Riding bikes all life long, I recently became fascinated with classy bicycles, especially being able to ride a bike and still not looking like a pennyless student, maybe even in a suite. Inspired by Velorbis, but still with the budget of a pennyless student, I made out looking for a used Holland bike here in Canada. Not a very easy task. I was lucky when I found a used 80’s Gazelle Primeur Special on kijiji.
This bike didn’t really help my cause of looking classy at first, it needed a very thorough make-over. I would have loved to give this bike the Idealist-Realist-treatment, but that wasn’t in my budget, and I wanted to keep a bit more traditional as well.
I gave the frame and all other parts (including the plastic chain cover) a new coat of paint (oil paint, by hand, it is actually possible given the right technique to put on a very clean finish using just a brush and some oil paint) as well as updating many parts (new handle bar, new brake levers, new bell, antique brooks saddle – a gift from my father, new pedals, new bottom bracket, new bars on the fenders etc.). I also ended up ditching the original chrome light, for one that is much smaller and brighter than the original one. I love the look of the original headlight (and tail light for that matter, but that had been changed before my time), but the new one is much more practical. Most of the spare parts came from Germany, where you don’t need to take out a second mortgage in order to by them. After a few winter months, this is what came of it:
I updated the rear light with some electronics that keep the light on, when stopping at an intersection (nothing special in Europe, in North America my friends keep on reminding me that I left the lights on).
Front drum brake. Both front and rear drum brakes work well. Some of the chrome on the hubs was somewhat damaged, I ended up painting parts of it.
This bike is by no means perfect, and still has lots of dings and rust, but I love the detail like all the little red gazelle logos. Gives it so much character.
Tacky 80’s front fender detail fin.
These Holland bikes are mechanical neightmares. Just trying the change a tire, is quite the ordeal. I love the ride though. The smooth cruisers under the bicycles.
The three speed hub is made by Sturmey-Archer, and is still holding up fine.
I still want to ad a wooden crate on the front, it will make the runs to the market so much easier. Eventually, the tiny head light will go under that crate.