A little while ago a new position became available in my fleet and I knew it was time to get myself a comfy town bike as none of my other bikes fit the role of relaxed cruising around in regular clothes.
Being of a contrary nature I opted against the available Pashley and Raleigh Roadsters for no particular reason and bought a single speed Gazelle Toer Populair with coaster brake. I would have liked a 3 speed but for a couple of reasons 1. It was £250 more and for less than half that amount I can change the hub if I ever really feel the need to move up. 2. For 2012 Gazelle have stopped making the mens three speed with coaster brake and I really wanted a coaster brake as I think it suits the cruising style.
|Gazelle Toer Populair finds a new fan|
- Remove axle bolts
- Remove rack supports
- Take off as much of chain guard as possible
- Unscrew chain tensioners
- Unscrew coaster brake
- Push wheel forwards and take chain off sprocket
- Pull wheel backwards and unship chain from axle and drop wheel out
- Then get it all back together without forgetting where all the washers went
|Brooks B67 Aged Saddle|
|Nori-San cork grips|
|Axa Defender Lock|
|The little clip holds the stand to the rack strut|
I can't remember ever having sat on a roadster type bicycle before and the first impression was, "Damn, that steering is light, and that front wheel is a long way away!" After a few yards it was no problem.
|Really good stretchy straps|
|Front mudguard detail|
|Fork crown cover|
|Front drum brake|
I have a variety of bikes from all out road, to CX to Shopper, but none of them is anything like this to ride, and that was kind of the point for me. On the other bikes you are always leaning forward, a bit or a lot, nose pointing down, weight on your palms, the Gazelle is a totally different animal. You sit up, way up, in a way that most people under 40 in the UK have probably never experienced a bike. Get the wheels turning and it glides along smooth as silk, of course it takes a bit of effort to build up speed, but once up to speed the momentum of that weight and centrifugal force of the wheels lets it roll along at 12-15mph almost effortlessly on flat ground.
The 635 x 40 (or 28 x 1 1/2 if you will) Delta Cruisers are lovely and smooth my CX has 35s with small knobbles and other bikes have 23s or 25s at 100+psi, so a 40 road tyre with <60psi is a further revelation, no crashing around, no vibration, no tyre noise. The combination of tyre, steel frame, Brooks saddle and 22kgs manages to damp out all unwanted stresses yet the steering still inspires confidence.
Add in the practicality of fully enclosed chain, full mudguards, skirt/coat guard, big rack, straps, lock, lights and stand and it fulfills most of my daily biking needs and does so with no small degree of aplomb.
That's the practical and physical side covered, but how does it really feel... You're sat high up, you're facing ahead not down, you can look at the world again, lay back and cruise, smile at girls, wear regular clothes, leave the road warrior red mist at home and enjoy the ride. The only thing I can think to compare it to are three things I can't compare it to because I've never been in any of them, a Range Rover for the view, a Rolls Royce for the stateliness or if you're a motorcyclist something like a Honda Goldwing. In fact it is so composed and nonchalant I am sure had the need arisen Major Carlyle would have commandeered one on his Dutch vacation.