Documentary Gazelle | History | Craft | Marketing | Innovation and the Future

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Gazelle stands for quality, service and innovation. Craftsmanship, cycling knowledge, passion.
Gazelle is such a strong brand, it's a really robust bike. Quality, robustness, a means of transport that you could cycle for the rest of your life. For me, Gazelle is reliable, as well as sophisticated.
They’re beautiful bicycles: we pay a lot of attention to design. The best thing about Gazelle is the people. They all have a common passion and that is bicycles. What is really special about Gazelle
is that it's the oldest bicycle factory still in existence in the Netherlands. Willem Kölling and Rudolf Arentsen were two friends here in Dieren. And in 1892 they decided to get together to start a bicycle firm. They wanted to make cycling available to everyone, because there was something really very desirable about cycling. People could cover distances under their own steam and that actually meant that the bicycle became a sign of progress in the Netherlands during the 19th and 20th century. And they already had a vision of giving mobility to people and that is in fact what we are still doing. Motivating people to cycle and to keep cycling.

Gazelle has survived, among other things, two world wars and a whole host of crises. The First World War led, above all, to staff shortages, and the Second World War was very fierce for Gazelle.
A huge bomb fell on the factory here and at the end of the war, while the Netherlands was celebrating liberation, Hendrik Kölling, the director, stood here in front of the factory in tears, thinking: everything has gone, it’s all over. Fortunately, though, it turned out fine, because after the war the whole of the Netherlands wanted to cycle. The bicycle is actually a symbol of freedom. And so Gazelle was able to get back to business in the factory. Producing bicycles for those Dutch people so keen to get back on their bikes.

At the end of the 19th century Queen Wilhelmina discovered cycling. Juliana cycled, Beatrix cycles, and Willem-Alexander: everyone cycles. The princesses are on bikes as well, now. I don’t think that in other countries you would see princesses cycling like that so openly, so easily. When we reached our centenary it coincided nicely with the production of our eight millionth bicycle. We were the only Dutch cycle manufacturer to be granted the designation ‘Royal’ by Princess Margriet.
The eight millionth Gazelle was assembled by Princess Margriet. She fixed the stem to the head tube, thus making the bicycle roadworthy. In 2015, when this new factory was opened we also had a visit from King Willem-Alexander, to open the factory.

At Gazelle there is one bicycle we still make, the Tour Populair, where we still pick out the edges.
Where we really do hand paint the lines on the mudguards and round the head tube. It’s actually the front where the steering tube runs through. Picking out the edges takes real craftsmanship:
using your fingers, you must try to keep a good consistent distance between the mudguard and the line so that it looks straight. I think that it’s one of the steps within the Gazelle process that we are still incredibly proud of.

The founders Kölling and Arentsen used to go for the occasional bike ride. Basically, just a few streets away is where the Veluwe starts. You can see deer there, and he immediately drew a kind of parallel with the elegance, gracefulness and speed of that animal and came up with the name Gazelle. Our logo started as a picture of a buck looking left, contained within a wheel with spokes.
Later on, you can see that it became increasingly stylised so that it became more recognisable and easier to read. It is yellow, the colour of energy, and the background is blue, because that represents quality and safety.

Another model that Gazelle is famous for is our Orange model. That was the first bike where the down tube was made from one piece. That’s Gazelle’s most popular model, and it’s still the best-selling model, the Orange. At Gazelle, colour scheme and styling are really important. We have to know what is happening in the design world. Know what is happening at the Milan fashion shows. So that we can also keep up with the latest trends in the design world.

Everyone is familiar with climate change.
Everyone is familiar with congestion in cities.
A bicycle is a fantastic alternative.
Where you can also see that the issue of climate and more liveable cities is regarded as much more important. As long as we develop in line with the needs of society then we – I mean Gazelle,
not just the bike but Gazelle too – will still be here in fifty years’ time.