Gazelle Orange Plus Innergy XT eBike Commuter Review

This article is not about a bike, this article is about a vehicle. Yes, this vehicle has two wheels and you pedal it, but it has more in common with a car than it does with the types of bikes we’re used to in Australia. The Gazelle Orange Plus Innergy XT is what happens when you take bikes seriously as a transport option rather than as something for sports or recreation.

Before I begin the review, let me set some context for this bike. Start by imagining the most basic idea of a bike, now put that basic bike in an environment where bikes are considered an essential part of the transport infrastructure, where there are more bikes than cars and where bikes are considered just a faster way of getting around than walking. Further, imagine that the bike’s “natural” predators have be tamed by legislation and common sense. What do you get? You get the Orange Plus Innergy XT – it’s a bike that has evolved, and it’s evolved in one of the most bike friendly countries in the world, the Netherlands. A review such as this would be considered crazy over there, why would someone get so excited about a bike? But here in Australia, this bike is a breath of fresh air and it’s definitely exciting enough to review in depth.

Gazelle Royal Bicycles

The first thing you will notice about the bike is its style. From front to back it’s a well integrated and thoughtfully designed machine. A quick visual tour around the bike will reveal the name Gazelle stamped on almost everything. This is not a hodge-podge of components thrown on a generic frame with a sticker on it, this is a bike where every part of it has been designed to mesh with every other part. Not only is it a synthesised bike, it’s a synthesised electric bike; the front wheel hub motor, battery and controller are as well integrated as all of the other components; the bike was built to be an electric bike.

After you’ve noticed the whole package, your eyes drill down to the details. Swept back handlebars, big comfortable seat, flat pedals, rear rack, built in lock, full chain guard, integrated lighting, mud guards – it even has a skirt guard! Basically, this is a bike designed to be ridden, and ridden without thinking too much about it. You jump on it wearing whatever you have on and you ride it.

Gazelle Orange Plus Innergy XT review

All of the styling and careful design of a bike amounts to nothing if the bike doesn’t ride well. I rode this bike to and from work every day and I rode it on the weekends. Each time I rode it I was wearing whatever I had on, usually jeans, a shirt and sneakers. Essentially I used it the way it was meant to be used, and I did this for over a month, riding with the motor off about half of the time, to get the fullest picture of the way the Innergy performs.

When I set off from my house to work, the road is downhill and it’s very easy to pick up speed on any bike. Without turning the pedals over, I will hit 40 kph before I have to make a left into a slight uphill before heading downhill again to reach speeds around 50kph. After that there’s a sharp stop, several traffic lights, a main road and rolling hills. I present all of this detail to demonstrate the types of terrain I tested this bike on, that is, pretty much all of the common terrains in Australia’s major cities. Weekend rides were around Sydney Olympic Park, which is about as flat an area as you get in Sydney.

Gazelle innergy closed chain

It took me about a week of riding to get used to this bike, not because it’s a bad bike to ride, rather because it is so very different to ride compared to a drop bar or a flat bar bike. Once my brain adapted to the differences, I was moving the bike around with as much verve as my regular rides.

The most startling thing about the way this bike rides is how well it handles. I was riding the large version of the bike, which puts me a fair way above the ground. Despite this, the weight of the hubs, the long wheel base and the big tyres meant that this bike handled better than my regular commuter. The centre of gravity of this bike is very low and this means you can take corners at speeds you wouldn’t think about taking them on a racing bike, especially when you’re sitting almost upright. The bike sticks to the ground and responds smoothly. The Innergy is also stable and manoeuvrable at low speeds, so it’s perfect for riding along crowded shared paths. The only time it wasn’t stable was when it was stationary, or very near to it; I couldn’t track stand this bike at all, despite trying the whole time I had it (but that’s just me playing silly buggers).

Gentlemens eBike

The suspension seat post and front fork suspension absorb all of the minor bumps in the road and even out parking lot speed humps. The hand grips are comfortable and support the heel of your hand to keep that comfort long term. The internal gears in the Shimano Nexus 7 speed rear hub are changed via the right grip with a twist shift; you can see which gear you’re in through a small window in the shifter. The left grip has a similar form factor to the right, but instead of changing the gear, a twist of the left grip rings the bell. Of all of the cool integrated features of this bike, this one made me smile the most. The roller brake in the back and the v-brake in the front give confident and well modulated stopping power.

Engaging the motor on the bike requires a simple button press on the control panel, accessed with your left thumb. The electrical system goes through a number of quick self-checks before the motor smoothly and definitely kicks in. As per Australian law, this bike is a pedal assist set up, so the motor will only work while you’re pedalling the bike. The Innergy has both torque and cadence sensors, so you don’t need to pedal too hard or fast to get the motor to help you along. The pedal assist cuts out after you’re travelling about 25 kph, so it gets you going, but it’s not a motorbike.

Gazelle innergy ebike battery

The motor works in three modes: eco, normal and boost. I tended to use only normal and boost; normal for flat riding and boost for the hills. If my journey to work is mostly downhill, it stands to reason that the journey home is uphill, and I found myself using boost quite a lot coming home. According to the specs, the battery will give you about 30 kms worth of constant use in normal mode, but I found I got about 50 km worth of use out of the battery using a mixture of normal and boost. This was because of the 25 kph cut-out; I used the motor to get me started on the flats and then kept the speed in the low 30s where the motor doesn’t operate. The battery recharges in about 3 hours and it doesn’t have memory effects, so I could just plug it in at the end of each journey and have it ready for the next.

One of the counter intuitive things about the Innergy is that you don’t really notice your speed. I spend a lot of time on the bike and I’m pretty attuned to how fast I’m travelling when my legs are turning at a particular rate and I’m in a particular gear. On the Innergy, with the motor on, I’d be turning my legs over at a rate that would have me riding at about 10-15 kph, but a glance at the speed on the control panel would show I was travelling closer to 30!

Gazelle innergy shimano nexus

The motor, in boost mode, really makes a difference on the hills. When I found myself struggling up a slope, a quick press of the button on the control panel and the boost mode kicks in with more power. Having that extra power really flattens the ground out and gave me a good 5 kph over the speeds I take these hills at on my normal commuting bike, and the best bit is that I didn’t have to kill myself to do it – I just pedalled the best I could and the motor did the rest.

The best evidence I can give for the quality of the motor is running it along the street I live in; it’s over a kilometre long, has an average gradient of 12% with a “wonderful” 21% section. Running the motor in boost mode got me home easily up sections around 10 and 12%, but continuing up the street to the 21% section…well, it was slow, but I was able to do it without killing myself, as I normally have to do on my other bikes. Yes, it did require significant effort from both me and the motor, but not nearly as much as it should have. It took me around 6 months to get enough fitness to do that climb on my regular bike, a moderately fit person riding the Innergy could do it first go.

Gazelle innergy ebike controller

About the only thing I have against the pedal assist system is that the mode switch for the motor is located just below the on off switch for the system, and you only need to touch it to turn it off. There were several times where I felt the wonderful helping hand disappear exactly when I needed it most, much like the hot water all of a sudden being turned off during a shower. If only they made you hold the power button down for a few seconds to turn it off, this would all be avoided -take note Gazelle designers.

Without the motor operating, the Innergy rides very comfortably on the flats, a lot better than I expected. The gear range has enough to get you to some good speeds, but the relaxed nature of bike means you’re not going to be standing and sprinting to get there. Cruising along in the mid 20s is an easily achievable scenario without needing to put too much effort into it or use the motor.

Gazelle innergy hub dynamo

Where I found myself really struggling without the motor was when it came to the hills. Even on the lowest gear it’s hard work. If I were buying this bike to ride in my area, I would be getting a bigger cog on the rear hub, something which is trivial to change but which would make a good bit of difference. Of course, that would knock some off your higher end, but it’s not often you’ll be riding in the highest gear, so a bigger rear cog would give you a much more usable range in Sydney.

A lot of thinking has gone into this bike so that the rider doesn’t have to think about it. Ride with whatever shoes you’ve got on? Check, you can even ride barefoot (don’t ask, it’s a long story). Ride without changing clothes? Check, you don’t even need to roll your pant legs up. Bike lock? Built in. Pump? There’s one that fits into the standard rear rack.

Gazelle innergy taillight

And now we come to the point where I have a bit of a problem with the Innergy; it’s only a minor one that requires some thinking around, but it is a concern. Because of the electric motor and the internal rear hub, taking the wheels off the bike to fix a flat is not something that can be done quickly or easily. What this means is that you will either have to learn how to repair a flat without removing the wheels, learn how to remove and reattach the wheels (it takes a little learning) or you will have to work out some way to transport the bike home. Fortunately, Gazelle have thought about this: firstly, the tyres used, Schwalbe Marathons, are the most puncture resistant tyres available; secondly, in the unlikely event you do need to transport the bike, there is a towbar mounted carrier available that will hold the Innergy for a car ride.

There are simply too many features on this bike to cover in an article like this. You can read more about the Orange Plus Innergy XT on the Gazelle website. What’s not mentioned on the web site, but is worth mentioning, is the dealer servicing of the bike and, importantly, the motor. When you take the bike back to the dealer, they can plug the pedal assist system into their computer and get a complete history of how the motor has been used, how the battery has been performing and can diagnose any problems the system has been having. They can work out how the bike is being used and adjust the power profile to better match the terrain you’re covering. This is exactly what they do when I take my car in for a service and it shows just how far from a “normal” bike the Innergy is.

Gazelle ebike integrated lock

If you’re ready to take bicycle transport seriously, and if you demand utility, efficiency and style, the Orange Plus Innergy XT is highly recommended. It’s not a cheaply hacked together bike shaped object, it’s a well constructed and thought out vehicle; the Orange Plus Innergy XT is a genuine car replacement option. It’s available in a variety of sizes and in men’s and women’s models. At $3000, it’s well priced to recoup its purchase price in insurance, registration, parking and fuel costs within months.

There are Gazelle Innergy dealers across Australia, specialised bicycle shops who sell and service these eBikes. Gazelle bicycles are imported into Australia by Gazelle Australia.

Title photo by Stuart Low.



Product Details:

Gazelle Orange Plus Innergy XT (RRP $ 3000)

Related: Gazelle Bicycles Australia Gazelle

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David Halfpenny
About The Author

rides whenever and wherever he can; in good weather and bad, in sickness and in health...and mostly off the back of the peloton.

18 Responses to “Gazelle Orange Plus Innergy XT eBike Commuter Review”

  1. SteveS says:

    You say that “As per Australian law, this bike is a pedal assist set up.”
    Is this correct?
    State law is what determines what is legal on the road, not the Australian road rules or Australian Standards or anything else. As far as I know all the states still only have one requirement for electric bikes.. that it should be no more than 200W.
    The European standard for electric bikes has now been adopted as the Australian Standard. It allows 250W and requires pedal assist mode and the 25kph cut off but as far as I know, no states have yet amended their road rules to reflect this standard.
    There was a rumour that NSW had a change coming but that’s all I’ve heard.
    Have you heard something more on this?

    • David Halfpenny says:

      Steve,
      I based that comment on (a) what I’ve been told and (b) the Australian Design Rules for Vehicles which were modified this year to bring them in line with European Standards for e-bikes. I’m not sure of individual states, but I thought they were coming under a standard umbrella.

      I’ve forwarded this query to Paul from Gazelle bicycles who will be able to answer your question better than I can.

      We’re planning on an e-bike round table discussion where we bring the big e-bike players from around the country together in one article. I’m sure they will have plenty to say on standards, laws, law revisions and so on.

      David

  2. SteveS says:

    Thanks David.
    As a Gazelle owner myself, which I converted to electric a year ago, I’d like to see our mish-mash of road law sorted out, and not just on this issue.
    As for states coming under a standard umbrella I offer this from the NTC Australian Road Rules site under “What are they?”
    “As ‘model laws’, however, they have no legislative force of their own.”

    http://www.ntc.gov.au/ViewPage.aspx?documentid=00794

    The same section states that “The purpose of the agreement was to provide for uniformity across Australia in relation to road rules” and yet, for example, how many different versions of “cycling on footpaths” do we have? At least 3 that I know of.
    I’m pretty sure that until state law is changed from it’s current limit of 200W any bike being sold now which complies with the European (and now Australian) standard is not legal on the road.

  3. HI SteveS and David,

    The laws on E-Bikes are certainly confusing and up until recently have not kept up to date with technological improvements in the electric bike world.

    Here is the latest information I have on the current state of affairs regarding the laws and Australian states. I am relaying information that I have received from Peter Bourke of the CPF.

    VICTORIA

    Today the Victorian Minister for Transport announced that he had Gazetted new vehicle definitions and road laws to allow ‘Pedalecs’ to be used on Victorian roads.

    Pedalecs are defined as Power assisted pedal bicycles meeting European standards EN 15194

    Maxium power 250 watts
    Maximum speed 25km/h
    Pedal assited (not throttle control)

    This change has come after the federal government allowed the importation of these bikes in May.

    Victoria is the first state to pass road laws to allow their use but it is expected that NSW and Qld will do in the coming weeks with the SA by the end of the year and the other states and territories by the end of the FINANCIAL year.

    the Victorian government release can be found at http://cyclingresourcecentre.org.au/news/victorians_get_the_power_to_pedal

    NEW SOUTH WALES

    On Friday the 14th of December, NSW made the regulatory changes to allow Pedelecs meeting EN15194 to be used on NSW roads;

    NSW Road Transport (Vehicle Registration)
    Amendment (Power-Assisted Pedal
    Cycles) Regulation 2012

    under the Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Act 1997
    Published LW 14 December 2012 Page 1

    Her Excellency the Governor, with the advice of the Executive Council, has made the following Regulation under the Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Act 1997.

    DUNCAN GAY, MLC
    Minister for Roads and Ports

    Explanatory note
    The object of this Regulation is to extend the exemption of certain pedal cycles from the application of provisions in the Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Regulation 2007 concerning the registration of registrable vehicles to include power-assisted pedal cycles.
    This Regulation is made under the Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Act 1997, including sections 14 (the general regulation-making power) and 16.

    file:///C:/Users/CPF/Desktop/NSW%20Legislation.htm

    QUEENSLAND

    Queensland has passed the legislative amendments to the act and will have the regulatory changes to allow Pedelecs meeting EN 15194 to be used on Qld roads by the start of next week.

    These changes follow Victoria in September.

    The other states and territories are still working to an end of financial year timeline.

    Hope this helps : )

  4. SteveS says:

    Thanks Paul.
    I’ve heard nothing about most of that. All that for such a simple matter.
    In SA I have to refer to:
    1 Road Traffic Act 1961—
    2 Road Traffic (Road Rules—Ancillary and Miscellaneous
    Provisions) Regulations 1999-
    3 Road Traffic (Miscellaneous) Regulations 1999-
    which are all found in different places and on any issue you can’t be sure there isn’t another document you don’t know about that completely changes what the others say.
    What a mess.

  5. Aggy says:

    Hi David,
    I am not sure that the Gazelle you reviewed had the standard tyres. The spec on this bike says ‘Schwalbe CityLite’.

    I recently bought this bike (really recently – 2 days ago) and I asked to have the tyres upgraded to Schwalbe Marathon as I was worried about punctures.

    • David Halfpenny says:

      I think I had the marathons on the bike, I didn’t know about the CityLite tyres. I’m not sure how the CityLite rank against the Marathons, though. I suspect,that they would probably offer the same level of puncture protection if they’re being put on the Gazelles.

      I know that the Marathons are the go to tyres for city bikes, much like the Vittoria Randonneurs. Vittoria have recently added a City model to their Randonneurs which has a different tread pattern (more slick) and less side knobbly bits, which would make it more suitable for purely sealed road riding, rather than the mixed roads you’d get while touring. Maybe the CityLites from Schwalbe are like that?

      And for the record, I have both the Schwalbes and the Vittorias on my touring and commuting bikes. Both are excellent.

  6. A couple of questions/comments. No mention of the lights. Did you get to try these and if yes how did you find them? Also can the front light be easily swapped out for say a Busch & Mueller 179E?

    My other comment relates to the seat … By the looks of the saddle it is an over padded one which most cyclists know is not comfortable. Can these be easily swapped out to something more suitable such as a Brooks England?

    Okay, a third comment … On the range, did you find you where consistently getting 50 km particularly on the uphill rides? My commute is 42 km each way, around 250 m of climb but the homeward journey is consistently into 40 to 50 km/h headwinds. Ideally I would like to be able to do this ride on one charge.

    Thanks
    Andrew

    • David Halfpenny says:

      Andrew,
      The light on the front was a very nice LED that rivals the output of the Fenix CREE light I have on my commuter. The front light is integrated into the mudguards. The rear lights are an array of red leds built into the battery. I don’t know the form factor of the B&M, so I’m not sure if it can be simply swapped, but you could probably attach one quite simply.

      The built in lights are enough to see by on even dark city streets, but I wouldn’t rate them for off road or country road use where you need much more spill.

      If I bought this bike, I would swap the saddle out for a Brooks. The saddle, as is, isn’t overly soft since much of the comfort comes from the suspension seat post. The seat post should take a Brooks and it has some nice easy Allen key controlled micro adjustment that’s quite easy to get to. The saddle it has is waterproof and suits a wide variety of people. It’s worth a try before swapping it.

      At the speeds I was doing and the terrain I was riding over I was consistently getting 50km out of the battery. If you’re going over 25-27 kph, you won’t be using the motor, so your range will be extended. I would even suggest turning the motor off completely (or put it on eco mode) and then switching it to boost mode when you need it for hills. One charge should be enough, but even if you wanted to use the motor quite a lot more, it should do 42 km with no problems, then charge in about 3 hours for the return journey.

      Cheers,
      David

      • David Halfpenny says:

        Additional to the above, you can get a battery with longer life. I was using the silver battery, from memory, and there’s a gold one available. Talk to Gazelle.

  7. Tony says:

    Try the bh emotion bikes – next generation. Have had mine for 1 month and cannot stop riding it.

  8. Dugite says:

    Well, I have one of these and after 1500 km can report a few things. First, the Innergy really is a smooth, well integrated machine. As David says “You jump on it wearing whatever you have on and you ride it”.

    Unfortunately for me, the motor died at 1500 km, but it was replaced (promptly) under warranty. In retrospect, the bike always seemed slightly difficult to ride without the motor, but I thought that was just the weight of the bike. Now, with a new motor, it freewheels nicely, and I suspect there was something amiss from the beginning.

    I also had the CityLights and got two punctures in 1500 km – more than I used to get with a light racing bike. I now have the Marathons and hope I’ll get better performance.

    One disadvantage of the bike is that the motor cuts out at 27km. In boost mode on flat ground, it cuts in and out a lot, which can be annoying. And, because there is no assistance beyond that limit, the bike doesn’t really help me get to work any quicker than my old racer – which is much quicker downhill and on flat ground.

    All that said, it’s a great bike and I use it every day. One small but great feature of the bike is that you can’t forget your lock or the lights, and always have splash protection. That means I just ride it to work every day, rain hail or shine, and almost never resort to the car to visit the shops.

    • David Halfpenny says:

      Thanks for the update, Dugite. I’m glad it’s working out for you. When I was talking to the Gazelle people about the bike, they mentioned the reliability of the motors/batteries and the diagnostic tools they use to keep an eye on them. If I recall correctly, they said that they had only ever replaced two motors out of all they had sold and these were problematic from the start. It sounds like you had something like that.

      It’s the law that’s stopping the pedal assist from assisting more and it certainly could do if it weren’t restricted. I agree that it doesn’t get you there quicker, just easier. It took me a while to get my commuting legs back when I switched back to my road bike and I really did miss the Gazelle for commuting.

      I’m glad you’re enjoying your bike. I’ll see you on the road.

  9. Peter Reggars says:

    I bought a Gazelle in November 2012. I didn’t get it until February 2013. Delivery times have been terrible. Now the bike has not even completed 100km and is broken down and back in the Bike Shop for repair. Buying a Gazelle has been the worst experience that I have ever had. It might look well made but if doesn’t work then looks count for nothing.
    Buy a cheap Chinese is my recommendation as a friend has done. Her bike works while mine is always in the bike shop for repair.

  10. Jelly Legs says:

    I went from no riding for over 20 years to being a committed daily commuter thanks to the Gazelle Orange Pure Innergy. When I was in the market looking to recover some fitness, I tested both the XT and the Pure and found my jelly legs didn’t need the extra grunt offered by the XT. Have now had over six troublefree months on the Pure with the only shop time being about half an hour as a result of losing control when crossing a bluestone gutter.

    The Gazelle is more than my work wheels. It is now my other vehicle and ride of choice to grab groceries, pick up take away or drop in on friends. Am also loving the excellent range of Basil panniers and handbags that settle securely and without fuss of the rear racks.

    Although my legs are now less pathetic, the peloton still leaves me behind at the lights most days. However, I get to work faster than PT or driving, can park for free, am heaps fitter and sleep like a log, which is also something that had not happened for many years.

  11. Armin says:

    I have the previous model (GAZELLE Orange Pure Innergy) of this electric Gazelle bike so I am not sure if they have fixed ALL the problems with this model, but my experience has been not been very good with the bike, the level of support and service.

    I have had constant things breaking and failing on my bike, from electronics to the dodgy spokes that rusted in 5 months and started breaking, cracked stem and more!

    The latest issue which motivated me to notify others about the quality of this product, is that the charger stopped charging the battery.

    Seriously thinking about taking up the matter with ACCC and getting reimbursed for all my trouble.

  12. […] wheel yet (an adaption that turns your pushbike into an e-bike), when my eyes fell on the Gazelle (full name Gazelle Orange Plus X2 […]

  13. […] ride (or rode) with Vittoria Randonneurs on my commuter and touring bike, and I’ve ridden on Schwalbe Marathons more than a few times before on different bikes. After spending many years commuting on thin, […]

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