With its vicar-riding-to-evensong upright riding position, plus sprung seatpost and suspension forks, it glided me over potholes with barely a jolt
As you pedal away from the lights, zooming ahead of all the other riders, the Gazelle Orange C7 inspires an odd mixture of emotions. It’s part exhilaration and part mild guilt, an apologetic attitude that’s quite British. We still view electric assist bikes, or e-bikes, as somehow cheating, or for the old or infirm, yet on the continent they’re far more mainstream: in Gazelle’s Dutch home, say, more than a quarter of all new bikes have electric assist.
The Orange C7 is in many ways a traditional (if posh) Dutch bike, with its full chain case and mudguards, built-in lights and a sliding steel lock on the rear wheel. But it is also hi-tech, as you’d hope for £1,900, which is pricey even by e-bikes’ standards. The mid-mounted 250w motor provides its oomph directly to the cranks. Older e-bikes, whose power generally came via one of the wheels, tended to jerk as the motor kicked in; then, when it cut out at just over 15mph (the maximum allowed by law), it felt as if you’d hit a headwind. The Gazelle’s handlebar-mounted display includes a bar indicating the electric output, but I only really noticed I was on solely human power when the speedometer declined to rise further at about 17mph. Then again, you’ll need some outside help riding this behemoth: its official weight is just under 23kg, not counting the 2kg-plus battery. I switched off the power while riding up one hill and got to the top, but it wasn’t much fun.