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  1. #1
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    Buy Novara Safari or no?

    Got an offer of $380 for a 2012 large Novara Safari, the guy says it's in excellent condition.

    Is this bike worth it for the price? Something that will last multiple tours without any regrets? Or should I just save up the money and get a better touring bike, such as a Jamis Aurora or Trek 520? I've been browsing CL for the past few weeks and not having much luck finding touring bikes for sale

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Nothing wrong with the Safari if it suits you. A friend rode one all over central and South America and loves his. The reason I might advise against it would be if a more road oriented bike suited you better.

    Oh and be sure it fits you. That is more important than what bike you pick.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    Nothing wrong with the Safari if it suits you. A friend rode one all over central and South America and loves his. The reason I might advise against it would be if a more road oriented bike suited you better.

    Oh and be sure it fits you. That is more important than what bike you pick.
    How is the Safari not road-oriented, apart from the handlebars? I did a 600 mile tour on a cyclocross bike and loved it (apart from the lack of gearing and it being a bit small on me).

  4. #4
    Senior Member simplygib's Avatar
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    A 2012 Novara Safari for $380?

    No, absolutely not worth it. They are pure junk. It'll fall apart on you after ten miles. So no, absolutely do not buy it.
    I'm so infuriated about this ridiculous offer I'd like to tell the seller myself. Do you have his contact info?

  5. #5
    <riding now> BigAura's Avatar
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    I think the deal is very good assuming it fits you and everything is in good working order. I bought one several years ago ($640 after REI discounts) had a very enjoyable tour on it. It was rock solid a gave me no problems. However I did sell it (for $540) because the grip shifters and handle bars didn't suit me personally.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoulReaver View Post
    How is the Safari not road-oriented, apart from the handlebars? I did a 600 mile tour on a cyclocross bike and loved it (apart from the lack of gearing and it being a bit small on me).
    Good question, although REI says it's built for dirt roads. Maybe the rims and the 42c tires?

    If it fits and everything is in good working order, what have you got to lose but $380 (assuming you can't re-sell it if you don't like it)?

    Note that if no mods. have been made, you might want to lower the gearing depending on your abilities. 26x32 is the low end.

  7. #7
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoulReaver View Post
    How is the Safari not road-oriented, apart from the handlebars? I did a 600 mile tour on a cyclocross bike and loved it (apart from the lack of gearing and it being a bit small on me).
    Personally I'd rather have drop bars and narrower tires for road oriented touring. Also I did not realize or had forgotten that the Medium and Large sizes had 700C wheels (My friends is a Small and has 26" wheels).

    Those preferences have become stronger on my part as I have progressively packed lighter and lighter. Now that I am typically packing a sub 15 pound gear weight I tend to not want a touring bike at all, preferring a road bike or cyclocross bike.

    Note that I am not advising that my approach should be adopted by you or anyone who doesn't feel inclined that way. Just suggesting that the bike choice will vary depending on your touring style and preferences.

    BTW, it could be argued that the Aurora or 520 are not necessarily better bikes for any given individual's touring style and preferences. I am pretty sure my friend would not trade his Safari for either of those bikes., but someone else might find them a much better fit.

  8. #8
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    NB: you can get people to change bars, levers, and so forth, for you,

    though you may feel mechanically incapable yourself.

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    Great Price. Great bang for buck. I Paid $650 for a 2011 new. The headset, paint and gearing( for dirt road stuff)and twist shifters are the weak points for me. Steel frame, deore build, ready for disc brakes, decent rims and brakes, tires. I,ve got 47mm tire on mine and think a 2.0x 29 will go. If you need drops, won,t go dirtroading on tours, or need 26" steer away. When these and the randonee are on sale they win bang for buck award imo. On road tours I ride a randonee.

  10. #10
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    I own a Novarra bike, so do several other tourists I know, and everyone seems to like them just fine. If it fits and it's your style, why not?

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    Ah, I think I will be mostly doing road tours, don't expect to go much off-terrain. Will the safari still be good for that? Can I also use it as a general all purpose bike, or should I leave it exclusively for tours?

    I'm pretty light (135lbs) and don't expect to be touring with more than 50lbs ever.

    EDIT: Actually, would this Bianchi possibly suit me better? http://boston.craigslist.org/gbs/bik/3187956562.html
    Not the most knowledgable about touring bikes, so maybe someone here can help. It seems more road oriented, which is what I want. No concerns about appearance, I just want a bike that I can depend on and can go--I think I'm flexible because I did a 600mi tour on a cyclocross that I felt fine on besides my neck hurting after awhile due to it being small on me.
    Last edited by SoulReaver; 08-21-12 at 04:11 PM.

  12. #12
    Just ride it. MrPolak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoulReaver View Post
    Ah, I think I will be mostly doing road tours, don't expect to go much off-terrain. Will the safari still be good for that? Can I also use it as a general all purpose bike, or should I leave it exclusively for tours?

    I'm pretty light (135lbs) and don't expect to be touring with more than 50lbs ever.

    EDIT: Actually, would this Bianchi possibly suit me better? http://boston.craigslist.org/gbs/bik/3187956562.html
    Not the most knowledgable about touring bikes, so maybe someone here can help. It seems more road oriented, which is what I want. No concerns about appearance, I just want a bike that I can depend on and can go--I think I'm flexible because I did a 600mi tour on a cyclocross that I felt fine on besides my neck hurting after awhile due to it being small on me.
    The Bianchi looks like a very nice bike. My concern would be heel strike with panniers due to shortish chainstays, so you'd have to manage around that. This can be done by using smaller rear panniers that are mounted farther back. To give you additional storage room you could use clamp-on front panniers. Keep in mind that too much of a load can make a non-touring bike feel "noodly" due to frame flex, but at your weight and load it may not be a problem. For neck pain you raise the quill or install a taller one.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrPolak View Post
    The Bianchi looks like a very nice bike. My concern would be heel strike with panniers due to shortish chainstays, so you'd have to manage around that. This can be done by using smaller rear panniers that are mounted farther back. To give you additional storage room you could use clamp-on front panniers. Keep in mind that too much of a load can make a non-touring bike feel "noodly" due to frame flex, but at your weight and load it may not be a problem. For neck pain you raise the quill or install a taller one.
    Thank you MrPolak, I will definitely try on panniers on the Bianchi if I test-drive it.

    Would you agree it seems more suitable to me than the Safari? As great of a deal as I am getting with the Safari for $380, it seems more casual, slow, off-terrain type of bike while I am looking for a durable but still fast, road-terrain bike. I do also have the option of getting a 2012 Jamis Aurora brand new for $600, which I am considering at the high-end of my budget if it is a good "all-around" bike as well....the Aurora and Bianchi both seem to be more road-oriented and lighter, which is what I am looking for, but still able to tour and are durable.

    Thanks so much for the help guys! It is rough figuring out how to make the best long-term investment.

  14. #14
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    Fudddgeeee.

    Need HELP ASAP! Decision needs to be made by Thursday night.

    A 2012 Novara Safari for $380, or this Bianchi for $250? http://boston.craigslist.org/gbs/bik/3187956562.html

    Safari seems to be more touring-specific, but it seems like the Bianchi could work just as well if not better for me doing light-to-medium weighted tours on roads---I prefer the drop bars and bar-end shifters on the Bianchi---just unsure of it since it is mostly built-up from his own components and I cannot figure out which is the better deal. Disregard appearances, I just need something that is fast but still durable for touring and will not be too uncomfortable (though I am very young, fit, and flexible so not too big of a concern).

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    Quote Originally Posted by SoulReaver View Post
    Fudddgeeee.

    Need HELP ASAP! Decision needs to be made by Thursday night.

    A 2012 Novara Safari for $380, or this Bianchi for $250? http://boston.craigslist.org/gbs/bik/3187956562.html

    Safari seems to be more touring-specific, but it seems like the Bianchi could work just as well if not better for me doing light-to-medium weighted tours on roads---I prefer the drop bars and bar-end shifters on the Bianchi---just unsure of it since it is mostly built-up from his own components and I cannot figure out which is the better deal. Disregard appearances, I just need something that is fast but still durable for touring and will not be too uncomfortable (though I am very young, fit, and flexible so not too big of a concern).
    For $380, that's a great deal -- I'll buy it in a heartbeat since the bike is newer and with newer components. The butterfly handlebars has many hand positions, more favourable upright position than drop bars on long mileage tours. Any bike rides fast; you just need a strong rider to be on the pedals. Race bikes give you an aerodynamic advantage because you'll be riding aero. But you're going to be touring, so you're not going to be looking constantly on someone else's butt either; unless that's what you prefer to tour -- keep looking down on asphalt with your neck bent upwards at an extreme acute neck angle.

    A former bike coach once told me that no one is slow with a bike as long as he's or she's willing to work hard on the training routine. The reason why they are slow with the bike is because, they already implanted this idea that they ARE GOING to be slow with the bike right from the get go, so no matter what training routine you put them on, they'll always feel they are slow! What's important in getting the bike to go fast is the fitting. If the bike fits you perfectly, it will allow you to leverage your power to the rear wheel with the most effectiveness and less effort compared to a bike that's not so comfortable to ride but looks fast.

    Hope this helps.
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    Hm, right on the butterfly bars, but I feel that the drop bars give me better positioning for going up brutal hills, and as long as I have my drop bars set at the same height as my saddle, I'm pretty comfortable. You do give a good point about butterfly's making it easier for me to enjoy the scenery though...

    Thanks for the reminder on the placebo effect, I know I will be happy and be able to go fast, whichever bike i choose. I just need to figure out if the extra $130 for the Safari is worth it. It is newer and with newer components, but are those components better than and worth the upgrade over the Bianchi's components. My total load will never typically never exceed 200lbs. I can't try both bikes and make a choice, as I am in Philly (the safari's location) till Sat, and then moving to Boston (the Bianchi's location).

    Quote Originally Posted by pacificcyclist View Post
    For $380, that's a great deal -- I'll buy it in a heartbeat since the bike is newer and with newer components. The butterfly handlebars has many hand positions, more favourable upright position than drop bars on long mileage tours. Any bike rides fast; you just need a strong rider to be on the pedals. Race bikes give you an aerodynamic advantage because you'll be riding aero. But you're going to be touring, so you're not going to be looking constantly on someone else's butt either; unless that's what you prefer to tour -- keep looking down on asphalt with your neck bent upwards at an extreme acute neck angle.

    A former bike coach once told me that no one is slow with a bike as long as he's or she's willing to work hard on the training routine. The reason why they are slow with the bike is because, they already implanted this idea that they ARE GOING to be slow with the bike right from the get go, so no matter what training routine you put them on, they'll always feel they are slow! What's important in getting the bike to go fast is the fitting. If the bike fits you perfectly, it will allow you to leverage your power to the rear wheel with the most effectiveness and less effort compared to a bike that's not so comfortable to ride but looks fast.

    Hope this helps.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoulReaver View Post
    Hm, right on the butterfly bars, but I feel that the drop bars give me better positioning for going up brutal hills, and as long as I have my drop bars set at the same height as my saddle, I'm pretty comfortable.
    If you anticipate ever wanting to use a drop bar, then you should probably not buy the Safari.

    The Safari is not a typical road bike frame. It has a very long top tube, like mtbs, but the Safari's ETT is even longer. The Small size has a 59cm ETT, and the Large size you're considering is 64cm.

    Adding a drop bar will make the reach even longer, especially when swapping out a trekking bar.

    http://www.rei.com/sizefinder/2012NovaraV3.html#safari

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    Errr, ouch, did not notice how long the top tube length is.

    Right now I am riding a Cannondale XR800 52cm (fits like a 53-54cm) and I feel that the reach is about perfect, maybe could be 2-4cm longer...if the measurements I am finding online are right, the 52cm frame has an ETT of around 53-54cm, which is a big difference from a 64cm ETT of a large Safari. Ugh, not sure what to do.

    Quote Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
    If you anticipate ever wanting to use a drop bar, then you should probably not buy the Safari.

    The Safari is not a typical road bike frame. It has a very long top tube, like mtbs, but the Safari's ETT is even longer. The Small size has a 59cm ETT, and the Large size you're considering is 64cm.

    Adding a drop bar will make the reach even longer, especially when swapping out a trekking bar.

    http://www.rei.com/sizefinder/2012NovaraV3.html#safari
    Last edited by SoulReaver; 08-22-12 at 11:51 PM.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoulReaver View Post
    Hm, right on the butterfly bars, but I feel that the drop bars give me better positioning for going up brutal hills, and as long as I have my drop bars set at the same height as my saddle, I'm pretty comfortable. You do give a good point about butterfly's making it easier for me to enjoy the scenery though...

    Thanks for the reminder on the placebo effect, I know I will be happy and be able to go fast, whichever bike i choose. I just need to figure out if the extra $130 for the Safari is worth it. It is newer and with newer components, but are those components better than and worth the upgrade over the Bianchi's components. My total load will never typically never exceed 200lbs. I can't try both bikes and make a choice, as I am in Philly (the safari's location) till Sat, and then moving to Boston (the Bianchi's location).
    SoulReaver,

    You need to consider the wear factor of his Bianchi bike especially the cassette and chain. He said, he migrated the parts over from his Surly Crosscheck so does that mean he rode with the same cassette and chain? How much mileage the cassette has left? You don't know. If you need a new good cassette and a new chain, then that $130 savings will need to be put towards new parts (both cassette and chain plus labor if you don't know how to put one on). With the Safari, you know the parts are new or relatively new! Secondly, the Safari has lower gear inches 26/32 compared to 28/28 so the Safari will be easier regardless climbing brutal hills. You need to sink in a new cassette. A deore long cage rear derailleur on the Safari can take up to a 34T or 36T cassette (with a longer B bolt screw). The Tiagra 9 speed rear derailleur will have some difficulty taking even a 30T or a 32T unless you are running a 1x9 system; but you need a triple.

    No I'm sorry, but the Safari is looking out to be the best deal thus far. To modify the Bianchi to accept lower gears with a larger rear cassette, you'll need to buy a few more parts.. You don't have to with the Safari. Both steel frames are equal in terms of quality and class.

    Climbing brutal hills with gears higher than you can cope will actually make you slower and also detrimental to your leg joints; especially the knees.

    Lastly, don't debate between which bike is best. Try to ride the Safari and see if it fits you really well. If it does, then it's a done deal.
    Last edited by pacificcyclist; 08-23-12 at 07:41 AM.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
    If you anticipate ever wanting to use a drop bar, then you should probably not buy the Safari.

    The Safari is not a typical road bike frame. It has a very long top tube, like mtbs, but the Safari's ETT is even longer. The Small size has a 59cm ETT, and the Large size you're considering is 64cm.

    Adding a drop bar will make the reach even longer, especially when swapping out a trekking bar.

    http://www.rei.com/sizefinder/2012NovaraV3.html#safari
    I think it's a necessity to have a little bit of abnormal longer ETT to simulate the reach of the hoods where almost all road riders will place their hands on anyhow. Just plunk your butt down the saddle and ride it; you'll see. Don't analyse this on the screen; it doesn't tell the whole story. Very few people I know tour with a drop bar place their hands 99% of the time on the drops; very rarely. Also, the maximum brake leverage where one can obtain with drop bar brake levers is at the drops not on the hoods; especially with cross bike cantis. With Deore V-brakes and levers on the Safari, the leverage point is on the flat bar section making it easier to brake on long steep descents with minimal effort! I ride a cross bike and tour with it and one department that it is lacking is effective brakes going down very long steep hills and I get extremely sore hands and arms going down a steep 22% grade. Not so with my V-brakes folding touring bike.
    Last edited by pacificcyclist; 08-23-12 at 07:54 AM.
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  21. #21
    Just ride it. MrPolak's Avatar
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    "Both steel frames are equal in terms of quality and class."

    Not true. It's apples and oranges. Chromoly 520 vs. Tange double-butted goodness? You're comparing a chain store brand truck bike to a racing steed.

  22. #22
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    I own a 2012 Safari. It's my first bike with butterfly bars. I have maybe 400 miles on it so far, mostly urban riding.

    For me this is the most comfortable bike I've ever ridden. The longer wheelbase and larger tires are a big part of it. In urban riding the toughness of the rims and tires is worth it too me. No, it doesn't feel like a road bike, depending on what you're looking for it may feel better. Handles loads well--it's my grocery getter. You won't feel quite as weightless accellerating from a stop light as you would on a 20lb road bike, but you'll take gravel and poor street surfaces with ease. My mileage is soaring due to the comfort of this bike and how well it works for a lot of roles. I've yet to actually tour with it, but the way it rides and carries loads leads me to think it'll be good for that when I get some time off.

    Butterfly bars are something I had to try. I liked them enough to give them an extended trial by buying this bike. You can tweak the angle of the bars to change how the butterfly bars work. I find climbing out of saddle easy on mine, you're just grabbing the top corners of the bars instead of hoods.

    The twist shifters work. I prefer trigger shifters myself, but I'm an old guy and my finger joints have some pain using trigger shifters these days. One drawback of the twist shifters is that the bar tape unwraps on these bikes easily. Rewrap tighly or use another bar cover material. After mine were rewrapped they held well.

    So far the only thing I've replaced is the seat with favorite. I may try some lighter less treaded tires in awhile.

    Try the bike. The price you mentions is good.
    Last edited by FrankHudson; 08-23-12 at 01:22 PM. Reason: typo fix

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    Quote Originally Posted by MrPolak View Post
    "Both steel frames are equal in terms of quality and class."

    Not true. It's apples and oranges. Chromoly 520 vs. Tange double-butted goodness? You're comparing a chain store brand truck bike to a racing steed.
    Well, another brainwashed consumer by the marketers..

    Quoted from the Sheldon Brown website..

    "Although your bike may have a sticker saying "Lite Steel (TM)," in fact, all steel is equally heavy."

    What's different is how you use the tubes on the bike, diameter, thickness and frame geometry dictate ride qualities and function of the bike. It's not very fair to compare a racing steel frame against a touring steel frame because the racing frame does not need the top and down tube reinforced with oversized tubing compared to touring specific steel frames, so it can be inherently lighter. Ofcourse, a lighter frame with a little frame material sticker that said Lite Steel double, triple or Quad butted looks so classy and upscale when in fact, it's just the material the frame maker use to balance ride quality, geometry and weight for a specific price tag.
    And Lance Armstrong isn't carrying panniers when he's climbing Alps d'Huez in the Tour De France either.

    I used to own a Miyata 1000 which was made with triple butted chromoly, and while the ride quality is excellent, it suffered from lack of frame stiffness and is well known for the fish tailing effect when you have heavy panniers at the rear. The usual remedy would be to shift the heavy panniers to the front low riders. My Masi Speciale CX with a rear Old Man Mountain Sherpa does not suffer from this -- it's stiff and yet very smooth. It's a little slow compared to my carbon Trek, but the bumps are springy and lively with fat 700x40c tires compared to carbon which is dead and why dead on 25c tires!

    Again, the OP shouldn't get fixated on the frame material sticker. It's just that, a sticker. As long as he's not getting Hi-Ten steel which is heavy, any chromoly steel made for a touring bike is all nice.
    Last edited by pacificcyclist; 08-23-12 at 01:48 PM.
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  24. #24
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    Thanks for so much for the help guys!

    I picked up the Safari 2012 today, it seems to be in super excellent condition! It does seem to be a bit slower than my cx, but it is definitely more rugged and a more comfortable ride (with better touring gears!).

    I'm gonna have to give it some time to see if I like the butterfly bars...it is interesting to be so much more upright, but I think I may want to trade out the stem (which is suuuuuper short on it right now) for a longer one because I feel like the reach is a tad short.

    And thanks pacificcyclist, you are right about the Bianchi and not knowing the used condition of its components---haha you really helped settle my mind in making a decision.

    And worse comes to worse, I could probably sell the Safari and split even if it doesn't end up being my cup of tea. But so far, I do like it because it is a change of pace from my more aggressive cx bike.

  25. #25
    Just ride it. MrPolak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pacificcyclist View Post
    Well, another brainwashed consumer by the marketers..
    Oh no. Just speaking from personal experience. The Bianchi is a fabuluous ride. At 135lb of body weight and a bit of cargo you don't need a truck.

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