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Thread: Novara Element?

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    Novara Element?

    I'm concidering this as my first touring bike. Anyone have one or have an opinion on it.

    http://www.rei.com/product/744808

  2. #2
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by abbynemmy View Post
    I'm concidering this as my first touring bike. Anyone have one or have an opinion on it.

    http://www.rei.com/product/744808
    You could do better. The issues I see with the Element are:

    Gearing: It's got a double with a relatively high low gear. Not something that you want when you are climbing a hill carrying 40 lbs of gear.

    Rack mounting issues: Discs and racks usually don't go together well. The calipers for the disc put a lot of stuff at a place where things were tight to begin with. You end up with bandaid solutions for racks.

    Short wheelbase: This causes lots of problems. Short chainstays lead to pannier/foot strike problems. The over all short wheelbase makes the bike less stable with a load and less comfortable to ride for long hours.

    And, finally, cost: You could fix some of the issues like gearing but that cost extra money. The racks that you would have to get to fix the issues with the brakes are usually not cheap either (an Old Man Mountain costs $125) For $1050, you have a bike that needs lots of changes to make it right. Why not start with a bike that is a least close for less money.

    Look at the Randonee. Not the best touring bike out there, in my opinion (it has some issues), but it's way better than the Element for touring. Or look at a Fuji Touring at a similar price. An LHT complete goes for about the same price as the Randonee and it's a much, much better bike. A Cannondale T800 is about $200 more then the Element and it's on the same level as the LHT.

    Like I said, you could do better.
    Stuart Black
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    Cyccommute:

    Hey, what are you problems with the Randonee? I'm not being difficult, I honestly want to know so that if it's got issues, maybe I can get them worked out. I've only got 350+ miles on mine, but if it has serious problems, or even minor ones, I'd like to get the sorted.

    -Barry-

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    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacobi View Post
    Cyccommute:

    Hey, what are you problems with the Randonee? I'm not being difficult, I honestly want to know so that if it's got issues, maybe I can get them worked out. I've only got 350+ miles on mine, but if it has serious problems, or even minor ones, I'd like to get the sorted.

    -Barry-
    It's shorter than I like for loaded touring bikes. It has 17.1" stays which are pretty short. It makes it a nice quick bike unloaded but can make the bike skittish with a load...especially a rear only load. It also limits your tire size and may make fitting fenders...if those are important... more difficult.

    You can also end up with heel strike issues if you have larger feet. Heel strike is just annoying. If you want to do loaded touring with the Randonee, you either have to move the rear bags waaay back which can affect handling or use small bags...not a bad thing ...but it does reduce your carrying capacity. Either way, I'd use front bags too and heavily biased loading to the front.

    It's kind of a shame since everything else on the bike screams "load me up!" If it had at least 17.5" or 18" stays, the bike would be a great touring bike on a par with the LHT or T800
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
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    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
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    Well, good deal! I was worried that it had a history of weak welds or similar. I use Ortlieb Back Rollers and have no heal strike issues, but I don't have that large of feet, only a 10.

    I would have gone LHT for sure, but at my size I would have to get 26" wheels and didn't want to do that, and the Randonee was 20% so it was too hard to pass up. I've now outfitted it with a Brooks B17 Champion Special with copper rails and honey leather, Brooks Honey Challenger bag, and Brooks Honey bar tape. She's quite the looker!

  6. #6
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacobi View Post
    Well, good deal! I was worried that it had a history of weak welds or similar. I use Ortlieb Back Rollers and have no heal strike issues, but I don't have that large of feet, only a 10.

    I would have gone LHT for sure, but at my size I would have to get 26" wheels and didn't want to do that, and the Randonee was 20% so it was too hard to pass up. I've now outfitted it with a Brooks B17 Champion Special with copper rails and honey leather, Brooks Honey Challenger bag, and Brooks Honey bar tape. She's quite the looker!
    It's unfortunate that you didn't want to go with the 26" wheel. I would like 26" wheels on a touring bike. The wheel is stronger and replacement tires might be easier to find in some places than 700C.
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
    An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    It's unfortunate that you didn't want to go with the 26" wheel. I would like 26" wheels on a touring bike. The wheel is stronger and replacement tires might be easier to find in some places than 700C.
    I guess this just shows exactly how ignorant I was when I was at that stage. I just assumed that the 26" wheel, since most mtb tires are this size, that it would be much harder to find a relatively skinny slick. Maybe for my next build I'll do a little more research.

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    Quote Originally Posted by abbynemmy View Post
    I'm concidering this as my first touring bike. Anyone have one or have an opinion on it.

    http://www.rei.com/product/744808
    This bike reminds me of my Specialized Sirrus Sport Disc. I hadn't researched it properly and ended up buying a bike that is a bit ill-suited to what I plan to do. But then again, it's biking on my Sirrus that got me into touring again, so it was a chicken/egg problem in my case.

    Nevertheless, if you already know that you want to tour with your new bike, you might as well buy one that was built for that.

    Problems that you will probably encounter if you buy that bike:

    Disc brakes. You'll have a hard time finding proper racks that fit well, and even then, you'll have a bit of hacking to to.

    I managed to find an Old Man mountain front rack which fits properly (the AC Lowrider, which attaches to the fender braze-on (i don't have the "upper" braze-on in front) and fits with the braks. Even then, you'll probably have issues with the "width" of the brake, which might end up rubbing against your panniers.

    In the back, you'll have the same problem with the brake which will restrict your choices of rack. I got the Axiom Journey Disc.

    The short chainstays will cause different problems:
    - Restrictions to tire sizes (I have 700x28c and _maybe_ I could fit some 32c on it). This might be important if you tour on converted railroad tracks which are often covered with crushed limestone. Up here, we have thousands of km of them, so touring on them is definitely a possibility.
    - Fenders: most won't fit. Especially if you go for fatter tires.
    - "Twitchiness". A short chainstay (smaller wheelbase) make a more nervous bike. This is really cool for commuting and zipping around town, but on a loaded bike, it can become dangerous if you don't have sharp reflexes.
    - Heel clearance. In order to accommodate your feet, you'll have to push your panniers back, which will push back the center of gravity of your rear panniers behind the center of the rear wheels. This doesn't help the bike's twitchiness as the front will be light and the back heavy. You might need to have front panniers, not to bring more things, but to put some weight in the front to compensate that.

    That bike might also have a steeper headset tube angle, which would make it a bit more nervous than a touring bike. I'm not 100% sure about that, but I suspect it to be true. You should probably ask around for this one.

    This said, I'm leaving thursday morning for a 4 day tour (fully loaded). So, even if you don't have the perfect equipment, you can tour. What you need to do is determine the use you will make of the bike and buy one that's better suited for that use. If you plan on commuting every day and perhaps going on a few weekend tours and maybe a weeklong tour per year, that bike might be a suitable candidate since your main use will be a daily commute. If you don't live in an urban area or will use it mainly for touring, then you might as well go for a real touring bike. I know I wish I had done that...

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