On Wednesday I came across a Novara Transfer in the wild. For those of you outside of the US, Novara is the house bike/bike accessory brand of REI, our big outdoor co-op chain, analogous to MEC in Canada. I really liked this bike as it was a fully loaded (as sold) commuter:
- Nexus 7 speed internally geared hub
- Novatech dynamo hub
- AXA/Basta head and tail lamps
- rear rack
- chromoly frame and fork
You could have had this bike for about $700 with all those features included! But note I said “could have”. Because the Novara Transfer was too damn practical, of course REI discontinued it. Now they have nothing similar. Sure, you can get something in that price range that has front and rear rack/basket, but it has derailleurs and no lights. Or you can get the Gotham that has a Nuvinci hub and belt drive, but it’s aluminum, has only battery lights, and is $1500, though you can get last year’s model for $900. (Oh yeah, it also has hydraulic disc brakes, which may be good or bad depending on your preferences.)
It’s one of the few modern bikes that I’ve seen that are similar to a Raleigh Superbe in all its features, and adjusting for inflation, it’s probably about as much as a Superbe cost back in the day. And we need more modern bikes that are like old Raleigh Superbes. Now there are the Civias and Linuses out there, and they are all fine. But none of those come with dynamo lighting included. Breezers are the only ones that come to mind with all those features (like the Uptown 8) but they don’t seem to be as popular any more. And they are aluminum, which isn’t a deal breaker for some folks, but we all know how I like the steel.
And yeah, you can go the full Dutch route, but those bikes (at least the ones available here in the US) are more expensive, and tend to be a lot heavier. I always see one or two Workcycles on the local Craigslist, and they always want a lot. I think people buy them because they look cool and have all the features, but then realize how heavy they are for riding, even here in not-that-hilly Portland.
In any case, I may be preaching to the converted, but it would be nice to see more fully equipped utility bikes out there, and at a price point that people can afford.
Back to the Transfer: I realize that none of the components are particularly “high end” but it’s still a good deal for what it is. When they were discounting the remaining Transfers a couple years ago, I almost thought about grabbing one, but didn’t have the available cash. It’d be cool to grab one if it came up for a good price on Craigslist…