2015 Gazelle Orange C8 Impulse – by Mark Sedhom, February 20, 201588/ 100Gazelle has brought a number of features to the Orange C8 by adopting the high torque Impulse 2.0 mid-drive, and it’s the correct move to now make it one of the biggest competitors in comfort ebikes in 2015.
2015 Gazelle Orange C8 Impulse 2.0
Table of Contents
- Specification Highlights
- Build Quality
- Electronics and Performance
- Conclusion & Scorecard
- Detailed Specifications
- Image Gallery
- Make – Gazelle
- Model – Orange C8 Impulse 2.0
- Year of manufacture – 2015
- Revision/Version – 1
- Motor – Impulse 2.0 Mid-drive
- Battery – 36.5V 11.4Ah (416Wh)
- Charger – 42A 4A fanless fast charger
- Maximum Speed – Phase out beginning 25km/h till 27.5km/h
- Range – 69.1km (96kg rider, Max assist, Track elevation Profile found here)
- Bike weight – 26.1kg (including battery)
- Warranty – 10-Years Frame; 2-Years Components
- Base Price $3,999
If you’ve ever considered a comfort bike, you’re likely to have come across the name Gazelle. Founded in 1892, with their first electric bike in 1937, Gazelle is currently one of the most popular bicycle brands in the world, and the largest and most famous brand in the Netherlands, where their headquarters are based.
It’s a known fact, that cycling in the Netherlands is like nowhere else in the world. A combination of culture, cycling infrastructure and the low cost of operating a bicycle compared to the cost in fuel, has allowed The Netherlands to lead the way for the rest of the world when it comes to commuting. If you ever happen to visit the Netherlands, you’ll notice one thing, that Dutch bicycle styling is distinct and that bicycles are everywhere. With large diameter wheels, swept back handlebars, beautifully integrated mudguards and lights, and wide and plush saddles, hundreds of thousands of cyclists are riding every day; and that’s just on their standard non-electric bicycles.
The Netherlands is quite a flat country, with 25% of its land at or below sea level. Unfortunately for many parts of the world, particularly Sydney, many suburbs are hilly, and along with mediocre cycling infrastructure, commuting becomes challenging.
The move would allow Gazelle to offer an ebike solution to riders who wanted the extra grunt from a mid-drive, while still enjoying the unique Gazelle styling.
For quite some time, among their standard non-electric bikes, Gazelle also sold ebikes equipped with front hub motors. Although ebikes equipped with front hub motors have their purpose, Gazelle realised that by offering an ebike with more torque, they would tackle a major issue experienced by many riders in other parts of the world who are surrounded by hilly terrain. They turned to two major ebike mid-drive system manufacturers in Bosch and Impulse. The move would allow Gazelle to offer an ebike solution to riders who wanted the extra grunt from a mid-drive, while still enjoying the unique Gazelle styling.
While we’ve covered the Bosch Gen2 Active Line system in detail in another review, the Impulse 2.0 mid-drive system is new to Australia, and was previously exclusive to a number of ebikes including Kalkhoff bikes. We’ve got the Gazelle Orange C8 comfort bike in for review, a bike that promises to have kept true to the designs that brought Gazelle to where it is today, while providing 70N.m of torque, the most out of all the legal ebike drive systems currently available in Australia.
The actual model name of the bike is the Gazelle Orange C8 Hybrid M (Impulse 2.0). The ‘C’ stands for City, while the 8 indicates how many internal hub gears it has, while Hybrid ‘M’ indicates it’s an electrical assisted bike with a Mid-drive motor. It comes in the one colour and 9 sizes if you include the Orange C8 step-through equivalent. We had the 57cm frame in for review. All the sizing may seem confusing at first, but the reason Gazelle do this is because many different frames and configurations are offered across their range to accommodate all types of riders.
It comes in the one colour and 9 sizes …
The first thing we noticed when we received the Orange C8, apart from how large it was, were all the little details Gazelle put into the bike. It’s first evident by all the little Gazelle letterings they’ve placed on the bike, from the front forks to the quick release stem to the downtube. This isn’t just a vinyl sticker or paint that’s been airbrushed. It’s either been etched or embossed. Even reflectors are embedded and run flush on the front of the forks, instead of the typical circular reflector hanging off the head tube.
We really enjoy seeing beautifully integrated features, and the front light is no exception.
The beautiful brown walls on the large 700c tyres are colour matched with the brown Selle Royal saddle and comfortable brown leather handlebar grips, which really gives this bike a classic retro feel that I love. The saddle sits on top of the suspension seatpost that uses a bolt down clamp.
The black mudguards and pannier rack, which includes 3 strap downs, blend really well with the grey/brown colour combination of the frame.
We really enjoy seeing beautifully integrated features, and the front light is no exception. It’s integrated into the mudguard and known as Gazelles FenderVision, and along with the rear light they draw their power from the dynamo hub.
One easy to miss feature which the Gazelle Orange C8 has over other comfort bikes is the chain guard known as the Agudo. It fully encloses (not just covers) the chain, unlike other chain guards that stop half way down the chain stay, and don’t protect the lower part of the chain.
Agudo Chain Guard
Agudo Chain GuardRear rack mounted batteriesGazelle bikes are currently the only ones with a rear rack mounted battery featuring the Impulse 2.0 while other Impulse 2.0 equipped ebikes continue to mount their battery packs behind the seat tube or on the downtube.
If you do happen to first see the bike from the chain side, the only thing that might give away it’s an electric bike is the rear rack mounted battery pack. For Impulse 2.0 equipped bikes this isn’t a standard design.
On a premium mid-drive bike such as this, the bottom bracket is designed with the mid-drive motor as the most important element to design around. From the colour matching of the motor casing to the frame, to the bolts used to mount the drive unit, it’s clear to see that the Impulse 2.0 drive unit has been designed to blend seamlessly into the frame, without it looking like an afterthought or obstruction.
The handlebar stem uses a quick release goose neck which allows quick adjustments without any tools, to suit different arm lengths to get your back as straight as possible.
All the Gazelle bikes I’ve seen and read about always have a clean handlebar layout. We’ve seen this on their non-electric bikes, and front hub powered ebikes for the last several years. The Orange C8, although packed with features, also has a clean, well thought out handlebar layout.
controller on the left. The twist bell is an innovative solution to the typical bell seen on many bikes. It’s operated simply by turning the bell grip, with every click ringing the bell, essentially meaning you can keep on turning it in either direction to make it ring.
Integrated Bell and Backlit Thumb Controller
The thumb controller is actually the first backlit thumb controller we’ve seen on an ebike. The thumb controller features power, set, plus and minus buttons, which will be explained in more detail later. Everything you need to control and set is done so by the thumb controller, with no need to touch the LCD.
The compact backlit LCD is centred on the handlebars, looks simplistic in its design and provides key information. Derby Cycle, the creators of the Impulse system, actually make a larger LCD, however only the compact LCD is featured on all the Impulse 2.0 equipped Gazelle bikes.
The LCD backlight is bright and blue tinged to match the backlight of the thumb controller. A nice little touch, which is also visually pleasing when riding at night.
On the right of the handlebars is the twist shifter for the Shimano Nexus 8 internal gear hub, allowing easy gear changes which is so important with these mid drives systems.
Hiding wires has become quite common on standard bikes, and even more so on ebikes where there’s the extra wires from the LCD, battery, and controller. In the case of Gazelle, it’s really hard to spot any wires apart from the brake levers, two wires coming out of the LCD and one out of the thumb controller. They quickly disappear into the frames head tube and then into the motor, none of which you see.
The colour and styling of the Orange C8 may not be to everyone’s taste, but we like it because of its clean design and all the little details Gazelle have put into it.
The Orange C8 comes with a 36.5v 11.4 Amp hour (416 Watt hour) battery weighing 2.8kg. Later in 2015, Gazelle will be offering a 13.4ah (489wh) battery which should theoretically improve range by at least 18%.
The battery is mounted within the rear rack by sliding it along the designated rails. On the end of the battery pack is a metal plate that slides into the locking mechanism housed inside the rear rack. Once the pack is locked, you won’t experience rattling of the pack from riding over typical divider gaps.
The battery is locked using the same key as the wheel lock, which is something Gazelle have done for a while across their range of ebikes. There’s no external charge port on the battery pack so it will need to be removed for charging.
On the side of the battery pack is a 5 bar led indicator and a power button. If you’ve got the pack away from the bike and want to know the charge level, pressing the power button will light up the LEDS, with each led representing 20% battery charge. It’s a good way to know how much charge is left in the pack without having to rely on the bikes LCD to tell you, and it’s a feature we always use.
The charger is a 42V 4A fast charger, which charges a fully depleted 11.4Ah pack in 3 hours and 11 minutes. It doesn’t have any fans, so it can get a little warm, but is absolutely silent when running, which is a big plus if you work in a quiet and small office.
The charger has an LED indicator to tell you when the battery contains an error, is fully charged, charging, or not charging. When there’s an error in the pack or charger, the light will turn red. If it’s charging the green light will blink steadily, and when it finishes charging, the green light will turn solid for a few seconds then begin to blink slowly. If no battery is connected, the green light will blink slowly.
We liked the feedback from the charger, and found something quite simple actually being quite helpful. Bosch don’t have any indication lights on their chargers, so the only way to know the battery is charging is to look at the battery packs LEDs. If you charge your packs everyday on the floor, you’ll find yourself constantly turning the pack on its side to check its charge level.
Having said that, one thing to note is when the Impulse 2.0 battery is fully charged, the chargers indicator remains solid green for roughly 20 seconds before changing to a slow blink. This is the same blink as if the charger wasn’t connected to the battery. We hoped the chargers indicator light remained solid in case we were in a rush and forgot which blink meant what. After a few minutes the battery pack LEDs turn off to indicate it’s full.
Mid drives are known to be much more efficient drive systems when compared to front and rear hub motors, and it’s because mid-drives make use of the bike’s gears. We saw this in our range tests from the mid-drives we’ve tested so far from Bosch, with 400wh packs achieving over 50km on a single charge using the highest assistance level. So when it came to the Impulse 2.0 mid-drive system, we were expecting similar results.
Our range tests are carried out on the same test loop in similar conditions with the same rider, which allows our range results to be compared with their respective average speeds.
From our range test using the highest assist setting, a 96kg rider, the weight of the bike of 26.1 kg (weighed 23.3kg bike + weighed 2.8kg battery), an average speed of 19.1km/h with a maximum speed phase cut out beginning at 25km/h and stopping at 27.5km/h, we achieved 69.1km on our paved test loop, with an elevation gain of 330m. Bare in mind that the average speed is almost 3km/h slower than the Bosch equivalent range rest, and the way the Impulse 2.0 supplies assistance is also different, which we’ll explain in more detail later in the Performance section. Having said that, it’s an excellent result, and if you’re lighter than me you would easily expect over 70km on the highest assist setting, or over 80km from the upgraded battery.
A large weighting is placed on comfort bikes during our testing and therefore scoring, since the design purpose is to be comfortable. Gazelle have been building comfort bikes since their inception, and have mastered what’s required in frame design to give you the most comfortable ride.
Gazelle have been building comfort bikes since their inception, and have mastered what’s required in frame design to give you the most comfortable ride.
Gazelle place such a high priority on comfort bike design because their bikes are ridden everyday irrespective of the conditions. When you’re riding your bike every day, you really can’t afford to have sore arms, a sore backside or a sore back from riding, otherwise the Netherlands sick leave will go through the roof. This is one of reasons the Orange C8 series come in up to 9 sizes. I’m 183cm, and the 57cm frame was perfect for my height.
Saddles are a hard thing to judge since everyone’s sit bones are different. With most new saddles, discomfort can be experienced if the saddle hasn’t had the chance to soften. If you haven’t ridden a bicycle in a long time you may also experience discomfort at the beginning. I found the Selle Royal Herz saddle to be comfortable up to 40km of straight riding (no breaks), till I needed to have a short rest. The second time extending to 50km till some more discomfort was experienced. The saddle began to show obvious signs of softening, and became more comfortable the more I rode it.
Post Moderne suspension seatpost
Front suspension with hidden adjusting knobs
The Orange C8 comes with a Post Moderne suspension seatpost. If you’re travelling at speed and you hit a bump, the suspension post can feel like it’s ‘popping’ instead of cushioning. For the majority of riding, this wasn’t an issue, and if you’re lighter than 96kg, you’re less likely to notice it. The suspension seatpost is a nice little feature to have and we would still prefer to have it than be without it. We do however wish it came with a quick release seatpost clamp, which would make adjustments easier if you share your bike.
It’s a very relaxed riding position and if you’ve seen YouTube videos of bike riders in Utrecht, Netherlands, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
The front suspension fork offers 50mm of travel and some basic adjustments in rebound and compression through its adjusting knobs, which are hidden discreetly under the black covers. During all of our testing I didn’t feel any vibrations coming through to my wrist, which indicated the forks were doing their job.
When I first sat on the Orange C8 the thing I noticed was how high I felt, even with my toes touching the ground. It’s not only because of the large 700c wheels I felt high up, but also because my back was perfectly upright which required my shoulders, and therefore arms to be raised higher than other comfort bikes I had ridden. It’s a very relaxed riding position and if you’ve seen YouTube videos of bike riders in Utrecht, Netherlands, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
The brown leather grips are soft to hold while the handlebars offer a quick release stem which makes adjustment extremely convenient. You will also notice that the handlebar stem sits quite a long distance above the head tube, which raises the maximum height the handlebars can be adjusted even further. This is a classic Gazelle design that allows adjustability so your back is at 90 degrees, while your upper arms are relaxed and dropped by your side.
Although it’s quite a tall bike to mount and dismount, I must say the Orange C8 offers the most comfortable riding position I’ve experienced so far.
If you live in the Netherlands you’ll find that the Orange C8 is available in a non-electric version, which apart from the mid drive unit and battery, looks identical to the Hybrid M Impulse 2.0. Gazelle, among other high end bicycle manufacturers are adopting existing bicycle frames which have proved to be successful through many decades of refinement. Only minor changes are then made to components, such as bigger brakes and better tyres, and to the bottom bracket and pannier rack, to accommodate the drive unit and battery.
The Orange C8’s frame is aluminium and one of the cleanest I’ve seen on an ebike. All the welds are curved and have been smoothed with the only signs of butting on the dropouts.
All the wires from the handlebars quickly disappear into the head tube and are no longer seen anywhere else on the bike.
Wires disappearing into head tube
The mud guards sit at a perfect distance from the circumference of the wheel along the entire length of the mudguard. They also feel very solid and never rattled or moved during our testing.
We do a lot of our testing at night, and one of the most important features we look for in comfort bikes are mud guards and lighting. Gazelle have come up with their own fully integrated light design called FenderVision, which forms part of the front mudguard. The front light also features a switch to power the light on or off (it draws power from the Shimano DH-3N31 NT dynamo hub), and a 3-way switch to change the angle of the light. The 3-way switch is a small detail which we’ll discuss later in the review. It’s the small details such as this, that shows there’s clearly been a lot of thought put into blending the mudguards and light seamlessly into the bike.
Chain guard fully enclosing chain
You would expect the chain to last several years with this setup.
The large Agudo chain guard fully encloses the chain, to not only protect your pants, but extend the life of the chain. Typically chain guards stop half way along the chain stay and do not cover the lower side of the chain. With the Agudo, the chain is fully protected from the elements, including water, dust, and dirt. However, because the chain guard is not 100% water tight, in the odd occasion dust somehow makes its way inside, within the chain guard there’s 3 sets of bristles which essentially clean the chain as you’re riding. We haven’t seen a chain guard like this on an ebike before, but it further reiterates that ebikes should be as maintenance free as possible. You would expect the chain to last several years with this setup.
The bottom bracket has been redesigned to house the drive unit, and looking from the drivetrain side you won’t find too much of the motor exposed. Looking at the left-hand side of the bike, the motor becomes more obvious, but even then, the casing is simplistic, clean and looks as if the Impulse motor was built purposely for the Orange C8.
Although the casing material hasn’t been mentioned in any Derby Cycle material, it feels solid in construction as if it were made from steel, which we know it isn’t. It offers 160mm of clearance from the lowest point of the drive unit, enough not to cause any issues if you hit a gutter.
The integration of the motor to the frame is the best I’ve seen so far, with the metal frame looking like it’s been moulded to clasp the mid-drive unit. All the bolts are discreetly placed and colour coded to blend with the frame and motor cover.
Impulse 2.0 mid-drive
Underside of motor
The Impulse 2.0 mid-drive system is the second generation mid-drive by Derby Cycle, and one of the few high end mid-drive options currently available on ebikes in Australia.
The second generation offers an additional 30Nm of torque from the First gen, bringing it to 70Nm of available torque. The internal gearing has also been improved to reduce noise significantly, while also featuring a shift sensor which deactivates motor assistance as you change gears.
The 2015 Gazelle Orange C8 features the battery within the rear rack, but this wasn’t always the case. The 2014 Orange C8 (wasn’t available in Australia) model featured the battery behind the seat stay which meant the wheelbase was longer. The 2015 model has gone back to what Gazelle had done with their previous non-electric Orange C8 design. If you look at all of Gazelles electric bike offerings, you will notice irrespective of what drive unit is fitted, whether it’s a front hub or mid-drive, all their batteries are now mounted within the rear rack. This allows Gazelle to be consistent with their frame geometry across their comfort bike range, instead of deviating away from what has made their bikes extremely comfortable.
The balance of the Gazelle Orange C8 is still rear heavy due to the battery and rear hub, but it’s not something you’ll notice on a comfort bike while you’ve got motor assistance. Unless of course you plan to lift it up a flight of stairs, and if you do, I would recommend removing the battery to make it more manageable.
Electronics and Performance
The Orange C8 features a compact backlit LCD screen that’s centred on the handlebars, fixed in its place and fully controlled via the backlit thumb controller on the left. Switching the system on and off simply requires you to press the power button on the thumb controller. Once the system is powered up, you’re greeted with the words ‘HELLO’ on the LCD, which then displays CAL, which indicates the controller is booting up and calibrating the torque sensor and checking the battery level. If the battery level is too low, the LCD display will continue to display CAL till you charge the pack.
The LCD displays a 10-bar battery indicator bar which is the most we’ve seen on an ebike
Once the system has finished calibrating, you’ll see your current trip distance, your speed, assistance level and the battery level. Your eyes may trick you to make you think the LCD screen reads ER (or error), which isn’t the case, and actually reads tr (for trip).
The LCD displays a 10-bar battery indicator which is the most we’ve seen on an ebike, with each bar representing roughly 10% charge. It’s an accurate battery indicator in the sense you won’t see bars disappearing faster towards the end of the charge compared to the start of the charge. For every bar, we saw roughly 7-8km’s in range on our test track using the highest assistance setting.
The Impulse 2.0 system offers 3 levels of assist in Eco, Sport and Power. There’s also the option of no assist, which deactivates the motor, though still gives you feedback on your speed and trip distance. You can toggle between each assistance level by pressing the plus or minus button on the thumb controller.
Keeping your finger on the minus button resets your trip settings, while keeping it on the plus button activates the 6km/h walk assist. Hitting the Set button switches between trip distance and the odometer, and keeping your finger on it switches between metric and imperial units.
The speed readings update in 0.5km/h increments, so if you’re doing 22.7km/h, it’ll round down and tell you you’re doing 22.5km/h.
The Impulse 2.0 system begins phasing out motor assistance at 25km/h, with assistance completely stopping at 27.5km/h. This means once your past 27.5km/h you’re pedalling under your own power. The phase out is gradual and you don’t feel like you just hit a brick wall when it gets to 25km/h.
The Impulse 2.0 drive unit gives you assistance depending on how much force you’re placing on the pedals via a torque multiplier.
Having never become familiar with Impulse 1.0, since it had never been distributed in Australia, I really didn’t know what to expect. I had read marketing material suggesting Impulse 2.0 was quiet while offering up to 70Nm of torque. All of this while being more efficient, and featuring things such as hill assist and shift sensor assist. But of course this means nothing till you test the bike yourself.
The Impulse 2.0 drive unit gives you assistance depending on how much force you’re placing on the pedals via a torque multiplier. There’s no throttle, so you’re always putting in some sort of effort. The harder and faster you pedal, the more assistance the motor will give you.
You also need to be in the right gear to get the motor working at its most efficient level, where you essentially feel the most amount of power being delivered. This is the same for all mid-drives, where being in the right gear is critically important. If you happen to be in too high of a gear, the motor will feel extremely underpowered, as if you were on a heavy non-electric bicycle.
I set the Orange C8 on the highest assist setting (Power) and the first gear, and jumped on. What came next really took me by surprise.
Yes, that’s a comfort bike behaving like a Gazelle and doing a wheelie from a stand still. It’s always easier making the front wheel lift in a hill climb on many ebikes, but to have it happen from a stand still on a perfectly flat surface, without lifting the front handlebars, definitely took us by surprise.
Yes, that’s a comfort bike behaving like a Gazelle.
The first thing I noticed when I put force on the pedals was the quick torque delivery, which was most obvious while being in the 1st gear. The mid-drives we’ve tested so far slowly ramp up power when the pedals are first engaged, to prevent the front wheel lifting from an instant hit of torque if you’re in a low gear. The Impulse 2.0 gave me almost instant (there is a very slight assistance delay compared to Bosch) torque relative to the force I applied on the pedals. Having torque delivered instantly instead of ramped up has its pros and cons. It’s good for starting on a hill (as long as you’re in a correct gear and anticipating the front wheel lifting), and where power is needed once you begin pedalling. But on the other end it can be dangerous if you’re not anticipating it, especially if you’re constantly stopping and starting on congested cycle ways. The front wheel lifting can be overcome by placing it in a lower assist setting, higher gear when starting or placing your weight forward. Having said that, we much prefer the instant torque delivery compared to torque being ramped up.
The sound of wind hitting my face was louder than the sound coming from the drive unit.
The Impulse 2.0 Compact LCD doesn’t feature an assistance indicator, which would normally tell you how much assistance the motor is giving you. Also, because the drive unit isn’t all that noisy, you won’t know how much the motor is helping you based on noise alone. In fact, the sound of wind hitting my face was louder than the sound coming from the drive unit.
An assistance indicator would’ve been excellent on the Impulse 2.0. That’s because it feels like it has much more power left even on the highest assist setting, so it would’ve been good to know how much the motor is actually helping. Now being in the first gear and starting from a standstill did produce enough torque to cause the front wheel to lift. But once you get going and begin to shift up on the Shimano Nexus 8, it becomes quite a different bike.
The Impulse 2.0 system is equipped with a shift sensor, which deactivates the motor for a fraction of a second when you’re shifting gears to avoid any damage to the gearing system within the drive unit, or crunching gears if you were running a derailleur.
Generally speaking, most Internal Geared Hubs require you to remove load from the pedals as you shift. If you were to constantly do this on the Orange C8, there wouldn’t be a point of having a shift sensor to deactivate the motor. When we tested shifting gears under load in a hill climb, it was only when there was a huge amount of force placed on the pedals by standing up, that the Nexus 8 struggled to shift. In a normal scenario, you’re likely not going to be in the 8 gear while trying to climb a grade, let alone standing up. Once we dropped to the 7th gear or below, even with regular force on the pedals while sitting down, the Nexus 8 still managed to shift.
There’s a small sensor with the gear cable running through the unit, which is located inside the downtube, and as the sensor picks up on tension and movement, the motor disengages the crank and deactivates assistance. Surprisingly, we didn’t experience the shift sensor twitching and kicking in while going over small bumps that could have rattled the gear cable.
I found during testing that the Nexus 8 in the 8th gear got me around 41-45km/h at roughly 91RPM before I started freewheeling downhill. During most the test I was between gears 5 and 8.
In hill climbs under 20% grade the lowest gear I used was 2, and when a hill peaked above 20% I would shift down to the 1st gear. I felt the gear ratios were spread quite well to offer a good speed downhill, as well as excellent assistance up hill.
However, while I was pedalling on a flat grade in 8th gear sitting around 55-60rpm, it didn’t feel like I was on the highest assist setting. I say this because if I put my foot down, (which equals more force through the pedals), I felt a lot more power was available.
On certain ebikes I’ve ridden, on the highest assist level, you may get 250% more power than what you’re putting in. The additional 250% of assistance may be close to the motors limits depending on how much force you’re exerting (torque multiplier). Generally speaking by being on the maximum assistance level, you’re usually close to the motors maximum output already. A good example of this is the Bosch and BH Neo system, where being on the highest assist level doesn’t take all that much effort to reach the power limit set (whether it be speed or torque). So irrespective of how much extra force I put through the pedals on the BH Neo or Bosch bikes, the system has reached its power limit and won’t be giving me anymore assistance.
We felt the Impulse 2.0 had been programmed so that the 70NM of torque comes to life when climbing hills in the lowest gears.
My initial thoughts were the Impulse 2.0 could easily do with another assistance level beyond ‘Power’, since A LOT more torque was available if I pedalled harder and faster. But then, the more I rode the Orange C8, the more I realised why it was set up like this.
On the highest assistance level in 8th gear, while pedalling around 55-60rpm (the ideal relaxed/comfort bike cadence), you’ll be sitting around 23-25km/h, while still being fully assisted by the motor. If the level of assistance was higher, you would go beyond the legal speed limit, which would mean assistance turning off, essentially turning the Orange C8 into a heavy bicycle.
We felt the Impulse 2.0 had been programmed so that the 70NM of torque comes to life when climbing hills in the lowest gears. The acceleration from stopping-starting is great, however when pedalling on a flat grade in a high gear, you may feel it could do with more power. But it’s when you’re climbing hills where the torque really shines. The Orange C8 climbed hills more like a Mountain Goat than a Gazelle.
This is why, even with a 416Wh battery that the Orange C8 achieved 69km in the range test but had an average speed lower than the other mid-drives. The Impulse 2.0 system is programmed in a way that the majority of torque is available when the pedals are being pushed the hardest in the lower gears, and therefore you’re conserving energy on flats and hills.
The Impulse 2.0 system also has a new feature called climb-assist, which is designed to maintain power in a hill climb if you drop the force you’re applying on the pedals. This doesn’t mean that you can begin pedalling up the hill then suddenly stop and expect the motor to carry on. Rather it’s for very small changes in cadence and pedal force which a rider can experience as they’re going up a hill. If I put in less effort ever so slightly, the Impulse 2.0 would try to maintain the same (or at least close to) torque during the hill climb. If I backed off the pedals too much, the drop in assistance would then be much more obvious.
I see Eco being used if you want a good workout, and if you can arrive at your destination sweaty.
If you’re planning to commute over 69km without the ability to charge (assuming you weigh 96kg), it’s likely you’ll need to use a lower assistance level. Using Eco, I needed to increase my effort, which meant an increased heart rate and making use of the lower gears. I see Eco being used if you want a good workout, and if you can arrive at your destination sweaty. Sport felt like double the power of Eco, and likely a setting I would use if I didn’t live in a moderate hilly suburb. The power difference between Eco, Sport and Power is clearly noticeable. For the most part, we had ours set to Power, since we know how efficient mid-drives can be. Of course, using Eco or Sport will extend your range considerably more. It would be good to see the assistance percentages between each level, however Impulse don’t have these published anywhere.
With premium ebike systems now flooding our market, one question dealers often ask is how open are these drive units to allow modification to their software to suit different riders? The Impulse 2.0 has a Service Unit which is available for purchase to all dealers who stock the Gazelle Impulse 2.0 bikes.
Although you don’t receive a service report with your new purchase as you do with Bosch, the service unit allows the dealer to check and change several settings.
Impulse 2.0 Service Unit
The service unit is sold as an additional item to dealers, so just because your dealer stocks Gazelle Impulse bikes, it does not necessarily mean they will have the Service Unit on hand.
Once the unit is plugged in, you’re given 4 menu options. Information, Inspection, Settings and Update.
Information then has sub menus which allows you to check battery status such as battery manufacturer, charge cycles, serial number, and charge capacity. Motor status displays the current firmware for the controller, run time and the configuration (back pedal brake or freewheel, wheel circumference, etc)
Inspection is more related to testing of the components on the bike, and this is where you can check for error messages, or if the motor is working as it should (it’ll run a test that starts spinning the motor). The Gazelle Orange C8 is equipped with a freewheel, so the Back Pedal Brake test isn’t applicable.
The Settings menu allows you to change several parameters, including the wheel circumference, riding profile, climb-assist and the shift sensor timing.
There are 3 options within Biking profile, which are Eco, Normal and Dynamic, which relate to how the motor behaves in relation to the torque sensor. So if you had it set to the Eco riding profile, and the Eco assistance setting, you would expect your range to be extended by a large amount by compromising power. We had the Dynamic profile set during our testing, which we found worked best.
The climb-assist is based on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 being the most sensitive, in the sense that in hill climbs you would expect assistance to stay on longer, in relation to small changes in force applied to the pedals compared to level 1.
The shift sensor delay can also be changed if you’re finding the drive unit pausing too long between gear changes. We had ours set to 50ms during testing, which was quite fast, albeit still noticeable when it occurred.
The final menu option is Update which allows dealers to load an SD card into the Service Unit to upgrade the Service Unit and the Impulse drive unit firmware.
The Service Unit allows the Impulse 2.0 drive system to be dialled in to your riding style, which makes the Gazelle Orange C8 highly configurable.
Its torque sensor could be a little quicker in picking up changes in pedalling force and cadence, but we’re guessing you would need to relax the torque multiplier. Having said that, for a 250w ebike, it produces excellent torque, and the best we’ve experienced on an EN15194 conforming ebike so far. Even if it does feel it could do with another assistance level on flats, it’s climbing hills where the Orange C8’s performance shines. After all this is a comfort bike, and the ability to climbs hills easier means the ride remains comfortable.
The large Schwalbe City Lite 700x38C tyres don’t just look good with their brown sidewalls, but also barely made a sound when rolling, and it was only when it had rained could you hear the sound of the tyres breaking up the water. At first, I was hesitant of cornering fast on a comfort bike, but the City Lite tyres offered excellent grip in the wet (and dry), when taking corners in excess of 20km/h. They even seemed to grip going over drainage covers, which usually leads to slippage on quite a number of other tyres.
Pulling me up are the Magura HS11 Hydraulic rim brakes which we’ve tested previously and were a big fan of.
Brakes play an important part on ebikes since they’re heavier, and therefore require better than average stopping power. Pulling me up are the Magura HS11 Hydraulic rim brakes which we’ve tested previously and were a big fan of. They provide plenty of stopping power for a comfort bike, while reducing maintenance costs and having to constantly tighten the brake cables or replace brake pads. Both brakes also feature a quick release, although there’s no QR for the front or rear hub, so it could take some time to change a tyre if you needed to.
The front and rear headlight both run off the dynamo hub, so will only turn on while you’re riding (assuming the front headlight switch is in the on-position). The rear light will stay on for a few minutes after you’ve stopped riding, as a safety feature if you’ve stopped at a set of traffic lights at night.
Since I ride a lot at night, I tend to carry a spare front headlight in case the bikes front headlight isn’t adequate, which I thought may have been the case with the FenderVision.
Light angle adjustment switch
First, the FenderVision is equipped with a Busch & Müller headlight and features a 3 position switch that allows you to change the angle of the light. I thought this may have been gimmicky after seeing the light only moved a 2mm or so between each of the 3 positions. But when I tested the different switch positions at night, the small changes in angle actually made a big difference.
I preferred position 1, since the light was more focussed downwards just in front of the bike, which gave good concentration of light, since the street lights covered the sides well enough. Position 3 angles the light upwards, giving you a wider projection which was also very usable. The FenderVision isn’t just a pretty design, but actually quite practical while being very usable.
If you’re leaving your ebike parked unattended you’ll want to know you’ll come back and still find it. The LCD isn’t removable so you’d hope it doesn’t attract too much attention. However the Orange C8 features an AXA wheel lock with an optional 1 metre AXA plug in chain. The wheel lock allows for a rod to pass through the wheel, creating a reinforced circular rod around the entire rim. The 1 metre AXA plug-in chain is optional, but allows you to also secure the bike by looping the chain around a pole then plugging it into the wheel lock. Both the wheel lock and battery use the same key, and the only way to remove the key is to secure the wheel lock.
The Compact LCD doesn’t offer phone intergration or USB charging, but if you’re riding your bike every day, there are some accessories you can’t do without.
We’ve spoken about the mudguards multiple times, but what you’ll realise if you commute after it’s just rained, is how short some mudguards are on the front and rear tyres which likely means you’re getting wet. The further down they extend, the more likely they are in protecting water splashing back onto your shoes, trousers and seat. The Orange C8 mudguards extend quite a distance down the wheel, providing further protection.
Unless you’re buying a mountain bike you should always expect a kickstand. The Orange C8 comes with an aftermarket kickstand but unfortunately we found it too short which meant the bike leaned a considerable amount from factory. If it’s flat ground it’s passable but if it’s windy or the ground is uneven you may have trouble making it stable. However, the kickstand is adjustable, and it can be extended. If you forget to have your dealer properly adjust it for you, all you will need is a hex driver for the adjusting bolt. Adjust the two metal rods to extend them as much as possible, but not too much that they fall from the kickstand or flex at the contact point, because of minimal contact with the bolt (which can lead to instability).
The chain guard not only protects your trousers but also prolongs the life of the chain since it’s fully enclosed. Because the chain is no longer exposed to the elements, having to oil or clean the chain after its rained is one less thing to worry about.
Some people like to shout or ride past people without warning. Others like to use a bell, and on the Gazelle is the twist bell that offers a clean and simple solution to $5 plastic bells that break from overuse.
If you don’t like wearing a backpack or jamming things inside your pockets you’ll be looking for a pannier rack. The pannier rack has a carrying capacity up to 25kg and the 3 tie down straps are a nice inclusion. If you have pannier bags that lock onto the top bars of the pannier rack, (the Ortlieb bags for example) you’ll notice that they won’t work using the top bars. The battery pack is a tad wide or the pannier rack a tad narrow that it doesn’t give clearance to the locking jaws to clear the pack and lock onto the bar.
But of course, Gazelle are one step ahead and feature a lower horizontal bar on both sides that works fine securing all 3 locking positions.
Thirsty? Install a water bottle mount on the available downtube mounts and don’t worry about water falling into the drive unit, it’s sealed.
Conclusion & Score Card
For some time, Gazelle ebikes were only available as front hub options in Australia. Although their styling and comfort was unmatched in Australia, I always thought their drive systems did lack some of the extra grunt required to conquer some of Sydney’s dreadful hills.
The Impulse 2.0 drive system not only brings the extra grunt to the Gazelle line up, but offers a neatly integrated mid-drive drive system, that allows Gazelle to remain true to its known styling and comfort.
Its torque output in low gears was the most powerful we’ve tested so far, and it’s where the Impulse 2.0 system shines. Its compact LCD is simple, but keeps the handlebars clean, while the backlight thumb controller is the first of its kind we’ve seen. The ability to customise the drive system is excellent and allows dealers to tune their customers riding profile.
There are quite a number of features the Gazelle Orange C8 has brought to the market by adopting Impulse, and there’s no doubt it’s the correct move to now make it one of the biggest competitors in comfort ebikes in 2015.
- Make – Gazelle
- Model – Orange C8 Impulse 2.0
- Year of manufacture – 2015
- Revision/Version – 1
- Frame – 57cm
- Frame Size Options:
- Step-Through: 46, 49, 53, 47, 61
- Mens: 53, 57, 61, 65
- Frame Colour – Silver/White
- Wheel Diameter – 700 x 38C
- Rear Derailleur / Front Gear Shifter – Shimano Nexus 8, single chainring
- Motor – Impulse 2.0 Mid-drive
- Battery Type – 36.5V 11.4Ah (416Wh)
- Suspension Fork – Gazelle Adjustable
- Head Set – Gazelle Quill
- Crankset – Gazelle Single Chainring
- Freewheel Crankset? – Yes
- Bottom Bracket – Impulse 2.0 Mid-Drive
- Rim – Rodi XR19 700C
- Spoke – 32 Spoke Sapim
- Hub (front and rear) – Shimano DH-3N31 NT, Shimano Nexus 8
- Brake (front and rear) – Magura HS11 Hydraulic rim brakes
- Handle Bar – Aerowing Comfort
- Stem – Switch Adjustable
- Saddle – Selle Royale Herz
- Seat Post – Post-Moderne Suspended
- Tyre – Schwalbe City Lite
- Lock – AXA wheel lock
- Charger – 42A 4A fanless fast charger
- Maximum Speed – Phase out beginning 25km/h till 27.5km/h
- Range – 69.1km
- Bike weight – 26.1kg (including battery)
- Warranty – 10-Years Frame; 2-Years Components
- Base Price $3,999