Monthly Archives: June 2017

Inside Gazelle

In an earlier post I described what it was like to be in the big meet and retrofestival Gazelle staged on June 10. During that event it was possible to walk through some of their production facilities, like stores, production line and the paintshop. I took some photos, some not overly in focus because light was low in some spots, and Gazelle were kind enough to permit posting (cheers, Paula!).

I have just adored Gazelle bikes ever since the early eighties when I started wrenching, on a small scale, but nevertheless to earn money, and I found that you need to punish a Gazelle very severly to make it impractical to repair. Clever solutions for common problems (drum brakes and chaincases that insure full functionality of the bike in severe weather conditions, yet can be accessed easily, for instance) have always made Gazelle bikes a favourite of mine if it comes to repairs. Then the eighties and nineties bikes with their stainless nuts, bolts, and handlebars, extremely well built wheels, early adoption of high quality lighting equipment – the list is long.

Not to say that Sparta, Union, and what else there was, weren´t good bikes, but in my opinion Gazelle always had the edge. And, of course, there were those wonderful road and track bikes, but that´s what the earlier post is about.

And there I was, in the heart of it all.

I don´t think much comment is necessary, so let´s more or less speak the pics for themselves.

I personally found the sheer volume of bikes overpowering, but then I´m not too often inside mass producers´ plants.

It seems that no production these days can do without pep talk for the workers, if it makes sense or not. BTW, Gazelle is in Dieren, which is in the Netherlands, not in the US.

Some older parts of the works cleverly integrated into more modern buildings.

Maguras – very tasty.

Of course, you daft computer – it´s a Saturday.

Items to be returned as defective.

Attention to detail – not only in the bikes, but also in production failities.

Oh well…

The last two pics are taken in the paintshop – all powdercoating, of course.

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Gazelle – Retrofestival and New Frame Presentation

Are you into Gazelle? If so, you should have been in Dieren/Netherlands last Saturday because there was a big meet of people who are interested in old (and new) Gazelle bikes. I´ve been a great fan of theirs all my cycling life, starting in the early eighties when I repaired bikes in a bike shop frequented by college students to earn a penny or two finding that Gazelle were of superb quality, until today when I´m privileged enough to own about ten classic Gazelles, from daily riders dating to the 1990s to real collectors´ items. You can find most of them portrayed on this blog. Just key “Gazelle” into the search field top left on the screen.

The reason for organizing the festival was that Koninklijke Gazelle N.V. presented a new racing bike called Champion Mondial, just like the classic frames used to be from the sixties up until the eighties. Also this year it´s their 125th birthday.

The new frame is a curious mix of classic and modern components and techniques and as such carries its name with justice.

It was unveiled by two Dutch cycleracers of yore, Harm Ottenbros and Hennie Kuiper. Both spoke a few words on the small stage erected in the parking lot of the big Gazelle works, and then set off on the new bikes for a ride. They were kind enough to sign the poster I had brought on the offchance:

Hennie Kuiper being one of the heroes of my youth, that was good. Here´s a few impressions of the festival terrain:

The whole Gazelle area was choc a bloc with old Gazelle bikes, heavy black Dutch Roadsters as well as sleek racers. I don´t think there were many models unrepresented in that gruppetto.

Weights ranged from super heavy 1930s Roadsters

to a super lightweight track bike and, unbelievably, an actual 753 frame:

Some of the oldest Gazelle lightweights, purported to be that early that they were built at Eroba and not at Gazelle, were also there, only space was cramped and photography next to impossible.

The blue “race” model is just a run of the mill 531/Nervex Professionnel frame of course, a bit old fashioned even in 1966 when it must have been made. Its being the oldest surviving Gazelle lightweight, however, is what it makes so special. The bike is kitted out well, French mostly, and is really great all in all. I spent nearly a quarter of an hour next to it.

There also was a ladies light tourer of the same age – another great bike.

More details of some bikes, from wonderful

… to rough and ready.

The cutest bike at the whole festival must have been this kid´s racer:

After some time the whole group of about 250 participants set off for a ride of either 25 or 50 kms through the beautiful landscape surrounding Dieren.

The crowd at registration

The climax of the ride must have been the crossing of the river Ijssel on ferryboats.

“Don´t pay the ferryman / until he gets you to the other side” – ha, funny, great joke. The lucky participants of the ride had received a red plastic chip at registration (or somewhere else) which was taken in payment by the ferry crew, but we unlucky ones who had not been told there were red plastic chips had to pay our own ways – before the boat set out. Oh well, it wasn´t that expensive, and on the way out we were even invited by some very friendly people we had met on the way.

Had I known that also other brands than Gazelle could take part,

I would have ridden my wonderful RIH and not the much too small AA Special Gazelle equipped with C Record. I didn´t feel comfy at all on my Gazelle – small wonder at 6-7 cms too low.

After a very enjoyable ride we arrived back at Dieren and cycled past the old Gazelle shop where the whole affair had started in 1892…

… contrasting starkly to the ultra modern new building…

… which actually incorporates an older one.There was the possibility of walking round parts of the factory, and I did take photos, but as I´m not really sure if I can publish them on the net, I´ll ask Gazelle first. So if you still see this sentence in a few weeks´ time…

Lastly there also was the possibilty of taking part in a Guiness world record attempt – the most bikes over 30 years old in one spot, or something, but we really didn´t get idea nor the purpose of that, so we didn´t take part. It was required to cycle 4.6 kms on a bike that was at least 30 years old, and as my son brought our Gazelle track bike for people to look at, and his riding bike was definitively less than 30 years old, there was no chance for us to take part anyway. Here´s the start of the record attempt:

Of course there were some old cars to be found in the parking lot. I didn´t get the chance to snap a beautiful PV 544, but these aren´t bad either:

All in all, the combination of old and new was very appealing, and I would say that the festival was a great success.