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Old 01-21-08, 01:14 AM   #1
cptpitt22
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Buying a new bike: Randonee vs Safari vs ??

Sooo....
Anyone who saw my previous thread knows that I was going to try to gear up my old cross country mtn bike, but it's going to cost about as much as buying a new bike. My REI guys suggested two, and I posted the comparison chart below. I know that the Randonee is a trusted touring model (it appears in many other threads and forum posts), but my bike-savvy friend thinks that the Safari is a better buy. Thoughts?

http://www.rei.com/ComparisonChartDi...cat=REI_SEARCH

-cpt



NB: I like going thru REI for warranty/service perks, but if someone else has another great place to buy a bike lemme know. Also, I trust them at REI, which is more than I can say for my local bike shops.

In case the comparison chart doesn't work:
http://www.rei.com/product/730480
http://www.rei.com/product/744804
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Old 01-21-08, 02:56 AM   #2
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Go for the Safari, more verstile, nicer looking, good reputation.
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Old 01-21-08, 04:12 AM   #3
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Go for the Safari, more verstile, nicer looking, good reputation.
+1000!! Well designed,Well outfitted,Good Price,26"Wheels,(Available Anywhere) Fantastic Warranty!! The only thing I would change is the shifters,I dont care for Grip-Shifters. Of course it doesn't help that I'm slightly biased...I have a 4 Y.O. Norvara Bonanza and am quite happy with it!
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Old 01-21-08, 08:16 AM   #4
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It depends on you. Do you prefer a mt. bike or a road bike? Trekking bars don't do it for me, neither do 26" wheels and they're inherently slower. Then again, I have no intention of going off-road. For me it's kind'a like owning an SUV when I know there is nowhere I'm going where it's actually warranted. That's just me. Suit yourself and not me or your friend. We ain't the ones paying for it or riding it.

And as opposed to the above posters, I don't think it's looks have anything to reccommend it, but as I stated above, I don't like SUV's. And again, please yourself.

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Old 01-21-08, 08:22 AM   #5
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Either bike will fit your needs for a touring bike, so it's personal choice.

A quick word about the Safari-- it's the mini-van of touring bikes. It's slow unloaded and not popular like the snazzy SUVs. But it's a heck of bike for real world cycling. It's great for shorter urban trips, great for family bike trail rides, great for loaded touring. It's just not a sexy racer. You cannot get a stronger bike at a better price with better service.
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Old 01-21-08, 10:50 AM   #6
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I have been under the impression that Cantilever brakes are not nearly as strong as Disc or V-brakes (I have only used Vs). This is one of this big things I am considering between the two bikes. Should I be?
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Old 01-21-08, 11:31 AM   #7
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I don't know, but I've had both (canti's/V's) and never had a problem stopping with either. Neither has either variety failed me and I've not noticed a difference in stopping power. If you have a preference, they're easy enough to switch over.

Disc's, from what little experience I've had with them, sure stop smooth, but I personally wouldn't care for the extra hassle and weight.

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Old 01-21-08, 11:49 AM   #8
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Another Good Option

I looked at both these bikes. I decided to go with the Novara Element. It has disk brakes and tough enough to carry all my bags and equipment for touring. It has a smooth ride even over bumpy uneven roads, dirt and the occasional pothole . The Safarri seemed a bit to bulky for me and I didn't like the handlebars. The Ranondee was nice also but after a few Test rides I preferred the Element.
Good Luck and let us know what you decide.
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Old 01-21-08, 11:53 AM   #9
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Your comparison chart link didn't work, but I just did my own. Interesting.

They both have the same crankset - Shimano Deore 48/36/26 - and the same cassette - SRAM PG-950 11/32, 9-speed. I would opt for a smaller granny gear for touring - probably a 24, though a 22 might be nice (I've never had a 22 on a touring bike so I have no experience.) However, with the 26" tires, wouldn't that give the Safari slightly lower gearing?

The Safari is aluminum while the Randonee is steel. Steel/Aluminum can be an issue for some. I like steel for touring, but plenty of people with aluminum love it (I've only had one aluminum bike - a mountain bike - and it's a great bike.) The Safari weighs 2.5 pounds more. That's not a huge deal on a touring bike, but every ounce counts on a long ascent.

The Safari has those funky handlebars. The Randonee has standard drops. That's an issue. Some people love one, some love the others. You can always switch them out, though there's something to be said for buying a bike that's as close to "finished" as you can.

If you're planning on touring in exotic locations - Mexico, South America, Southeast Asia, etc. - or doing much touring on dirt - Like Adventure Cycling's Utah Cliffs Loop - or if you just like aluminum framed bikes with funky bars and 26" wheels - get the Safari.

If you're planning on touring in the USA or Canada (or Europe?) on roads, and like a steel-framed bike with 700cm tires and drop handlebars, consider the Randonee.

I like them both, but they're quite a bit different. I'd hate to buy one and later wish I'd bought the other.

Have you considered where you want to tour and decided on some likely specific routes? You might start with that. Buy the bike that's best for the first big tour you plan on attempting and go from there.
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Old 01-21-08, 12:52 PM   #10
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As far as the feel, I'll know when I get to the store and hop onto the saddle. My other bike is out of commish so I need to borrow a car... which is why I'm not there right now.

My route is the Allegheny Passage into the TransAmerica trail, so I'm thinking that having the off road options will be nice. Neither of those trails are particularly strenuous on the bike, but I will be straying from the path and following my inclinations. Usually, this means more rugged adventuring. Plus, I'll be meeting up with my sister in Colorado, and there will probably be dirt trails out there in the west that I'll want to explore.

I'm gonna talk with my REI guys and test each of them. I'll let you know how it goes.
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Old 01-21-08, 01:10 PM   #11
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I see the fundamental distinction between these bikes as getting lost in the noise about frame materials, gearing, brakes, shifters, etc. - the Safari is a moutain-bike based touring bike, the Randonee is a road-bike based touring bike. As such the Safari, like most mountain bikes, is a slow and heavy (VERY HEAVY) dog on the road compared to th Randonee. And the Randonee, like most pure road bikes, has very limited non-pavement capability. So it all depends on where you are going to take the bike.

As someone else mentioned, a CX bike is a little more of a compromise bike - essentially a road bike with wider tires. But most aren't geared very well for off-road use and you often have to jury rig racks, and the like.

I certainly wouldn't buy the Safari just because you'd might once in a blue moon go down a gravel road. That's the tail wagging the dog.

- Mark
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Old 01-21-08, 01:55 PM   #12
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I have the Randonee and really like it, but I have not toured with it yet. I do commute to work (16 miles one way) and some times carry heavy loads in my panniers. I also do a lot of errands on it, library (usually with a load of books, grocery shopping, etc.). So far not problems yet. I like the drop bars, which works for me.

Have you test rode the two bikes yet? Maybe just doing that will help you select the one you want. Or maybe you won't want either, and need to look at a third or so.

I assume you will wait until March and get it when REI has a members sale of 20% off. I bought mine last year for around $770 or so.

Have fun.

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Old 01-22-08, 07:31 AM   #13
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I Love the Randonnee. It's like greyhound with pannier racks or a fast-moving camel. I love the Safari. It's like a tough donkey that will carry everything including the kitchen sink, AND it has disk brakes.

But... you can build a Safari minus the disc brakes out of any old MTB frame for 1/3 of the price if you're willing to go with slightly used parts.
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Old 01-22-08, 04:54 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cptpitt22 View Post
Sooo....
Anyone who saw my previous thread knows that I was going to try to gear up my old cross country mtn bike, but it's going to cost about as much as buying a new bike. My REI guys suggested two, and I posted the comparison chart below. I know that the Randonee is a trusted touring model (it appears in many other threads and forum posts), but my bike-savvy friend thinks that the Safari is a better buy. Thoughts?

http://www.rei.com/ComparisonChartDi...cat=REI_SEARCH

-cpt



NB: I like going thru REI for warranty/service perks, but if someone else has another great place to buy a bike lemme know. Also, I trust them at REI, which is more than I can say for my local bike shops.

In case the comparison chart doesn't work:
http://www.rei.com/product/730480
http://www.rei.com/product/744804
REI is great for support; and if you will be traveling through their territories, you can find them in various cities, if adjustments or maintenance or warranty work, etc. is needed.

*****
There have been some excellent responses here.

One thing I would add is that the Safari is not really that slow if you use good high-pressure tires with a smooth center section. The differences in speed would be very small, and negligible for most purposes.

The Safari is the more versatile bike.

You might find that you prefer one ride over the other, though. Just be sure you are riding them with similar tires and tire pressures, and similar fits -- that can affect the ride tremendously.

*****
Properly adjusted cantilevers are quite strong and adequate. Yes, discs are even stronger, and are better in the rain; but cantis work just fine for most people.

Last edited by Niles H.; 01-22-08 at 07:28 PM.
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Old 01-22-08, 05:27 PM   #15
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I have a 2007 Safari. Couple of things that I've noticed, which I haven't seen mentioned in discussions about this bike: The bulkiness of the aluminum frame, combined with the disc brakes, means that conventional rear racks won't really fit on the bike (unless you use the Old Man Mountain racks which attach via the quick release skewer). At least, when I tried putting a Tubus Logo on my bike, it quickly became apparent that the eyelet for the rack is much higher than usual, to clear the disc brake housing. So (unless I'm missing something) it seems that you're stuck with the Safari rack that came with the bike, and this might not be easy to replace quickly if you have problems on the road.

Another issue for me is that the bulky frame + disc brake housing means I cannot mount my favorite kickstand, which is the Greenfield (it usually attaches on the rear triangle next to the hub). There's just no space for it, so I have an ESGE two legged stand which mounts near the bottom bracket. This I don't like - it's very unstable and the bike has actually fallen over a few times. I know many people sneer at kickstands, but for me it's one of the more essential things I like to have on my touring bikes.

Other than those issues (which may not even be issues for some people), the Safari is a very nice bike. It rides a little harshly when unloaded; it feels much more comfortable fully loaded. I put an Old Man Mountain Cold Springs front rack on mine, and it works well.

One thing I was mildly surprised about was how much frame flex there was when the bike was fully loaded. It was mostly only apparent when I was starting off. Once under way, the bike seemed rock solid, but when starting from standstill I could feel quite a bit of flex. I don't know how heavy my panniers were (front & back) but they were quite heavy. There was never any hint of shimmy.

I like the trekking handlebars, personally, ditto the gripshift shifters. It's a matter of personal preference, but you will see these bars on quite a few "round the world" type bicycles. They do work in terms of giving you a good selection of hand positions, and I love all the additional real estate it gives you for things like computers. I can also mount my Ortlieb handlebar bag without any problem.

I was thinking about trying to sell the (almost new) bike once I realized the issues with the rear rack and kickstand. However I find I'm possibly becoming attached to it (easy with bikes, for me) and so I'll probably be keeping it around. I do like it, the Safari is a great value for money.

Neil
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Old 01-22-08, 07:53 PM   #16
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I'd like to add that REI has a sale, I think in February (???), where members get 20% off any regular-priced item---including bicycles. Be sure to ask the REI salesperson for details, such as, if REI is having that same sale this year, and if so, when.

It would also be worth asking if you can get the refund after-the-fact, or if you have to wait and order the bike during the sale to get the refund. The money you save on the refund might help with any upgrades or changes you want. Or help you to buy new panniers. Or, pay for the bike-charge on the flights to/from Europe/Australia/where-ever you are going. Etc. It's definitely worth pursuing!
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Old 01-26-08, 10:35 AM   #17
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I bought my Safari last March and put 1 season of commuting on it, probably 1500 to 2000 miles, and have had the rear end loaded down pretty good. I have not toured on it yet but plan to in 2008. I think it is a very good bike however it is not pure touring bike in the traditional sense. Here are my thoughts on it.

1.) Frame. This was the first aluminum frame bike that I owned and I was pleasantly surprised. The aluminum frame road better than the Cromoly Marin MTB that it replaced. The bike's weight was a non issue for me and weight is important as I routinely lift the bike on and off of a commuter train. The 16" frame I bought actually weighed in a couple of pounds lighter than what REI advertised it.

2.) Versatility. If you are strictly going to use this bike for on road touring than you might be better off with the Randonee, LHT, Cannandale or any of the other traditional touring bike that is more specialized for this application. However, if you are like me and are confined to an apartment with limited room to store other bikes and need a multipurpose bike, the Safari is going to be of value. It is sturdy and holds up well against the daily ware and tear of commuting. The 26" wheels enable you to endure curbs, bumps, and pot holes, and the bike can also be taken off road.

3.) Comparison to a touring bike. This style of MTB touring bike seems to be more popular in Europe where they are called expedition bikes. I had not owned a road style bike since the early 90's and one reason that I selected this bike was that I was comfortable with the MTB geometry. The biggest disadvantage that I am aware of is the wind resistance in the more up right riding position. I installed aero bars that helped to mitigate this. The bike is pretty stable with aero bars even when semi loaded down but this is going to prevent you from using a normal handle bar bag. The trekking bars were not an issue for me and I padded them down pretty good with pipe insulation. Somebody said that 26" wheels are slower than 700 cc wheels. Although that might be true in high end road racing, I really don't think that is true for commuting and touring. In my opinion the tire width plays a bigger role in road speed and the 700cc come in narrower sizes but you are not going to use narrow tire sizes on a loaded touring bike. The 26" wheels are inherently strong and tires are more widely available in that size. I really do not think this bike is that slow as I can maintain a 14 to 16 mph pace on a crushed limestone trail with it using 1.35" tires.

Although I do not have first hand experience with yet, the Safari has been reported to handle well under a load.
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Old 01-28-08, 09:48 AM   #18
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Thanks everyone for your help. I've decided on the Safari - I think that it is the best bike for my needs, and when I actually got on it the bike felt pretty good. The goofy handlebars look they are going to be exactly what I want.

Problem for me, though, they don't have any in my size at the moment (XL). Hopefully by the time they arrive at the distribution center I will have received my member coupon. Until then, I'll be training on my good old mountain bike.

Happy riding!
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Old 02-09-08, 09:08 PM   #19
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I just ordered an 18" Safari. According to REI it's that last one. They are not ordering any in 2008. Don't know why. I bought it after lots of back and forth looking at bikes. There is a high probability I'll be riding the C&O/Allegheny trail this year.
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Old 02-09-08, 10:26 PM   #20
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FYI, it's not a problem to ride on on fire roads, rail trails, dirt roads, gravel paths, etc. with a road style touring bike with beefy tires. I've done a few hundred miles loaded on my 520 with Conti TravelContact tires, and more with some other tire that was basically a road tire. As long as you aren't doing anything really steep and technical, it's fine. Of course, I'm little, so my wheels do have an advantage over an XL sized guy.

Oh, and 22x32 is a lovely gear for touring. 26x34 is not as nice, but it should get you up most stuff out west. 26x32 was not so nice, for me. I had to swap that out in New Zealand, where they build their roads steep.
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