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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 03-27-14, 12:22 PM   #1
en2ec
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novara randonee or verita? buying tomorrow

I've been looking for a commuter bike for a while. I've narrowed it down to 2 bikes from REI largely because after 20 % off member coupon plus 10% dividend they are both around $900. I can't justify paying 500 more for a Surly or Soma or other option that actually has lesser components.

I don't plan on touring but will probably carry a laptop, books, papers, exercise clothes and shoes, etc. Plus random other things on my daily commute. We don't know exactly where we will live. My commute will likely be 5 - 10 miles each way.

The randonee is about 4 pounds heavier and is a full-fledged tourer. Both have Reynolds 520 frames. The verita has a shorter wheelbase and handles quicker but can also have rear and front racks and fenders. The randonee is more stable. I like the more upright position of the randonee but it is 1 cm longer and feels a little stretched but doable. I think I can change stems on either to dial in the proper fit.

The randonee has bar end shifters and mostly shimano lx components. The verita has full SRAM apex components.

Having had mountain bikes for years, I'm not yet sold on drop bars. The randonee would let me switch to an albatross bar and keep the bar end shifters and brakes. The integrated shifters on the verita would make it too costly to switch to an albatross bar, so I'd be locked into drops with the verita.

I didn't think I'd like the SRAM double tap but I did quite a bit. I can see how if I'm in traffic keeping my hands on the hoods ready to break and being able to shift would be a real advantage. But then I like having the granny ring on the randonee too. I'm not a light guy. I'm 215 and am 5'8" so having that low gear for hills is nice. But the apex double on the verita has a pretty low gear too and may be enough. I like the simplicity of a double ring.

I'm not overly concerned with weight but 4 pounds lighter for the verita is a pretty big difference.

Bottom line there are pros and cons for each, and I just don't have enough recent commuting experience to make an informed decision. Any thoughts?

The member coupon begins tomorrow and I want to buy tomorrow before they run out of my size in stock.
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Old 03-27-14, 12:24 PM   #2
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By the way, I had posted a while ago when I was set on buying a bike with a hub gear but I've since abandoned that idea.
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Old 03-27-14, 12:59 PM   #3
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Summary of original post: are brifters good for commuting? How easy is the transition from straight mountain bike bars to drop bars? Do 4 pounds make much difference in the real world when the rider has way more than 4 extra pounds? Is a light touring/ road geometry or straight touring geometry better for commuting?
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Old 03-27-14, 02:47 PM   #4
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Summary of original post: are brifters good for commuting? How easy is the transition from straight mountain bike bars to drop bars? Do 4 pounds make much difference in the real world when the rider has way more than 4 extra pounds? Is a light touring/ road geometry or straight touring geometry better for commuting?
Is it urban or suburban commute? How many hills? How much stop and go due to lights? How much due to traffic? I know your location and commute is still not final, but any ideas could help

My thoughts on your summarized questions

1) Brifters are fine for commuting, but in the end drops with brifters vs flat bar, etc is a personal preference. I like the comfort of being on the hoods, multiple hand position options of drops, and can brake just fine with Brifters. I also have a longer commute.

2) Drop bars vs straight is preference. See my answer to 1. I personally like drops for commute. To run around town I might prefer straight. You can always change bars if you want, though you will have some limitations with brakes, etc to get it set up right. You can also consider adding interrupter levers on the bars (cross style brake levers). They can be useful in urban situations when you have drops to be more upright and have access to the brakes in another position. I had wanted to add these at one point, but eventually decided I didn't need them. I have friends who have them.

3) 4 lbs really won't make a difference for commuting or touring. Your not talking about race bikes. I asked this once about 10 lbs on this forum. Best advice I got was try carrying a backpack with 10lbs in it. That is the difference (actually worse as its on your back). Slightly slower to accelerate from a stop, a bit harder on big hills, but my overall commute time was not materially impacted (once of my fastest commutes home was with this extra weight).

4) Again, the geometry is preference. Do you have back problems? neck pain when you ride? If so more upright might be beneficial. You can change quite a bit with swapping stems that are short/longer or have different angles. If you plan to use a rack, chainstay length may be a consideration depending on your shoe size, as a longer chainstay will reduce chance of heel overlap with panniers. I have been commuting on a road bike with a more agressive race geometry. I don't think its ideal but it works. My new bike is more of a touring geometry as I decide I wanted to be more comfortable/upright and wanted to more easily have a rack/fenders, wider tires, etc. Its not a typical touring bike with bar end shifters, etc.

You also brought up some other points, like components. One bike has pretty good SRAM road bike components, the other a mix of Shimano and SRAM Mountain bike and road components. Gearing is very different, not just triple vs double but one is a mountain gearing, one is roadbike gearing. Are you going to be carrying a big load or doing big hills? If not you may prefer road hearing. Many people are fine with bar end shifters. I personally wouldn't want them for commuting, but others on this forum who had the same concern "got used to it". You can always upgrade components, but adds to cost.

Looking at these bikes, I would go with the verita as it would pretty much be ready to go for me and probably fits my riding style and commute better...just add a rack if you want, some lights, and your off.
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Old 03-27-14, 03:11 PM   #5
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I think the Verita is an awesome bike and woud go with that if it were me. For you, I would recommend ride them both and by the one that feels better.
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Old 03-27-14, 04:58 PM   #6
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Whichever fit you better and felt better.
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Old 03-27-14, 05:32 PM   #7
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For you, I would recommend ride them both and by the one that feels better.
+1

The best bike is the one that gets ridden all the time. The worst bikes are those that sit in a garage or basement and collect dust. So pick the one that you like the most, that's the one you're likely to ride the most.

As noted above, though, if you live near any significant hills (i.e., not western Kansas or Florida), the triple crank on the Randonee is worth a second look. With a little luck, you'll start commuting by bike, and by the end of the summer, you'll be riding all over the county having even more fun!
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Old 03-27-14, 06:58 PM   #8
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Thanks everyone for the input. The problem is that I've ridden both and like both for different reasons.
They both fit well but not perfectly. Both can be fixed with stem changes.

My commute will be suburban to urban (small city). We will likely live in Durham, NC on the Chapel Hill side. I'll be commuting to duke university and will ride around duke and Durham during the day. In a year we will probably move to Chapel Hill and my commute will be 12 - 15 miles. So I need a bike that can do a reasonable distance but also do well in the city. There are rolling hills here but nothing like a mountain.

I'd probably carry 15 - 20 pounds pretty regularly.
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Old 03-27-14, 07:39 PM   #9
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From the things I've read about the verita the fenders rattle and you are limited on tire width. While I'm no expert I would think the randonee should be more comfortable for the longer distance and the amount of weight your planning on hauling. The randonee is $100 cheaper with a rack. Just my $.02.
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Old 03-28-14, 08:07 AM   #10
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From the things I've read about the verita the fenders rattle and you are limited on tire width. While I'm no expert I would think the randonee should be more comfortable for the longer distance and the amount of weight your planning on hauling. The randonee is $100 cheaper with a rack. Just my $.02.
+1 ^ This is great advice!

IMO, a touring bike also doubles as an awesome commuter. That's especially so, when you add interrupter brakes for city navigation.
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Old 03-28-14, 08:17 AM   #11
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From the things I've read about the verita the fenders rattle and you are limited on tire width. While I'm no expert I would think the randonee should be more comfortable for the longer distance and the amount of weight your planning on hauling. The randonee is $100 cheaper with a rack. Just my $.02.
IMHO, every commuting bike (outside the desert) should have fenders. They'll have to be installed ($45) on the Randonee, so there goes half that price advantage.

On the one hand, the Randonee's triple will help you climb Franklin St. On the other hand, the Verita is lighter. Tie breaker: the Verita is painted a prettier color. Buy that one!

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Old 03-28-14, 10:49 AM   #12
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If touring is not on the menu, then I'd recommend the Verita. Lighter and probably will be more nimble.
Fender rattle is very easy to resolve.
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Old 03-28-14, 06:14 PM   #13
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Thanks again for all the input. In the end, I decided to get the Randonee. I decided that it was a more flexible bike. I can put albatross bars on it mounted upside down (handles sloping down). That way, I can ride in the city with hands next to the brakes and the bar ends. That pretty much negates the advantage of the integrated shifters of the Verita. Plus, I'm in a bit more upright position for being in the city. With an albatross bar mounted with handles sloping down, I'm in a more upright position than in the hoods but not as upright as I'd be with handles sloping up. But for longer distances I can also ride in a more aggressive position holding the front part of the bars, which I'll put tape on. I also really like that I can downshift gears much quicker with the bar ends compared to integrated shifters.

I have a good 40 pounds of flab to lose. Until then, I have a feeling I'll be thanking the granny ring on the Randonee every time I climb hills in the area. Speaking of the excess flab, I also thought the Randonee would be better able than the Verita to stand up to my weight plus what I'll be carrying.

I also liked that the Randonee came with and has greater clearance for bigger tires than the Verita. The ride is definitely more comfortable.

Although I don't foresee touring on it in the near future, I have that option with the Randonee.

Since I saved so much money on the bike with the member coupon, I decided to splurge on the fenders and had them special order a pair of Tanaka hammered alloy fenders. The green of the Randonee wouldn't be my first choice, but it is growing on me. Unlike the photos online, the rear rack is silver instead of black. I think the fenders are going to look great. I'm also planning to upgrade to a Brooks saddle. I'm looking forward to taking it for a spin tomorrow.
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Old 03-28-14, 06:22 PM   #14
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Thanks again for all the input. In the end, I decided to get the Randonee. I decided that it was a more flexible bike. I can put albatross bars on it mounted upside down (handles sloping down). That way, I can ride in the city with hands next to the brakes and the bar ends. That pretty much negates the advantage of the integrated shifters of the Verita. Plus, I'm in a bit more upright position for being in the city. With an albatross bar mounted with handles sloping down, I'm in a more upright position than in the hoods but not as upright as I'd be with handles sloping up. But for longer distances I can also ride in a more aggressive position holding the front part of the bars, which I'll put tape on. I also really like that I can downshift gears much quicker with the bar ends compared to integrated shifters.

I have a good 40 pounds of flab to lose. Until then, I have a feeling I'll be thanking the granny ring on the Randonee every time I climb hills in the area. Speaking of the excess flab, I also thought the Randonee would be better able than the Verita to stand up to my weight plus what I'll be carrying.

I also liked that the Randonee came with and has greater clearance for bigger tires than the Verita. The ride is definitely more comfortable.

Although I don't foresee touring on it in the near future, I have that option with the Randonee.

Since I saved so much money on the bike with the member coupon, I decided to splurge on the fenders and had them special order a pair of Tanaka hammered alloy fenders. The green of the Randonee wouldn't be my first choice, but it is growing on me. Unlike the photos online, the rear rack is silver instead of black. I think the fenders are going to look great. I'm also planning to upgrade to a Brooks saddle. I'm looking forward to taking it for a spin tomorrow.
Congrats! I think you made the right choice. I've ridden the Randonee and it is a really comfortable ride. Now, pics!
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Old 03-28-14, 06:42 PM   #15
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Congrats! I think you made the right choice. I've ridden the Randonee and it is a really comfortable ride. Now, pics!
Thanks! I'll post photos once I get the fenders. Should be 1 or 2 weeks.
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Old 03-28-14, 06:54 PM   #16
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Congrats. I am sure you will be happy, particularly if after riding for a while you start tweaking to your preferences. I know I look forward to a report after you spend some time riding your new bike!
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Old 03-29-14, 08:06 AM   #17
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Of course it would rain on the first Saturday I have my new bike, and I don't have fenders yet. Bummer.
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Old 03-29-14, 08:32 AM   #18
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Nice Choice...Congrats!
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Old 03-29-14, 01:19 PM   #19
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Of course it would rain on the first Saturday I have my new bike, and I don't have fenders yet. Bummer.
Ride it anyway. Just thoroughly wipe it down later.
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Old 03-29-14, 08:46 PM   #20
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So did you get 20% off and will it also go towards your 10% dividend? I asked an REI employee about this and he said whatever you use the 20% on won't go towards the 10% dividend.

Just curious. Congrats on making a decision!
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Old 03-30-14, 02:48 PM   #21
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Sales and coupons do not count towards your dividend,unless you use an REI Visa card,which then just gives you the standard non-REI purchase amount.
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Old 03-30-14, 09:19 PM   #22
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Nice.
The Randonee was a bike I was also considering, and considering for my wife after I decided on my Cross-Check. I finally got a chance to see one in person at our REI and I liked it a lot. I didn't ride it because I already had my bike, but it was a good looking ride - pretty much almost identical to the Cross-Check and it even comes with a rack already.

Great choice. Can't wait to see some pics!
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Old 03-31-14, 04:23 PM   #23
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Just saw this thread, too late to give you my 2 cents. I had the same dilemma a couple years ago, and made the other choice; been commuting with my Verita ever since, and a few thousand miles later I still love it. They didn't come standard with fenders at that time, and I never bothered to get any; commuting in central Texas you don't really need them that often. Anyway, the Randonee is a great choice too and I'm sure you'll love it. Enjoy!
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Old 03-31-14, 08:01 PM   #24
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I didn't think to ask about the dividend with the coupon. I just assumed I would get the dividend. Oh well. It was still a great deal.

I did a quick sum of the value of the components not including cables, tape, etc. and estimating the cost of the Novara branded components based on cheap equivalents. I came up with about $950 retail. That's about what I paid for the bike after the 20% off and without a dividend. The way I look at it, I bought the components and got a nice frame and installation for free. I did a similar calculation for the Surly LHT and came up with about $750 in components. A LHT would have cost $1350 at my LBS. There was an LBS with a Soma Saga I almost bought for $1350 with about $600 in components at retail.

I didn't take it out when it was raining. I don't have a lock yet, and the only place to store it at the moment is in my apartment on carpet. But the last couple of days have been nice, and I've taken advantage. The bike feels great. I'm still thinking seriously about an albatross bar mounted like this: Endless Velo Love: The Albatross Handlebar

I'm glad I got the randonee because I definitely need the granny gear on some hills in the Carrboro area, which is where we are living temporarily. I need to get a lock ASAP so that I can go somewhere and not just ride around and come home.

I'm thinking of an Abus Granit X lock. It might be overkill, but I'd really hate for the bike to be stolen. Plus from what I've read, kryptonite locks can be finicky with keys. I have an onguard lock I had for a motor scooter several years ago, and it was very finicky, so I think I'm willing to pay extra for the smooth and reliable Abus.

Next will be a light and panniers. Still trying to decide on those. I'm leaning toward simple panniers that can hold a backpack or messenger bag on one side. I'd use the other for groceries and incidental stuff as needed. That way, I don't have to deal with taking panniers on and off.

Finally a child carrier. Probably a Yepp Maxi.
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Old 03-31-14, 08:14 PM   #25
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You Pay the 1 time fee, get the membership , then your purchases get some dividend reimbursement next year.

Abus bordo granit folding link lock is east to carry ,,
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