top-notch puncture protection, double appreciated here as changing a flat on the rear tire would be a big hassle thanks to the sliding dropouts and drivetrain setup.
- I really appreciate Gazelle’s attention to safety on all of their bikes, their accessory choices and positioning are some of the best in the industry with regard to maximizing visibility. Bright reflective stripes on the tire sidewalls and side cutouts on both the head and tail lights provide excellent side visibility. The rear light is positioned far enough back and down that rear rack cargo shouldn’t obscure it, and is quite bright with four separate LEDs. The headlight is also powerful with 50LUX of output, positioned high and center where vehicle drivers can more easily see it, this positioning also lets it turn with the handlebars (as opposed to some lights which are mounted to the frame or a front basket). Of course, both lights are integrated to draw power from the main battery, and they automatically turn on with the display.
- Premium alloy fenders provide full coverage for riding in bad weather, I want to call out how well they’re mounted with extra supports connecting to the frame and the rear rack. This results in a quiet riding experience, I didn’t even notice any fender rattling when riding offroad on some bumpy terrain!
- The latest-and-greatest version of the Bosch Active Line Plus motor is smooth and quiet, and incredibly responsive as always. Bosch motors read torque, rear wheel speed, and pedal cadence, for a total of over 1,000 readings per second, with instant response when you start and stop pedaling. This is a great motor for cyclists who are a bit more active and want more exercise with less electric assistance, and it feels perfectly smooth to ride with the motor turned off (compared to earlier generations which had some drag). This is a very efficient motor with up to a 90 mile range when riding in ECO, and since it is a mid-drive it benefits from the mechanical advantage of lower gears, making it easy to tackle steep hills.
- The Purion display is one of my favorites because it’s simple, out of the way, and it gets the job done without any distractions. These are tough little displays with a grayscale LCD that’s very easy to see in any lighting conditions, and the buttons for changing assist levels are large and easy to operate even with gloves on.
- The Gates carbon belt drivetrain is just plain awesome. These belts are much stronger and more durable than standard bicycle chains, as well as requiring almost no maintenance – say goodbye to constantly cleaning and lubing your bicycle chain! The belt drive setup is also virtually immune to derails. While it certainly adds cost compared to a traditional derailleur setup, I think it more than pays for itself in the long run.
- Since there’s no derailleur or cassette for shifting gears, all eight of them can be found inside the Shimano Nexus internally geared hub in the rear wheel. If you haven’t ridden a setup like this before, it will take some getting used to, as it’s better to stop pedaling to shift gears. You CAN still shift while pedaling but this may cause some gear mashing and wear on the drivetrain, so it’s best to get into the habit of pausing pedaling whenever you shift. I love being able to shift gears while at a standstill, especially when I stop on a hill and realize that I forgot to downshift while decelerating… the internally geared hub makes that a non-issue. I found the twist-grip shifter on the C8 worked great, and the hub has the same effective range as an 11-36 tooth cassette, a nice wide range that will perform great for all city and trekking uses.
- The included charger is the upgraded 4amp “fast” charger, which will decrease charging time while still being compact and lightweight at 1.7 pounds, easy to carry in a backpack.
- The weight of 54 pounds is fairly average for an ebike, but the C8 carries that weight very well. The step-thru frame design and battery mounting position help to keep weight low and center, and overall the bike feels quite nimble when riding. I also appreciate the kickstand placement to the rear, this helps keep the bike stable when parked with cargo on the rear rack… as well as preventing pedal lock when maneuvering with the kickstand down!
- I appreciate the added safety from the cafe lock, but I don’t like having to leave the key inserted when riding. It can be easy to forget the key in the lock (and then someone could make off with your battery), and it prevents leaving the key on your keychain… unless you want all your keys jangling about while you are riding. A good low-tech solution is to keep the key on a small carabiner that you can easily detach and re-attach from your keychain.
- The setup here is fairly basic, there’s no way to adjust the front fork suspension, and while you can adjust the Post Moderne seatpost it isn’t as high-performing as some competing products that have more travel and more dynamic movement. Don’t get me wrong, having included suspension is great! Just be aware that if you want to do some offroad riding or your commute involves lots of rough roads, the included suspension might not be sufficient.
- The Purion is the most basic display available from Bosch, so it’s non-removable and missing a lot of the features found on other Bosch displays such as the Kiox, Intuvia, and Nyon. Some of these features include Bluetooth for smartphone integration, USB ports for charging devices or powering additional lights, and more ride metrics. Of course, those extra bells and whistles aren’t necessary for riding, so I think the Purion is a great fit for riders who just want to get from point A to point B.
- No quick-release skewers for the seatpost or the stem which means adjustments are more time-consuming and require tools to complete. This can be a hassle if sharing the C8 among multiple differently-sized family members. Of course, the positive side of this lack of convenience means less of a theft risk, as all of these components are fairly high value, and would be tempting for thieves when the bike is parked in a public area.
- The Active Line Plus motor can only handle a pedal cadence of up to 105rpm, so if you like to stay in lower gears and cycle at a high cadence, you may find yourself exceeding the limits of the motor on a regular basis. This particularly applies to riders who have knee sensitivities and need to avoid the higher pressure requirements of the higher gears.
- There is no speed pedelec option for the C8, or for the C380 for that matter. This means that if you want Class 3 speeds of 28mph, you’ll have to go with the Ultimate T10+. The T10+ is also an excellent bike, but it lacks the fantastic Gates carbon belt drivetrain that is found on the C8 and C380. As a rider who loves the belt setup AND loves riding at higher speed, I would have a tough time picking between the two!
- I’ve mentioned how hassle-free the belt drivetrain setup is, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll never need to do maintenance or repairs. The rear frame has a complicated sliding dropout setup with a modified right chainstay, and the belt drive plus the internally geared hub further complicate things in that area… which means that removing the rear wheel for any repairs will be a difficult endeavor, definitely not something you’d want to do on the side of the road. The C8 has amazing tires and great components so roadside repairs are an unlikely scenario, but for long-distance treks I would probably opt for the T10 or T10+ due to the relative simplicity of their derailleur drivetrains.