I am completely in love. Not with a man or even a woman. I am in love with a bicycle. How did this happen? Let me tell you.
I returned the Batavus Staccato to Omafiets in Redfern because it didn’t suit my style of riding. It was too heavy and not responsive enough for my “assertive” style of riding. Chris suggested another bicycle. I tried it and it felt similar to the Batavus. As a result, I asked to try the Gazelle Ultimate T1 again. During my last visit to the shop with Julius, I took it for a little spin in the courtyard after the Batavus. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a sense of it the first time. I was concentrating on not running over my four-year-old son. This time, I took it out on the George Street Cyclepath and found it to be light and responsive. It felt “twitchy” in my hands. It was also an incredibly smooth ride. For $2199, nearly three times the price of the Batavus, I was hoping that I would feel a difference.
I have noticed, on this journey through life with bicycles, that the components of a bicycle and its weight are correlated to the price. The better the components and the lower the weight, the higher the price tag.
After my test ride, Chris gave me the smaller model of the Gazelle (53cm), which was a better fit. After adjusting the handlebars, I rode to the office and felt like I was flying. It was so easy to ride. It reminded me of my Giant Elwood but better. Shifting gears was like butter. The brakes were very responsive. Climbing hills was not as difficult with the number of gears and the light weight of the bicycle. I was starting to get excited. I had been flirting with the idea of upgrading my autumn/winter bicycle. Was this the One?
I went home that evening and raved about it to my husband Justin over dinner. I was uncertain about buying it because of the price. Justin was much more pragmatic because of its components and how easy it was to ride. And he suggested that we keep the Giant Elwood for our daughter Ofelia who is extremely tall. She will probably use it in a few years, he reasoned.
The next day, I took the Gazelle to the office. I was so excited! A full day with a new bicycle! Later that evening, I had an event at the Apple Store to attend. It took me six minutes to get there by bicycle. I met Leona Edmiston, the dress designer, whose dress I was wearing, at the event. She was collaborating with Apple and tonight was the launch party of her new products. A number of us from the event went for a drink afterwards and eventually I made my way home. The lights were invaluable for the ride home. The bright front light on the Gazelle is powered by pedaling and has two settings which I couldn’t quite work out. The rear light is battery operated and very bright red. The ladies from Leona Edmiston gave me a large gift bag full of heavy things. I carried it home on the back rack by folding it down and securing it with bungee cords.
The next morning, after dropping the kids off at school and daycare, I was dreamily looking forward to riding into the city with the Gazelle. And then horror of horrors! The Gazelle had a flat! I took my e-bike for the day as I had a meeting to attend first thing in the morning.
That evening, Justin came home the office and offered to fix the flat for me. The next morning the bicycle was as good as new.
I went to my weekly Pilates class and my instructor commented on the tightness of my quadriceps and my hamstrings. As I was stretching, I realise that my body was changing as a result of the transition from e-bike to bicycle. “Hooray!” I thought. “Better bikini body next summer!”
Unbeknownst to me, the Omafiets shop was following my progress on the Gazelle on social media. As a result of my flat tyre, they had ordered more puncture-resistant tyres and were installing them on all of their Gazelles and eZee bikes. Chris sent me an email encouraging me to return to the shop with the Gazelle. They would change the tyres for me. But sadly, I knew that my return to the shop would signal my return of the Gazelle. This is how attached I had become. It was definitely love and not the patient and kind type. My mind thought of ways to hold onto the Gazelle indefinitely. I imagined taking the eZee Sprint and the Nihola in for a service at Omafiets. They both needed one anyway. I would return the Gazelle tomorrow. I was bereft. Maybe I should buy it?
Pros: Extremely light and responsive bicycle. Great components. 27 speed Shimano Deore, hub dynamo front lights, battery powered rear light, Magura hydraulic rim brakes, rear rack, fenders, kickstand.
Cons: Kickstand in a strange place with very acute angle. I keep whacking my left foot as I open the kickstand. Price is $2199. I think in this case, you get what you pay for – quality bicycle. Locking up is a little tricky. More time and practice will help.
Postscript: I highly recommend getting in touch with Omafiets to test ride the Ultimate T-1.