Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Another commuter added to stable: Review of REI’s Novara Transfer.


MSRP=$799

Price Paid=$639.20 (used REI 20% off coupon)


Picked up another commuter that will get extensive use as a short range commuter.  Basically will use it to get to the subway station and/or for trips to the grocery store.  First, this is a steel framed commuter, which gives you a more comfortable ride vs. an aluminum bike with no suspension.  REI really thought this bike out to give commuters a lot of necessary bells/whistles. 

Likes:

Upright ride. The design of this bike allows you to 1) sit upright and 2) let your elbows fall comfortably at your side.  The result: you get to ride and see the world around you.  This is so much better that being hunched over the handlebars.  The drawbacks of an upright ride are that you won’t obtain an “aero” position and won’t go superfast.  But that’s not what a city commuter bike is meant to do.

IGH (internal gear hub).  Again, the great benefit in having an IGH in a commuter is you can downshift gears while at a stop.  This is easier on your knees!  Has a nice range of 7 gears in the included Shimano Nexus hub.  I had had an issue with an earlier Nexus 7 hub that kind of froze up when I left this bike out in sub 32 degree weather.  That issue was not duplicated when I used a Shimano Alfine 8 speed hub, though. We shall see if this Nexus hub freezes up like the old models. 

Generator powered light. This light works when you pedal. It is not a bright light by any means, but it helps cars see you when you are coming towards them.  The brand of the light is “Basta” which has a good reputation in Europe.  Perhaps I can replace the bulb when it gives out with an LED light.  LEDs give you more light using the same battery as a basic bulb that you have in flashlights, for example.

Chainguard.  As I’ve mentioned before, to attract bikes to the masses, you need to make bikes friendly to everyone. That means being able to ride bikes in everyday clothes.  You can  safely wear pants to ride this bike with the chainguard!  No need to wear spandex or even rolling up your pants legs so that they won’t get caught in the chain. 

Dislikes:
Fenders. I like that this bike came with fenders.  Fenders are great when riding in the rain as they prevent rain splatter from going up your back as you ride in the rain. But REI put on some steel fenders on this bike.  That may have been a mistake. I recently chipped the front fender and there is some rust forming on there (see pix).  Perhaps, they should have installed some aluminum or plastic fenders to avoid this.

Cork handgrips.  I will sometimes leave this bike outside at a bike rack and exposed to the sun and elements.  After I left it out one time, I came back to it and found that the cork grips were sticky. I’m not sure if the sun did it or a little bit of rain, but the cork seems to be releasing some goo.  It doesn’t feel good to ride and have some sticky residue left in your hands after you dismount.  The cork grips look cool and are very aesthetic, but a better choice would have been to use rubber.

 Summary. This is a great commuting bike and outfitted nicely.  Some quibbles don’t distract from the fact that it is an excellent short-range, city commuter.

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