Saturday, June 18, 2016

A Brief ride on the 2016 Novara Mazama Road bike

lets go for a spin

As my time moonlighting as a cashier at REI draws to a close I decided I would take a test ride on the new Novara Mazama after my shift was done today.  I have seen this bike in the store and read about it online and since its a chromoly steel frame I figured it would be right up my alley.  Full disclosure this was at most a 5 minute ride so take the following with a grain of salt, not an exhaustive test ride just my impressions after a short jaunt.

Stock photo 3/4 view

One of my first impressions was how light this bike felt.  According to the specs it comes in at 25.6 lbs which to most modern roadies will probably seem like a ton but I ride a bike with rack, panniers, 36 spoke alloy wheels w/stainless steel spokes so by comparison 25 lbs seems light, and it was pretty common for bike boom "sport" road bikes to come in around this weight.

My second impression was how smooth the ride felt.  I am used to smooth riding steel bikes but this felt downright buttery on my brief ride.  It does have some nice fat Clement X'plor MSO 700x40c rubber but I'm not sure that explains all the smoothness of this ride and I am used to riding on 700x47c rubber so it not like its new to me.

One thing that comes up a lot in this bikes review are the bars, which people either love or hate.  They are basically a Novara version of the Salsa Woodchipper bars. Now I like wider bars and ride Rando bars on my main bike so count me in the love camp.
Cockpit view

They are probably not for everyone but bars are easily swapped.

Side view of bars
As you can see this bike uses bar end shifters which I also like.  They come with Microshift brand bar ends which I have heard mixed reviews of, but in my shifting I had no issues.  To be serious though after so much time on a 1x9 set up I am not sure I would know what to do with 30 gears!

One of the features of this bike that intrigued me was the mechanical disc brakes (TRP Spyre mechanical disc), not exactly new tech at this point but not something I have ever had on a bike.  In my short time I didn't torture test them but I did put them thru a couple sudden stops and they seem solid.
Modern grabbers

One thing I would change are the wheels, no fault of their own really, they are perfectly fine Alex 32 spoke wheels.  My super clydesdale booty (um 250+ lets say), however, is used to 36 spoke wheels and although you wouldn't think 4 spokes per wheel is a big deal I was getting audible spoke ping when  I did hard braking.  Photo below courtesy of Patrick O'Grady at Mad Dog Media
Super Clydesdale

Now while I am still an employee I could get a sweet deal on this already reasonably priced bike, but I am not really in a financial position to buy a new bike right now and frankly I have trouble finding time to ride the bikes I do have so it wouldn't really make sense.  If I was looking for a gravel grinding multi chain ring commuter though I would give this bike serious consideration.  I think one of the reasons I like it so much though is probably because it reminds me of my Handsome Devil.
Mazama in gravel mode

Until next time.... Ride. Smile.Repeat.

PS you can find a real professional style review of this bike here at Bicycle Times

UPDATE:  In July I happened to notice the Mazama was discounted down to about $750 for the Large size -good for me- as they were clearing out their stock.  I flirted with idea as I like this bike but I can't really justify it despite the great deal.  And then in September I saw that REI is dropping the Novara brand and going in a different direction - see article here so long Mazama we hardly knew ya.


  1. Good review. Hey, I got a set of Woodchipper bars for my Schwinn roadie but I have not found the time to change it all over. A future project and blog post

    1. Thanks Jim, I really liked the 'chippers I look forward to your post on getting them on your Schwinn.