Novara Safari is a mountain-bike/touring hybrid that can handle dirt roads and heavy loads. Spec’d with easily maintained Shimano V-Brakes®, it’s set up for the option to switch to disc.
Double-butted Reynolds 520 steel frame and fork are built for solid handling under heavy loads; dynamo guides on fork make for easy mounting
Frame and fork also feature disc brake mounts and disc hubs for an easy brake upgrade
Shimano 27-speed drivetrain is designed for ease of use and reliability with low maintenance; ideal for the loads and long distances of touring
SRAM Attack twist shifters offer easy, intuitive shifting; custom-shaped handle bar supplies a wide range of hand positions
Stout Weinmann rims and Continental Town Ride tires ensure reliable rolling performance on- or off-road
Leather-topped saddle and handle bar tape offer lasting use and comfort
Comes ready to travel with a sturdy aluminum rear rack that's been updated to better fit panniers and offers improved clearance for disc brakes
Please note: Size Small has 26 in. (650c) wheels; sizes Medium, Large and X Large have 29 in. (700c) wheels
The Small-size frame uses 26 in. wheels in order to optimize fit and versatility for smaller riders
Specs on the Novara Safari are subject to change
All bicycles sold at REI include a free warranty tune-up. New bikes go through a normal break-in period, after which readjustment is important for longevity and performance. Bring your new bike in to your local REI for its free tune-up within 20 hours of use or 6 months from purchase, whichever comes first. Contact your nearest REI bike shop to schedule this important service.
Members: earn a $20 bonus card
When you spend $100 April 14—29
Single-use bonus card redeemable by REI members MAY 2—12, 2014. Details
Rated 4 out of
Great Buy!I've put over 7000km (5000 miles) on my Safari in two years. Most notably was riding from Barcelona Spain down to Banjul in The Gambia. Thousands of miles, few if any bike shops and remotness meant i had to put a lot of faith into this bike. It did the job. After 5000 miles i've had nothing but normal maintenance on the bike. The wheels are amazing, still as true as the day i bought the bike. Most recently i did a 6 day tour in Canada involving 280 miles of logging roads, much of them unmaintained. I rattled over a million bumps without any problems. The handle bars are awesome, and the only way to go IMO. Some upgrades are highly recommended, however. The tires are not good enough for long tours, you should upgrade to Schwalbe Marathons or something similar. The seat is best replaced with a Brooks saddle, and the rear rack with something more durable if heavily loaded on a long tour. We also upgraded the crankset to an LX mountain bike set with 22-32-44 gearing to make hills easier under load and for a more durable bottom bracket. We didn't upgrade the headset, but a sealed headset is nice if you don't like rebuilding it every 1000 miles or so. The bar tape is annoying as it is bad combination with the twist shifters. We wrapped the bars in electrical tape near the shifters to keep it in place. If you wear gloves, you won't notice it. All in it's a few hundred bucks extra to make this a world tour ready rig. Given the cost of some 'world tour ready' bikes (like the Thorn Raven or Koga Miyata) this one is a bargain and up to the task. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2014-04-19
Rated 4 out of
Closed the Circle of the '48 US StatesHaving done several bouts of bike touring previously in Europe, around continental Australia & then the US ACA Northern Tier- riding Mountain Bikes. This last year (2013), I decided on a bike built for touring, in looking to do the US: ACA > Southern Tier, Atlantic Coast & Pacific Coast, starting in May, 2013.
I completed my tour mentioned above in early November, 2013. I rode my Novara Safari 6,800 touring miles, to complete the/a US '48 States circle of 10,800 miles-
Having not toured for almost a decade and not mechanically gifted (ofttimes) with bikes, the opinions below are mine and not in regards to other reviews.
One of the very first things I did on my first couple rides here in Arizona, was to "86" (ditch) the seat. Several training rides later, I changed out the tires, as after having the stock ones going flat several times- I knew from experience they would not do well on a long varied tour. I settled with Marathons 700x38's, as my tour progressed.
The rims were simply outstanding (!) and they stayed in true- even with dealing with my "big boned" weight type :) on a bike loaded with copious amounts of gear/water. My total riding weight was around/about an estimated 350 lbs in the hot, humid, Southern, Summer, lowering to around 340 lbs by the Autumn, Pacific Coast (myself/bike/gear etc.). I never had to walk up any hill either, thanks to the good gearing.
I suffered only one broken spoke, this due to a bad road in Texas, then trying to true the rim myself.
In Georgia, my right pedal cracked, so I replaced them with wider ones (which were much better), still using the cage style which I am used to.
I added a Jandd front rack to the bike, and the stock rear rack handled all the weight I could put on it "wonderfully". Although, I would suggest replacing the bottom (rear rack) screws w/some SS ones of better quality. I had one shear clean through, just after flying down a large hill in Connecticut...whew, that could've been bad.
The handlebars were great! I wrapped some pipe insulation foam around where my primary hand positions would be- then, I covered the foam with electical tape. Except for some minor tape additions etc., this addition has lasted over 7,500 miles now, w/o the unwrapping problem. Take care when adjusting the handlebars in regards to the cables.
On the handlebars: I used the famous German mirror to see traffic behind me, I also mounted a bell, gps, back-up odometer unit, a light, and a pepper spray holder for the dogs down South (I never had to use it though in several "dozens" of encounters once past TX). I also had a handlebar bag mounted.
The SRAM shifters were the best I ever toured with, w/o exception. I always wore gloves & they were needed to help shift in the high humidity/rain days I often encountered. If you get the chance ride with, or, behind someone with the bar end shifter type, watch their bike movement/wobble in a known frequent shifting area ride, vs using the SRAM shifter- that would be enough to sell me on them alone.
One note in California, I had to replace the rear shifter cable for the second time, as besides some stretch- the cable housing on the handlebar had a metal piece inside the adjuster that become so corroded that it affected the gear change. The bike guy said it was probably from weather and my sweat driping on it-
There is room for four water bottle cages on the frame, this along with my front and rear racks, ensured plenty of room for gear. I had panniers (REI brand from 2002) mounted front and rear too, so I had no problem with things that needed to stay dry/packed.
I replaced the stock seat coller, as mine had frequent slippage problems. I went back to the/a quick release type and never had a problem thereafter. I then used a small cable to lock the seat to the bike after that change. I kept on the brakes that came with the bike (stock), never had a problem in the brake department either.
Loaded down: the bike handled very well with f/r panniers, so much so, that now riding w/o any gear feels odd. Oh, I also mounted a bike flag in the rear of the bike that made me much, much, more visible, remember motion (the flag moving), often unconciously attracts the human/drivers eye.
Lastly, the bike frame color may be a slight turn off to a few, but I always sought to "uglify" my previous bikes to make them hopefully less attractive to the "spur of the moment thief" .. REI, with the "Baby Poop Brown" (BPB), color scheme of the 2013 Safari, has helped us all in that department *immensely*.
I really enjoy this bike and I fully expect to use it for years to come.
Date published: 2014-04-10
Rated 4 out of
two-year update to previous reviewThis is an update to the review I wrote in October of 2011 titled: Awesome Bike, Shoddy Assembly. I stand by that assessment and you should read that review first; this one picks up where that one left off.
I've taken the bike on a bunch of overnight and three-day trips and week-long fully-loaded camping tours twice, a significant portion of which have been off-road. I've ridden skyline drive in Shenandoah National Park end-to-end. I just finished DC-Pittsburgh-DC via the C&O Canal Towpath and Great Allegany Passage trail.
I re-wrapped the bars tightly and the tape is holding up well. I eventually ended up putting in a beer can shim to stop the seat post from sliding. It's worked great for nearly two years. I even kept it when I replaced the seat post to get slightly more setback (nothing wrong with the original, Brooks saddles have notoriously short rails).
I added a Surly Nice Rack up front and fenders. I replaced the front wheel to add a generator (nothing wrong with the original, it just does not have a dynamo) and front and rear lights. I upgraded to Avid BB7 disk brakes after wearing completely through a set of v-brake pads in a single rainy descent off Skyline drive. I've got more braking power, better modulation, and the wheels should last indefinitely without rim wear. If it's in your budget I highly recommend the upgrade.
After I wrote my first review one of the rear rack mounting bolts rattled out on a ride. I replaced it with an M5 bolt and used blue lock-tight on all the rack and fender fasteners. My M5 bolt sheared halfway to Pittsburgh. I carry a light load on the rear but ride rough terrain. I was able to hold the rack firmly to the drop-out with zip ties. I stopped by REI in Pittsburgh. They did not have a replacement bolt in stock but they ordered one to be shipped back to my house. I bought an automotive hose clamp to buttress the zip ties for the ride home; the C&O can deliver some big hits. I made it home just fine and I'm sure the bolt will arrive in the mail any day now.
One thing I had not counted on when on I bought the bike was REI's retail network. If I had bought some other bike at an LBS I doubt I could have walked in to a bike store in Pittsburgh and gotten the same level of service I got for a Novara bike in an REI shop. The REI shop mechanic was taking detail measurements for my bolt while I was refilling water bottles at the drinking fountain. He even adjusted my brakes for free. I'm an REI member, so he looked up my address and said he'd bill the dollar or two plus shipping for the bolt against my dividend. Nobody gave me strange looks for showing up in an urban retail store with three days of river-bathing trail-stink on me. I really felt the value of membership that day.
I love this bike and will continue riding to all places far and near for many years to come. It's about 20% slower than my road-race bike. I had hoped it would be a smaller gap but that's the price you pay for heavy hauling, off road capacity. With lights and fenders it's my go-to ride all winter long and any time it rains. I put more miles on this bike than any of my other, more expensive bikes.
Long story short �?? if you are considering this bike for adventure cycling or touring, just go for it.
Date published: 2014-03-26
Rated 4 out of
More and Less Than ExpectedI'm an avid bicycle tourist, and decided to upgrade to a newer model bicycle after doing a 2,000 mile ride last year with a group of men that had more modern bikes/components. Being on a tight budget, I waited for the 20% sale and took a chance on the Safari. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the components and the many braze-ons. I thought the rear rack was too wide, until I upgraded to discs (Avid BB7s, all mounting points are there) and saw the necessity for the design. The bottom of the rack has to be pretty wide to clear the brake calipers. I also had to replace two of the mounting screws for the rack, which weren't stainless steel. The bike is heavier than I expected, but the long wheelbase and steel tubing make for a comfortable ride. As you might expect, the seat and pedals need to be replaced. I installed a Selle Anatomica Titanico seat right away, but I was going to use the included pedals until I could afford a set of clipless ones. Unfortunately, the pedals seemed to be binding heavily. I dismantled one and found it filled with a very heavy and sticky grease. I tried adjusting the tension, but it wouldn't spin freely until I completely cleaned out and replaced the old lubricant with automotive bearing grease. This was a pain since the pedals use lose bearings. I had to remove and clean each tiny bearing. It was worth it though, as they are now spin as they should. For those interested in a front rack, Old Man Mountain Sherpa works well. The handle bars are strange, but work well, allowing for variable hand positions. Finding a mirror that works on these bars is not easy. I'm still trying to find one that works and doesn't get in the way. The tires are holding up to heavy urban use so far. One comment on the paint; it's nice looking, but somewhat fragile, especially around bolts/connecting points. It has a tendency to chip off at these points. It also had a couple of scratches when I picked it up (the tech said this was "a blem, and to be expected" which didn't make me happy) so I'm wondering how it will hold up over time. I'm searching for a bottle of touch up paint now. I'll be doing a ride across Iowa in July (RAGBRAI), so I'll give an update when I return.
Date published: 2014-03-26
Rated 4 out of
Solid touring bikeI bought this bike 2 weeks before I left for a self contained tour from Seaside Oregon to Bozeman, Montana. (The frame broke on my regular tour bike) My brother and I rode 930 miles in 10 days, over 3 mountain ranges, with fully loaded panniers.
This bike is very heavy, (38 lbs with fenders, disc brakes, and aero bars), but it is very solid, reliable and comfortable. The bar tape unravels pretty much right away, so I had a bike shop put ergo grips on it, and rewrap the tape that was there. very comfortable, especially when riding 8-12 hours per day. I also put aero bars on it, so I had lots of different hand positions. First time I can say I did not have tingly hands when riding long hours & distances.
This was my first attempt at using mountain bike shifters, gearing and disc brakes on a road bike. i really liked it. Flying down White Pass, Lolo Pass, and MacDonald Pass was such a delightful breeze with this solid steady bike and disc brakes - just a light finger touch brought the speed down wonderfully. What a difference from hanging on for dear life with a road bike with caliber brakes and front and rear panniers!
I also replaced the seat with a Specialized Expert Tour saddle, I put a 3 inch riser on the stem, I replaced the tires and tubes with Bontragger 32mm Hardcase Superlite tires, which in my opinion are the best flat resistant tour tires made. I also got the Avid disc brake upgrade REI offers, and I definitely recommend it. This bike is a real workhorse, even though it is a Clydesdale.
Date published: 2014-04-04
Rated 4 out of
Low Fidelity from
Great BikeI just got into bicycling on the recommendation of my friends, and because I have bad knees from running and life in general. I did a little research on the kind of bike I would want, and two choices kept popping up- the Surly Long Haul Trucker and this, the Safari. I spent some time riding my friend's LHT, and make no mistake- its a fantastic bike, but my personal preference ran to the Safari when I tested it out.
I like that you have the option of upgrading to disc brakes- an option I intend to pursue real soon. I also really like the variety of positions available with the trekking/butterfly bars- but you may want to adjust their angle to better suit your riding habits (originally, mine were canted upwards as in the stock photo, but I find that evening out their tilt takes pressure off of my wrists by promoting an upright posture while at the same time making it more comfortable to use the top rungs of the bars, thus lowering my body position to reduce drag- in essence the same idea behind drop bars, only instead of reaching down, you're reaching out).
Some upgrades I intend to make- getting clip in pedals is the natural progression of the bike, although the basket pedals are fine. Also, a lot has been said about the wheels and tires for the bike, I'm thinking about upgrading those as well.
If you don't have plans on getting some super fancy panniers any time soon, you should really pick up some simple bungee cords for your gear, just a suggestion.
Date published: 2014-03-26
Rated 5 out of
Biker Greg from
Great bike for commuting and distanceThis was an upgrade for me from an entry level hybrid. I bike about 3000 miles a year, most of it commuting to work. Sales people at other stores kept pushing me to Cyclocross bikes, and while they are zippy, light, and responsive, most of my miles are spent on the 6.25 mile stretch of not-so-perfect road between home and work. The Safari is much more comfortable to ride, especially on the potholed road. I love just riding this bike, as opposed to every single Cyclocross I rode where I just wandered how much longer I had to be on it.
I've had this bike now for about 2 months and have put about 500 miles on it, including doing my first century on it. I have no regrets. In fact, I love it.
I was nervous about the twist shifters because I had had a bad experience with some in the past. I love these and can't see myself going back to any other kind of shifter. I like being able to shift from 3 to 7 quickly as I crest over a hill. Shifting is also much more effortless with these.
I like the handlebars - both the multiple positions and the main hand position used for shifting and braking. I find them very comfortable. The biggest problem I faced was getting a good rearview mirror. The Safari's handlebard couldn't handle my bar-end mount mirror from my older bike. I could never get the helmet mounted mirrors to work well for me. I got the Ultra Light Bike Mirror, which REI should definitely start carrying, and it has worked great.
In terms of carrying a load, I carry two pretty full panniers each day and it works great.
My only two complaints are the pedals and the handle wrappings. I didn't care much for the pedals that came with it, but I never intended on using them anyways. I put on my old Power Grip pedals. The strapping on the original pedals was big enough that if you used the pedal upside down, like before you had strapped in both feet, the strapping would scrape the ground. My Power Grips do not have that problem with the Safari.
As many other people have pointed out, the handlebar wraps start to come undone. Sure enough, after about 6 weeks my right wrap started coming loose. Not a major problem, but there is definitely a manufacturing issue to deal with since the problem is so consistent.
I highly recommend this bike.
Date published: 2014-03-27
Rated 5 out of
Best Comfortable Bicycle Ever!I bought the Safari for long distance trekking and hauling. I have a Bob that I pull and needed a Bike that could handle pulling 45 pounds. The Novara Safari is a specialty bike. It is meant for long distance on and off the trail. The Chromoly Steel Frame is not heavy, it is a very strong construction - which in a case of breaking could be welded fairly easy at any town. The wheels walls feel very solid and Seem to have more spokes then other bikes. The Shape of the frame is a detail I need to emphasize. Please note It is more elongated then other bikes with a similar use for touring. This had helped me have stability while pulling which is a must.. One thing I replaced was the saddle for a Brooks B17 and added Fenders. So far it has managed 200 mile trips with ease. I am very, very happy with my touring bike.