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...