Thursday, August 12, 2010

Gazelle, My Belle!

With my Pashley Princess having transitioned to a new home, it is time to ring in a new era.

This is my new friend, as well as the reason the Pashley has left me: an older Gazelle I unexpectedly acquired last week. 

This Gazelle is most likely from the mid-to-late 1990s (which, frightening to think, was 15 years ago!). It was made in Holland, purchased in Germany, and brought to the US some time ago by the previous owner. It feels like a modern bike, but handles similarly to a vintage Raleigh DL-1. After riding it for several days, it became clear that it suited me better than either my Pashley or my vintage Raleigh, because it combined my favourite features of both. Thus, the Pashley was set free, and the vintage Raleigh was moved to our photo studio (to replace the Mercier mixte, which has been set free as well). The decision was swift and ruthless, as I did not want to dwell on it too much. The Gazelle is not quite as elegant as the Pashley and not as rare as the vintage Raleigh - but as a transportation bicycle it just suits me better.

This Gazelle is the A-Touren model, which I believe is the predecessor of what is now the Toer Populair. It looks similar to the Toer Populair, but comes with a coaster brake (yes!) and front drum brake, whereas the current model has rod-activated brakes.  

This bicycle is enormous. The frame is 57cm (22.5") with 28" wheels and wide tires, and I am just barely tall enough to get on and off comfortably. In fact, I had to remove the original saddle (which had monstrously huge springs) and borrow the flatter Brooks B18 from my vintage Raleigh in order to ride it. But that is fine with me, as the large frame feels very comfortable. 

Indeed, the enormousness of the bicycle seems to be an asset while cycling. Riding this Gazelle feels like sailing a ship - a huge and initially unwieldy ship that surprises you with its agility and power to accelerate once it is in motion. It sails through flat stretches and then glides uphill once you get it going,  seemingly on its own accord. To be sure, it is a dauntingly heavy bike  - but I do not feel the weight once I am in motion, and it does not pull me backwards when stopped at hill-top intersections. 

Everything in the pictures is native to the bicycle, except for the saddle, the pannier, and the coiled cable lock on the rear rack. It has a (Sachs) 3-speed coaster brake hub that works perfectly, and the gearing is just right for me. The front drum brake is activated by a lever mounted on the right handlebar. The headlight and tail light are bottle-dynamo activated. They work nicely, but eventually we might rig up a system to make the headlight brighter. The fenders, full (vinyl) chaincase and solid (vinyl) dressguards are in excellent condition. The rear fender has not only the white edging, but also the matching Spanniga tail light I so love that was specifically designed for these. The rear rack is enormous and sturdy. It is the only part of the bicycle that shows signs of wear - a small patch of rust where some paint got scraped off. 

What I love about older Gazelle bicycles, is the overwhelming amount of proprietary insignia with a gorgeous Art Nouveu feel to it. This is the headbadge. 

And a tiny badge underneath the tail light. Who does that anymore? 

Tiny gazelles embossed onto the chrome on the flat fork crown! 

A gazelle on the front fender!

A gazelle on the stem bolt.

Even a gazelle on the kickstand bolt! And of course you already saw the gazelle on the bell in the first picture.

Another design feature I love about this bicycle, is the lugged connector between the downtube and the curved toptube. Most manufacturers no longer do this, and I do not remember whether the current production Gazelle frames are still made this way. Anybody have one handy to check? It would have to be a post-2006 model, which is when I think they changed production methods. 

I hope you enjoyed this introduction to my new-to-me bicycle, and I will write more as I get to know her better.  I do not see myself making too many adjustments to this bike, other than eventually replacing the tires with cream Schwalbe Delta Cruisers and maybe getting some nicer grips. I don't think the absence of my Pashley has fully sunk in yet, but I am pleased about the home she went to - they are a beautiful match. Hopefully, I have now met my match as well! Now, to think of a name...

66 comments:

  1. And i was worried you were giving up on upright bikes for road/racing bikes when i saw you putting your Pashley up for adoption!

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  2. That is a BEAUTIFUL bike. Love the details.

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  3. To say I'm jealous would be a bit of an understatement...

    That's a gorgeous bike, one I would love to have myself. In fact, I'm pretty sure at some point, we'll end up with either a Toer Populair or a WorkCycles Omafiets, unless we find something used like this first.

    It looks like the current Toer Populair does still have the lugged connector between the top tube and the down tube on the loop-frame version.

    Have you checked to see if it has the gazelles on the chainring?

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  4. How do you "unexpectedly" acquire a bike? I'm jealous! But looks to be a beauty!

    And I think you should definitely name her with a good quality Dutch name: Marieka, Imke, Liesbeth to name a few that I like!

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  5. It seems they make the rod-brake models for the Netherlands and the 3-,5- and 7 Speed models with drum brakes for export.
    Here is the site of a bike shop in Berlin which tries to transport the feeling: http://zweitrad.de/

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  6. It's rare to find women's bikes that size - I keep half an eye open for ladies' frames in my size and don't have much selection at all - so it is rare for that alone!

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  7. Congratulations- What a great find! (and how nice to not need to rebuild the rear wheel!) I recall you saying that you are built in a short torso/longer leg kind of way, so I can see how the Pashley might never feel just right. (I'm the opposite, so mine works for me.) Cheers!

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  8. JP Twins - My fixed gear roadbike is to blame. I was out exploring on it, when I literally stumbled upon the forlorn Gazelle. Arrangements were hastily made, and soon she was mine. Moral of the story: ride bike, find more bike!

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  9. Wow!!! She is pretty!! I'd have sold something too so I could acquire a bike like that!!

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  10. I love those straight topped handlebars- They seems so prevalent on Dutch bikes, but I've never seen them for sale here- The Albatross is the closest, but it's not the same.

    @JP Twins-
    Trust me, it just starts to happen.
    Next thing you know you have bikes parked in the front hall....bikes squeezed in amongst construction stuff, bikes, bikes everywhere....

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  11. Funny thing: I'm riding around on a 61 cm Gazelle loop frame myself right now, as I crashed on my road bike and broke my collarbone. It's possible that I'd be willing to sell this thing sometime if someone is interested. It has a 7 speed Shimano IGH, integrated bell, skirtguards, wheel lock, etc. Picture of it here:

    http://i353.photobucket.com/albums/r378/Shinyville/gazelle.jpg

    It has some scratches, and the wheels need to be trued, but otherwise it's totally solid. I think it dates from the early to mid 90s.

    --Fluxus

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  12. P.S. I need to move to the Boston area..that seems to be where all the great bikes are located:)

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  13. Mark - No need to worry about that! I would not be able to cycle around town on a roadbike given the clothing I wear, so a proper transport bicycle is a must.

    Fluxus - a 61cm loop frame, that's fantastic! I was just about to reply to Charlotte that I think the 56cm size is the smallest this model came in; the Dutch make enormous bikes.

    Fiona - Yes, Boston definitely has a surplus of lovely bicycles : )

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  14. Fluxus~ Please email me at girlcanbike AT gmail DOT com if you do decide to sell and sorry for hijacking the comments Velouria, because lord knows I need another bike.

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  15. What a gorgeous find! (And how lucky too!)

    A year ago, my husband swore to limit ourselves to one bike each. We are failing at this completely. This is ok, we realize. The bike world is full of lovely surprises. It seems a shame to refuse them.

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  16. Charlotte: Yes, it is difficult for us tall gals to get women's or mixte, much less loop, frames that fit us!

    I have never owned a Gazelle but have always been intrigued by them. They always seemed like the quintessential Dutch bike to me. Plus, they always seem to have nice little details like the ones Velouria has shown us.

    As for giving up the Princess: At first, I was sad when you announced that you were selling her. She was there when I started following this blog about a year ago and was like one of those people you come to know through a pen pal's letter.

    But, we all evolve, in whatever direction, as cyclists. And there are a lot of different kinds of bikes out there. So it's not surprising that you would find that a bike other than the one you had would fit your changing needs and tastes as a cyclist.

    At least she's in a good home.

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  17. Erin: Some promises are made to be broken! ;-)

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  18. Nice. This one really is a worthy successor to
    Eustacia.



    BTW, I've had my Raleigh for 9 months now, and he finally got a name today.

    (It's "Roland". He needs a horn.)

    I'm sure yours will induce fits of nomenclature shortly.

    Congratulations!

    Corey K

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  19. A lovely bicycle indeed... as to names, Tabitha and Dorcas spring to mind- since both mean Gazelle (the first in Aramaic, the second Greek)

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  20. My suggestion for a name would be Jiska.
    (pronounced Yiss-ka)

    A dear friend of the family is so named, and she's a reliable, kind, practical, and quite athletic young lady.

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  21. I think you are starting to experiance the phenomenon that seems to define my cycling life...SO many bikes, bikes that need a new home, bikes that need a foster home and help finding a permanent partner, bikes that need re-hab, bikes that are on the lam and need to lay low somewhere for a while... they find me. It's out of my control. I look at it as a ministry...

    Spindizzy

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  22. Wow! What a lucky girl you are! To find a bike that has the best qualities of your Pashley and Raleigh. And all those wee gazelles...swoon! She is quite a treasure to be sure.

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  23. Ah... now I understand why the Pashley found a new and loving owner. What a gorgeous bike, and how well she combines the Raleigh and the Pashley 'best of's. Is she the 'perfect' bike you've been seeking? She is gorgeous...I like what I see more than the new Toer Populair.

    Names? How many bikes have you had? If this is the 7th what about Saba? That's Swahili for 7 I believe.

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  24. What a gorgeous bike. I think I like the look of the gazelle slightly better than the pashley. That gorgeous head badge definitely seals the deal. I'm a sucker for a great headbadge.

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  25. Was sorry not to have time to chat and drool over her properly when we passed this evening! We just barely made it to our destination before they closed.

    We need to go for a ride with the Lady's Tourist and the Gazelle along some buccolic path so that I can admire her properly.
    Oh, and dibs on "Agnes" for one of my two dames.

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  26. I think the Gazelle's name will be Linda (or Linde, if you prefer the Dutch spelling). She just looks like a Linda to me.

    Re Gazelle vs Pashley vs other bicycles: I just very much want to make it clear that I am not endorsing or even advising one over the other. When I was first shopping for bikes in Spring of last year I did try a currently made Gazelle, and did not like it as much as the Pashley. Maybe the older Gazelles were made differently, or maybe what I did not like was the specific set-up of the bike I tried back then, who knows. Either way, I sincerely believe that different bicycles are suitable for different people, and you just have to choose the right one for you. Some people, like Katie, can tour for over 2,000 miles on the Pashley. Others find it difficult to ride long distance. Some love the Gazelle. Others do not care for the ride at all and prefer a lighter, smaller bike. It's all about finding what's best for you...

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  27. And you really didn't get into the ride of the Bat' Old Dutch last summer on the Cape... Goes to show that bike preference and fit matching together are quite fleeting.

    Personally, I like the aesthetics of the Pashley we (well, you) sold better, but the Gazelle is a charmer. Maybe if we could compare her side by side with a black Pashley of the largest size, then we could decide which is more elegant.

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  28. Very nice! I like it. Wish I had one. I hope it works out for you.

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  29. omg. Stop hating on the Toer Populair brakes. :) It has drum brakes, front and rear, period.

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  30. Hi Fluxus,

    Here's another person interested in your Gazelle. Would you send me an email to patience DOT meliora AT gmail DOT com? I am a girl who rides a 61cm frame bike normally, and I would be super excited to buy this one off you! Thanks, Patience

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  31. LOL. Get in line! Just kidding. :-P

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  32. Always glad to facilitate a brisk gray market trade in Gazelles!

    Herzog - I am not saying coaster brakes are "better", just better for me. So keep your drum brakes and rods and send all those sucky coaster brakes my way!

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  33. Are you sure about the rod brakes? All the current models that I did find online are equipped with either only a coaster brake or a coaster brake and a front drum brake (with cable).
    Great bike, by the way. You have built up an impressive bike fleet.

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  34. Yes, they still have a "connector" between the tubes.
    Here's s my wife's brand new Toer Populair, spec'd for the french market with a nexus 8 and regular roller brakes. That's a 51 cm frame.

    http://lh4.ggpht.com/_BnX47mu3IBs/S_r6ARcYxBI/AAAAAAAAFmk/V4GYf1ESSvU/s800/IMG_4234.JPG

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  35. A few aditional shots here

    http://forum.velotaf.com/uploads/1280766491/gallery_2361_7_788229.jpg
    http://forum.velotaf.com/uploads/1280766491/gallery_2361_7_458013.jpg
    http://forum.velotaf.com/uploads/1280766491/gallery_2361_7_496290.jpg
    http://forum.velotaf.com/uploads/1280766491/gallery_2361_7_306123.jpg

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  36. I have always admired a Gazelle ~ congratulations. I just love the true Dutch bicycles with their distinct handlebars and graceful appearance. I was headed toward a Batavus, but my height worked to my disadvantage in that decision.

    So sorry to see the Pashley go, but you did what you needed to do and I am sure made someone very happy.

    Ride on...

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  37. how to you like the sachs 3-speed coaster brake versus the sturmey archer version on your DL1?

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  38. Truly a beauty. You are lucky to have acquired it. I love my Pashley Roadster Sovereign. But, the detail in the older Gazelle, as you showed us, is something that I'm afraid we will never see again (in newer, but still classic looking, bicycles)

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  39. Cycler -- agreed, the Dutch bars are unique, but you might want to have a look at the Nitto Promenade, Montmartre, or Left Bank bars, over at Velo Orange. They're closer than the albatross bars, anyway.

    V -- I say this only because I'm usually so grateful for your precise English: do look up "enormity." [Insert friendly, just-trying-to-help, non-snarky emoticon here.] At any rate, lovely bicycle indeed!

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  40. It sounds as if you found a combination of Velouria, Eustacia, *and* Jacqueline, now that I think of it. Your reviews of the Sachs gearing on the Waffenrad has always been very positive- more so than the Raleigh or Pashley when you first obtained them.

    Are you going to get another B-18 for the Raleigh Tourist, or try another type of saddle?

    Here's to many miles of comfortable happy cycling.

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  41. Since you hang out in Vienna I will assume you read German. Your hunch about the A-touren is correct: http://www.hollandrad.com/blog/?p=40 It is basically the Toer Populair from the 1980s and 1990s that was made for the German export market.

    So I am a bit surprised that you found it different from the one you test rode last spring during The Selection. Perhaps it is not so much that the bikes have changed but that tastes have morphed? of course test riding a new TP would provide the answer...

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  42. She's gorgeous! I love all the little gazelles everywhere. Nice touch.

    I test rode a dutch bike while back (I can't remember what maker. It wasn't Gazelle) and the handle bars seemed to be enormous. The grips were very far apart, so much so that it made the bicycle feel awkward for me. I wonder if it is possible, and if it would help me, to swap handle bars out and put something more like the Northroads on.

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  43. So glad you found the right bike. It's all about the fit.

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  44. I love this bike. You look so comfortable on it -- it seems spacious in the best way. I, too, love the transport bars.

    I recently rode a friend's Workcycles Oma (wonderful bike) in a size that was generally considered to be too big for me and it felt great. I doubt I'd have experienced much push back in the Netherlands re bike size. I think transport bikes are just supposed to be bigger than we're generally used to here.

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  45. BG - I'd always thought the word had both meanings? But I've changed it regardless; don't want anybody thinking that Linda is of outrageous or heinous character!

    Zweiradler - It's rod-activated drum brakes. For example, see these pictures I took in May 2009. When I was first considering a Gazelle earlier that year, I was told that only the Classic could be had with a coaster brake, but not the Toer Populair. Maybe that's changed? Or maybe it is only this way for the N. American market.

    philippe - Thanks for the pictures; beautiful bicycle and wife!

    somervillain - The Sachs on my Gazelle is considerably better, but it's not a good comparison because we do not know to what extent each hub has seen wear, etc.

    Karl - My husband loves his Pashley Roadster Sovereign as well, thinks it's the best bike in the world and would never trade it for anything.

    Corey - I think I will try a B68 on this one.

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  46. Anon 11:54 - That is a good point and something I have considered. I tried not one but several Gazelles when I was choosing between it and the Pashley. What I remember not liking about the ride: They felt unstable at slow speeds compared to the Pashley, like I had less control of the bicycle. Additionally, it felt like the handlebars somehow did not give me enough space when making turns, almost hitting me in the hips. However, what I tried was the 51cm Classic model and not the actual Toer Populair (which came only in the 56cm size and seemed much too big for me at the time), so maybe these bikes were just too small for me. In any case, if I come across a new Toer Populair again, I will certainly try it!

    Re the handlebars: I am pretty sure that the VO Montmarte and Left Bank bars are the same design, or very close to it.

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  47. I remember really liking the feeling of riding my dad's Raleigh tourist as a kid, it felt HUGE when I was 14 years old. More like a horse than my 20" BMX bike. Your description of Linda's character brought it all back.

    I well remember that feeling you described of it being like a ship, rolling along steadily building speed and becoming more responsive and eager as I steamed along. I got that bike from my Dad after he stopped riding it and now that it "fits" me, alot of that feeling is gone. I still really love that bike and it's not going anywhere, but it does'nt really have that marvelous feeling anylonger.

    I wonder how a 6'2" guy finds a bike that would do that again? Where can I get some 36" wheels and cream tires? Maybe I'll build a giant version of a DL1 that I have to stretch to climb aboard... Three speeds, handlebars a yard wide and a 40 foot logchain to heave overboard for brakes.

    I have your blog to thank for reminding me how neat 3speeds are and motivating me to get my old Raleighs out and working again, now you have me feeling nostalgic for being a little kid on a grown up's bike... If I can re-capture that I'll really owe you one.

    Spindizzy

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  48. Velouria:
    Thanks for pointing me to the photos. I had another look at the Dutch website and now I found out that only the singlespeed versions of the "Tour populair" come without rod brakes. Strange.

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  49. What a thoroughly elegant and graceful bicycle, I am sure it is as much of a joy to ride as is on the eye.

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  50. I love all the little gazelle badges everywhere! The one below the rear taillight is my favourite because it is actually functional. Most bikes attach the mudguard to the stays with washers to stop the mudguard from cracking. Gazelle have turned this little necessity into an art form by replacing plain-old washers with a lovely badge!

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  51. Maybe you know already, but Gazelle actually manufactured many Raleigh bikes that were headed for the mainland European market. It reminded me, because some of the details remind me of my wife's DL-1. And of course Raleighs were similar in terms of having Raleigh emblems all over them :)

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  52. Congratulations for finding a bicycle that is such a good fit for you, and that is also so beautiful and detailed!

    I love Gazelles; I think they make an unbelievably elegant bicycle where the elegance does not compromise utility at all. I almost went with a Gazelle when I was on my hunt earlier this summer, but I think my inseam length is such that it wasn't quite right, and besides, I couldn't get one locally in my size. I did love the rod-operated drum brakes; I found them to be beautiful and intuitively easy to operate no matter where my hands were on the handlebar.

    I do agree about the "sailing" quality of a good Dutch bicycle; it is positively regal. Some have incorporated a few little tricks, if my research is correct (like a slightly higher bottom bracket and the angle of the head tube and fork) to counter the effect of weight and add a little more nimbleness and agility. The sense of solidness and stability when riding in urban traffic is worth a very great deal to me.

    Congratulations again; I hope it gives you many hours and miles of riding pleasure!

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  53. I live in the Netherlands and always wonder why American bicyclesellers only seem to import the very expensive Dutch bikes. If you like this particular model there are cheaper Dutch brands to choose from like this one. http://www.redy.nl/indexe.html (click on `nostalgia` for the classic model)

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  54. Norma - This bicycle was not imported; it is 10-15 years old and was brought to the US by its previous owner.

    I think American stores import the expensive bikes, because importing is already expensive and even the cheaper bikes would cost a lot once these fees were factored in - so may as get the highest quality bikes, so the price seems justified.

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  55. I am Agus Hariyadi Gazelle is really quality bikes , I'm one of the gazelle lovers in Indonesia really appreciates it because I have it (9 series pro ducted 1954 ),On this forum , I will ask to the Gazelle fabric why don't you open the sub dealer in Indonesia ? people In Indonesia are the prospective market .Your gazelle is being hunted by them .Having gazelle bicycle will increase the social statues.Looking forward your toer populair

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  56. Yay a bike twin! Have been reading your blog since i first started cycling in London - actually I think it might've been what first encouraged me to look beyond mountain bikes and scary road bikes.

    Although my A-touren isn't in as great condition as yours, it has lots of the features you mentioned - I kept the original saddle but modified other things, like moving the light to accommodate a basket. Mine has the cream tires; in my opinion they do look better. But now I'm jealous of your Gazelle bell, need to find one of those! Ooh, and I called mine Lucille. She's massive (not sure of the exact frame size) but the weight doesn't bother me at all. That said, I'm on the look out for a nippier bike, just for when I want a sportier ride. Maybe I'll try a fixed now you've demystified them a little!

    I just started a blog (www.thehokeycokey.com) and I'm sure I'll post pics of Lucille when I get going...

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  57. I see Gazelle still offers the emblems as "Nachrüstung": http://www.zweitrad.de/
    The connector between loop and downtube is called a "mannetje" or little man in Dutch; I have no idea why. Only the trade uses this definition.

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  58. "And a tiny badge underneath the tail light. Who does that anymore?"
    I think Dottie can answer that question: http://letsgorideabike.com/blog/2009/09/beautiful-bicycles-my-workcycles-azor-oma/
    But then Azor is also Dutch - but I doubt that they do this on all their bikes.

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  59. Hokey - Thanks for the link, I will check it out! And I agree that the cream tires are better; I plan to replace them as soon as I can afford it.

    Frits - It's nice that they have a name for the connector! I do like the Azor Oma, except for the unicrown fork.

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  60. She's a Dutch beauty. May I make a suggestion for a name? Cornelia. (pronounced Corneelia) An equally beautiful, strong Dutch name. Corry or Nelly for short :)

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  61. hi, this is the beauty old bike ever,

    just share... this is my old Gazelle, 1st series build in 1916: www.GazelleDames.wordpress.com

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  62. wow looks just like my dutch juncker(named junique)It has the sachs 3 speed with drum brakes perfect gearing for a pub bike. I had to buy 12 dutch bikes to get mine he wouldn't sell just one. Gazelle bought out juncker in 1968, mine is in the 50s and just finished a tweed ride in Bellingham Wa. Dean Christensen

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  63. Ohhhh I am still grieving my Gazelle which got stolen last month. I brought her with me when I moved back to San Francisco from Amsterdam 5 years ago and she served me well. Gefeliciteerd met je nieuwe fiets! (Congratulations on your new bike!)

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  64. i own a english postie roadster {28 inch wheels {your GAZELLE looks very very special!!!!

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  65. I have the "man's" version of this bike... exactly like it! Just restored and on the road, the high gear slips to "no gear". Have any ideas where to find info on adjusting the shifter?
    I enjoy your blog, BTW.

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  66. I have a 1980 or 1981 Gazelle Populair Ladies bike. I purchased it when I lived in Holland. It has been in my garage and is in great shape. What is the value of such a bicycle.
    martha

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