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Safari for $680 or LHT for $1080?

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Safari for $680 or LHT for $1080?

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Old 03-03-09, 05:17 AM
  #1  
AlanK
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Safari for $680 or LHT for $1080?

It almost seems like a joke to pose this question but I'll ask it anyway. I'm considering either getting the Novara Safari for about $680 (20% discount) or the Surly Long Haul Trucker for $1080 (the lowest price I've found so far). I'd be getting a med Safari or 54cm LHT so both would have 26" wheels.

The LHT is certainly a better spec'd bike, but is it $400 better? Reliability and function are my primary concerns. The LHT is probably slightly more reliable (esp the wheels), but the Safari also has durable (no frills) comps. In either case I'll probably wind up swapping out the crank-set for a 44-32-22 LX [I've never understood the point of having a mtb cassette and a road crank; the smallest cassette cogs are never used.] Even with a couple changes the Safari seems like an incredible value.

However I do have a few minor concerns about the Safari:

* Shimano M475 hubs: I have no experience and know nothing about them. I know they aren't high-end, but are they reliable and durable?

* Shimano M416 disc brakes: Again, I'm unfamiliar with these. Avid mechanical discs are supposedly very reliable, but I've heard nothing about these. [Since it rains so much here I tend to think of disc brakes as a +]

* Al frame: While I'd prefer Cromo I've been commuting on the same Al frame for the last decade with zero problems, so this is a very minor concern.

* Grip shifters: Many years ago I had a hybrid with grips and I don't remember having any problems. Are they anything to be concerned about?

So are my concerns justified, and are there others you can think of? Would it be worthwhile for me to spend the additional $400 on the LHT? Here are links to both bikes:

http://www.rei.com/product/775749

http://www.surlybikes.com/lht_comp.html
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Old 03-03-09, 06:29 AM
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Totally different geometrys on the bikes. LHT is more of a cruiser, it's like riding a Cadillac eldorado big and comfortable. Safari's got more of a mountain bike feel, it's comfortable enough but steers a little quicker. I think the safari would handle marginal roads better but the LHT would probably be more comfortable for a long day in the saddle.

Full disclosure I've only ridden both bikes for short periods of time. I own neither but I liked the concept of the safari so much I converted one of my old rigid MTB frames to a tourer and all around commuter.
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Old 03-03-09, 08:26 AM
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Alank,

Are you also considering the REI Randonee? I think it's also on the 20% off sale right now?

To me the Safari and LHT are pretty different bikes, but the Randonee is more of a direct comparison with the LHT. IMHO the REI bikes are a hard-to-beat deal when they are available 20% off. That would make the Randonee a couple of hundred dollars less expensive than the LHT.

Assuming you like the Randonee, a major difference between it and the Surly LHT is the shifters - Randonee has integrated shifters, LHT has bar ends.

Other things can be swapped out at a reasonable price; changing shifters is more expensive. If you like bar ends, get the LHT; if you like integrated shifters/STI, get the Randonee.

Last edited by BengeBoy; 03-03-09 at 11:07 AM.
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Old 03-03-09, 08:29 AM
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If you are planning on touring EVER, get the LHT. It is one of the best designed touring bikes you can get. Surley only make steel bikes so you can be sure the quality is there.

Though you should be able to find a better price then that I believe.
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Old 03-03-09, 10:45 AM
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Novara Randonee with 20% off would make a great touring rig. Great price and warranty service/exchange with REI if you don't like it. I'm a STI shifter guy so I would have to consider the additional cost of upgrading the LHT to STI for me to be happy. If I liked bar ends.... then the LHT would be something I would consider.
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Old 03-03-09, 12:00 PM
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Being an owner of a LHT for only one fully loaded tour ride I am not an expert. However, I must say I came away from that ride with considerable confidence in my bike. It was so evident that someone at Surly was familiar with tour rides when the LHT was designed.
Also, I had never used bar end shifters before this bike. Not a problem. There was no second guessing with the gearing that came stock with the LHT. Whatever gear I needed was there when I needed it.
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Old 03-03-09, 12:15 PM
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I have ridden both. I now own the LHT. I absolutely love it. FWIW, I also have ridden the LHT on club rides with road bikes (just to be a d-ck), and it performs admirably. The longest day I have done on it is 135 miles. While I only have ridden a Safari once (and so my experience is VERY limited), I doubt that it would have the functionality of the LHT.

Sometimes this board seems like a giant LHT commercial, but there is a reason most everyone sings its praises . . . .
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Old 03-03-09, 12:21 PM
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If you haven't already looked, there's a ton of stuff over on Crazyguy about the Safari. LHT speaks for itself. You won't go wrong with either after you've twiked it to your preferences.

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/searc...&scope=reviews

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/searc...i&scope=forums

Sorry, but my link inserter is sick today.
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Old 03-03-09, 12:50 PM
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I have to be honest. I really really love my Safari and I do plan on touring on it for the next 5-8 years until the budget opens up again. In my 40+ mile treks around Chicago, it has done well but didn't like the transition for storeroom to Chicago salt roads. My wife and I are planning on doing a Chicago to Columbus ride this summer and again the Safari is coming along.


In reality you can tour on just about anything. The LHT is a given in for a good investment and so is the Safari. The only difference between the investments is that the Safari wont be as well rounded as the LHT. I dont need to list how it is different but I can say that both bikes will suit touring purposes but the Safari will meet your needs if you are looking for that specific geo, lay out, and style.

Ride them both and then make up your mind.
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Old 03-03-09, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
Alank,

Are you also considering the REI Randonee? I think it's also on the 20% off sale right now?

To me the Safari and LHT are pretty different bikes, but the Randonee is more of a direct comparison with the LHT. IMHO the REI bikes are a hard-to-beat deal when they are available 20% off. That would make the Randonee a couple of hundred dollars less expensive than the LHT.

Assuming you like the Randonee, a major difference between it and the Surly LHT is the shifters - Randonee has integrated shifters, LHT has bar ends.

Other things can be swapped out at a reasonable price; changing shifters is more expensive. If you like bar ends, get the LHT; if you like integrated shifters/STI, get the Randonee.
Good points on the Randonee. At 20% off right now you can buy one for $840. If someone prefers bar end shifters vs STI it's easy to change to bar end for less than $100. I have a 2008 Randonee and if the STI shifters ever break or wear out I may replace them with bar ends.
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Old 03-03-09, 02:48 PM
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Shifters aside, the big difference between the LHT and randonee (and most any other commonly discussed tourer, *except* the Safari) is tire clearance.
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Old 03-03-09, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by HardyWeinberg View Post
Shifters aside, the big difference between the LHT and randonee (and most any other commonly discussed tourer, *except* the Safari) is tire clearance.
Excellent point; I keep forgetting that.
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Old 03-03-09, 04:51 PM
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1. Sales tax eats up some of the price difference. safari=$727 after gubberment gets its 7%.

2. Last time i checked the safari was (geometry-wise) a glorified mtb. Chainstay length of 430mm means more likely to bang heels on bags. This is an important point to consider for a touring bike.

3. Most of the safari parts are low budget. All a bike really is - is a collection of parts. Parts bought retail are quite expensive. Rear der and crank/bb on safari are only decent parts IMO. I personally prefer tried-and-true square taper bb and sugino crank. Nearly all the splined BB/cranks have friction/bearing longevity/wide Q factor issues that are real but hardly ever discussed. Many cyclists get 20,000 miles out of a lowly $17 tange un-XX BB clone.

4. The "touring" bars on the novara are a less popular choice than conventional drop bars or flat bar with bar ends. They are very heavy and don't offer any more usable hand positions or comfort - at best they're even with flat bars and bar ends.

5. Disc brakes are not necessary and represent an overall ~2 lb weight penalty over V brakes (or cantis). On the safari you're stuck with them, no way to change.

conclusion - you're better off paying the extra 350 bucks for a lht complete

if you're willing to do the work, a custom built lht is even better.

if you change your mind, probably easier to sell the LHT, with better resale value.

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Old 03-03-09, 05:05 PM
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one thing i have never heard is a complaint about a long haul trucker. not that a safari is a bad bike, but complaints exist.

the LHT seems like a good thing, and well, i'm willing to pay the extra for it.

if you really want to go a little cheaper (and have more fun btw) get a trucker frameset, and build one yourself, you'll know more about the bike, you can choose how much each component costs, and you'll have the skills you may need for repairs on the trip. . . i think building up one from scratch is going to be rewarding for me, maaaybe even the wheels if i get crazy O:-) can't do that with a safari.
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Old 03-03-09, 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
Other things can be swapped out at a reasonable price; changing shifters is more expensive. If you like bar ends, get the LHT; if you like integrated shifters/STI, get the Randonee.
Not to insult you or anything, but I swapped out the STI shifters on my current bike for bar-ends and it's one of the best things I've ever done. Unless you're a racer why the (bleep) would you want STI? They're more complex and less reliable than the bar-ends. When I had the STI I had to adjust the cables and derailleurs about once a month. Conversely, with bar-ends I haven't had to make any adjustments in over 6 mos. On a touring rig, wtf would you want STI?

As a touring bike the Randonee just has too many shortcomings: All sizes have 700c wheels, which is bad for smaller riders. [I'm 5'9", so I'd ride a 54 LHT and I love that it has 26" wheels.]

Looking at the specs for the Randonee... It doesn't indicate what kind of rear hub it has. The front hub is Tiagra . If the rear hub is the same, then the LHT is a better even at $200 more. It's probably not worth it to rebuild a wheel around a Tiagra hub when the time comes, whereas the XT hubs on the LHT will probably perform flawlessly for the rest of my life.

Even at the higher price the LHT is probably a better long-term investment. The only thing I'd change is the crankset to 44-32-22 (probably LX), and maybe the cantis with V-brakes after they wear out.

Additionally, I'm not under any pressure to get the LHT in the next month. In fact I can wait a few months and get it when it's on sale.
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Old 03-03-09, 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
5. Disc brakes are not necessary and represent an overall ~2 lb weight penalty over V brakes (or cantis). On the safari you're stuck with them, no way to change.
The OP is from Seattle and said he consider disc brakes a plus due to all the rain they get. Discs definitely rock when it's wet out.

Something else to consider, with a Novara Safari or Randonee you basically get a lifetime warrantee from REI.

I have a 2007 Randonee with 2500 commuting and weekend miles on it, no touring on it yet. It's a good value for the money if you get it for 20% off. Other than the seatpost and seatpost clamp I have had no problems with the bike, the wheels stay true and the brifters work fine (I like them better than the bar-cons on my old road bike).
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Old 03-03-09, 05:48 PM
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Hey Alen, I've had and toured on both.

I first bought the Safari (20% off too) and rode the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's a great bike but I didn't really like the grip shifters and butterfly bars. The bike is a mountain bike and rock solid. I rode a lot of dirt back-roads also and the bike handled nicely. The wheels, gears, and brakes preformed very well. Heal strikes are not an issue because the rack can be adjusted back. I used the Old Man rack on the front and used the Brooks flyer saddle. The setup did weigh a ton.

I purchased the Long Haul Trucker (54cm/$940) last fall. I’ve only done a couple of long weekend tours but I was fully loaded. I have the Tubus racks, Brooks saddle, North road bars. I love the bar end shifters. I bike is definitely a long haul cruiser. The standard brakes are weak and I need to add kool-stops pads (still not the same stopping power as on the Safari). The setup does weigh slightly less than a ton.

I prefer the LHT mostly because of long wheel base, smoother ride, and prettier looks. You can’t go wrong with either. If your budget is tight the Safari is a better value. The stock seat is usable and the rear rack is included ($680). I read someone else mentioned tax, which is true, but if you have an REI membership don’t forget the points.
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Old 03-03-09, 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by AlanK View Post
Not to insult you or anything, but I swapped out the STI shifters on my current bike for bar-ends and it's one of the best things I've ever done. Unless you're a racer why the (bleep) would you want STI? They're more complex and less reliable than the bar-ends. When I had the STI I had to adjust the cables and derailleurs about once a month. Conversely, with bar-ends I haven't had to make any adjustments in over 6 mos. On a touring rig, wtf would you want STI?

As a touring bike the Randonee just has too many shortcomings: All sizes have 700c wheels, which is bad for smaller riders. [I'm 5'9", so I'd ride a 54 LHT and I love that it has 26" wheels.]

Looking at the specs for the Randonee... It doesn't indicate what kind of rear hub it has. The front hub is Tiagra . If the rear hub is the same, then the LHT is a better even at $200 more. It's probably not worth it to rebuild a wheel around a Tiagra hub when the time comes, whereas the XT hubs on the LHT will probably perform flawlessly for the rest of my life.

Even at the higher price the LHT is probably a better long-term investment. The only thing I'd change is the crankset to 44-32-22 (probably LX), and maybe the cantis with V-brakes after they wear out.

Additionally, I'm not under any pressure to get the LHT in the next month. In fact I can wait a few months and get it when it's on sale.
Well my Tiagra hubs have 10K plus miles and are going strong. I'm sure in another 20K I'll need to get them replaced or maybe not... Should be in 2 years or so. My STI's also have the same miles and when another 20K miles comes along... if they need to be replaced they will be replaced with STI. Why? Because I like them.

I'd love to have a Trek 520..... a cannondale t2 and even a lht with the shifters switched out. No bike off the shelf that I've ever purchased has been what I want without a little tweaking. Either seat or stem or bars or even crankset.

My 2 cents..
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Old 03-03-09, 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
4. The "touring" bars on the novara are a less popular choice than conventional drop bars or flat bar with bar ends. They are very heavy and don't offer any more usable hand positions or comfort - at best they're even with flat bars and bar ends.
Umm, the bike has trekking bars and that style of bar is not any heavier than a drop bar. I have a set of the Nashbar trekking bars on my bike, and it is much lighter than the alloy straight bar/bar end combo that was on the bike. It also provides more/better hand positions than that set up. I have another set not mounted on a bike if I pick it up and a good set of drop bars, well there is not a dimes worth of difference in the weight.
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Old 03-03-09, 07:09 PM
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And encase the OP is wondering...this isnt anything new.


http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/forum...nested=0#73431
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Old 03-03-09, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Chuck G View Post
The OP is from Seattle and said he consider disc brakes a plus due to all the rain they get. Discs definitely rock when it's wet out.
I agree, they are unmatched in rain for braking.

Originally Posted by sonatageek View Post
Umm, the bike has trekking bars and that style of bar is not any heavier than a drop bar. I have a set of the Nashbar trekking bars on my bike, and it is much lighter than the alloy straight bar/bar end combo that was on the bike.
Trekking bars weigh between 475-600g, depending on mfg.

Drop bars generally weigh 250-325g. 46cm noodles weigh 385g. CF drops can weigh <225g.

Flat bars weigh 100-200g. $8 nashbar Al weighs exactly 176g uncut. Easton CT2 CF weighs 125g cut to 21". Surprisingly, bar ends add another 100-150g.

If you prefer trekking bars, splendid. But they are in fact some of the heaviest bars you can mount. Difference between avg trekking bar and std mtb setup is 300g, even more if you wrap the whole trekking bar.

I recommend you utilize your local PO - most have good digital balances that are periodically verified for accuracy.
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Old 03-03-09, 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
1. Sales tax eats up some of the price difference. safari=$727 after gubberment gets its 7%.

4. The "touring" bars on the novara are a less popular choice than conventional drop bars or flat bar with bar ends. They are very heavy and don't offer any more usable hand positions or comfort - at best they're even with flat bars and bar ends.

5. Disc brakes are not necessary and represent an overall ~2 lb weight penalty over V brakes (or cantis). On the safari you're stuck with them, no way to change..
- Isn't there sales tax on the LHT? In fact, if you throw sales tax into the equation the differences actually widens (if I am remembering my grade school arithmetic correctly).

- I believe, just based on photos and reviewing websites of European bike makers and bike shops, that "trekking bars" like the Safari's are more popular in Europe than drop bars for touring bikes. So "popular" as a rationale to buy drop bars would only apply to the U.S.. I own a bike with trekking bars and find them far more comfortable than flat bars (even with bar ends), not as comfortable with drop bars. Personally I much prefer drop bars, but not because they are "more popular."

- I would love to own a bike with disc brakes. Seattle, rain, rim wear, etc.
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Old 03-03-09, 08:54 PM
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At the risk of sounding like a shill for REI, the thing I liked about the Randonee (at least in 2007 when I bought mine) compared to the LHT complete, Trek 520, and a few other touring bikes, was that all the parts were about equivalent quality, even parts the average consumer may not think about, like the BB and headset. They didn't spec XT hubs and XT rear derailleur and then slap a cheap headset and a cheap brakes on the bike like some manufacturers do. I don't know if REI is still doing that, it seems like they have cheapened the parts spec on some of their bikes the past year or two.
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Old 03-03-09, 09:06 PM
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trekking bars

Make sure you can live with the trekking bars. I tried them for a bit on my bike and didn't like them.

I found a flat bar with a good pair of L-shaped barends is a lot more comfortable, and also offers multiple hand positions.


Originally Posted by AlanK View Post
It almost seems like a joke to pose this question but I'll ask it anyway. I'm considering either getting the Novara Safari for about $680 (20% discount) or the Surly Long Haul Trucker for $1080 (the lowest price I've found so far). I'd be getting a med Safari or 54cm LHT so both would have 26" wheels.

The LHT is certainly a better spec'd bike, but is it $400 better? Reliability and function are my primary concerns. The LHT is probably slightly more reliable (esp the wheels), but the Safari also has durable (no frills) comps. In either case I'll probably wind up swapping out the crank-set for a 44-32-22 LX [I've never understood the point of having a mtb cassette and a road crank; the smallest cassette cogs are never used.] Even with a couple changes the Safari seems like an incredible value.

However I do have a few minor concerns about the Safari:

* Shimano M475 hubs: I have no experience and know nothing about them. I know they aren't high-end, but are they reliable and durable?

* Shimano M416 disc brakes: Again, I'm unfamiliar with these. Avid mechanical discs are supposedly very reliable, but I've heard nothing about these. [Since it rains so much here I tend to think of disc brakes as a +]

* Al frame: While I'd prefer Cromo I've been commuting on the same Al frame for the last decade with zero problems, so this is a very minor concern.

* Grip shifters: Many years ago I had a hybrid with grips and I don't remember having any problems. Are they anything to be concerned about?

So are my concerns justified, and are there others you can think of? Would it be worthwhile for me to spend the additional $400 on the LHT? Here are links to both bikes:

http://www.rei.com/product/775749

http://www.surlybikes.com/lht_comp.html
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Old 03-03-09, 09:54 PM
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robmcl
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I am a Safari owner with about 3 K and two seasons on it and a couple of 2 to four day tours.


Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
1. Sales tax eats up some of the price difference. safari=$727 after gubberment gets its 7%.
True

Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
2. Last time i checked the safari was (geometry-wise) a glorified mtb. Chainstay length of 430mm means more likely to bang heels on bags. This is an important point to consider for a touring bike.
The Safari is a European style expedition touring bike, a MTB designed for touring. Heel strike is not a problem as the rack is designed for the bike and set back further. It also handles heavy loads down steep grades very well. I have had it up to 40 mph.

Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
3. Most of the safari parts are low budget. All a bike really is - is a collection of parts. Parts bought retail are quite expensive. Rear der and crank/bb on safari are only decent parts IMO. I personally prefer tried-and-true square taper bb and sugino crank. Nearly all the splined BB/cranks have friction/bearing longevity/wide Q factor issues that are real but hardly ever discussed. Many cyclists get 20,000 miles out of a lowly $17 tange un-XX BB clone.
Few if any new bikes have square taper bb. This is irrelevant. Safaris owners tend to put a ton miles on as they are used for commuting and touring. From my experience and from what I have read they hold up quite well.

Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
4. The "touring" bars on the novara are a less popular choice than conventional drop bars or flat bar with bar ends. They are very heavy and don't offer any more usable hand positions or comfort - at best they're even with flat bars and bar ends.
There are whole threads about this. IMO the trekking bars are similar to the tops and hoods of drop bars. They are better than flat bars and bar ends

Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
5. Disc brakes are not necessary and represent an overall ~2 lb weight penalty over V brakes (or cantis). On the safari you're stuck with them, no way to change.
My first bike with disk brakes and they are darn nice, especially for going down steeps hills with a heavy load. People make an issue out of the weight but my medium weighed a few pounds less than what was listed. On a touring bike the extra few pounds does not make a difference.

Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
conclusion - you're better off paying the extra 350 bucks for a lht complete
IMO the real difference is with size and fit. The LHT comes in like 8 or 10 sizes while the Safari comes in four sizes. With more sizes you get a more precise fit with the LHT. That would be the one reason I would switch but that does not mean you can not get a good fit with the Safari.

Another myth to debunk is the aluminum frame. I went from steel to the Safari and I saw no difference.

Upgrades I have made were a stem extender, B-17, fenders, Schwalbe 1.35" Marathon Pluses, and a Tubus front rack.

The LHT is a good bike but I think the Safari is more versatile. It makes a great commuter, as does the LHT, it tours well, and it can be used off road.
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