I first saw a blurred photo of the Gazelle Cabby floating around somewhere on Facebook and it really got me curious. Even though I don’t have any children, I’m always interested in the idea of using electric bikes as a form of transport not just for myself, but a trolleys worth of groceries, or maybe my own children down the track.
So when we sat down with Paul from Gazelle Bicycles Australia and asked him about the Cabby, he indicated Omafiets down at Marrickville, NSW had one on their showroom floor, the first one to have been fitted with an eZee kit in Australia. So the following week, we were off to meet Chris from Omafiets to have a test ride of the Gazelle Cabby.
This write up isn’t a review of the Gazelle Cabby, instead it’s purely the first impressions from someone who has never ridden a cargo/freight bike..
The Gazelle name has built it’s reputation on comfort and attention to detail, and the Cabby is no exception. Box bikes, otherwise commonly known as Bakfiets in Dutch are not your typical cargo bikes. They generally feature a wooden box which sits at the front, with the first of these produced around the early 1900’s. Gazelle are the first bike makers to get rid of the box, and instead replace it with a foldable cargo area, a design they have patented themselves.
In addition to the foldable cargo area, you have the option of installing a Maxi-Cosi baby capsule, with the mounting brackets fitted in the cargo area as standard, as well as a rain cover, sunshade, or cargo cover.
The rear rack has a holding capacity of 35kg, and the front cargo area has a holding capacity of 80kg. The cargo area comes with a seat bench and backing which reinforces the front area while it’s opened wide. There’s enough seat belt harnesses for 2 children on a roller coaster, so they’re sure to remain safe if you were to brake suddenly. The same can’t be said for the rider if you happen to go over the handlebars, since the Cabby I’m previewing today is the first to be fitted with a front hydraulic disc brake with a 203mm rotor. A great little modification by Omafiets and Glow Worm. It’s actually hard to imagine not having this on every similar bike this size and weight, but in actual fact many manufacturers typically use v-brakes or mechanical brakes. Just imagine how often you’d be tightening your cables or servicing your brakes, given the weight of cargo bikes.
A full 115kg worth of cargo, plus the weight of the bike at 38kg, is ridiculous to pedal without power, even if you’re on steroids, and so the cabby is fitted with an eZee kit, which completely transforms it. We lose the front dynamo hub because of the hub motor, but instead it’s fitted with a high powered 1000 lumen front head light which runs off the main battery. It comes standard with an eZee 15Ah battery which utilises the same Sony cells we reviewed on the eZee Forza, though it’s a different shaped case. It sort of just sits under the bench in the front cargo area, and even though ours didn’t have the battery pouch, it usually comes with one as standard.
It’s equipped with throttle and pedal assist, though the PAS was disabled on our demo. I was mostly on throttle when riding around the back streets of Marrickville, and it was only when I was going downhill or had enough momentum on a straight when I pedaled without using power. The eZee MK II hub supplied plenty of torque and climbed moderate hills with ease, though that was without anything loaded in the front or back. I imagine this would be different if it was loaded with all 115kg, though still a massive improvement compared to having no electrical assist. Using the Nexus internal hub, I was mostly in the highest gear on anything flat, in case I did the occasional pedal at 30+km/h.
The feeling of riding the Cabby at first, although exciting, was quite strange and nerve-racking. There’s a lot of weight on the front half of the 9ft long wheelbase, so steering can be a little tricky starting off. You’ll need to compensate your weight slightly left or right, depending where along the centre line your weight in the cargo area lies. The closer to the center line, the less you’ll need to compensate. I guess this will teach your little ones to sit upright and still!
The bottom bracket also sits very low to help with handling and keeping the center of gravity low. Though the sacrifice with this is bottoming out over a speed hump or two. Also, because of how long it is, you really do need to look at least 1-2 meters ahead of the front wheel to gauge how much of a turning circle you need going into a bend.
Having said that, once I got the hang of it, I really didn’t want to give it back. It was a blast to ride with the eZee kit, something I couldn’t imagine riding the cabby without. Now I just have to think about telling the wife that we need children, or more groceries. Costco anyone?