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I'm getting back into the mountain/road biking scene after my 15 year old Raleigh was stolen from me while I lived in Montana.

Now living in Seattle and really needing to get my ass moving more to lose weight, the few things i've ever physically enjoyed doing on a regular basis was biking. Now that i'm in my mid 30's, i'm not into doing the heavy trail blazing and stunt crap that I used to do on the mountain trails. I will mostly be doing in city bike trails, off shoot woods biking and basic dirt paths with possible out of city biking.

However, my carpal tunnel requires me to have suspension in the front so road only bikes are not an option and I do want the ability to have grip on slippery, wet Seattle roads and a variety of other conditions.

I'm just now doing research and my father, once a 20+ years sports store manager who sold and maintained mountain bikes for a living says the brands at REI are pricey but are good quality and was impressed by GHOST build quality when we went to local REI.

Specially, I'm looking at the Ghost Panama x4 or x3, Novara Buzz X or Novara Hickory 29er at this time from my research. I went to REI last night and looked at the mentioned bikes other then the Hickory. I road them a little bit in store but not able to take a REI test track test due to rain. I honestly can't and probably won't be able to tell the "quality" difference between a basic and high grade shifter or gears on bikes. They all feel the same to me on the Novara vs the GHOSTS.

Any yay's or nay's in general?

 

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Novara is the REI house brand stuff which mostly caters to the commuter and hybrid biking crowd. Ghost is out of Germany? I think, and their models are more off road capable from the ones I've looked at while at REI. You're probably not going to go wrong with either, but since you will be on paved trails perhaps the Novara will be just fine. I honestly don't think either brand is particularly pricey, but I also like looking at boutique brands where the pricing is a whole different thing. Anyway, you should focus on bike fit more than anything. Your main goal should be comfort because that's what will keep you in the saddle longer and keep you coming back to ride. Also, keep in mind you can always transform a hardtail mtb into a commuter but you can't really force a hybrid to ride well in the woods. Good luck and Happy Rollin'!
 

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Ghost is a well respected brand here in Europe. They are German, and started by the same founders that created Canyon - however they went a different path in terms of keeping things smaller.

I was tempted by a Ghost Riot recently as my new Bike GHOST BIKES: RIOT

Nothing wrong with the quality at all, they are right up there with the big brands, arguably the higher end brands.
 

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Novara is the REI house brand and from my experience has been, ok... Not quite as good as a major brand like Specialized, Giant, etc. but not as crappy as the other big box store stuff like from Walmart, Target, Dikes etc.

Ghost is definitely well respected in EU and just recently came to the US. Their bikes look great and have had pretty decent spec for the price. Good thing with REI is the return policy on their stuff. I would probably start with a low level hardtail if you are not looking to do any crazy trails other than mild XC stuff.
 

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I just picked up a Ghost Kato FS 3 2 weeks ago, and as far as I can tell, there's nothing proprietary about anything on it. Short of a replacement frame, any parts should be able to be purchased from your LBS.
 

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This is bull. Overstate much?
It's possible. Novaras are made to a price point. They're good at that price point (and focus on sturdiness and easy ownership over performance), but if you're comparing a bunch of 400$ LBS bikes... total pieces of garbage. Most novaras sold are these bikes.
 

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someone mentioned it might be hard to get parts if the Ghost needs anything since its a German company

id stick with Giant.
REI (USA) and MEC (Canada) warrantee/support the Ghost bikes they sell. For Giant warranty or parts you have to go to a Giant dealer, no? (I have a Giant BTW)

Proprietary - yes, when MEC first started carrying them, some Ghost bikes were using ~35mm seatposts, which is pretty unusual, but most now seem to be 31.6mm.
 
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