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Gazelle Heavy Duty NL BBSHD

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    Gazelle Heavy Duty NL BBSHD

    After about five years of schemin' and dreamin', I was finally able to pull the trigger on my electric bike build. My cycling is commuting, groceries and getting kids to and from the bus stops. I live and work all within a 5 mile radius in an inner-ring suburb of Cincinnati so I knew that I wanted a dutch city bike. Royal Dutch Gazelle was always on my radar and a sale at J.C. Lind Bike Company in Chicago had me owning a Heavy Duty NL for $750.

    Although every Gazelle arrives with virtually everything you could want, I somehow managed to tweak it with A LOT of extras and managed to double that price. Abus chain with matching key for cafe lock/ waterproof Clarijs pannier bags/ Waterproof Clarijs shopping bags to take into store that also fit inside panniers/ dynamo powered rear LED light and upgraded front LED light/ milk crate with waterproof cover/ a book about Amsterdam (at this point in the process why not?)... . A note about dynamo/generator powered lights. Buy them. You will never regret it and they are marvelous. My local bike shop dismissed them as garbage and they could not have been more wrong. A set of Busch and Muller lights will always be on my bikes now.

    I freakin' love this bike. Even with aluminum tubing, it's heavy as hell and looks like a shipping freighter. UPS claimed the box weighed 82 lbs, but it was double boxed in cardboard and I'm sure that was at least 20 lbs of the 82. Okay maybe not.

    Although it arrived with a 7 speed nexus rear internal hub, the 18 tooth sprocket was murder on Cincinnati's hills. When cruising the flats the bike's weight disappears but we have some hills that are San Francisco steep - seriously - and I immediately upgraded to a 24 tooth sprocket. This made hills barely tolerable when riding solo although it was now totally functional everywhere else at a reasonable 5-15 mph pace. In all fairness, I'm in good shape so that needs to be taken into consideration too.

    I live on a serious hill so my morning commute for the past year always started with the walk of shame. I trudged up, walking the bike 1/4 of a mile up to the flats. I cruised from there but it was a humbling character building experience. My ride home from work was of course effortlessly down hill. My 9 year old regularly rides on the back as well as an occasional trip with my 14 year old. I once did the 14 yo on the back and the 9 on the front. Yeah that was mental but crazy fun.

    I work at a very large employer and took advantage of an employee small loan program that offers a very low annual percentage rate and payroll deduction over two years. With this wad-o'-cash I promptly bought a Bafang BBSHD, full color display, 52 volt battery, advanced charger and 42 tooth sprocket from Luna Cycle (although I'm currently running the stock 46 tooth). As most of us know, you have to be a bit patient with Luna's shipping turn around times. They are not a ship-it-out-the-same-day kind of organization but make up for it in spades with customer service.

    I had four minor install issues. The first was the stock bottom bracket has to be *gently* hammered out. Its press fit into place with plastic caps on the outside. A firm handful of knocks with a 5 lb sledge had it rocketing across the room.

    Second, I also had to cut a little bit of tubing off my bike that was hanging down below the bottom bracket. The Heavy Duty NL uses oversized tubes and a careful cut from the reciprocating saw nipped off a 1.5 inch triangle from the down tube. There was now room for the motor to mount albeit in a nearly vertical position pointing downward. It's a city bike so I have zero concerns about clearance.

    Third, another install quirk about dutch bikes is the upright seating position. I absolutely LOVE this body position and now cannot image going back to a sports configuration. This position is achieved with a very tall handlebar stem and very wide sweeping bars. I had to order an 8 inch extension for the cable that runs between the motor and the handlebar display.

    Finally, I had to lose my beloved full chain case. :o I was devastated but the crank area is just too wide to be accommodated within the stock case. Having never lubricated or cleaned the chain to date, or dealt with any pant snags for over a year, it was something to be noted. There are no aftermarket chain cases that I know of that accommodate the extra width. Their only concern is tooth count, not crank width. I could manufacture my own as metal fabrication is in my wheelhouse, but a Hebie Chainglider is arriving for Christmas. About $60 from Universal Cycles for both the front and rear section combined. I've already gotten my pants snagged a number of times and at speed it's truly no joke. I now have the pant strap but as I avoid all sports cycling clothing, this is an unfortunate concession as far as I'm concerned. I cycle in my work boots and carhartts.

    The BBSHD is awesome. If I could change anything it would be a torque sensor rather than cadence for power delivery. I never installed the throttle as I want it to be a pedelec. I had to adjust the peddle assist settings to 0-9 as 0-5 was a joke. Above 3 and I couldn't keep up with the motor. 0-9 is acceptable although I rarely go above peddle assist level 5 or 6 even with Cincinnati's worst hills. Is the BBSHD overpowered for my application? OMG yes! but wonderfully so. I would have it no other way. I rarely use more than 500 watts of power and no dutch city bike should go 38 mph for so many reasons. On one high speed run, my empty lunch bag and other crap started blowing out of the milk crate and all over the road! It was fun though. I have yet to derestrict the motor from 750 watts and don't think I will. I now keep it around 20 mph.

    So I have roller brakes front and rear. With all of the dire tales I was really concerned about that one. I priced up adding Magura Hydraulic rim brakes to the front at a minimum. I would have to TIG weld on mounts or order a new ebike fork from Gazelle. Regardless, I rode without doing this and the roller brakes are fine. If you have ever ridden a motorcycle, scooter or moped with drum brakes, it's exactly the same. I rode the above mentioned motorbikes for years and weaker brakes are second nature. No you will never stop on a dime and that always has to be in the back of your mind. They are the original anti-lock brakes that are too weak to ever lock anything up. The bike would be much nicer with Magura's but it's now a longer term add-on. In *my application* it is not uber critical, yours might be different.

    That's it for now. Let me know if you have any questions.