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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 03-27-09, 03:24 PM   #1
gholland
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2009 Novara Fusion

I'm pretty new to all this so forgive me, but how risky is it to buy a bike having never seen or ridden it? Has anyone had a chance to ride the 2009 Novara Fusion? My commute is about 7.5 mi round-trip that I'm currently able to make on a single-speed cruiser. I'm considering this bike because I'm a member and could get 20% off w/$5 shipping. The problem is, the closest REI is 125 miles away. I am going to try a Breezer Villager and/or Uptown tomorrow and that is what I'm leaning towards. However, on paper, the Novara is better and certainly represents a better value (except there is not stinking chain-guard - I wear nice clothes to work and my wife and I wear nice clothes to church which we ride to). I'm just nervous to buy a bike without riding it, but am having a hard time justifying the extra cash on the Breezer - though it does look very comfortable. My wife and I also tow our kids around in a Chariot and have found we can do 90% of what we want by bike so we decided to upgrade bikes rather than getting a second car. A 5-10 mile radius is our territory so comfort and utility is what I'm looking for. Any advice is appreciated - thanks.
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Old 03-27-09, 03:55 PM   #2
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REI is all about customer satisfaction. They'll allow you to return the bike if you're not happy with it. The hurdle I see is having to repeat the long the drive to return the bike if it doesn't work out. I assume the Breezer and Uptown are at a bike shop closer to you? If so, do they have a solid return policy?
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Old 03-27-09, 04:01 PM   #3
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Old 03-28-09, 06:55 AM   #4
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I'd test ride both bikes if you can. I don't have a Fusion handy to compare to, but a friend rides a Transfer, and I ride a Villager. The Transfer comes with a generator hub, but doesn't have a standlight. The Villager has a bottle generator, but has the usual excellent Busch and Mueller standlight. It works out that in practice, the standlight is a bigger deal than the kind of generator. My friend is pretty content with stock saddle, bars and pedals most of the time, and the Transfer is no different. I have whiny wrists and a whiny butt, so I would have had to alter the bars and saddle on the Transfer... the Villager I could have used stock. (I swapped the saddle anyway... could have and should are not the same thing, and the saddle was the most painful thing on the bike)

The Villager is also a good bit lighter. Not a big deal for my friend, since he's got a bike shed. I have stairs, and am female, so the lighter weight makes life easier.

I think the thing he most envies after the standlight is my ring lock. I know of a couple bike racks in town where it's difficult to lock up well without it.
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Old 03-30-09, 08:39 AM   #5
gholland
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Earlier, I eluded to wanting a new commuter bike for myself and a bike for my wife to tow the kids around. It looks like my commuter will have to remain my single speed for a little longer. Here were my experiences trying bikes over the weekend:

My wife and I test-rode some Breezers over the weekend and we both came away disappointed. The shop was great and tried to dial in the fit and it was okay, but certainly not as comfortable or upright as hoped for. Maybe my expectations were too high going in - I fully expected to by two villagers to take home. The wiring on the lights seemed like it was going to be just another thing to get fixed down the road. And while I thought the Villager had a front-hub dynamo, it doesn't. The rear-hub dynamo that touches the tire on the outside was nothing short of a drag – literally and figuratively. The fenders were plastic, rattled and were noisy and annoying when testing on the sidewalk and parking lot. Maybe the dealer just didn't tighten things down well - I'll allow for that, but color me unimpressed.

What surprised me was how much we enjoyed the Giant Transend DX. On paper it didn't have what we were looking for (internal hub primarily), but it was far more comfortable, rode better and seemed to have a better fit-and-finish than the Breezer. I have read that “Big Bike” gets a bad rap from biking enthusiasts in general, but I can't figure out why – maybe I’ll regret it if I do get a “Big Bike” offering. For roughly the same price as the Villager (if not a little bit more) I could get my wife (and perhaps myself) a Trandsend EX with Alfine components. I've contacted REI with some questions about ordering a Fusion so I’ll see where that goes, but the Giant bikes kind of threw a wrench in my purchasing plans.

As an aside, on Saturday my wife also rode a Café 8 Deluxe and thought it was pretty good, but said it had a somewhat "harsh" ride – definitely her second favorite. I can’t figure how or why that was. I will admit I’m kind of pushing the Café 8 Deluxe for her because, after discount (local sale), we could get it for under $600. She didn't like Trek Allant or the Gary Fisher offerings (Simple City 3 or 8) - she said they felt heavy, though I can't imagine them being any heavier than the other bikes in this class. Maybe the weight just wasn't balanced right or the design led to a cumbersome feeling. Lastly she tried the Raleigh Circa 2.0. She liked it, but indicated the tires plowed a bit too much. The Raleigh was her third favorite.

One thing I did learn this weekend, you have to ride the bikes. No matter how much research you do, you have to ride the bikes.
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