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Thread: Novara Safari

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    Just ignore the wind... SMN21601's Avatar
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    Novara Safari

    I just picked up a new last year model Novara Safari (2005) for just $529 at a REI in Maryland. Any suggestions on improving the bike components? I am playing with getting all the parts in the right spots...been impressed with the ride so far but a little skeptical on the grip-shifters...they seem a little "light weight" to me. I've been riding a Trek 820 for the last 9 years with grip-shifters that were far more precise and robust. Has anyone swapped these out for another set? Thanks! -Scott

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    More Energy than Sense aroundoz's Avatar
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    No experience with the bike other than I wanted to buy one but the size was too small. I think it is a great value espeically for what you got it for. What a great deal. You couldn't even buy the components for that much. Last years model has a little better tubing and sized larger. I also think it has better wheels than this years if I remember correctly.

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    Senior Member pmseattle's Avatar
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    Does your Safari have Deore hubs ? I have had many problems with freehub bodies in Deore rear hubs.

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    Just ignore the wind... SMN21601's Avatar
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    Yes...it does have Deore hubs. What sort of problems have you had with them?

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    I have two bikes with Deore hubs and have never had a problem with them. I'm curious about what type of issues pmseattle has had as well.

    I've read good things about the Safari. If hadn't already had my "quota" of bikes, I'd certainly take a serious look at it. I recall a positive review in Bicycling magazine once about the bike, though Bicycling's sound-bite type of reviews leave a lot to be desired.
    "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known."

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    Senior Member BikePackin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SMN21601
    I just picked up a new last year model Novara Safari (2005) for just $529 at a REI in Maryland. Any suggestions on improving the bike components? I am playing with getting all the parts in the right spots...been impressed with the ride so far but a little skeptical on the grip-shifters...they seem a little "light weight" to me. I've been riding a Trek 820 for the last 9 years with grip-shifters that were far more precise and robust. Has anyone swapped these out for another set? Thanks! -Scott
    Scott - I have enjoyed riding my Year 2001 Model Safari on 1 or 2 week tours each of the last 5 years.
    No/zero mechanical problems. Have ridden, both, on and off paved surfaces.
    I have the old rapid fire shifters. I modified my front and rear gearing to lower me to 17 chain inches (i.e., Blueridge Parkway/Skyline Drive = my favorite venue) Changed out the tires (we all have our favorites-right ? :-). Dropped a favorite saddle design in place.
    Was able to spend the money saved on fully water proof panniers. etc., etc.

  7. #7
    Just ignore the wind... SMN21601's Avatar
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    BikePackin-- thanks for the info...I appreciate hearing the good success you have had with the Safari. I am looking forward to getting the miles racked up this summer to put it through the paces. -Scott

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    Senior Member pmseattle's Avatar
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    My problems have been with the freewheel assembly ( I have a Novara Big Buzz by the way ). After about 700 miles ( on average )of riding, it will start to slip and make unpleasant crunching noises signalling that it is time to get another freewheel assembly. I am on my fourth one. They are cheap and easy to replace. Other than this, the hubs have been OK - of course the only other moving parts are the bearings which look just fine when I see them during my now routine freewheel replacement. But having the freewheel give out would not be a pleasant thing on a tour. I was interested in buying the Safari myself, and I actually asked REI if they would swap out the wheels for a set with XT hubs, or even sell me just a frame and fork, neither of which they would do.
    I still think the Safari looks like a very well thought out ride, even though I ended up not buying one, and in general I like Novara bikes.

  9. #9
    Just ignore the wind... SMN21601's Avatar
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    Now that I have had the bike for about 3 weeks, I finally have the rear gears tuned to work correctly...it seems the guys at REI who put this bike together had not paid much attention to the details here. And I followed the advice of another Safari owner and replaced the saddle...as the stock one is akin to a 2x4 attached to a pipe. Much nicer ride now...starting to gain some confidence in this bike as my primary mode of transport. Did 40 miles yesterday on it and had zero problems...other than an annoying squeek in the handle bar stem that I cant seem to resolve by tightening the bolts. Other than that...not a bad deal for the money i spent.

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    Slow Rider bwgride's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SMN21601
    Did 40 miles yesterday on it and had zero problems...other than an annoying squeek in the handle bar stem that I cant seem to resolve by tightening the bolts. Other than that...not a bad deal for the money i spent.
    Try adding a little grease to stem area; that should reduce or eliminate squeek.

  11. #11
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    smn - congrats on the new Safari. Have a blast with it.

    I wouldn't worry about the wheels. Just ride them for now and see what happens. I bought a lower end mtn bike 5 years ago for my urban assault bike and fully expected the rear wheel to die because I haul huge loads in a bob trailer or in my panniers. Anyways its all these years later and the wheel is doing fine. If you can get a LBS to ensure the spokes are tensioned enough. That's one thing machine built cheaper wheels of suffer from.

    When you are ready for a real fully loaded tour you can start to think about the need for new wheels. I ended up getting some really burley touring wheels made for my baja tour. They are heavy so they only get the nod if I think conditions will be extreme - otherwise I just use the stock wheels.

    If your tour(s) this summer will always be close enough to civilization to get help you can just carry some spare spokes and see how it goes. The touring crowd often recommends super heavy duty parts when they may not be necessary. Its not a bad attitude to have when you will be a 1000miles from the nearest decent bike shop, but in a lot of cases a part failure isn't a big deal. In fact sometimes the adventure of getting something fixed/replaced can be fun. If you have the right attitude.

    whatever you do have a great summer of riding on your safari,

    Vik

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    Just ignore the wind... SMN21601's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bwgride
    Try adding a little grease to stem area; that should reduce or eliminate squeek.
    That's a great idea...I'll give it a shot tomorrow...thanks!
    "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'" -Ronald Reagan

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    Just ignore the wind... SMN21601's Avatar
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    Hey vik...thanks for the advice. For the next year I'll probably be near enough to get help should I need it. Once I get the true sense for longer tours...then I'll hit up the guys at my lbs for some help on the heavy-duty stuff. Enjoy the summer!
    "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'" -Ronald Reagan

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    The Wheel is Turning The Figment's Avatar
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    Good Choice

    My Ride is a '05 REI Novara Bonanza 24 Speed MTB,Bombshell Crusher Wheels,Marzocchi Drop Off Triple Forks,TruLativ Cranks,Deore Rapid Fire Shifters,Deraillers And Pull a B.O.B Yak. (Yea,Its a "Heavyweight")
    As you can see I've upgraded the wheelset and forks(Mine Came with WTB wheels-Broke too many spokes, and Manitou Axel Front forks-Too flexable and not enough travel)
    I Rode this "Contraption" From Cambridge Mass To my Home In Eldorado Ks...Other than some Broken Spokes this Bike did EVERYTHING I asked of it.It Dealt with a Hundred Lb.tralier on All Kinds of surfaces and weather(Pavement,Dirt,RailTrail,Singletrack,Mud,Rain,INTENSE heat,Dust...You Get The Idea) It has been a Solid,Stable Realible Ride!
    I've Owned Trek,Gaint,GT,DiamondBack,Miata,KHS MTB's and this is as good as they get for the Price.
    And REI Does'nt Know how to assemble a bicycle...It took me two weeks to get "Right" But after that its Sweet would I Buy Another...Yup!

  15. #15
    Senior Member BikePackin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SMN21601
    That's a great idea...I'll give it a shot tomorrow...thanks!
    Scott - Did the grease work? If it did not (though I may get flamed for this) blast the stem everywhere with WD-40 via the little red tube. I had a seat post squeek for a whole season that came to an end cause of WD-40 coming to the rescue.
    Meanwhile, before the other readers start on me ... I know that WD stands for Water Dispersement + that WD-40 was never intended as a lubricant - but the reality is that it is a fine, lighter than light, lube that sprays effectively into places that which other lubes can't penetrate.

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    Just ignore the wind... SMN21601's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikePackin
    Scott - Did the grease work? If it did not (though I may get flamed for this) blast the stem everywhere with WD-40 via the little red tube. I had a seat post squeek for a whole season that came to an end cause of WD-40 coming to the rescue.
    Meanwhile, before the other readers start on me ... I know that WD stands for Water Dispersement + that WD-40 was never intended as a lubricant - but the reality is that it is a fine, lighter than light, lube that sprays effectively into places that which other lubes can't penetrate.
    Yes...it did work...and BTW...I used WD40!! HAHA...the can was just sitting right there in front of me on the shelf in the garage and I thought...why not? All fixed! Thanks everyone for the tip! I also STRONGLY agree with the post about REI "not knowing how to assemble a bike"...sheesh...what a downer. Good thing the buds in my local bike club are willing to help each other out! Ride safe!

    -Scott
    "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'" -Ronald Reagan

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    Slow Rider bwgride's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SMN21601
    Yes...it did work...and BTW...I used WD40!! HAHA...the can was just sitting right there in front of me on the shelf in the garage and I thought...why not? All fixed! Thanks everyone for the tip! I also STRONGLY agree with the post about REI "not knowing how to assemble a bike"...sheesh...what a downer. Good thing the buds in my local bike club are willing to help each other out! Ride safe!

    -Scott
    Only problem with WD40 is that it won't last as long as grease. In a few days it will dry out, but it sure is easy to use!

  18. #18
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    I purchased a Safari a couple years ago and you might like some of my observations. Because I wanted to do heavy touring, on road and off, the frame is one size larger than recommended. I determined this from measuring the geometry of my existing touring bikes and comparing dimensions of the Safari. This required the 19" frame instead of the 17" frame. I then pulled off the treking handle bars and stem, junk in my estimation, and replaced the entire assembly with Nitto Dream deep drop bars (see Rivendell), regular aero levers with cantilever brakes and bar end shifters. Installed SKS fenders and installed racks. Because REI cut the threadless fork to short, I also had to install a stem extension to raise the handlebars up to the seat level. The racks were the real problem. REI had used the Delta front low rider racks as a pattern for the braze-on lugs. Wrong. This rack (according to mfg) was never meant to be bolted on, but designed to use U bolts to clamp around to the forks. So the resulting braze-on's were 8 1/2 inches up the fork instead of 6 1/2" as usual. That meant that any standard top front rack would not fit. I finally cut an old Trek rear rack and bolted it to the front Delta low riders. REI gracefully acknowledged that mistake and had sent me a Delta low rider rack free. I have not checked to see if that braze-on dimension has been corrected on newer models. By the way the braze-on's are on the right spot on their Randonee touring bike. As to the rear rack, they moved the lugs on the end of the fork normally used for the rear rack, up and forward to avoid conflict with any future installation with disk brakes. This makes the rear rack up an 1 1/2" too high and 1 1/2" forward. Also on this bike the chain stay length is shorter than a normal touring bike. So the resulting effect is the only panniers that I can fit on the rack are the Ortlieb models with the adjustable clips. I have them set way forward so as to move the panniers back as far as they will go on the racks. At the extreme I am able to pedal without hitting the panniers with my heels. I my shoe size was any larger than 10 1/2 I think I would be out of luck. Yes I know that I could use a bob trailer, but this bike is being built up to ride in Europe in small cities and transported on the trains, etc. I know about Bob trailers, having used one for 6400 miles around Alaska and back to the East coast. I have also toured on my Trek 520 with regular panniers. So this bike which has so much potential for heavy touring, needs refinement. So far I have ridden it around home, not touring, but with some heavy loads and it handles beautifully and feels solid, even with the panniers filled with a bushel (measured) of apples.

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