If you’re planning on shopping for a new bike this spring, be sure to put REI on your list of places to visit. The outdoor gear retailer is relaunching its own in-house bike brand as it puts a renewed emphasis on cycling in general. That process begins with the introduction of Co-op cycles, which replaces the Novara line that REI has sold for years.
With more than 145 stores across the U.S., REI is the largest outdoor gear retailer in the country. Those stores have always sold bikes, but many customers haven’t necessarily viewed the company as a cycling resource, despite most of its outlets having bike repair shops right on the premises.
When REI took a survey of its members last year, it discovered that 70 percent of them identified themselves as cyclists, although most had never purchased a bike from the retailer. On top of that, its venerable Novara line was seen as an entry-level brand that didn’t offer much room to grow, so many customers looked elsewhere. The company is hoping to change that perception with the introduction of Co-op Cycles, which will have a broader range of options for all types of riders and experience levels
In launching the Co-op Cycles line, REI decided to take a “trail first” approach to riding. Because of this, it spent a lot of time and effort designing mountain and all-road bikes that are built for going off-road. The brand will also include bikes built for use in the city and for kids, as well as options in the adventure bike category, which can handle dirt and gravel, too. All told, there will be more than 20 different styles spread out across these five broad categories, with prices ranging from $649 to $2,299 for the adult models.
REI’s re-emphasis on cycling doesn’t just come in the form of new bikes, either. The company also plans to launch a line of apparel under the Co-op Cycles brand and it is taking strides to remind its customers that REI staff members are expert riders and mechanics who will not only help them select the best bike to fit their needs, but offer service and repair, too. Last year, REI’s in-store mechanics serviced more than 180,000 bikes and offered cycling classes to 37,000 people. Those aren’t insignificant numbers for a company that has often been overlooked in this market space.
The Co-op Cycles brand has already launched online and you can check them out by clicking here. Look for these new bikes to start arriving at REI stores in March, where they will be sold alongside other brands like Cannondale, Ghost, Salsa, and Diamondback.