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The Freak - Gazelle Friiik

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The Freak - Gazelle Friiik

Old 11-05-22, 01:40 PM
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The Freak - Gazelle Friiik

Sometimes you come across a bucket list bike for such a cheap price you just have to make a trip halfway across the country to pick it up.

Technically maybe too young for the vintage part of the forum but a classic in its own right, the Gazelle Friiik (pronounced as "Freak") was introduced in 2011... and killed off in 2012.



That looks like some generic modern Dutch commuter bike... So why was I so curious about this one?

In one word; GSS, the Gazelle Shifting System. This bike has a fully sealed 7-speed derailleur system in a load bearing aluminum chaincase. Meaning a very efficient drivetrain with low wear. It also has a single sided rear fork, making it very easy to replace the tyre in case of a leak.

Courtesy of TestKees & Fietsersbond

The bike used to cost €849 back in 2012 (about €1000 now) which was about €100 more than a comparable bike using a Shimano Nexus 7. But reviewers loved it and told people to try it before buying the Shimano.

So why did it fail? Well, Gazelle blamed retailers for being too conservative but those in turn blame 4 changes in management in the two years while the Friiik was available. In the end it was forgotten about and never developed further.
From what I've read users really liked it but Gazelle being Gazelle they had a lot of proprietary parts in here. The big issue with these bikes is the bottom bracket. Once they wore out there were no spares available and the manufacturer either stopped making them or went bankrupt. They do use standard industrial sealed bearings but most bike shops don't have the tools and the skills to work on that.

My own example:
So I picked up mine for €75, knowing the bottom bracket was shot. It was pretty bad. When I rode the bike back from the seller to the trainstation I stopped to check whether my right crank arm was loose and about to fall off. It was the bearings.
What I did notice though is that it was indeed a very nice smooth ride that took very little effort to bring up to speed. And that's reasuring with the bike being close to 20kg (44 lbs). This could make for a very comfortable all-weather commuter if I can get it all working again.

As I picked it up from the seller:





From what I can tell quite a few parts need replacing:
  • Sprockets. Shifting felt a bit rough at times. Apparently it is a 7-speed system using 9-speed parts. I wonder if I could make it work using 11-speed parts? Maybe using friction?
  • Twist shifter. It looks like a standard 7-speed Sunrace shifter with GGS labeling. A trigger shifter would probably be safer.
  • Cables. Both brakes were sticky and hard to press. The kind of feeling you get with rusted cables.
The paint on the chaincase was flaking in parts as well and I've always hated those Gazelle kickstands. They tend to corrode and fall off over time. Absolutely stupid design.
I'm tempted to replace the rims with something a bit more sexy, like a black H plus Son Archetype and a Sturmey Archer XL-FDD dynohub in the front but let's focus on getting it working again first. With everything being metal I could even have the whole bike repainted in matching/contrasting colours. A Mondrian setup would be sweet!

But I digress.

It's a fun bit of history and I'm looking forward to digging into the technical bits and pieces. I needed something fun to get a bit more active with this hobby again.
And worst case scenario... I spent €75 on a dud.
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Old 11-05-22, 01:40 PM
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History placeholder


2011 Ladies version


Front suspension version




Examples by other people:More info:

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Old 11-05-22, 02:22 PM
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Wow! In some ways, it’s a very good idea. But they should not blame retailers. There is a risk that comes with leaving standards behind.

Am I correct that your model has two drum brakes? I guess this accounts for some of that 20 kg weight. Wow, that’s heavy.
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Old 11-05-22, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider
Wow! In some ways, it’s a very good idea. But they should not blame retailers. There is a risk that comes with leaving standards behind.

Am I correct that your model has two drum brakes? I guess this accounts for some of that 20 kg weight. Wow, that’s heavy.
Shimano Roller brake up front and Sturmey Archer drum brake in the rear. If I'm not mistaken they are one of the few companies that offer single-sided brake hubs like the XL-SD which are the basis for Ginkgo Veloteile's air cooled drum brakes for trikes and velomobiles.

And the 20Kg isn't extraordinary unfortunately. These bikes were loaded up with some heavy duty parts and luxuries so even a 2022 Gazelle Orange C7+ weighs 19 kg (42 lbs). Sometimes I wonder if they even know how to make light bikes.
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Old 11-05-22, 04:55 PM
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Single sided frame...
paint it Red and put Ducati graphics on it
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Old 11-07-22, 06:35 AM
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Originally Posted by repechage
Single sided frame...<br />paint it Red and put Ducati graphics on it
I was thinking Akira bike but that could work too.


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Old 11-07-22, 07:12 AM
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OK, I'm saying it, that is on cool bike! I like the odd stuff and the challenge of getting it all going again. Can't wait to see more about this one.
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Old 11-07-22, 10:01 AM
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They should have sold a higher end model and called it the Super Friiik.
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Old 11-07-22, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by JaccoW
I was thinking Akira bike but that could work too.


ducati just won the mfg Motorcycle GP title
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Old 11-07-22, 11:11 AM
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I think single sided rear wheels on steel bicycles do not work as well as they do in motorcycles as they could not beef up the frame enough as they did on the motorcycles, to minimize the resulting twisting flex at the rear, caused by the moment forces coming from the cantilevered rear axle.
I guess on a townie bikeike this one it will not be an 8ssue but on a road race steel bike it certainly will. Monocoque carbon bikes like the famous one from Lotus are of course, an exception.

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Old 11-07-22, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by JaccoW
(...) The big issue with these bikes is the bottom bracket. Once they wore out there were no spares available (...)
The logical solution would have been to bring a spare along. It's what others did with their special parts.

Note the spare goat on top:

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Old 11-07-22, 11:38 AM
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Single sided hub = solution to a non-problem.
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Old 11-07-22, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by non-fixie
The logical solution would have been to bring a spare along. It's what others did with their special parts.

Note the spare goat on top:

Ah, so the hamster wheel was originally a goat wheel! That's a nice bit of historical info.
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Old 11-08-22, 03:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Bad Lag
Single sided hub = solution to a non-problem.
Originally Posted by Chombi1
I think single sided rear wheels on steel bicycles do not work as well as they do in motorcycles as they could not beef up the frame enough as they did on the motorcycles, to minimize the resulting twisting flex at the rear, caused by the moment forces coming from the cantilevered rear axle.
I guess on a townie bikeike this one it will not be an 8ssue but on a road race steel bike it certainly will. Monocoque carbon bikes like the famous one from Lotus are of course, an exception.
Except they have been around for ages in the mountainbike world on the front. The Cannondale Lefty Ocho is one modern example. They're claimed to be lighter and stiffer than traditional forks.

For the rear, especially with disc brakes, there is simply not enough room to put the cassette and disc on the same side. I'm willing to bet it's very possible to make the rear stiff enough but it's more a case of not enough real estate.
There have been fixed gear bikes that are one-sided however: English project right
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Old 11-08-22, 06:33 AM
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I remember digging these up one day on an unrelated search for Gazelle-compatible chaincases. Delighted to see that one of these has made it's way to your mad scientist's lab, JaccoW.

Also looking forward to seeing how that BB gets serviced - given the corrosion over the whole thing, I can see where premature wear of a BB can become a normal thing over there. Does it have press-in cups, or is it simply press-in bearings, a-la Lambert/Viscount?

-Kurt
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Old 11-08-22, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by beicster
They should have sold a higher end model and called it the Super Friiik.
They could have had Rick James do the TV commercials for it.

-Kurt
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Old 11-08-22, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by nlerner
Ah, so the hamster wheel was originally a goat wheel! That's a nice bit of historical info.
It would have been a bit of a challenge for a hamster, methinks. I've been informed that the goat could get the 'bike' up to15kph, which actually makes it a useful thing. I rather like it, assuming the goats don't mind (or perhaps even enjoy) the trips.
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Old 11-08-22, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by nlerner
Ah, so the hamster wheel was originally a goat wheel! That's a nice bit of historical info.
I hear that they tried Hamster on a Thighmaster too, but it didn't work out that well.

-Kurt
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Old 11-13-22, 01:55 PM
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So I wanted to work on the bike during the day and actually use the sun that is still out here in min-November (hottest day ever, which is not a good thing)... but I ended up doing other things instead. Still, I managed to take a first look at the chaincase and open everything up.

First off, I took out 15 screws + 1 bolt, removed the rear wheel and took a look inside. Taking off the wheel turned out to be much easier than expected. All it took was a single 8mm hex and the whole thing just popped off.
When I went around and cracked open the chaincase I could see things were actually in pretty good shape! As far as I can tell there is hardly any wear on either the cassette or the plastic bits. The main issue is the method of shifting itself, but I'll get to that in a bit.

There does seem to be a lot of small custom bits but also a lot of modified Sunrace/Sturmey Archer parts. The shifting mechanism uses an extra-short indicator chain that threads into a spring-loaded gear selector assembly. Which in turn pulls the derailleur mechanism up and down a ramp. To my eye however it looks suspiciously like a regular 3-speed clutch spring!
It's honestly ingenious in its simplicity.

That indicator chain is a ***** to get right though (I haven't been able to get it back in yet) and since it is some custom short version I will probably have to make my own custom version at some point.
I do think however this mechanism is easily modified for use with a friction shifter (or trigger shifter) since the responsibility for the right cable pull is entirely up to the shifter, not the derailleur.
And if that works... maybe I could use 11-speed or even 12-speed parts to make a cassette with smaller steps. I don't think I'll be able to make big changes to the gear range due to size constraints but smaller steps between gears is always nice.





Removing the rear wheel


All the screws!


The chaincase with some bearings in there.


Gearing overview


Extra short indicator chain



First look at the bottom bracket assembly
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Old 11-13-22, 01:58 PM
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Drivetrain close-up

And some more detail shots of the drivetrain

Highest gear:


Lowest gear:


Gear selector assembly:



Cassette close-up:
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Old 11-14-22, 09:29 AM
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I'm just doing some napkin calculations on the gearing here.

Assuming what another owner said about spacing is correct (7 sprockets/speed using thinner 9-speed parts) you could theoretically use even narrower parts as long as they adhere to the Shimano HG standard.

So assuming:
  • 7-speed uses 1.8mm thick sprockets spaced 5mm apart.
  • 9-speed uses 1.78mm thick sprockets spaced 4.34mm apart.
  • 7-speed uses 1.6mm thick sprockets spaced 3.74mm apart.
That would mean the bike currently has 7 speeds at a total width of 38.5mm. (as opposed to 42.6mm if it was using 7-speed parts)
Meaning, that you could fit 8 speeds using 11-speed parts for a total width of 38.98mm!

9-speeds would probably be too much at 44.32mm but could theoretically work if they did use 7-speed parts.

Something to ponder and measure!

EDIT: And then there's the SunRace MZ90 12-speed (MTB) and CSRZ800 WAV, WAT and WAW HG-compatible 12-speed models...
9-speed in 42.8mm anyone?
Source: Obike.de

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Old 11-14-22, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by cudak888
I hear that they tried Hamster on a Thighmaster too, but it didn't work out that well.

-Kurt

-----

There was a bit of a scandal with that product when it came out that its celebrity spokesperson Suzanne Somers had had liposuction treatments for her thighs.


-----
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Old 11-14-22, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by JaccoW
That indicator chain is a ***** to get right though (I haven't been able to get it back in yet) and since it is some custom short version I will probably have to make my own custom version at some point.
Jacco, try lying the bike on its side while ensuring the half-moon "derailer" is shifted into the large cog position. Then try inserting the indicator chain. This will let gravity guide the end of the indicator, and since it'll be in low, you'll have a shorter distance to get it into place, giving the indicator less opportunity to find the edges of the tube instead of the threaded hole in the center.

Side note - you might want to consider your alternate gearing based on the ramp of the derailer chainguide. I wouldn't be surprised if it can accept a thinner cogset, but you may have issues if the guide runs higher or lower than the cogs themselves.

-Kurt
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Old 11-14-22, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by cudak888
Jacco, try lying the bike on its side while ensuring the half-moon "derailer" is shifted into the large cog position. Then try inserting the indicator chain. This will let gravity guide the end of the indicator, and since it'll be in low, you'll have a shorter distance to get it into place, giving the indicator less opportunity to find the edges of the tube instead of the threaded hole in the center.

Side note - you might want to consider your alternate gearing based on the ramp of the derailer chainguide. I wouldn't be surprised if it can accept a thinner cogset, but you may have issues if the guide runs higher or lower than the cogs themselves.
Thanks for the tip. Haven't thought of that one yet.

As for the gearing, with the limited space I don't expect to be able to vastly change the gearing anyway. Worst thing that can happen is the narrower chain causing issues while shifting. I've seen it happen with vintage front derailleurs and modern chains.
It will be an experiment.
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Old 11-14-22, 03:00 PM
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That cassette looks odd in terms of it's cog sizes.

Looking to my eye like 11-13-15-18-21-23-25t, so perhaps 25t is all that there is room for(?), unless that one bolt boss can be relieved enough to fit in a 26t.
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