Gazelle Cabby. A users review.

This is an unsolicited Gazelle Cabby Review from a R.U.B customer…

We have been riding the Gazelle Cabby most days for a couple of months now. We all love it. Here is a more detailed breakdown of our reasons:

The Cabby is a significant investment. But it is also a high-quality machine. Everything on it is built to last. We feel that everytime we use it we are saving fuel money. We hope that if we ever wanted to sell it then it would still be valuable. But one of the other ‘investments’ is that we are teaching our children that cycling is fun, safe and possible as a means of transport not just leisure. They think it is much more fun than driving, and that means a lot to us.

Overall handing and experience:
The Cabby took us only minutes to get used to riding. My wife is 5ft 6 and I am 6ft 4, and we both find it easy to balance, steer and manage (we have the longer seat post which can be quickly adjusted for either of us). Neither of us have felt worried that we might drop it. After a little practice is is no more difficult to handle at slow speeds than an ordinary bike. The long wheel base means that it does feel different to an ordinary bike, but it is not a problem for either of us. It is heavy: there is no denying it! Lifting it would be impossible for one person. However, the low gearing makes managing the weight very easy under normal circumstances. The saddle is comfortable, the upright rider-position is very good for visibility and comfort, and still allows good peddling.

There is no way to ride this bike, especially with two waving children in the front, and be inconspicuous! People do comment, point and wave. We find this a bit stange at times, but it is not unpleasant, and we like the fact that we are making a visible statement about cycling. In terms of safety, it feels ok – neither of us really felt happy with a bike trailer in taffic, which was one of the reasons for getting the Cabby, and it feels much more solid and visible (the handling is much much better than riding with a bike trailer). Car drivers seem to see the rider first, sitting quite high, and then the children. We like to think that when they see the children they are reminded to drive carefully.

I would say that the time when you notice the weight is when putting it on its stand, loaded. This is more about technique than strength, although it does need a bit of strength too.

I cycled the bike (un-loaded) about 20 miles in two hours, and I think that this is about the top average speed one could expect. However, we find that we don’t really want to cycle fast. The high riding position makes it seem more like the difference between being in a car and a van – slower, but you take more in! But it would be possible for a reasonably strong cyclist to cover 40+ miles in a day, as long as the cargo was happy!

The Gazelle claims to be lighter than its competitors, but it is still a relatively heavy bike. Therefore, it needs good brakes. It has Shimano roller brakes, a drum-based system very seldom found in the UK (Pashley cycles use them) but very common in the Netherlands. The advantages to this are that it is a completely sealed unit which is not affected by weather, and needs almost no maintenance ever. Since they do not brake by applying pressure onto the wheel rims, there is no rim-wear. They are considered to be less powerful than either V-brakes or disc brakes. However, they are powerful enough to stop the Cabby with both kids and shopping in it, so they certainly have stopping power. I think ours will “bed in” a little more in the coming months. They do take a litle bit of geting used to because they are so progressive – at first they feel a bit like a hydrolic system which is not properly bled. However, I feel that the lack of need for maintenance makes up for this slight loss of feel.

(Rob here…2011 cabby’s are fitted with IM45 front roller IM31 rear roller brakes, this reviewers cabby has IM50’s and feels no need at present to upgrade)

The 7 speed Shimano Nexus hub is precise and enjoyable to use. It is great to be able to change gear whilst stopped and since everything is enclosed, not have to worry about keeping the chain and gears clean. I was a little concerned that the range of gears would not be enough. However, so far it is. We exchanged the rear sprocket for one with a few more teeth at the time of purchase, having the effect of lowering all 7 gears slightly. Gear 1 is low enough to take on hills fully loaded, and although not too hard, it is excercise! Gear 7 is seldom needed until on slight downhills – and I do not think the kids want to go faster anyway, since they are at the front and would find it rather breezy! Initially one or two of the gears felt a little bit crunchy and new, but they are smoothing out now. The experience of riding the Cabby is making me interested in getting a normal solo bike with the same type of gears and brakes, especially given the time I spend cleaning, lubricating and adjusting our normal v-brake/derailleur hybrid bikes.

The hub dynamo at the front is good, and could power a more powerful front light, which I would switch to if we regularly travelled at night out of lit areas, which we don’t. The rear light seems rather large for the adequate amount of light it provides, and is not connected to the front dynamo, which seems a bit odd. However, this could be changed without too much difficulty. I would want to add additional flashing lights to my clothing or elsewhere on the bike for traveling a longer distance at night, as I believe they would help visibility. The Cabby has reflectors and refelctive materials too – tyre walls and around the carrier.

The locks that come with the Cabby are useful, and reasonably strong, but I think that the main deterrant to stealing it is how unusual it is. If I was leaving it somewhere vulnerable for any length of time I would want more locks – a good D-lock probably.

Build quality:
Excellent. Solid, high quality components, frame and wheels, good finish. The tyres are high quality and puncture-resistant. The child carrier/cargo area is strong. The integrated bell is loud and tinkley! There is a sense that everything has been thought of and is fully integrated.

Child experience:
The three-point harnesses are strong and easily adjusted. The bench seat seems comfortable for the girls, although most of our journeys so far are just 1 – 4 miles. They like they fact that we can talk to each other quite easily and they wave at passers by. They need lap-blankets and coats in cooler weather, which they seem to not mind at all, but when we have used the bike in very cold weather (I think it was 3 degrees one morning!) they really had to be wrapped up, because they are right at the front, not tucked in behind like on a single child’s seat on a normal bike. I think we will probably keep a couple of bankets under the seat even through the summer. At least they are getting fresh air! They look forward to trips on the bike.

Other considerations:
I think it would be more difficult to own this bike if we did not have a garage. Although it would be possible to take it through into our back garden gate, the angles would make it more difficult.

It is very hard to take this bike on a train, partly because of the inadequacies of the booking service, partly because it is too long to get in a lift without help to tip it up, which I did not enjoy trying, and partly because most rolling stock would not be able to accomodate it. I will not attempt to take it on a train again after my initial experience! My suggestion for getting the bike home from the shop (if too far to ride), would be in a transit van! I was able to put in inside our estate car, with the rear seats down and the front passenger seat forward, but it was not ideal.

In the future we hope to take it on holiday with us. My plan is to get a roof rack tandem carrier, which is a bit pricey, but should be able to manage the length.

We have no regrets at all about our decision to buy a Gazelle Cabby. Rob at Really Useful Bikes was also very helpful and allowed us to have a good go on two different bikes to help us make up our minds, offering experienced advice.

Jonathan and Emma

5 thoughts on “Gazelle Cabby. A users review.

  1. Hi guys, thanks for a very nice review! I’m actually looking for a Rapid or ideally Bullitt, but I’m hesitant because they’re a bit on the expensive side. On the other hand, they seem to be more versatile: it’s rather easy to find photos on-line of people driving other people on a Bullitt, a washing machine…all kinds of things, while the Gazelle Caddy – as interesting a machine as it is – seems to be geared towards kids and groceries.

    So, would the Caddy be a reasonable way to drive an adult for up to 10 km on mostly flat ground? What about serious loads, like a dish-washer? And Bullitts declare weight as “starting from 22 or 24 kg”, while the Caddy declares 38+ kg – what gives?

    • hi Tonalf, check built up weight like for like…. cabby frame is lighter than bullitt frame, but uses heavier components…bikes are all different, test ride them and see which on suits…the Rapid, Bullitt and Cabby all good bikes…

      • Wish I had a shop close by to take a better look at these bikes at: all I get to see is a Bullitt, which I quite like, but it’s hardly enough to make a decision on.

      • where are you? near Bristol? Blackpool, Dorset or London? yes its a problem….a difficult market, some good advice available out there though..and some good events to see bike at..

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