Gazelle, epowered by Bosch is a range of electric bikes in the tradition of the Royal Dutch Gazelle bike so loved by the Dutch since 1892. These bikes exude craftsmanship and quality that is so hard to find in a mass-produced bike.
So, it made sense for Gadgeteer Erik who hails from the Hague and has a Gazelle back home, to do the review. Erik is a tall, athletic, 30-something and probably the last thing he needs is an electric bike to supplement his fitness.
Before we get into his review, let’s look at the electric bike and some of its options.
What is a Gazelle?
Gazelle (Australian website here) means it is one of several Gazelle designs powered by a mid-mounted Bosch electric motor. The motor is attached directly to the pedals. It transmits power to the rear wheel via the traditional chain and bike gear system. The only other differences to a normal bike are a battery (either mounted under a rear carrier rack or integrated into the frame) and a trip computer.
Frame styles include step-through (mistakenly called a women’s bike) and top bar (men’s bike). For unmatched convenience and accessibility, the step-through design is more popular. Prices range from $3,499 to $5,199.
The difference between Gazelle epowered by Bosch and lower-cost or retrofitted e-bikes is that it is perfectly engineered bike offering a true bike style ride.
You control the level of assistance
The level of assistance is controllable by you. It depends on your level of fitness and perhaps level of laziness.
The motor assists you on hills and to achieve speeds of up to 25 kph (maximum assistance permitted by law). Yes, you can go much faster if you want. A trip computer measures speed, distance travelled, and theoretical battery life remaining (shown in kilometres).
The choice of Bosch motor and battery capacity comes down to the terrain you traverse and the distance you travel. If in doubt get as large a battery/motor as you can.
Most e-bikes have front or rear wheel motors, but Gazelle uses Bosch mid-mount.
Why? Because mid-mount makes it very easy to change a tyre, use standard bike running gear, and feels more natural than front/rear drive bikes. The Catch-22 is they are a little more expensive.
I won’t go on. There are many choices in the type of brakes, gears, chain case, battery design and more.
Gazelle has a full tutorial here. The moral of the story is that Gazelle epowered by Bosch can be customised to your needs. Many lower cost e-bikes are just retrofitted bikes and don’t last the distance.
Review: Gazelle Grenoble C7+ HMB 2018 model
Australian website. Price as tested $4,399 but shop around
The review bike looks like a vintage step-through Gazelle design. It is the favourite model of many Dutchies (both male and female). It is probably the best general-purpose bike in the range. Like Goldilocks – not too hot, not too cold, just right.
But remember there are many Gazelle designs – go to an approved reseller to find what is right for you.
It has a nice finish with:
- Matte black aluminium frame with mirage blue highlights
- Brown, stitched leather hand grips
- Comfort curved handlebar
- Selle Royal Loire two-tone seat
- LED front and rear lights
- Finura enclosed chain case
- Front/rear ‘fenders’ – mudguards
- Rodi VR19 28-inch rims.
- Integrated security lock on rear wheel
- Bosch 3.0 Active Line Plus, 50Nm engine
- Both force and motion centre sensor assistance
- Shimano Nexus seven-speed gears
- Magura Hydraulic front/rear rim brakes
- Dash trip computer
- Bike stand
- 400Wh hour Lithium-ion ‘Gold’ battery
The bike has a premium look in comparison to standard city bikes. And the latter is important – this model is a commuter bike, not a mountain or racing bike. It is a 10 out of 10 for build and quality.
Eco to Turbo – up to you
The supplied 400Wh ‘Gold’ battery has a range of up to 145km (eco mode), 80km (power), 65km (sport) and around 40-50km (Turbo mode). ‘Eco’ helps a little bit. ‘Turbo’ provides the most assistance.
Turbo shows how powerful the little engine is. With very little effort the bike is up to speed (25km/h) in metres and seconds. Riding the bike up-hill is a breeze. It is also the smoothest take-off setting. The bike is responsive without neck snapping g-force acceleration.
If you turn the assistance down, you need more effort. But it still makes a big difference to riding it without any assistance at all (which is also an option).
It is an upright position best suited to leisurely riding and touring. Tyres are a little thicker, and the seat is well-padded and sprung, so it is an easy ride. It handles well, so it is an 8 out of 10 for ride and handling.
Your right-hand controls the seven-speed gears (like any standard bike). Your left thumb controls a three-button electric switch that modulates the amount of electrical assistance you receive (+ or -), plus an info button that toggles through information on distance and speed.
Bosch philosophy is that a bike still should feel like a bike. You start pedalling and the engine assists. There is no adrenalin thumping ‘Tesla’ style 0-25km in three seconds. Assistance takes the effort out of pedalling and allows you to ride up hills you would normally walk a bike up.
The bike feels solid and stable when riding it. The extra battery weight over the back wheel makes it a little harder to ride it without assistance. The cure – use assistance. Remember it is 26kg so its not something you are going to lug out of the back of an SUV. Before you buy make sure you have a safe spot to park it at home and work.
All in all, it is a very good riding experience. Note you can get it in male or female styles from 46-65-inch frame sizes. Weight starts at 26kg.
The 400Wh Gold lithium ion should last at least 500 discharge cycles. There is an optional 500Wh Platinum extended range battery (not tested).
Theoretical range is up to 145km (eco mode), 80km (power), 65km (sport) and around 40-50km (Turbo mode).
Due to a mix-up, we did not get the charger unit. The bike came fully charged, and after a week or so of tests, the battery was exhausted.
The charger operates from a standard 240V socket, and we understand it takes about three hours for a 0-100% charge. Note that some international reviews claim longer time for a full charge.
Note that all ‘Pro and Con’ below refer to the Gazelle Grenoble C7+ HMB. There are several models to choose from to suit different riders.
As far as the ‘bike’ goes, it uses standard bike components, so self-maintenance is easy. Every bike needs checking, cleaning and adjusting every 3-6 months if only to prolong its life.
As far as we are aware the Bosch motor is a sealed unit and has no lifespan limitations. Firmware is updatable by USB.
Gadgeteer’s take – e-bikes are fun and useful
Gazelle e-bikes are a great concept well executed. Although pricey I would definately consider one because theey are so well designed and thoughout.
- Very well built and robust
- Integrated cable management means no external cables to get snagged
- Powerful and relatively silent engine
- The classic Gazelle step-through design (no centre bar) make it very easy to get on and off
- Upright riding position which is very comfortable for people of all genders and ages. Great for longer distances/touring
- Trip computer records speed, trip distance, max speed, etc. and provides information for the engine
- Includes lights, lock, bell, gears, rack and a sprung saddle which make it very comfortable to ride.
- The enclosed chain is good for wearing long pants
- Very easy to get up to speed with using only little effort
- Multiple assistance levels – you choose how much assistance they want to use
- It provides plenty of power without giving the user the feeling he/she is losing control or accelerating too fast
- Walk assist mode if the hill defeats you (provides gentle walk paced assistance)
- I prefer disk brakes instead of the hub/rim brakes. It is a heavy bike, and braking distances are longer than I like
- Quality costs – do many people have $4,399? It may be tempting to get a far cheaper Asian front/rear wheel bike. Still, this is a lifetime purchase
- The top speed assisted speed is 25kmh. Very safe, but not so much fun
- 26Kg is quite heavy
- No regenerative braking charging found on front/rear engine bikes
Who is it for?
- Seniors who want to stay mobile and work on their health at the same time. I know from experience many older people in The Netherlands benefit greatly from these bikes because they can keep on riding them into their late 80s or 90s. The fact that the bike provides multiple assistance levels gives users the opportunity to use it for years and years.
- People that are recovering from an injury who want to get mobile and more active again. They start on the turbo setting and might end up on eco or without any assistance at all as they get fitter by using the bike.
- Businessmen and women. Especially in the warm Australian weather, the bike is a great option for people looking for an active way to get to the office without breaking too much sweat. This e-bike provides you with the opportunity to travel to work (or anywhere else), while breathing in fresh air, helping the environment, getting fitter and not getting sweaty at the same time.
- People living in an area with lots of hills. Riding a bike in a city like Sydney, San Francisco or Vancouver (to name a few) can be a challenge because the amount of hill climbs. With little effort, this bike flies up and down hills.
Who is it not for?
- If you are looking for a traditional bike workout
- Money is a concern
- People who will leave it unprotected (which is common practice in cities like Amsterdam). Because of its appeal and price, the bike will be a target for thieves
It is not fair to rate the Gazelle Grenoble C7+ HMB as it is just one of the Gazelle range.
Being a long-term user of bikes, I would say it’s a premium product at a premium price and will give a lifetime of use. Holistically it is as close to perfect as I have seen meaning if you buy the right model you will have no complaints.