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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 06-14-06, 01:57 AM   #1
cradduck
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Novara Big Buzz Follow-Up Review

The Novara Big Buzz, which is made by REI, has been my short commute go-to bike for a while now. While it excels in being manueverable and quick stopping in heavy traffic on my commutes to school, it was not till I started to venture out on longer rides that I discovered some serious downfalls.


The good:
This bike fits me well. As a matter of fact this bike fits me better than any bike I have previously owned. As mentioned before it can turn on a dime without making you feel like you are losing control and the ability this bike has to stop will literally lift you out of your seat. It was very comfortable on the short rides to school (a little over 5 miles round trip) where I am travelling on main roads. It has seriously solid construction and even though I am a bigger guy I have had no problems taking this bike off the occational curb or two.

The bad:
The Big Buzz seemed to fail in almost every regard when it came to travelling longer distances. For what REI advertises the bike to be used for, I don't think I could recommend this bike to anyone travelling longer distances during their commute (over 5 miles each way?). One thing consumers will notice after a few miles in the saddle on this bike is that every vibration on the road gets transferred directly to the hands, arms, body and teeth of the rider. While the carbon fork of my road bike helped absorb the shock on the same bike trail used to test the Big Buzz, the aluminum fork of Big Buzz made sure the rider felt every little pebble over, and over, and over again.

One thing I really noticed about the Big Buzz after about mile 10 is how much the bike really weighs. It isn't even as light as a really cheap/heavy road bike and only slightly cheaper than my mountain bike. By the end of the ride I was feeling like I as pulling a trailer or a parachute behind me with the added weight. Perhaps REI thought it would be nessesary for a bike to be as strong as a tank to be as heavy as one, but I don't agree. It is also hard to find I rear rack that will mount to this bike. Although Axiom sells a rack that is made for bikes with disc brakes, it is hard to make clearence over the caliper of the brake to attach the lower left arm of the rack. I felt that the wheels and tires were a little overdone for what most commuter need, but the least of the bikes problems. After all, the wheel/tire setup would be great for light trail riding if you didn't get your teeth rattled out of your mouth first.

Overall, this bike is great for short jaunts around town or across campus, but look elsewhere if you want a comfortable bike for any real commutes.
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Old 06-14-06, 02:00 AM   #2
cradduck
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oops, sorry...should be "...and only slightly lighter than my mountain bike."
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Old 06-14-06, 08:14 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cradduck
One thing consumers will notice after a few miles in the saddle on this bike is that every vibration on the road gets transferred directly to the hands, arms, body and teeth of the rider. While the carbon fork of my road bike helped absorb the shock on the same bike trail used to test the Big Buzz, the aluminum fork of Big Buzz made sure the rider felt every little pebble over, and over, and over again.
Obviously, that's why they named it the Big Buzz

Seriously though, I'm sorry to hear your negatives on it. I have thought it seemed like a cool bike and even recommended it to someone on these forums (though I've never ridden it so I didn't know how it rode, and didn't know the weight).

I didn't realize the forks were aluminum, for some reason I thought they were carbon. Yeah, with that big profile in aluminum, I could see where they might be pretty harsh.

REI has a 100% guarentee:
http://www.rei.com/shared/help/guarantee.html

If you really don't like it, you might consider taking it back and seeing what they can do to get you on a different ride.
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Old 06-14-06, 08:38 AM   #4
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Their refund policy is quite generous. Especially considering how long the OP has had the bike.
You can apply it toward another bike (store credit) or take the refund elsewhere. No reason to keep a bike you dislike.
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Old 06-14-06, 10:10 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cradduck
The Novara Big Buzz, which is made by REI, has been my short commute go-to bike for a while now. While it excels in being manueverable and quick stopping in heavy traffic on my commutes to school, it was not till I started to venture out on longer rides that I discovered some serious downfalls.
Sorry to hear you are not totally satisfied with your bike. According to your review though, it sounds like the bike is very good for what REI says are its strong points.

Quote:
Originally Posted by REI website
City streets beware--this curb-hopping, alley-surfing, "no thanks, I'll ride" street machine will turn the concrete jungle into one big playground.
Maybe you'd like the Fusion or the Transfer better. I was surprised at how light they were.
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Old 06-14-06, 04:23 PM   #6
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I plan to take advantage of the 100% garauntee this week. I just wanted to put some kind of formulated opinion/review out there from someone who has ridden the bike a while so that people can judge for themselves if the bike is for them.

Sad thing is that I really liked this bike till I started going any distance with it....blew all my dreams away.
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Old 06-14-06, 04:42 PM   #7
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I have an '04 Big Buzz and I still really like it, and will keep it until it falls to pieces. I used it for about a year for a 24 mile round-trip commute with no problems. Also, I have ridden it many times to Marymoor Velodrome from downtown Seattle, 60 miles round trip. And I have ridden several century rides on it. It is not as comfortable for longer rides as some other bikes, but it wasn't all that bad, either.
The only serious problem I have had with it is the rear hub, which is apparently an OEM-only Shimano hub, part number FH-M475. The freehub assemblies for these are awful; they last less than 1000 miles and the only place I can get them is REI. They do not appear on Shimano's website, and are not in the QBP catalogue or any other. Unfortunately REI uses this hub on some other models as well.

For the original poster, I have a Topeak Explorer ( disc version ) rack on my Big Buzz; I regularly make grocery runs with two fully loaded Ortlieb grocery panniers attached. It went right on with no problem.
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Old 06-14-06, 05:59 PM   #8
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"My blog...
I have been camping more than most people ever will...I have more than three years cashier experience...I work on my own bikes...so when REI hired me they put me in the footwear department."



Didin't read your sig, so I didn't realize you worked at REI when I told you about their return policy

You might think about a drop bar bike if you really want to ride more than 3-4 miles. I know lots on this board would beg to differ, but I think flat bars get olld pretty quick if you are on pavement.
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Old 06-14-06, 06:04 PM   #9
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I bought an orginal 'little Buzz' way back when - the 26' wheeled one with the 1x9 drivetrain. Now-a-days it serves as a back-up to my single speed Crosscheck. But I still commute and run errands on it. I remember getting sorta hot an' bothered when I walked into REI and saw the Big Buzz, with it's disc brakes and all. Then I picked it up. I didn't have to swing a leg over it to realize that it was a bit portly for me.

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Old 06-14-06, 08:52 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dietrologia
What really killed the Big Buzz for me was the lack of a third chainring -- I have to deal with some major hills every day.
I'm liking the commuting forum more and more. It's nice to hear someone speak of the "the third ring" for what it is, a damn nice thing to have when you need it, instead of it being a term of derision.

You have just done what would be the equivelant of "comming out of the closet" in the road forum. I salute you sir (or madam)!
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Old 06-15-06, 08:27 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pmseattle
I have an '04 Big Buzz and I still really like it, and will keep it until it falls to pieces. I used it for about a year for a 24 mile round-trip commute with no problems. Also, I have ridden it many times to Marymoor Velodrome from downtown Seattle, 60 miles round trip. And I have ridden several century rides on it. It is not as comfortable for longer rides as some other bikes, but it wasn't all that bad, either.
The only serious problem I have had with it is the rear hub, which is apparently an OEM-only Shimano hub, part number FH-M475. The freehub assemblies for these are awful; they last less than 1000 miles and the only place I can get them is REI. They do not appear on Shimano's website, and are not in the QBP catalogue or any other. Unfortunately REI uses this hub on some other models as well.

For the original poster, I have a Topeak Explorer ( disc version ) rack on my Big Buzz; I regularly make grocery runs with two fully loaded Ortlieb grocery panniers attached. It went right on with no problem.
+1 in favor of the Big Buzz (2006 for me, 20 mile commute each way). Also +1 on the Topeak rack. No problems installing or using. But I'm glad the OP could take advantage of REI's policy to get something that works better for them.

As for the 3rd chain ring, keep in mind that the 2006 BB has a compact crank (50/36) in front and an 11-34 cassette in back. That setup actually provides considerably lower gearing than a traditional road triple. (36-34 combo is 28.6 gear inches, while a road triple's lowest 30-25 combo is 32.4 gear inches.) BTW, for me this was a huge improvement over the 2005 BB, which had a 48/39 front crankset.

Stephen
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Old 06-15-06, 09:27 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Dead Extra #2
I'm liking the commuting forum more and more. It's nice to hear someone speak of the "the third ring" for what it is, a damn nice thing to have when you need it, instead of it being a term of derision.

You have just done what would be the equivelant of "comming out of the closet" in the road forum. I salute you sir (or madam)!
I don't mean to bust your bubble but there are a few evangelical posters around that would berate you as being unpractical, not utilitarian, or being a bicycle enthusiast, or (insert label here) for using triple crank for commuting. I guess you are always going to find a few people who will insist that their way is the best way no matter what the circumstances.
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