A Bike for Brum

Some of you may know that my son recently moved to Birmingham/UK because he received a grant/bursary for a year´s worth of study at the University there. The problem about taking a decent bike was twofold: Would he need one, and if so, would there be safe storage? Both questions have by now been answered with a yes, the first one because there is not even a student bus pass included in the unbelievable £9.000 yearly fee. Allow me to be a bit unfair: Our local university manages to include a pass for less than €600 total fee per year.XGJdtransf

Anyway, this gave me the great opportunity to go hunting for a trusty steed. Sadly, the first port of call rendered a magnificent bicycle, of my favourite utility bike brand, from the perfect era and in very good condition. I would have loved to visit more bike shops and look at more small ads, but it just had to be this wonderful, ca 20 y-o Gazelle.

XGJfull XGJfullfrontYou will note right away that it has a somewhat shorter wheelbase than a standard Dutch roadster, which makes it a lot nippier. There actually are light alloy handlebar and seat post. I don´t know how Gazelle engineers could bring themselves to use these parts – they make the bike at least 200 grammes lighter. Horror.

But also the wheels are a little more sporty, if I may use this word in a Dutch roadster environment. Hubs (five speed Pentasport with drum brake) have light alloy shells, and rims are of a Westrick profile. To make good for the other light alloy parts, rims are sturdy stainless. Still, I think they are lighter than the usual Westwoods, so riding the bike in a hilly area (England, not Holland) should be pleasurable.

XGJrearhubXGJrimXGJfronthubnutThe last photo brings me to an explanation why I think that the bike is in such good nick and from such a great era: Just look at the hooded axle nut and the mudguard stay end. OK, admitted, the end goes shabby quickly if you´re not careful with it, but still.

As per usual on Gazelles from that time, the bike abounds with places the brand is mentioned on in picture or word from. I have long coveted the idea of staging a competition: Send in the right number of Gazelle sightings on a 1990s specimen and win the bike, but that would be unfair on readers as it would take ages to figure out.

A certainly non-complete list must start with this,

XGJheadbthe beautiful (screen?) printed metal badge.

XGJbrakeleverXGJelasticXGJextensXGJforkleggazXGJheadlampXGJhandlebarXGJmudflXGJmudgmascotXGJrearstaymudg

There was a plastic guard over the part of the stay protecting the little badge. Those are missing on all bikes I know of.

XGJseatclXGJtubestickerAgain, the last pic brings me to an explanation why the great era of Gazelle framebuilding must have come to an end shortly after this model.

It did have an oversized downtube (sporty, remember),

XGJbb:fatdt

but look at this:

XGJbbbottomWelded before brazing – ugh.

The old Gazelle “Kogellager”, press fit ball bearing b/b, was still there, however. René Herse, eat your… oh well.

Also look at this:

XGJbrakebridgeplateSo there are the two stainless bolts holding the carrier rack, and just above them there is a little piece of sheet metal just like a tiny recessed display board – which it used to be, because there was the frame number stamped on older Gazelles. On this bike, expensive stamping has been economized away, and strangely enough the frame number is to be found on the sticker just over the b/b shell. I should imagine that nothing is easier to remove or falsify.

Speaking of the carrier rack: It´s so Dutch. The versions for the German market had a sprung baggage holder and looked completely different.

XGJbaggcarrXGJrearreflBut look at that lock. Massive, and with real keys (both of which are still there). The hole facing you is for a cable loop to secure the bike to some tree or lamp post. The cable can be locked with the same key. However, it had to be bought as an extra and is rarely seen. BTW, noted the box lined mudguards? Not a spot of rust on their edges.

XGJaxalockSomething else which is really nice and useful is the brazed on rear light base, a sign of the more expensive Gazelle bikes.

XGJrearlightIf I´m not mistaken there´s an LED insert with a supercap to carry on burning after this

XGJdynhas stopped in front of a red light. Gimme an AXA HR anytime – just as good as a cheap hub generator. Earth cable, large dia cap for slow turning internals – wonderful. And the way it´s fixed on old style Gazelles:

XGJforklegbrazeonsBraze ons everywhere.

And then the track bike fork crown!

XGJfrokcrJoke, there´s no hole because of the bike having drum brakes. Very useful in Dutch (and British) weather.

XGJfronthubleftAlso this brake (is Fichtel &) Sachs and not the usual heavy Sturmey.

XGJtwistshiftTwist shift for the five speed. Much handier that the old thumb shifter.

XGJreardeassy

 

XGJkettingkrear

The two rear d/o end assemblies. The plastic chaincase is remarkably robust and its small rear part comes off very easily for maintenance or repair of the rear wheel. I must say I found the old fabric covered kettingkast still easier to work on, but there you go.

XGJkettingk

All bolts and nuts are stainless. The lighting cable emerges from the chainstay and vanishes in the mudguard stay after only a few inches. Can be a pita when you´re working on the rear wheel, but is perfect in daily use for anti-snagging purposes. Also look at the Gazelle chain tensioner.

XGJframenostickerDon´t know about royal, but a quality bike it certainly is.

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2 Comments

  1. Craig
    Posted October 31, 2015 at 10:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Well Tony, even 9000 BP is good. Here in the U.S., Germany is always cited as an example of how higher education should be run. My wife and I are trying to figure out how to come up with $22,000 (over 14,000BP) for one year. Our daughter theoretically starts a public university next year.

    • Posted November 2, 2015 at 7:37 am | Permalink | Reply

      Indeed. Have her learn German and come over – it does happen. A friend of mine has just started his “Uni” here.

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