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Can you help me identify the model year of a Novara X-R bike?

Hi y'all, I've been riding around on a Novara XR that I believe to have been an early 90's model for a couple years now. None of it is stock as I bought it as just a frame but I'd love to have more information about what the bike was like when it was first sold out of an REI somewhere. If anyone has early nineties Novara catalogs or any REI staff could shed more light on it I'd love to know more about how the bike started out. Included is a picture of the bike in the foregroundThe Purple and Teal  Novara XRThe Purple and Teal Novara XR

2 Replies
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@GoSlowVelo Thanks for reaching out!

This was such a fun trip into some deep archives and tracking down some folks as close to the Novara brand as you can get to find information on this awesome ride! We managed to find the catalog from 1991 when this model of the Novara X-R was for sale. Hopefully you can read it okay, it is a screen shot of a scanned pdf of a paper copy of the catalog! We also spoke with an employee who was integral to the Novara brand at the very beginning (1983). We showed him your photo and he was so stoked! Here is some fun info he remembered about the very beginnings of the Novara X-R:

  • The 'X-R' debuted in 1987, conceptualized as what we would consider a 'bikepacking' bike today. It was a robust, off-road worthy, drop-bar mountain bike before that was cool.
  • It was supposed to be called the 'Crossroad' but it turned out Specialized already had a bike named that so they settled on 'X-R' instead.
  • It came with a lot of braze-ons (at the time) and a really wide range of gears.
  • It also came with some pretty crazy looking (check the photo below) flared drop bars that were, and I'm quoting here, 'not universally loved'.
  • In fact, Bicycling Magazine reviewed the bike and loved everything about it except the handlebars. It's headline for the write up? 'Handlebars from Hell'.

Thank you so much for joining the community and bringing this question to us. We hope it was as fun for you to read about as we had finding the info.  We're super stoked that this bike is still getting after it almost 30 years later!

1991 Novara X-R Catalog.png

At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well lived.
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Oh my gosh John, This answer went so totally above and beyond and to be honest I got a little emotional seeing how my favorite bike started out. It's pretty cool to know this thing was doing the off road drop bar bike thing decades before it became popular, it even had ahead of the curve flared dirt drops (Even if they weren't "universally loved" haha). Thanks so much for this research and thank you for the joy this answer brought me. 🙂