BIKE TEST: GAZELLE ARROYO C8 HMB

Graceful and powerful bike from the Netherlands

Royal Dutch Gazelle has been making bikes since 1892. The “Royal” title was awarded to them by Princess Margriet on their 100th anniversary in 1992. They pride themselves on making great bikes, and their philosophy is that the better your bike is, the more often you’ll ride it.

After assembling the Gazelle Arroyo, we immediately noticed the attention to detail put into the bike’s construction, and sure enough, our first inclination was to get out and ride it!

The beefy rear rack can carry all your groceries, and the extra coverage of the pannier guard will help keep your cargo and you from getting wet or getting into your wheel. The drivetrain is completely enclosed to help keep it clean and reduce maintenance, as well as keeping your shoelaces and pant legs safe.

THE BIKE

The hybrid-oriented Arroyo is available with either a low step-through or traditional double-diamond frame. Small-bump compliance is aided by the suspension spring fork and seatpost. The aluminum frame is stiff, and the Schwalbe Energizer Plus tires are e-bike-specific and certified for traveling at up to 50 km/h (31 mph) and can handle up to 85 psi. That high pressure means two things: low-rolling resistance but high transfer of energy from the road to the rider—the reason the suspension is so important.

The bike comes with a built-in cafe lock and unusual hydraulic rim brakes from Magura. Those brakes work very well.

The bike is powered by a Bosch Performance Line motor with the 500-watt-hour battery mounted into the rear rack. Ample fenders protect it and the rider from water splashes, and the rear fender has a clear plastic pannier guard to provide added protection. The front fender has a powerful, integrated headlight, which always points in the direction of the front wheel. This enables you to see better, and it can be fine-tuned as to how high or low it’s pointed. They have adjustability on everything on this bike!

The stem is set up to be adjustable without tools, which is handy on long rides if you want to change your riding position. Conversely, the seatpost clamp is not a quick-release type, requiring an Allen wrench to adjust it. Most hybrid riders won’t change their seat height once it’s set, so this makes sense for anti-theft purposes.

The bike’s price belies the quality of components here, using a Bosch Performance Line motor and Miranda cranks.

This is the first bike we’ve seen that uses Magura hydraulic rim brakes. It’s an unusual choice, especially in this age of disc brakes. We can’t say much about them other than the fact that they do work very well. The brake levers don’t have any kind of cut-off switch, but with the Bosch system, the motor cuts automatically when you stop pedaling.

By using a Shimano Nexus internal-shifting rear hub, the bike has a clean look and is better protected than a cassette/derailleur combo.

There are so many little details on this bike that speak to its quality—from the Gazelle logo stamped on the fork and the reflectors stamped into the front of the fork for better visibility, the fully enclosed drivetrain, ample fenders, and great fit and finish all the way around. It seems like it should cost more than the $3500 asking price.

There’s enough travel in the Gazelle-branded fork to make long rides less tiring, and it has nice details like the Gazelle logo and reflectors stamped into the front for better visibility.

WHO IT’S MADE FOR

Like any hybrid, this bike is great for commuting, grocery-getting or just for enjoying some fun rides in the great outdoors. It has a large-enough battery to provide great range for long weekend rides and is designed for comfort as well as utility. The motor is plenty powerful with 48 N/m of torque to get you to work without a sweat or give you the extra power you need when you need it.

The headlight is integrated into the front fender, and it is bright!

THE RIDE

Throwing a leg over the low step-through frame is easy. The all-silver Intuvia display lights up when you turn the system on. Once you sit on the comfy saddle, just select the Sport setting, press on the pedal and you’re off with a thrilling 48 N/m boost! The Bosch Performance Line motor is a favorite of ours that has plenty of power and gets you up to near 20 mph in seconds. The torque sensor inside the motor is reading your torque input 2000 times per second and adding electric assist to match it. When you let off the pedals, the motor simultaneously lets off. When you mash the pedal, the motor doubles your effort and you feel like a superhero.

The brakes work really well, but since they are hydraulic, if you ever need to service them, you’ll either need to know how to adjust and bleed them or take them into your local bike shop for that.

The amply padded saddle and suspension post take out the hard bumps and make for a comfortable ride.

Gear shifting is handled by a grip shifter on the right side. It is a little stiff at first, and until it wore in a little, we struggled to get the full range of gears. It’s a cleaner look than a trigger or lever shifter. The gearing is well chosen, and we never ran out of gears on hills or flat, even going flat out.

On the left grip, there’s another twisty piece. It couldn’t be the control for the Bosch system, because that’s a keypad next to it. We twisted it, and lo and behold, it’s the bell! Another very clean setup and nice, unexpected detail. It’s not an especially loud bell, but that’s probably a good idea because you can use it more often to warn others you’re coming up behind them without startling them.

The handlebars have a comfortable sweep and slight rise, and they’re on the narrow side to make lane splitting a little easier. In heavy stop-and-go traffic, the bike easily outruns the other cars, so it’s nice to fit between them at stops to get up in front.

We took long rides and short errand runs, and the battery lasted for days between charges. We never had range anxiety, even on longer rides. Gazelle claims that you could get 100 miles on a charge in Eco. We think that may be predicted if you’re riding in a vacuum on flat ground with a 100-pound rider. The real world has hills, wind, imperfect surfaces, traffic and people who weigh over 100 pounds. And, most of us don’t use Eco. Tour is pretty good, but the whole point of an electric bike is to use the assist, right?

THE VERDICT

For years we’ve always heard about the popularity of bike commuting in the Dutch countries, and the Gazelle is proof positive of just why that would be true. With the high build quality and excellent components, the Arroyo offers a very comfortable, fun ride with amazing attention to detail and outstanding value for the money. We were truly surprised that this bike didn’t cost more than it does.

SPECS
GAZELLE ARROYO C8 HMB
MSRP: $3499
Motor: Bosch Performance Line
Battery: Bosch, 500 Wh
Charge time: 5 hours
Top speed: 20 mph (with assist)
Range: 35–75 miles (tested)
Drive: Shimano Nexus 8-speed internal-shifting hub.
Brakes: Magura HS22 Hydraulic rim brakes
Controls: Bosch Intuvia
Fork: Gazelle Aluminum
Frame: Aluminum
Tires: Schwalbe Energizer Plus
Weight: 59 lb.
Color choices: Brilliant Blue, black
Sizes: 46, 49cm
www.gazellebikes.com


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