Gazelle displayed their new Bakfiets Cargobike child-carrier competitor. Its called the Gazelle Cabby and its based on the rear frame of their new in 2006 MPB (Multi Purpose Bike), which is a blatant, late and ill-conceived attempt to cash in on popularity of the excellent Batavus Personal Bike, which was introduced about 7 years ago. Just to note: I do work with bicycles but don’t have anything to do with either of these bikes or Gazelle or Batavus.
In contrast to the other recent entries to the 2-wheeled bakfiets category the Gazelle bakfiets is not a shameless copy of the Bakfiets.nl Cargobike. In this regard its refreshing to finally see another bike in the “bakfiets to carry children” category with some original thought.
The Gazelle follows the same basic concept of extended wheelbase with 20″ front wheel, 26″ rer wheel and steering via a linkage under the cargo area. However it also differs in that the box (bak) is comprised of vinyl wrapped around a foldable metal frame. Its definitely not pretty, but the fabric kiddy/cargo area provides some advantages and disadvantages:
- – Can be folded for transport or storage
- – Should be fairly durable in wet environments
- – Safety should be equivalent to wooden box
- – Difficult to adapt and modify, for example in order to carry twin babies
- – More difficult to repair
- – Difficult to decorate or add graphics. Can’t be painted.
- – Vulnerable and unhandy for cargo transport (its really just for kids)
- – Vulnerable for vandalism, a common problem in cities
- – Less environmentally friendly (PVC vs. Wood)
- – Will look used and ugly with age, instead of developing the”patina” of natural materials such as wood.
The Gazelle bakfiets wasn’t yet offered for test rides, but I’ve been riding and designing these bikes for long enough to make educated guesses based on what I’ve seen:
- – The steering geometry is inappropriate for a long-wheelbase load carrier. The bike will require constant attention and adjustment to ride a straight line or cleanly go through a corner.
- – The parking stand is a pathetic thing with two skinny aluminium legs and tiny riveted pivot in the center – nothing at all like the rock-steady, four-point “Stabilo” stand of the Bakfiets Cargobike.
- – The brakes will be spongy and ineffective.
- – The extremely high Maxi-Cosi (baby carrier) holder raises the center of gravity and will make the bike tippy at slow speeds and when stopped. Its also a little scary to hold the baby up where its unprotected by the box.
Note: Its since been pointed out by Gazelle (see comments below) that the MC carrier has two positions: the high one that I saw at Eurobike, and also a lower one that can be used when its not necessary for kids to sit on the bench behind.
All in all, Gazelle is again demonstrating their ineffectiveness in the modern era. They sadly seem unable to produce meaningful innovations or build the timeless, quality bicycles that they were once so famous for. A key supplier to Gazelle recently confided to me that they consider Gazelle “the bicycle for 50-plussers”. Meanwhile long-time competitors Sparta and Batavus of the Accel Group, and a number of smaller makes such as Azor, WorkCycles, Bakfiets.nl and Fietsfabriek forge ahead with smart bikes that respond to the market.
Sorry about the lack of detail photos. I’m sure those will be up on the Gazelle site shortly.