The Gazelle Makki Load Electric Cargo bike is designed with the modern family in mind. It’s a green machine that will help you cycle more and drive less, even with a growing brood.
I went to London’s leading electric bike shop Fully Charged with my five-year-old daughter to take one for a spin. Having never ridden a front-loading eCargo bike before, I was eager to see how it felt.
In safe hands… Some background on Gazelle
Gazelle have been making bikes for 130 years and are market leaders in Holland. Their mission is to ‘make cycling easy and fun for everyone’, and we can’t argue with that. They are masters of the comfortable upright cycling position and are renowned for making bikes of exceptional quality.
Gazelle Makki: Down with the Kids
The Gazelle Makki can carry up to three children, and the big bonus of this style of front-loading cargo bike is that your kids are up front where you can see them.
Part of the reason why the Makki is so great at transporting children is because the bike and the box take the weight, not you. The box is made of impact resistant EPP, Expanded Polypropylene, which is similar to what’s inside a bike helmet. It has exceptionally high strength-to-weight ratio and is 100% recyclable.
The other big plus point for the kids is that they have their own little domain. My daughter loved this and immediately made herself at home.
Designed for Safety
The box is also cleverly designed to be high-walled for safety, but with a dip at the side so kids can climb in and out with ease. The seat belts are three-way locking, so your kids are really safe and secure.
You can get a baby secured safely in a maxi cosy seat, so you don’t have to wait until they are nine months, as you do with most regular baby/child bike seats. And again, teeny-weeny ones are in full view.
What I love about this Gazelle Makki eCargo bike is that it was designed with input from cargo bike-riding families. Through this process, Gazelle learnt that comfort and safety were the key factors, and this is intrinsic in the design.
How does it look?
I was immediately struck by the modern design with its two-tone light-grey and black, and the high-sided EPP box is very aesthetically pleasing. My daughter also found it inviting and immediately wanted to climb in.
So How does The Gazelle Makki Load feel to ride?
Riding an electric cargo bike does feel different from a regular bike. And it took me a little bit of getting used to, particularly setting off as you have to get used to the weight distribution, along with the gears and the e-assist modes. But I can honestly say, once you nail it, the Makki is a dream to ride, and having spoken to other eCargo bike parents, I hear a similar message that they really enjoy riding this style of bike.
There’s something quite regal about the position — horse and carriage-like — as you are elevated and have the kids on their little carriage below.
I couldn’t help but smile, cycling the Makki about.
Tips and advice if you’ve not ridden a Cargo or eCargo bike before.
Start off-road and get a feel for the weight distribution and play around with the gears and e-assist modes until you find what feels comfortable for you. Starting off takes a bit of practice but according to the team at Fully Charged most people get it in half a day.
Keep your saddle low to start with so you can get two feet on the floor quickly and securely when stopping.
You are a bigger unit than a regular cyclist, so my advice is to act like a bigger unit, take up more space on the road and don’t feel pressured to move out of the way for cars – they can wait for you. It actually feels quite empowering as you can’t just duck into the gutter to let someone pass, you have to stand your ground.
Also, give yourself more time and space to turn corners and do U-turns. Your turning circle is wider on an eCargo bike than a regular bike.
Bosch Motor and Envilo Seamless Gear System
The Gazelle Makki Load has a Bosch performance line (65nm) motor. Bosch are the crème-de-la-crème when it comes to ebike motors. Riding feels smooth and easy. The display screen up on the handlebar is also very easy to navigate to switch between the modes.
The Makki comes with Envilo Cargo Manual stepless gear system. This is a seamless gear system that eliminates clunky gear changes when riding and stopping and starting. You simply twist on the handlebar grip to adjust.
How easy is it to park and lock?
Because it’s a bigger bike, you do need to consider where you are going to park. One of my fellow eCargo-riding parents tells me she’s never found it too bulky to park. ‘Once I’ve found a place to leave it, that becomes my go-to,’ she said.
So it’s all about planning. Find a place where you know you can stop safely that doesn’t obstruct anyone. If using it for school run, ask at your school or nursery if you can bring in into the playground.
Another eCargo mum tells me, ‘School are really good about letting me cycle into the playground, meaning I don’t have to unload my toddler (20 months) when I collect the five-year-old.’
The Gazelle Makki has a stand so you can park it up and get it in a safe, stable position to get kids on and off. It’s a twin-legged stand which engages and releases easily so there’s no heavy pushing or pulling. This makes it highly functional for school run, nursery drop etc.
How easy is it to store?
Ideally, you will want to store in in a garage or shed at home, but you can get covers if that’s simply not an option. An eCargo riding dad tells me he lives in Hebden Bridge, West Yorks. where ‘there are a lot of older terraced houses with stepped access and no outside space, so a lot of people who want a cargo bike have nowhere to keep it.We’re working with the local authority on some solutions but it’s going to be a long game!’
If storage really is an issue for you, you could look at more compact cargo bike like the Tern GSD or The Benno Remi Demi, but they will only accommodate one or two children, whereas the Makki can do three.
How much is it?
£4,469. This is a really good price for such a well-made eCargo bike with a high quality and powerful Bosch Motor. There are also various accessories you can buy including a rain cover for bad weather.
Can both I and my partner ride it? Yes, the saddle and handlebars are easily adjusted and Gazelle very much design these as family bikes for both partners/parents to use.
Verdict: It really feels like the ‘time’ for eCargo bikes and the Makki is a great, modern solution for cycling for two or three kids. It’s functional and fun for adult and kids and is also very aesthetically pleasing. It made me feel happy and empowered to ride it, and my daughter was totally in her own world, as happy as Larry, and a happy child makes a happy mum.
If you want to try a Gazelle Makki Load eCargo bike, contact Fully Charged. My experience in store with them was fantastic and I can highly recommend them. They have a range of e-bikes from premium brands: Tern, Benno, Moustache, Riese and Muller, Gazelle and more. They have a gorgeous store two minutes’ walk from London Bridge tube station and partner stores in Guildford, Cornwall and Silverstone.
They have a wealth of experience with front-loading eCargo bikes for family, with the founder himself, Ben Jaconelli, choosing this mode of transport for his children. And they have a great play area for kids.
We are partnering with Fully Charged to get more women on ebikes. If you buy a bike from them, you get a Cyclechic Deco helmet and pair of Retro crochet cycling gloves for free. Just quote the code ‘Cycle-e-chic’ in store or if you order online drop them an email with the code.
A MASSIVE Thank you to eCargo bike riding parents, Jessica Salter, Antony de Heveningham and Jude Knapp who imparted their eCargo ridng tips and knowledge with me.