News and a New Bike!

So, as you all may have gathered, I didn’t rent the Brompton. Terrible weather during the latter part of my trip, as well as added familiarity with British back roads was more than enough to dissuade me. That, and a head cold, finished off the rental.

I did rent a bike, briefly, to ride the beautiful Monsal Trail. I’ll write about that another day. I have great photos of the ride, but I’m still processing the billion other photos I took. So stay tuned: that ride’s coming in the next day or two.

In the meantime, my family and I went for a quick trip in our RV. The only bike-related moment of interest was when I met a guy in the grocery store hauling this behind his bike:

I just thought it was a great kid’s trailer: he can help pedal like his dad, lean back and relax… the options were endless. I spoke to dad and son, and found out they were on the first day of a multi-day trip to San Francisco. It was only after spotting the bike at our campground next to another one that I realized the trip wasn’t just a five year-old and his dad, but mom and a much younger sibling, too! Good luck to them. It looked to be an amazing ride!

While I was on the journey home, I received an email from the parents of a former student. They said they had “an old Dutch bike,” and knowing that I was interested in such things, they wanted to know if I would like to have it.

As you might imagine, I responded that I would like that, indeed. A quick conversation on the phone established that the bike was about 40 years-old, and that the mother in the family had brought it back with her after living in Holland for a few years. They sent me a photo of the bike, which was only enough to establish that it was, in fact, an Omafiets-style ladies bike, and the name of the brand: Gazelle. Obviously, once I’d seen the brand, I was even more interested.

When the owner mentioned that they were moving in two days, I offered to drive up tonight and fetch it. When I arrived, she was heading out to another appointment, so we just had a moment for a quick hug and she was gone before I had the bike fully loaded onto my car. This didn’t give me a lot of time to examine it. I sort of threw it on the back of the car and headed out, with an “extra” chaincase and four “new” old tires. I knew just from looking at it that it was in very good condition, but that was about it. It wasn’t until I was halfway home that it occurred to me to wonder if it had gears!

The good news is: it does. Three of them, nicely attached to a Sturmey Archer shifter.

The bike is from somewhere around 1973, she thought, and from what I can see on the internet, that seems about right, give or take two years. The hub is an AB, but undated. The bike has rod-style drum brakes, and is internally wired for both a front bottle-dynamo-driven light and a rear light. I don’t know if either of them work at the moment, because it also has two very flat tires. In fact, the rubber rim liner is falling out of the rear tire’s side, so I can’t even pump the tires up. The bike seems the right size to fit me, though I think I’ll have to lower the seat a bit. I don’t know if the saddle will be comfortable, though the former owner says it was. The rear luggage straps were decayed to the point of breaking, so I took them off. Hopefully I can replace them. It also has a great plastic dress guard, which I think was once clear, but is now a nice shade of pale yellow.

The model is a “Trimsport,” which was clearly never an American import, as I can find very little about it in English on the internet. I have no idea where this bike fell in Gazelle’s line up, but it would seem to be a very good bike, as it has the drum brakes and internally-wired dynamo lighting.

Here’s the bike as it looked when I brought it home, a bit rusty and dusty:

    

  

  

  

 

 

As you can see, she’s a beauty. I couldn’t believe, when I got the bike home, that they had just GIVEN it to me. For FREE. In fact, the owner kept expressing concern that I would have to have it tuned up. I figure I can handle that expense, considering.

Anyone know what the cream-colored thing on the handlebars was? It broke when I removed it, so it’s no more, but I’d still like to know what it might have been for.

Anyway, as soon as I got the bike home, I started with the polishing. The Puzzled Man I Live With came out and pronounced it “old.” He seemed unsure why I would even want the bike. But after an hour with some 000 steel wool and Mother’s Mag, I think even he could see the appeal. The chrome cleaned up perfectly, and since the paint was virtually perfect anyway, that was really all I had to do after a quick wipe-down. Here are some pictures of the shiny chrome in the fading light:

  

  

Clearly, a bike like this deserves a great tune-up. So it’s headed tomorrow out to Dutch Bike in Ballard for a serious work-over. The “new” old tires look pretty good, with no cracking. I think I’ll have a pair of those (the best of the 3 matching ones) installed, along retaped rims. The Sturmey Archer hub should just need a bit of grease, and then hopefully it will power the front/rear dynamo lighting. If not, I’ll have to get a new bottle generator, or some new wires (or both), but that shouldn’t break the bank. Obviously, other ball bearing-y areas will need new grease as well. I should think it will all work pretty well, but we’ll see. I don’t know about those 40 year-old drum brakes, though they seem to stop just fine right now (it’s hard to tell when both tires are flat). I may also have the boys at Dutch Bike “lower” the gearing, if that’s easily done, like I had done to The Raleigh, so that this bike will be easier to take up our local hills. But that said, it’s obviously a flat-land bike, so my guess is it will be a paved trail bike for me. Since I live at the top of a very steep hill, it won’t be a daily commuter or anything like that.

Will I like this bike, in terms of riding it? Who knows. I certainly don’t. But it was free, and it’s in near-perfect condition. If, in six months, I decide it’s not for me, I’m sure I can easily sell it. Lately I’ve been needing a bit of bike-spiration, so this should be good for months of enjoyable tinkering and trying-out.

I figure I’ll sink the money into it to get it ridable, then see what it needs from there. If I like it, then I’ll add a new saddle and other goodies as necessary. But as I told My Skeptical Partner tonight: never look a gift bike in the mouth. Particularly when it’s a gorgeous Gazelle!

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17 Responses to News and a New Bike!

  1. Vicki says:

    Wow, you are so lucky to be given such a gorgeous bike! Could the cream thIng on the handlebar be a newspaper holder? I have seen them on other European bikes but made from metal

  2. Hopeful Romantic says:

    What a beauty! I hope it turns out to be a great match for you.

  3. disabledcyclist says:

    NICE score,my good friend!!! I really dig that style bike,only ever seen a few in person,myself (one in a local botique clothing store window).

    Listen,we’ll be moving the next 7-14 days from house to house (long story),so if you post and I don’t get on to support ya,that be why,I’ll be back online shortly. In the meantime,have fun with that cool new friend,and have an awesome week,my friend :)

    Steve

  4. CJ says:

    Newspaper holder was my thought too. This bike looks gorgeous. I’m sure you’re going to have a lot of fun with it.

  5. gl. says:

    zowie! what a beauty! i even like the yellowed dress guard: along with the tan tires, it helps warm up the otherwise severe black and brings out the gold highlights on the frame. may it ride as good as it looks!

  6. LuckyChow99 says:

    Nice score! I think you’re really going to like this. . . .

  7. James F. Duncan says:

    Wow, congratulation, Rideblog. Talk about a score, maybe this is from the rain gods to make amends for the wet spring. She’s a beauty! Looking forward to your posts on this and your trip. Jim

  8. rideblog says:

    Thanks CJ, I hadn’t thought of that, but I’ll bet that’s what it was. I kept thinking it might be for hanging a grocery bag, but that seemed impractical at best :).

  9. rideblog says:

    Have a good move, DC!

  10. rideblog says:

    I love the yellowed dress guard, gl, and you put into words exactly why.

  11. rideblog says:

    I hope so, Lucky. The guys at Dutch Bike thought it looked great, so we’ll see… I should have it back by the end of the week.

  12. rideblog says:

    Jim, the rain gods owe me :). My Lovely Man says I deserved it for my years of teaching, which is a nice thought.

  13. disabledcyclist says:

    We’re sure gunna try,my friend :D

  14. Herbert says:

    Beautiful bike in perfect order! The AB is dated – have a close look at picture gazelleclean007.jpg and you will recognize “4 76” which means April 1976. If you look up the frame number (stamped on the back side of the seat tube, should be something like GN654321 or so) I can verify the year. But why should one doubt if a bike is in such splendid, original order?

    In the 1976 price list Gazelle offered two model lines: derailleur bikes, and city or commuter’s bikes with coaster hub or drum brakes, along with some specials like a tandem, a shopping bike, a folding bike etc. Within the city bikes, the Trimsport is the top model and the 3-speed/drum brake version is the most expensive one of them all: 716 Dutch guilders. Mother just bought the best to take home in 1976, even the sporty Gazelle derailleur bikes cost less. The Trimsport was the only model with groove ball bearings (“Kogellagers”, see gazelleold012.jpg) in the bottom bracket which is a nice and – then – expensive feature to have.

    I’d like to say: don’t touch the original saddle, and don’t change the Swiss “Nordlicht Sport“ dynamo which is one of the finest bicycle dynamo’s ever made!

    Thanks for sharing the pictures of this beauty.

  15. rideblog says:

    Wow, thanks so much Herbert! That’s great information. I’ll have to look closely at that hub again tomorrow, when I pick it up from Dutch Bike. They say that only the rear light doesn’t work, but the front dynamo works just great, so it’s staying. The bike was in “near new” condition in terms of everything else. The rear light will need rewiring, which I can’t do right now, but for now a cute blinky will do the trick until I decide whether or not to bother with the rewiring.

    The original tires were too cracked to use, so it will have new cream tires on it, but otherwise, I’m going to try to keep everything as is. The saddle looks amazing. The owner said it was “like a Brooks,” which I didn’t believe until I got it home and looked under it, and that’s just how it’s constructed, with a different way of attaching the leather, obviously. Hopefully it’s more comfy than my Raleigh’s Brooks, which STILL has not broken in, even after hundreds of miles (sigh) and some Proofride.

    I’m so excited now to pick it up. I’ll post the serial number when I get a chance. It’s just such a pretty bike!

    Thanks for all the amazing info!!!

  16. Truly a super find, congratulations! And what bike p0rn! I have not seen those gazelle-head cutouts on the side of the fork crown before; swoon.

    The ride quality may surprise you; my Gazelle was certainly not just for paved trails. Looking forward to reading more about this bike.

  17. rideblog says:

    Thanks, V! Those chrome shots did come out looking rather sexy, I must admit. It was the fading light. And I took another one of that fork crown for you :).

    And yes, the ride quality was surprising! Off to write about it. Stay tuned…

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