Tag Archives: Gazelle

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.

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.