Sunday, August 18, 2013

Novara Buzz Update

I've had my Novara Buzz for a few weeks now, and I've already rebuilt it. Not that the initial, er, buzz has worn off, but the stock setup wasn't that useful for me: 42x16 gearing was too tall for me knees, and all those white components... blech. Plus, I needed some gears to pull the kids around.

Here's how it stands now:

In short, I changed out the wheels and drivetrain, and added racks and fenders.

The drivetrain was the biggest change:

Using a "claw" derailer hanger I picked up a few weeks back, I was able to mount a regular rear derailer to the rear dropout. I had to spread the rear end from 120mm to about 135mm, but that was no big deal with my previous experience. Possibly, this is the only Novara Buzz in the world with a Suntour XC Pro crankset. That's a nice crank! Gearing is 32/34 up front with a 12-34 8 speed rear. The 34 is basically a chain guard, though in theory I could move the chain over manually if I needed faster gears. That hasn't happened yet (I would rather use a 36t for this application, but I ran out of chainrings amongst my various other bikes). I also put in a narrow bottom bracket to reduce the Q factor.

Shifting duties are by an XT thumbshifter in friction mode. I had to ziptie full length cable housing from the shifter to the derailer:

I left the shift cable a bit long in case I want to change my bars in the future.

Cheap Nashbar front rack with a cheap Avenir light powered by a cheap Sanyo dyno hub--but it all works surprisingly well:

I kept the godawful "Spirit of 76" saddle for the hipster irony of having this on my family bike:

Fenders are the SKS standard model, not the coveted Longboards. I got these because they were all my LBS had, and they were $15 or so cheaper than the Longboards. But they're so much shorter, I should have held out... I will end up making some custom mudflaps to make these fenders more effective.

The only issue I ran into (and the only quality issue I've found on such a cheap bike) was that the bolt for the rear rack mount had been bent during installation. It wouldn't come out smoothly--I snapped off the head trying to muscle it out. That resulted in about an hour of drilling, grinding, and then tapping to make the braze on useful again.

I weighed the bike with the drivetrain and wheels udpated (including the dyno hub), but not the racks and fenders. It was right about 28 pounds, only a pound heavier than the stock single speed build. Shows how heavy some of those stock parts are. And no more white chain!


  1. Hey Hipster - Nice Bike ��

    seriously, i just got one - what bottom bracket did you go with and did the claw hanger have a brand name cause i'd like to do the same

    thanks ! Ricky �� USA

  2. Hi Ricky,

    I don't have the Buzz around to confirm all the details, but the bottom bracket was a Shimano square taper, probably a UN-54, 68mm wide with (I'm guessing here) about a 113mm axle. Maybe 118mm.

    The derailer hanger was like this one:

    But it's the same thing a lot of cheap 10 speeds and department store bikes use. Your oldest, least fancy bike shop in town will probably know what it is right away.


  3. How much did it cost? I see you keep saying 50%. But was the price?

    1. It was $200 at the time. Kinda miss this one.


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