As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I had the opportunity to take one of the Gazelle Toer Populairs out for at spin while Vince at the Dutch Bike Company swapped out the studded tires on my Oma. They sell a couple of different Gazelle models, but this one is my favorite. As you can see by the picture below, it’s a typical loop-frame Dutch bike, very similar to my WorkCycles Oma. There are a few differences though, starting with the cream-colored tires.
They come with a Brooks saddle – this one sports one of the ‘aged’ B67s. This style is supposedly softer from day 1 as compared to a standard B67, though I didn’t have a problem breaking in my own B67. The aged version also has that lacing on the sides. I’m told that historically it allowed riders to tighten the laces if they felt the side flairs were too wide. They look nice, and it felt soft.
The biggest difference between a Gazelle Toer Populair and other similarly-configured Dutch bikes are the stainless steel rod-operated drum brakes. The brake-levers up front give Gazelles their distinctive look.
The rod brake lever means that you can engage both front and rear brakes at the same time, with one hand. The levers are placed in a different position than standard brake levers so it was a slight adjustment for me to get used to the location. The placement of the levers and the front light on this bike also mean that it might be difficult to put a basket up front or any handlebar-mounted child seat (like the BoBike Mini +).
The handlebars on the Gazelle are not as wide or swept back as those on my WorkCycles Oma. They’re about 2-inches shorter and I could really feel the difference. To me it felt a little too narrow, but then again, I’m 6ft tall with wide shoulders. It might be perfect for shorter riders. You feel a little more ‘perched’ on a Gazelle than on a WorkCycles bike, or at least I did. I would imagine this is similar to riding a Pashley – which makes sense since Gazelle got it’s start importing bikes from England to the East Indies before it became a bike manufacturer. Notice the huge bell by the way. It’s a true “Ding DONG” bell like the ones you’ll find on the Pashley bikes. It’s got a very unique and loud ring.
Gazelle pays attention to the details on their bikes, and they add little branded flourishes all over the bike to remind you just which bike it is that you are riding. You’ll notice the red bolt cover on the handlebars in the above picture. This red image appears all over the bike. It’s a nice touch.They also add their branding to the skirtguard.
and they’ve added a design to the chainguard as well.
The Gazelle also has a kickstand – a heavy duty stand that keeps your bike stable when loading or unloading. It flips up and snaps to the supports for the rear rack. I can’t say that I have a preference between this style or the double-kickstand on my Oma. Both are made to support heavy dutch bikes when parked and when loaded.
That’s my ABUS lock wrapped on the back of the bike by the way, and I had a bag of cookies strapped down to the rack to take back to the guys at the bike shop.
They have a front dynamo light (rear light is battery-powered) on these bikes but it’s the external ‘bottle’-style dynamo. I will say that aesthetically it looks sharp in all its retro-glory, and fits in with the look of the rod brake-levers. However, I’ve heard they don’t generate as much power to the lights as internal dynamo lights, and I’d be worried that they would get stolen or broken off in Chicago.
Notice the flourish on the top of the front fender, the branding on the fork, and another red bolt cover design on the front wheel. If you didn’t spot the rod brakes you will still definitely know this is a Gazelle bike and not a Batavus or WorkCycle.
All in all, the Gazelle Toer Populair is a great city bike.
- It comes with an AXA Defender wheel lock on the rear wheel like most Dutch bikes do, but you’ll have to add your own study lock as well – a wheel lock alone in Chicago is not enough security.
- This particular Gazelle was the 3-speed model with the 3-speed Sturmey-Archer hub – I would prefer the 8-speed version, and it is available in both.
- It can haul your gear on the sturdy rear rack, and will get you safely through a Chicago winter without a spec of dirt on your clothes.
- It felt a little lighter to me than a WorkCycles Oma, though Vince tells me there is not much difference. Perhaps it’s the thinner tires.
- It’s an upright bike with a slightly more aggressive feel than a WorkCycles bike though it still has that smooth comfortable ride like a Cadillac or other late-model large comfy car.
Go take a test ride and tell me what you think!
Pricing: Gazelles run around $1300-$1400 - though the Dutch Bike Company’s website is selling a couple for $1100. While not a cheap bike, it is less expensive than any of the WorkCycles bikes ($1600-$2100) though more expensive than a Batavus Fryslan or Old Dutch ($700-950).