Just picked up my 2011 Novara Safari from REI yesterday. LOVE IT!
I've got 7500 miles the past year on my 2010 CAAD9 and it's like going from a Porsche 911 to a Cadillac! I took it out this morning for what I wanted to be a 10 minute test ride and I ended up going for 90 minutes!
I was grinning from ear to ear. The only change so far has been the clipless pedals I put on it so I could use my same road shoes.
First thing I noticed was it was like a big old boat! Very stable. There are joiners in the bike path that I am very accustomed to letting up on my CAAD9 that this thing just rolls over.
I'm a 20mph average guy on my road bike with 22mph on the flats usually. There are very few hills other than the underpasses on my 30 mile round trip to the sea and back. I was shocked that I could pull about 18mph on these flats on the Safari! Once the beast gets going it just keeps rolling! I was laughing because I thought I'd be giving up 7-8mph on the flats with this thing but that wasn't the case - maybe 2-3mph tops so it's definitely the engine ! Now hills or fully loaded is going to be a completely different story!
There are four water bottle braze-ons, not the two pictured. I have the X-large and it fits well. I'm still wanting to get into road-bike posture and will have to work on that. I raised the seat to the same height from the bottom bracket as my road bike and it puts the handlebars quite a bit lower than the seat - something not optimal for what I wanted to use this bike for. I'll have to figure out a way to raise he handlebars since I'm maxed out on the head tube / steerer tube.
Just wanted to say I love this bike. It actually might make me do a bit of touring!