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HELP! REI's Novara Trionfo???(6 posts)

HELP! REI's Novara Trionfo???RichardJenkins
Aug 11, 2001 5:26 AM
I am buying a new road bike in the US (I'm English) for the first time and want a good climbing and performance bike around the $1500 mark. I have looked at Marin, Trek, Cannondale, Bianchi, etc but the most impressive for weight, components and performance has seemed to be the REI Novara Trionfo.

I can find no write-ups or reviews and no-one to pass opinion. The bike has a Columbus Altec2 frame, carbon forks and stem, Mavic wheels and Shimono Ultegra throughout. It looks and feels good!

Please could someone give me some advice???


Buying Bikes from REIRich Clark
Aug 11, 2001 8:22 AM
Novara bikes don't usually get much respect. Part of this is because REI isn't a "local bike shop." It's seen as a chain sporting goods store that's just one step up from the mass-merchandisers.

And since REI doesn't do a lot of advertising or promotion, especially in the cycling world, it can be hard to get information. It took almost a year after I first requested it before this site finally listed the Novara Randonee, a touring bike, so I could post a review.

REI bike designs are proprietary, but they're built in Asia. In this they are no different from several of the major bicycle brands. REI has almosy no house-brand parts, though, so what you tend to get is the Novara frame built up with an unusually high value-level group and build kit for the money, and machine built wheels.

The "bike shop" in each REI store is supposed to be staffed by at least one Barnett-trained mechanic. These shops seem to be of variable quality, and you may not get a lot of help with bike fit. When I bought my REI bike, they were unwilling to even due normal stuff like swap out stems at no charge. Your local REI may be different, but since expert fitting is one thing that separates a good LBS from a bad one, if you buy from REI don't count on help on this issue. Maybe you'll have better luck on this than I did.

My bike's wheels were a mess. No rim tape at all! And over the first 3000 miles the rear wheel broke 5 spokes, all on the drive side, indicating poor initial tensioning and pre-stressing, combined with low-quality spokes. To REI's credit, however, they rebuilt the wheel by hand, using Wheelsmith spokes, and I watched while the wrench pre-stressed, re-trued, and used a tensionometer to get the rebuilt wheel exactly right. Under warranty, on a wheel with 3000 miles on it. It's been perfect ever since.

Finally, two things: 1) REI has sales, and they have a 30-day price-protection guarantee. In the pasr they've always had a Labor Day Sale which this year should start on Sept 1. If you buy a bike now, it will very likely go on sale then (but obviously I can't promise this, I'm just some guy on a message board!). Go back during the sale and they will refund you the difference between what you pay now and the sale price. This could be 15% or more. That would bring the Trionfo down to $1360, indeed a remarkable price for an Ultegra bike with a carbon fork, TTT build kit, and all the other nice stuff on that bike. This strategy can get you the bike you want in your size before they're all sold out.

2) REI is member owned -- it's a co-op! -- and you can join. If you do, at the end of the year you'll receive a (~10%) rebate on your full-price purchases (but not on the price of sale items).

I know a couple of other people with REI road bikes, and they like them, and are particularly happy with the value they represent. But the value is in the bike itself, not its likely resale price and certainly not in any "image value." If you know bikes well enough to evaluete build quality, live near enough to an REI to get warranty service, and don't care about fashion, REI can be a killer buy.

(Note: the above doesn't necessarily apply to other types of bike. I've seen some truly overpriced, under-specced MTB's at REI, for example.)

re: HELP! REI's Novara Trionfo???Icefrk13
Aug 12, 2001 7:40 AM
Just a bit of a side note look at the Fuji bikes the has a complete Ultegra buit bike for 1400.00 (even comes w/clipless pedals) it seems to be a great bike but I do not know I have never ridden one.
Fuji TeamRich Clark
Aug 12, 2001 10:49 AM
You're right, the Fuji Team does look very comparable to the REI bike. You can see it at,
where it's $1450. Fuji dealers can be hard to find, but if there's Performance Bike shop in your area I think they carry them.

Interesting, because the Novara Randonee and the Fuji Touring are also very competitive in price and features. But (like the Team and Trionfo) they're not clones. I've heard speculation that Novara and Fuji bikes come off the same assembly lines; they might, but they're clearly different designs.

re: HELP! REI's Novara Trionfo???Bobson
Aug 12, 2001 2:37 PM
My girlfriend has last year's Trionfo (same frame/ultegra/minor differences in bar, saddle etc...) it's a great bike for the price. Our local REI did a great job of fitting the bike using a fit kit, they swapped out the stem (same stem different length) assisted with setting up her Speedplay pedals (bike came w/o pedals). I guess REI shops can vary depending on the store. The 10% co-op divedend at the end of the year was a really nice bonus. REi also has a 100% satisafaction policy so I never hesitate to buy anything from them. They've backed this policy up with me on camping items and I would expect the same of cycling. Bicycling magazine had one of their lame seven word tests on the Triono in 2000 I believe it got 4 stars(?) based on value and no hidden cheapie parts.
re: HELP! REI's Novara Trionfo???Rich Clark
Aug 12, 2001 2:50 PM
Which local REI was that? They use the Fit Kit? Yes, these shops must vary quite a bit.

For the record, my local REI -- the one that gave me little help with initial fit but did a great job hand-rebuilding my wheel under warranty -- is the one in Conshohocken, PA (the only REI in the Philadelphia area).

I found REI's satisfaction grarantee to be a huge help when shopping for saddles.