A New Bike and My Next Project

A couple of months ago I bought a 2009 Novara Fusion bikes on closeout from REI:

The REIs around Seattle had a small number of these for half of their original price.  The bike came with front and rear Alfine hubs, generator lighting, fenders, a rear rack (that I removed), a chainguard, and disk brakes.  Not bad for under $500!

There are some nice details.  This taillight is battery powered and turns on automatically turns on if the bike is moving and it is dark out.  Sadly it uses a non-standard N battery, otherwise it is nicer (in brightness and function) than the Planet Bike Fenderbot.

There is a cool bell that is built into the brake lever that I’ll have to take a photo of later.

The disk caliper is tucked away on the chainstay, out of the way of the seatstay and rack and fender mounting.  The dropout even has provisions for the included kickstand:

I did replace a few components.  The stock cranks were wide and not very nice, so I put on something better.  I also replaced the tires, pedals, handlebars, and grips.

My next project is to replace the fork and frame with ones that I build.  The Novara frame has a reasonable geometry and fits me alright, but I don’t like the very stiff aluminum.  The fork needs more rake if it is going to work well with a porteur rack.

Tubing arrived for the new frame this week.  I’m using Pacenti Slant Six lugs with True Temper Verus HT 8/5/8 oversized tubing.  The lugs will keep the sloping top tube of the Novara, a feature that I like because it makes it a bit easier to loan the bike to friends who are shorter than me.  I don’t like the chain tensioner that came with the Novara, so I’m going to switch to the Engin/Paragon Rocker dropouts which have chain tensioning built in:

I think I’ll make my own front dropout that incorporates the disk mount and which extends high up the fork blade.

I’ve also been riding my last project all summer, but haven’t posted a photo of it since having it powder coated.  I still don’t consider the bike done because I haven’t built the light weight rear wheel or had the stem and rack chromed.  I’ve still put over 1000 miles on the bike in this unfinished state, so I maybe I should call it finished.

I love this bike.  It is fast, light, handles well, and looks nice.


  1. jdmitch says:

    You seriously picked up an REI / Novarra Fusion for <$500? WTF?!? Why can''t we have actual REI shops in the KC Metro? Why…….!

    What a find, wow!

  2. Alex Wetmore says:

    Two friends actually got them for $400 at one point (but one was missing the chainguard and the other had light damage). They all seem to be long gone now though.

  3. Blake says:

    Did you get the Lugs from Pacenti when he still sold them, or the set Nova now sells?

  4. Alex Wetmore says:

    The bike was sold well after the recall notice, I expect that the fork was already replaced.

  5. John Speare says:

    I like this:

    “I did replace a few components. The stock cranks were wide and not very nice, so I put on something better. I also replaced the tires, pedals, handlebars, and grips.

    My next project is to replace the fork and frame with ones that I build.”

    Sometimes I attempt to read your posts from the perspective of someone who is just getting into biking… “ah, he replaces his tires, pedals… makes sense. Whoa — doesn”t like cranks cause they”re wide? weird… what’’s this… replace the frame and fork? wtf!”

  6. Dolan Halbrook says:

    I have several friends with that bike. You got a great deal. One big gripe is that on two of them I”ve had to replace the cable housing for the back brake with a full-run as some genius used a downsloping ferrule stop just above the BB, which means that any water/crap/whatever is gravity-fed into the system every time someone hits the brakes. In both cases the rear brakes were incredibly sticky, near unusable, after a winter of riding in Portland. Otherwise they”ve held up pretty well, though it’’s beyond me why they didn”t add a dyno taillight.

  7. Alex Wetmore says:

    Dolan: Yes, the rear disk brake routing is beyond stupid. I won”t be copying that on my replacement frame. I believe that Novara fixed it on the 2011 model as well (they also switched to a steel frame instead of aluminum).

  8. Bryan Willman says:

    Front and rear alfine hubs…

    I thought an alfine was an internally geared hub – OK, that makes great sense on the rear.

    But what does a front alfine hub do? (Am I just misreading their marketing page?)

  9. Bryan Willman says:

    It’’s also amusing that you didn”t actually buy a bike, you bought a bunch of components to put on your next frame, which were convienently packaged by attaching them to a “disposable” frame… (:-)

  10. Alex Wetmore says:

    The front Alfine hub is a generator hub that powers the lighting on the bike.

  11. Andrew K says:


    I am curious why you chose to use a stem without a removable faceplate, rather than something like this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/13456742@N03/2259067906/
    or this

    It looks like you skimped on handlebar tape, knowing that you would only have to slide the handlebars out of the stem shortly.


    Maybe a brake accordion boot could be installed on the rear brake to keep some of the gunk out of your friends housing. Wax on the cable might reduce the amount of water wicking itself down the cable.

  12. Alex Wetmore says:

    Andrew: That is a fair question. I think that it looks nicer without the removable faceplate, and it is lighter. I”m pretty dialed in on my sizing, so having to change the stem or bars later is unlikely (except for getting the stem chromed as you”ve noted).

  13. Daus says:

    Under $500 with Alfine components? What a steal! Is that a Lumotec IQ CYO light too?

  14. Alex Wetmore says:

    It is an IQ Cyo, but I put that on there. It came with a cheaper halogen based light that was fine, but not great.

  15. clay says:

    love your bike(s) and your blog, but a more trival question. I can”t recognize that front bag. I”ll probably be embarrased when you name it. also did you make the front rack?

  16. Alex Wetmore says:

    I made the rack. The bag is from Acorn Bags.