A Significant New BicycleJuly 29, 2013 at 14:40 | Posted in bicycles | 2 Comments
Tags: battery, bicycle, bike, birthday, cycling, dutch, e-bike, electric, gazelle
Last year, Mrs Chillikebab celebrated a birthday. A Significant Birthday. So, of course, I bought her a Significant Present.
But no, dear readers, it was not that significant. For whilst I think I did buy her a book, and possibly some biscuits, I did not buy her a bicycle. I was very tempted, but in the end just thought it was too risky. Mrs Chillikebab has not owned a bike since she was twelve years old, and not ridden one since we were backpacking in Thailand some years ago.
Then, in April, was Mrs Chillikebab’s Significant Birthday +1 year. I ummed and ahhhed quite a lot, and then with only a few days to go before her birthday, it crystallised in my mind. I would buy her a bicycle. The present I wished I have bought a year earlier.
I already knew which bicycle it would be. It would be a Gazelle – beautiful Dutch-built bikes high on style and practicality. A bike for riding to the park on, for popping to the shops on, perhaps even for joining me pedalling the kids to swimming. And it would be electric. Mrs Chillikebab is quite fit, but she had previously expressed concern about ‘keeping up’ with me. And new cyclists, even quite fit ones, often find the hills a struggle until they get used to using some new muscles. Oh, and electric bikes are just very very cool.
Buying such a specialised bike, in the right size, with less than 48 hours’ notice was a bit of a stretch, I suppose, but the good folks at Sydney Electric Bike came through for me. I daresay it was one of their more unusual sales – I don’t know how many frantic calls they get from people wanting a bike the day after tomorrow (no test ride isn’t important, yes I can come over tomorrow morning), but I suspect it’s not many.
So the evening before Mrs Chillikebab’s Significant +1 birthday I picked it up to ride it home, leaving my fixie at the office. I didn’t want to arouse suspicion when I got home, so wore my usual fixie riding clothes , which I daresay looked pretty odd on a sedate, step-through bike.
So what’s it like to ride, I hear you cry? Well, it is fantastic. You start to pull away, and then this magical force kind of scoots you along effortlessly. It’s like riding with a really strong tailwind all of the time. You do have to pedal, but the hills flatten out and on the flat you cruise along at a good pace with very little effort. I’ve long been a believer in electric bikes being the future, but actually riding one really reinforced that view. These things are awesome. Anyone who resists riding a bike because ‘there are too many hills’ or ‘I get too sweaty’ should ride an e-bike. There really is no excuse. All the fun with none of the pain.
The actual bike itself is beautifully built. From the lights moulded into the mudguard to the satisfying ‘click’ of the manual handlebar adjustment, the whole package just oozes quality. If I have just one minor gripe it is that the battery rattles slightly in its holder – but I will forgive that as the way the battery slides in and out of the holder on moulded rails is a joy to behold.
The riding position is sitting up. Really sitting up, not ‘sort of leaning forward’ which is the posture you need for most Australian city bikes. The handlebars are right there up high, and the saddle is quite high too. It’s almost like riding a horse – you have a very commanding view of the road ahead. It’s very pleasant, especially with the motor helping to scoot you along. I felt like royalty – perhaps why the full name of the company is ‘Royal Dutch Gazelle’.
I safely stowed the new bike in the garage undetected, and went in. The next morning, I got up with the kids so Mrs Chillikebab could have a birthday lie-in, and put the Gazelle in the middle of the lounge with a large ribbon and bow around it. The kids were quite interested, and seemed pleased that Mummy was going to have a bike too. ‘Then we’ll all have a bike!’ Chillikebab I said happily.
In due course, Mrs Chillikebab emerged and came into the lounge. She started saying something, and then the bike caught her eye. She fell into shocked silence.
‘Oh goodness,’, she whispered, ‘What have you done?!’
So was this the start of a lifetime of cycling en famille, or an expensive white elephant? Look out for Part II of this blog next week to learn what happened next!