New brands, new bikes, and new adventures all reflect ‘major investments in cycling’ by REI this year.
When REI retooled its cycling brand from Novara to Co-op Cycles in 2017, it marked much more than a name change. At the time, the brand sought to understand why its customer base wasn’t turning to the Co-op for bike purchases. And REI uncovered “brutal truths” about the brand’s perception within the cycling world.
Co-op Cycles was the beginning. REI rolled out new bike designs that addressed member opinions on quality, aesthetics, and utility. From road cycling to bikepacking bicycles and gear, REI began a push to become more of a “bike brand.”
And today, REI announced an expansion of its industry partnerships, including a nationwide rollout of Cannondale and Bontrager. It also formally revealed the latest evolution of its cycling brand: full-suspension mountain bikes.
REI to Sell Bontrager, Cannondale Gear
In today’s announcement, REI confirmed it will begin selling Bontrager gear in-store starting March 14, a first within the Co-op. While REI did not list specific products, it did say helmets, shoes, lighting, and “other accessories” will be included in the rollout.
“We’ve long appreciated the Bontrager brand for its innovative products and for being a true specialty brand in cycling,” said Ben Johns, REI’s general
merchandising manager. “We’re excited to partner with Bontrager to bring this line of apparel, components, and accessories to our members across the country.”
Additionally, REI said it will expand its partnership with Cannondale to make the brand available at all locations across the country. To date, REI has offered a wide selection of Cannondale bikes online and at select co-ops.
Both moves signal an effort by REI to provide more products and brands cyclists expect and recognize. And the brand acknowledged as much.
“We’ve made great progress stepping up our shops, assortments, and services to create a unique specialty experience,” Johns said. “And the changes we have
planned for 2019 will be another big step forward as we work to infuse cycling more prominently into the co-op’s DNA.”
REI Full-Suspension Mountain Bikes: DRT 3.1, 3.2
REI also added to its fleet of Co-op brand, purpose-built bicycles this year. While the brand’s first full-suspension mountain bikes went live earlier this year, today REI officially revealed the DRT 3.1 and 3.2.
Both are aluminum-frame, hydraulic-disc, dropper-equipped bikes. The real differences lay in the groupset. The 3.1 has a RockShox Sektor RL fork, FSA MegaExo bottom bracket, and a 1×10-speed Shimano Deore Shadow + setup.
Bicycle Trade-In, Expanded Rentals, New Adventures
Rounding out REI’s 2019 bike push are a few sport-specific initiatives. First, REI will double the number of multiday cycling trips on offer, with more than 40 itineraries available this year. The brand claims there will be “a trip for every type of cyclist,” from road to mountain to gravel — and adventures for all fitness levels. REI will launch new trips in Chile, Colombia, Scotland, Spain, Canada, and the U.S.
The Co-op also announced it will pilot a trade-in for certain qualifying bikes. With it, customers can earn credit toward the purchase of a new bike at REI. Finally, REI said it will grow its rental offerings in “key markets” beginning this spring.
In all, today’s announcement reveals a renewed investment by REI to court both new and seasoned cyclists alike. With well-recognized brand partners, legitimate product launches, and programs to help engage more bikers around the world, REI appears ready to become the bike brand it set out to be years ago.