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Old 02-12-10, 07:49 PM   #1
mthayer
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Novara Randonee

I am looking at getting a touring bike and after a long search and visiting about 5 different bike shops yesterday, I am considering getting the 2009 Randonee. Does anyone have experience with this bike? Would it be worth the $800 to buy it or should I put it towards a different bike?
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Old 02-12-10, 10:55 PM   #2
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It would be very difficult to find a better touring bike for $800 period.
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Old 02-12-10, 11:19 PM   #3
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Should I get it or wait and get a LHT?
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Old 02-13-10, 04:40 AM   #4
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The choice is yours. My wife has the 2008 randonnee and she likes it a lot. After trying both the LHT and the novara she preferred the ride and handling of the novara, don't ask me why. The main difference I see is the shifting, but it doesn't justify the price difference. If you prefer bar ends it won't cost too much to change the novara. We also paid around $800 after tax for the bike and IMO it is really a steal, and about $400 less than the LHT. You will never really find a LHT on sale, so don't wait around expecting it, the only way to get a better deal is to buy used.

BTW, if it were me I would go for the novara, but if you want to spend more then check out the new bruce gordon bike. It is about the same cost as the LHT once you factor in the fact that you are getting bruce gordon made racks!
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Old 02-13-10, 06:01 AM   #5
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Fit should be the number one factor in your choice. Each bike has slightly different geometry and that is what makes "the best" bike for a particular rider. Yes BG bikes come with BG racks but that is a lousey reason to choose a bike. The key is to be able to ride any bike that you're considering and if you're like 99.9% of the world, you don't live close enough to BG to test ride his bike. At the end of the day, the LHT, Novara or any bike for that matter is not stronger than another bike of the same material and chances are they are all made by the same people if not the same factory. All of these bikes are good so don't let marketing sway you. If it fits you, has the features you want and is in your price range, buy it.
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Old 02-13-10, 06:45 AM   #6
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Fit should be the number one factor in your choice. Each bike has slightly different geometry and that is what makes "the best" bike for a particular rider. Yes BG bikes come with BG racks but that is a lousey reason to choose a bike. The key is to be able to ride any bike that you're considering and if you're like 99.9% of the world, you don't live close enough to BG to test ride his bike. At the end of the day, the LHT, Novara or any bike for that matter is not stronger than another bike of the same material and chances are they are all made by the same people if not the same factory. All of these bikes are good so don't let marketing sway you. If it fits you, has the features you want and is in your price range, buy it.

Like I said, I would go for the novara in the OP's case.

I would not choose a bike just based on the racks, but if I were to choose between a LHT and a BG i would go for the BG based on the know-how of bruce (geometry) and the quality of his racks.
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Old 02-13-10, 08:26 AM   #7
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The choice is yours. My wife has the 2008 randonnee and she likes it a lot. After trying both the LHT and the novara she preferred the ride and handling of the novara, don't ask me why. The main difference I see is the shifting, but it doesn't justify the price difference. If you prefer bar ends it won't cost too much to change the novara. We also paid around $800 after tax for the bike and IMO it is really a steal, and about $400 less than the LHT. You will never really find a LHT on sale, so don't wait around expecting it, the only way to get a better deal is to buy used.

BTW, if it were me I would go for the novara, but if you want to spend more then check out the new bruce gordon bike. It is about the same cost as the LHT once you factor in the fact that you are getting bruce gordon made racks!
I'm pretty sure you would end up with money in your pocket swapping to bar ends. See what Tiagra 4500 STI's are going for and then look up Dura Ace Barcons...

That just makes the Novara an even better deal compared to the LHT'r.
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Old 02-13-10, 10:05 AM   #8
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I've heard good things about the Randonee and I don't remember any negative postings. I love my LHT (built from a frame, so not the same as a complete, but fairly similar) and it seems to be one of the most popular choices on this forum based on value/price.

I'd consider them both. The price difference would be tough to ignore, and REI's customer service is excellent. I got my LHT frame mail order and have never tried to get any customer service.

If you could ride them both and one spoke to you more than the other, that might be the deciding factor, although it's hard to find an LHT to ride.

I don't think I've helped much, other than to offer reassurance that whichever you choose, it probably will be a good, no-regrets decision.
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Old 02-13-10, 08:04 PM   #9
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My Novara Randonee has sseen lots of miles in all sorts of conditions and it continues to function very well. The paint is it's weakest point. Customer service is great at REI, the price can't be beat especially on sale. It's hard to find a Randonee owner who isn't happy with it.
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Old 02-13-10, 08:17 PM   #10
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The Randonee is by far my favorite bike in the Novara lineup this year. The 2010 color scheme is pretty sweet too, nice dark blue. I think it is one of the best deals on touring bikes out there. I was happy to see they didn't mess it up, it seems that the rest of the Novara Line is chasing the cheapest price they can get.

Makes me smile to hear about good customer service at REI b/c I work there. (although all opinions expressed are mine only, not in any way representing the REI)
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Old 02-13-10, 08:28 PM   #11
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Check out the REI guarantee as well. I believe it is lifetime on the bike. None of the others back their product to that extent. If you are going to buy a new touring bike, and it fits, its a no brainer.
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Old 02-13-10, 09:24 PM   #12
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Im thinking about going to get the Randonee. Its in the middle of what I want to spend, and I could get the front rack and then some panniers for what I would spend on the LHT. And then I may have some money left over to buy a tent and a stove.
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Old 02-14-10, 12:00 AM   #13
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Randonee is an awesome bike - well made, solid geometry, good components and wheels. You will not be disappointed.
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Old 02-14-10, 12:55 AM   #14
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There was a favorable review of the Randonee in Bicycle Times a few months back. You can see read the author's review and comments here:

http://www.bicycletimesmag.com/content/novara-randonee

http://www.bicycletimesmag.com/conte...ovara-randonee

http://www.bicycletimesmag.com/conte...donee-its-wrap
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Old 02-14-10, 08:52 AM   #15
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I love mine

I got the 2009 Randonee last April. The only things I added (other than the usual accessories) were SPD pedals and a front rack. After 4K miles of all-weather commuting, the only things I have replaced are the chain and brake pads. I run Ortlieb backrollers, and the bike is stable when loaded with 30 lbs of groceries in the pans. I got mine on sale, too - great bike for the $$.
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Old 02-14-10, 09:17 AM   #16
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I was just on a Randonee in the store yesterday. Indeed a great bike at a great price. I also climbed on a Safari in my size (L) and it was equally impressive to me if not more - even those bars with the twist grip shifters...it worked out being pretty comfy too. Both bikes are very nice.

I'm not much of a fan of Tiagra so it would be easy for me to go Surly and around here the LHT goes for $1100 (one store is letting them go for just a hair over $1K) so with the Randonee's sale price thats a $200-$300 difference.

FYI, I think this year you are going to see an explosion in touring bikes and "adventure" touring bike offerings along with new and better interchangeability in drivetrain/shifting components. No more mountain vs. road, just use a 10 spd 12-36 if you want with a 2 chain ring compact crankset. Run the numbers on Sheldon's gear inch calculator. Pretty cool stuff. You might see some price adjustments on older rigs using more "traditional" components too. I know there is a lot of stock left from 09, and 08 even, in a lot of LBS.

If any of this means anything to you, it might be worth it to wait or buy a good frame for a foundation build it up now with some "eBay" stuff and swap it later when the better offerings are out. You could build a SRAM based 12-36 cassette, compact 50/34 crank and Rival shifting system but its going to cost more right now.
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Old 02-14-10, 09:59 AM   #17
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One tip for Novara Bikes - If you are a member, you get a 20% off coupon once or twice a year. The coupon is applicable to Novara bikes, but not other brands. You cannot combine "offers" so the coupon would not apply to the 799 sale price on the randonee.

This would put the Safari in the sub-700 price range, and if the Randonee wasn't already on sale, would make it near the same price point.
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Old 02-14-10, 10:08 AM   #18
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One tip for Novara Bikes - If you are a member, you get a 20% off coupon once or twice a year. The coupon is applicable to Novara bikes, but not other brands. You cannot combine "offers" so the coupon would not apply to the 799 sale price on the randonee.

This would put the Safari in the sub-700 price range, and if the Randonee wasn't already on sale, would make it near the same price point.
March 22nd is when the sale starts this year as per Rei customer service. So if you want the new 2010 it would be worth waiting. If you can't wait you still end up paying $900 because of dividend but you have to wait until next year to get that money back.

So either way you go you get a nice bike at a nice price with customer service second to non....
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Old 02-15-10, 09:34 AM   #19
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I'm also trying to decide between the Randonee and LHT, and am leaning toward the LHT in part because of its lower gearing.
Both bikes have 48/36/26t cranksets, but the LHT has a 11-34 cassette while the Randonee's is 11-28. Not sure you can go bigger with the 105 rear derailleur on the Randonee. Any thoughts?
Thanks!
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Old 02-16-10, 11:03 AM   #20
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My 2008 Randonee has made it from Alaska to Ecuador so far and I see no reason why it won't make it to Tierra del Fuego. It's a great bike! I debated between the LHT and the Randonee, but went for hte Randonee for the price.
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Old 02-16-10, 12:00 PM   #21
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I'm also trying to decide between the Randonee and LHT, and am leaning toward the LHT in part because of its lower gearing.
Both bikes have 48/36/26t cranksets, but the LHT has a 11-34 cassette while the Randonee's is 11-28. Not sure you can go bigger with the 105 rear derailleur on the Randonee. Any thoughts?
Thanks!
According to the Shimano web site, the 105's limit is around 28 (I looked at it a couple of weeks ago and it is either 27 or 29) so if you wanted to switch to a larger rear cassette you would need a new rear derailluer.
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Old 02-16-10, 12:11 PM   #22
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I'm not much of a fan of Tiagra so it would be easy for me to go Surly and around here the LHT goes for $1100 (one store is letting them go for just a hair over $1K) so with the Randonee's sale price thats a $200-$300 difference.
You may not be a fan of the Tiagra group but this is the only Shimano SIS brifter that is built for 9 speeds. The LHT uses bar end shifters. This was an important point last year when the largest 10 speed cassette only had 29 tooth max. This year there are some new 10 speed cassettes that have a 34 or 36 tooth max. (but REALLY pricy), these cassettes can be used for very low gear ratios, and the 10 speed shifters can be used with these cassettes.
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Old 02-16-10, 12:24 PM   #23
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I think that this is a nicely setup bike. The price is very good. I like the steel frame. It has braze-on for a front low rider rack. I like brake shifters. The front crank is mountain bike sizing. It comes with a rear rack. Yes the rear gearing is a little high but I'm not crossing the Rockies on a bike any time soon.

The only thing that I have a real problem with is the handlebars. I have the same bars on my Jamis Aurora Elite 2009 and I like putting a clip-on aero bar on the bike. The aero bars that I like are profile design airstrykes and the clamping point is on the tapper of the bars so it doesn't clamp well.

If you use different aero bars or don't plan on using aero bars, then this should not matter to you. For me this was a $15 fix.
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Old 02-16-10, 02:58 PM   #24
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According to the Shimano web site, the 105's limit is around 28 (I looked at it a couple of weeks ago and it is either 27 or 29) so if you wanted to switch to a larger rear cassette you would need a new rear derailluer.
My wife bought a 2009 last year in the spring. According to the Novara bike specs in the 2009 product booklet, the rear gearing is SRAM PG-950 11/32. They were having trouble with adjusting the shifting across all gears, and I believe she could have switched to the higher geared cassette. But she stayed with the 11/32 even if she loses one of the cogs in the adjustment, just to keep the lower gearing. I forget all the details. The REI wrenches should know. My wife has been happy with the bike, but she's only been on one 4 day tour so far.
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Old 02-16-10, 06:41 PM   #25
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Well after much deliberation trying to decide what I'm going to replace the wrecked Jamis Aurora..... I'll be heading to REI tomorrow morning for a test ride of the 2010 model.

I like the bars and stem on the 2010 and figure the dividend will be approx $100 anyways.. So real price will be $900 plus tax. I can't wait until the 22nd of next month for a replacement when the 20% off deal happens.....

I will be throwing on an XT rear derailer and my 11/32 cassette from the Jamis.. Should be golden. Already ordered a new Tubus Logo rear rack to replace the old one.

Anyways... I'll post some pictures of the new toy when I get it home and set up.

Looking forward to it.
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