Monday, December 21, 2009

How hard can it be... (3)

Yay, one of my recalcitrant clients has finally paid me for a job I did six months ago. It's not a fortune, but I'm so delighted that I'm going to splurge a bit of it on a Basil shopper bag. I've been admiring the bags and panniers for months and thought I'd settled on something fairly quiet and tasteful, which would blend in nicely with both Penelope and Petunia, viz:

Then I got thinking. Did I really want to leave expensive panniers like this on my bike while I'm at the supermarket? I heard a horror story from the pet food shop guy today, when I walked in with my helmet still on to buy the cats a week's worth of meat. "Have you tied your bike up?" he said, and I nodded. "Good, because a few days ago a guy left his bike outside and was in here for less than a minute. His bike was gone when he went out." That's the kind of suburb we live in at the moment; if it ain't tied down it's gone, and I could just imagine someone unbuckling those rather nice panniers and bolting with them. And if I got them I'd still have to take shopping bags with me anyway into the supermarket, and then decant them into the panniers. These particular panniers take about 15 litres each.

And that's when I saw the new 2010 range for Australia on the Gazelle website. Gazelle imports the Basil range and while this year's range has been basic it's been expanded nicely for next year. The Mirte shoppers hold 16 litres and this one below just resonated with me.

It's unashamedly girly, and not at all what I was originally looking for in terms of colour for my shopping bag, but I've fallen for it. It clips neatly on and off the rear pannier rack so I can take it into the supermarket and fill it up. I usually wear a little rucksack on my shopping trip for more delicate squashable things, and I have the front basket too, so should be able to comfortably do a grocery shop with all that lot combined.

I rang Gazelle, who are the wholesalers for Australia, and was told I'd have to order it through a bike shop. I mentioned the one we go to for tyre changes and other bits and pieces, and Alex at Gazelle suggested I talk to them and order the bag through them. They have three shops, and I have seen Gazelle bikes in the metal at the biggest of the shops 8km away.

How hard can it be?

Danny, the guy at my local shop 3km away, had never heard of Gazelle or Basil when I rang him. This is a shop which sells a lot of mountain bikes and BMXs. I did see one cruiser in there last time I visited. It's a blokey sort of place though. I explained the story so far to him and that his company did retail Gazelle and Basil. Finally I persuaded him to ring the bigger store and talk to them; at this point I was thinking, "oh hell, stop trying to support the local economy, just buy one from the UK or US on eBay as you'll pay about the same and heaven only knows it'll be an easier process" and wondering if the guy on the other end of the phone did actually believe me and there was truly a brand of bike called Gazelle.

Danny rang back five minutes later, stunned and excited. Yes, the big shop did sell Gazelle and did I know how much the bikes went for? Why, there was one there for $1800; pricey eh? And that wasn't the most expensive. Which model did I want him to order for me? Again, patiently, I explained I wasn't after the bike, I was after the bag, and the Gazelle importer imported the bags as well. Deflated, he finally understood and took the model number for the Mirte bag. However, as I'd investigated Gazelle before buying Penelope Pashley I had a chat to him about the bikes and how lovely they were, if definitely out of my price range (especially the one I'd been eyeballing). He's now going to treat himself to a test ride next time he's down at the big shop.

So it was a bit of an effort, but I've ordered the bag. It should arrive in Australia in about 2 weeks' time. I hope I've done the right thing and shouldn't have got the panniers after all! But no, at the thought of having to ring up and change the order... and just in case Danny's out and I have to speak to someone else and start all over again... AARRRGHH!!! :-))


  1. Hmm, I am surprised that Gazelle is more expensive than Pashley in your locale; here they cost exactly the same and the Gazelle Basic is sometimes cheaper. Price difference aside, what did you think of it compared to the Pashley?

    I have examined the Basil Mirte shopper in my local shop several times (the black and white paisley version). It looks lovely, is a great accessory on and off the bike, and the waterproof oilcloth (?) fabric is very nice. On the downside, I found this bag too small for proper grocery shopping. Plus, I have read reports that the plastic attachment hooks can break if you overload the bag. The benefit of over-the-rack panniers is that you don't need to worry about them falling off. But of course panniers like that are not easy to remove and carry around, and so the easy on/off of the Mitre shopper is a valuable feature if you are worried about theft. Decisions decisions! - Looking forward to seeing this bag on your bike!

  2. Hi Filigree... have only just seen this comment (oops). Gazelle quality was great. Their loopframe Basic 3 Speed bike was cheaper than the Pash by about $250 and but several kgs heavier, and it was crossed off the list, especially with only 3 speeds to get me up the hills. The rod brake Dutch bike was, despite its prettiness, out of the equation for the rod brake reason. The Toer Populair with 7 speeds wasn't available here when I bought the Pashley - it's more pricey than the Pashley but nicely specced. Maybe I should test ride it and hope I don't like it too much! I've since seen other Gazelle bikes from their City range at shops and in the wild, which have the solidity of a small car - the Impala for example was great should I have been looking for a modern hub gear bike. Lovely integration of cables etc, but very little scope for personalisation. On the whole though I found them a little on the large side for my height; I'm 5'3" and the geometry of the Pashley is just right for me.

    I've read the comments about the plastic clips too and dithered for weeks over getting the shopper or the panniers. I've since ordered a Basil messenger bag for less $ on eBay - despite the exchange rate with the UK where it's coming from. So with two Basil bags I should have enough room for basic grocery trips. Will definitely post a review when I have the bags and have used them. It's interesting that Basil state the capacity of the bags in litres but don't give a maximum kilogram or pound capacity.