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Old 01-31-07, 04:37 PM   #1
hoodoo40
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REI Novara Randonee or Trek 520

Greetings all,

Well, finally decide to upgrade from my 1980 Motobecane Grand Touring, things are starting to wear out and parts are getting harder to find. I'm trying to decide between the Novara Randonee and the Trek 520. I've heard lots of good info on both and was wondering if the 520 is worth the extra $$. I figure I may have to do upgrades on both bikes for touring, so the savings on the Randonee may be good.

I'm an REI member and will be able to get it at the 20% off.

Randonee at 20% $760
Trek 520 $1,000 (2006 model on sale if they have my size)
Trek 520 at least $1,200 (based on 2006 price)

I mostly commute (15 miles one way), some long weekend rides, and plan on doing some loaded touring (hey, I only had the Motobecane for 26 years and haven't toured, what's the rush) ).

As I said above, I've heard both bikes are good. Just wondering if I should spend the extra money on the 520.

Thanks, John
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Old 01-31-07, 06:50 PM   #2
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The Trek is not worth the extra money. The crank is all wrong.
The Randonnee is worth the money and the crank is right on.
The Randonee is even good looking. The Trek is boring.
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Old 01-31-07, 07:16 PM   #3
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+1 for the Randonee
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Old 01-31-07, 09:27 PM   #4
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2007 Trek 520: Trek site lists at $1240, 2007 Novara Randonee: REI lists for $949, in March the sale price will be $760--savings of $480--sounds like a 'no-brainer' to me! Also remember that you won't have to change out the crank on the Randonee for lower gearing, and the rear rack is more usable for loaded touring. Sounds like you could buy a nice set of Arkel panniers and still be less than the Trek!
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Old 02-01-07, 01:21 AM   #5
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There was a thread on Randonee vs. Trek 520, though it applied to their 06 models:

'06 REI Randonee vs. '06 Trek 520, + & - ?

Personally, I don't understand why Trek charges so much more money than REI for more or less the same bike. At $760, Randonee is indeed a no-brainer. Act quick, for Randonee is a hot item. I recall by mid-May (?) last year, www.REI.com already had to backorder the bike for its most popular sizes. My local REI salesman even exclaimed it was a "Randonee year"!

PS: Besides the upcoming 20% off, do you know by subscribing to REI's newsletter, you will get a 15% coupon code? Not bad for accessories.
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Old 02-01-07, 07:31 AM   #6
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Looking at the specs, it seems the Randonee is definitely a better bang for the buck with more appropriate touring gearing (especially if you are going up hills fully loaded). The only reasons I'd see to buy a 520 over a Randonee are:

1. you ride both, and the 520 is just better for you
2. if you prefer American frames as frame is made in the USA (or at least it was, last time I looked). This depends much on your personal opinion -where possible I always try to support US goods, but you also can't cut your nose off to spite your own face.
3. both bikes are equal in comfort for you, and you just prefer the colour scheme on the 520, and have the spare money!

Otherwise, I think you are looking at about $250 minimum difference in average price, and that could buy a lot of extra bike stuff. The only thing the 520 comes with that the Randonee doesn't is clipless pedals, and potentially the 520 might weigh a little less. From the specs, it looks like the Randonee comes with Tiagra STI versus barend shifters on the Trek, but that could certainly be evened out if you really wanted the barend shifters by ebaying the Tiagra STIs and you could definitely buy the barend shifters with the proceeds.

If I had the money, I'd buy the Trek, assuming the frame is US made. If I was short of money, I'd buy the Randonee. I'd like to see what a Trek rep would say.......?
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Old 02-01-07, 08:24 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nigeyy
Looking at the specs, it seems the Randonee is definitely a better bang for the buck with more appropriate touring gearing (especially if you are going up hills fully loaded). The only reasons I'd see to buy a 520 over a Randonee are:

1. you ride both, and the 520 is just better for you
2. if you prefer American frames as frame is made in the USA (or at least it was, last time I looked). This depends much on your personal opinion -where possible I always try to support US goods, but you also can't cut your nose off to spite your own face.
3. both bikes are equal in comfort for you, and you just prefer the colour scheme on the 520, and have the spare money!

Otherwise, I think you are looking at about $250 minimum difference in average price, and that could buy a lot of extra bike stuff. The only thing the 520 comes with that the Randonee doesn't is clipless pedals, and potentially the 520 might weigh a little less. From the specs, it looks like the Randonee comes with Tiagra STI versus barend shifters on the Trek, but that could certainly be evened out if you really wanted the barend shifters by ebaying the Tiagra STIs and you could definitely buy the barend shifters with the proceeds.

If I had the money, I'd buy the Trek, assuming the frame is US made. If I was short of money, I'd buy the Randonee. I'd like to see what a Trek rep would say.......?
The main reason to buy the Trek over the Randonee for touring is the geometry. The Trek has longer chainstays and a longer wheelbase both of which are longer by about an inch. This may not seem like much but it can make a difference in handling and bag carrying capability. Heel strikes on the panniers can become an issue with 17" stays where 17.75" stays give you a bit more room. Longer stays will also give a smoother ride.

I've toured on short chainstay bikes and they can have handling issues as well...they can get skittish.

As for the gearing, changing the inner chainring to a 26 tooth and the cassette to a 13-34 (things that can easily be done at the shop before taking delivery) would give you the same gearing as the Randonee. I've done many, many touring miles with just that combination...even here in Colorado
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Old 02-01-07, 09:01 AM   #8
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Hence my point number 1 -it may or may not be an issue. If Randonees were skittish/poor handling or the geometry was very ill equipped for the average person touring, I'm sure we'd have heard it by now on these boards. It seems a lot of people are very happy with them (but again, doesn't mean to say it is good for the OP).

I also ride with a 26 front chainring on a 105 crank, but the gear changing -though entirely adequate -isn't quite as easy as when you have chainrings more closely spaced -you have to be touch more delicate on the upshift. If I had the spare money, I'd go with a touring crank or replace the middle and large chainrings on my 105 crank (don't think I've ever got into the large chainring fully loaded!) Either way, it's still an added expense to add even one chainring and cassette on top of the 520's higher price.

The main reasons to buy a bike should always be fit and functionality, but assuming these are similar for the OP, I think it's hard to argue the Randonee offers better value -especially with that 20% coupon thing -comparing specs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cyccommute
The main reason to buy the Trek over the Randonee for touring is the geometry. The Trek has longer chainstays and a longer wheelbase both of which are longer by about an inch. This may not seem like much but it can make a difference in handling and bag carrying capability. Heel strikes on the panniers can become an issue with 17" stays where 17.75" stays give you a bit more room. Longer stays will also give a smoother ride.

I've toured on short chainstay bikes and they can have handling issues as well...they can get skittish.

As for the gearing, changing the inner chainring to a 26 tooth and the cassette to a 13-34 (things that can easily be done at the shop before taking delivery) would give you the same gearing as the Randonee. I've done many, many touring miles with just that combination...even here in Colorado
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Old 02-01-07, 10:19 AM   #9
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+1 for the Randonee. I have ridden both and they both ride great. Any bike you buy will usually need some modification to get it the way you want and the Randonee is a great starting point. It's less expensive due to the imported frame and no middleman at REI.

I like the fact that the Randonee has shorter chainstays becauase you will enjoy it more when it is not loaded and you won't have any handling issues when it is.
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Old 02-01-07, 11:16 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by karmantra
2007 Trek 520: Trek site lists at $1240, 2007 Novara Randonee: REI lists for $949, in March the sale price will be $760--savings of $480--sounds like a 'no-brainer' to me! Also remember that you won't have to change out the crank on the Randonee for lower gearing, and the rear rack is more usable for loaded touring. Sounds like you could buy a nice set of Arkel panniers and still be less than the Trek!
How do you know that the sale price will be $760?

At $760, the bike is a great deal.

EDIT: Is the $760 including the coupon? Sure looks like it.
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Old 02-01-07, 12:08 PM   #11
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I bought the 2006 Trek 520 at my LBS on sale at $910, and I'm very happy with it so far. But I live near an REI store and have been very impressed with much of the Novarra brand bikes they have. The store hasn't stocked a Randonee yet, so I haven't had a test ride. The 520 gives an extremely smooth ride and at 6'0 I have plenty of clearance with loaded bags on the rear (no front rack yet). I did have to get a set of lower rings up front, and I opted to splurge on a Ritchey adjustable stem, partly to reach the bar end shifters with minimal fuss (still getting used to that feature).

As many others have said, if you really can get the Randonee for that low a price, jump on it and enjoy the savings. But I did want you to hear from a recently satisfied 520 buyer!

Ken
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Old 02-01-07, 01:13 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nigeyy
Hence my point number 1 -it may or may not be an issue. If Randonees were skittish/poor handling or the geometry was very ill equipped for the average person touring, I'm sure we'd have heard it by now on these boards. It seems a lot of people are very happy with them (but again, doesn't mean to say it is good for the OP).

I also ride with a 26 front chainring on a 105 crank, but the gear changing -though entirely adequate -isn't quite as easy as when you have chainrings more closely spaced -you have to be touch more delicate on the upshift. If I had the spare money, I'd go with a touring crank or replace the middle and large chainrings on my 105 crank (don't think I've ever got into the large chainring fully loaded!) Either way, it's still an added expense to add even one chainring and cassette on top of the 520's higher price.

The main reasons to buy a bike should always be fit and functionality, but assuming these are similar for the OP, I think it's hard to argue the Randonee offers better value -especially with that 20% coupon thing -comparing specs.
My point, however, is that you need to look further than what is hanging on the bike. You really do need to look at the frame too. Most places aren't going to let you come in an load up their touring bikes with 40 or 50 lb of gear and go for a ride. They should but it probably won't happen. When it comes time to load the bike up and suddenly you find that your feet hit the panniers on each stroke or the bike is a handfull on downhills, it's too late to take the bike back and ask for a new one. I've toured on a bike that was too short, no amount of adjustment could make it better. Hitting the bags on every revolution of the pedals got old...real fast! At that point, you may have paid less but you didn't get a better value.

I'm not saying that the Randonee isn't a good bike or a good buy. All I'm saying is that before you buy it, really think about what you want to use it for and if it will meet those needs.
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Old 02-01-07, 01:58 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyccommute
My point, however, is that you need to look further than what is hanging on the bike. You really do need to look at the frame too. Most places aren't going to let you come in an load up their touring bikes with 40 or 50 lb of gear and go for a ride. They should but it probably won't happen. When it comes time to load the bike up and suddenly you find that your feet hit the panniers on each stroke or the bike is a handfull on downhills, it's too late to take the bike back and ask for a new one. I've toured on a bike that was too short, no amount of adjustment could make it better. Hitting the bags on every revolution of the pedals got old...real fast! At that point, you may have paid less but you didn't get a better value.

I'm not saying that the Randonee isn't a good bike or a good buy. All I'm saying is that before you buy it, really think about what you want to use it for and if it will meet those needs.
That's where the Randonee has an edge - buy it, try it and if you aren't 100% happy take it back. You can't beat REI's return policy.
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Old 02-01-07, 02:55 PM   #14
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Don't overlook the Surly Long Haul Trucker. It looks like it will price out right between the two, and if you can get your LBS to discount, it could come in very close to the Randonee. I think you will have more frame size choices with the LHT, too.
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Old 02-01-07, 03:41 PM   #15
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I can't speak for the Randonee,but as far as a REI bike goes,I toured on a 05 REI Novara Bonanza MT bike...Make sure that you go over the bike when you get it home...Mine was not assembled that well (REI employees are not as bike knowlageable as they should be) and have your LBS check the wheel tenision and true (Michine buit wheels) other than that...6500 miles so far and besides a few broken spokes this thing is VERY solid!!
I've owned a lot of bikes in life (Trek,Diamondback,GT,Giant,Schwinn,) would I buy another Novara...You bet!!
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Old 02-01-07, 11:50 PM   #16
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Quote:
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Don't overlook the Surly Long Haul Trucker. It looks like it will price out right between the two, and if you can get your LBS to discount, it could come in very close to the Randonee. I think you will have more frame size choices with the LHT, too.
My LHT cost $450 and there is no way a person can build it up with comparable components for another $310.00.
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Old 02-02-07, 12:05 AM   #17
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LHT will come in at a thousand or so, in the box, complete, delivered to your local bike shop. I was just today looking at the specs in the 2007 QBP catalog at the bike shop.

durace barend shifters. sprung leather saddle. touring gearing. tetkro oryx cantis. a VERY viable option for the original poster.
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Old 02-02-07, 12:31 PM   #18
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Didn't realize, or forgot, it can now come as a complete bike. My error.
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Old 02-02-07, 03:55 PM   #19
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If you go with a Randonee, make sure you live near an REI if you ever need servicing. Nothing ticks off a lbs quicker than someone buying a bike from a big box discounter to save bucks, then taking it in to the lbs for service.
I've bought a few pieces of touring equipment from REI (mainly because lbs didn't carry them), but I would never buy a bike from there. Gonna support the local wrench as much as I can. I need'em because I'm a mechanical dork.
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Old 02-02-07, 03:58 PM   #20
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If you go with a Randonee, make sure you live near an REI if you ever need servicing. Nothing ticks off a lbs quicker than someone buying a bike from a big box discounter to save bucks, then taking it in to the lbs for service.
I've bought a few pieces of touring equipment from REI (mainly because lbs didn't carry them), but I would never buy a bike from there. Gonna support the local wrench as much as I can. I need'em because I'm a mechanical dork.
I don't know my LBS would be more than happy to service any bike you care to bring in from anywhere. They make a lot more profit on parts & service than they do selling a new bike.
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Old 02-02-07, 04:08 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleK
If you go with a Randonee, make sure you live near an REI if you ever need servicing. Nothing ticks off a lbs quicker than someone buying a bike from a big box discounter to save bucks, then taking it in to the lbs for service.
I've bought a few pieces of touring equipment from REI (mainly because lbs didn't carry them), but I would never buy a bike from there. Gonna support the local wrench as much as I can. I need'em because I'm a mechanical dork.
eh? My lbs is happy to service my Randonee.
Most of the smarter ones realize that if they only service the bikes sold in that LBS they will be loosing out on a pretty large chunk of revenue. Anyhow, I would hardly call REI a big box discounter. More like a big box overly expensive store, with the exception of the randonee with a 20% off coupon.
Incidentally, that is how I purchased mine last March.
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Old 02-02-07, 05:52 PM   #22
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Where is all this talk about 20% coupons coming from? My most recent REI catalog doesn't even have any bikes.
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Old 02-02-07, 07:25 PM   #23
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Where is all this talk about 20% coupons coming from? My most recent REI catalog doesn't even have any bikes.
Every year they have several 20% coupons. I think I even had a 30% coupon once, but I might be making that up...lol.
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Old 02-02-07, 07:27 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by PurpleK
If you go with a Randonee, make sure you live near an REI if you ever need servicing. Nothing ticks off a lbs quicker than someone buying a bike from a big box discounter to save bucks, then taking it in to the lbs for service.
I've bought a few pieces of touring equipment from REI (mainly because lbs didn't carry them), but I would never buy a bike from there. Gonna support the local wrench as much as I can. I need'em because I'm a mechanical dork.
I'm confused by your point, as well. I love my LBS, and wished I could have justified getting a 520 from them instead of the Randonee. And the owners are friends of mine! But they know they're not the only game in town, and we make it up to them by taking our bikes there for tune-ups, getting our panniers from them, etc. I gonna support the local wrench, too. Just not with this bike. Maybe the next one.
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Old 02-02-07, 07:44 PM   #25
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Where is all this talk about 20% coupons coming from? My most recent REI catalog doesn't even have any bikes.
Around the end of February or first of March, REI will be sending out their dividend 'checks' to members on 2006 purchases. For as long as I can remember (and I've been a member for a long time), they have a dividend sale with a 20% off coupon off of one item from their retail prices with the arrival of the dividend checks (REI wants you to spend the check at their stores on items rather than you cashing it!). There are some exclusions, but the REI Novara line of bikes have always been available for the 20% off coupon. That makes the $949 dollar Randonee on sale at $760. Unless REI raises the price on the Randonee before the sale or for some reason excludes it, the price should be $760. If you are close to an REI, have it shipped there for free & they'll build it up, plus service it.
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