First Impression: REI Co-Op ARD 1.2

Adventure outlet REI is ushering in spring 2017 with their new bike line, Co-op Cycles. This new line of bicycles increases their focus on adventure products by placing a slightly increased emphasis on the popular, and growing, segment of gravel and adventure inspired bikes. Feedback from a co-op members survey directed REI’s decision making after it was determined that members were looking to purchase bikes for adventure, freedom and fun. Sounds good to me.

Select representatives from the cycling and outdoor industry were invited to kick the tires on the new offerings and do a short mixed surface bikepacking overnight in the outskirts of Austin, Texas. Part of the Austin REI team led the ride on paved and gravel county roads, giving riders the full experience on the Co-Op ARD 1.2, their all-around, gravel/adventure bicycle.

mensbike

Men’s Co-Op ARD 1.2

Women's Co-Op ARD 1.2

Women’s Co-Op ARD 1.2

The ARD 1.2 represents the middle-of-the-road option in terms of trim and pricing. It features an aluminum frame with a carbon fork, Shimano 105 drivetrain, TRP Spyre-C dual piston mechanical disc brakes, rack mounts and a front thru-axle.

The bike comes stock with 28mm tires and a generous amount of room for fenders. For this ride, the ARD 1.2 was set up with beefier 35mm tires as we made our way through some thicker dirt and gravel areas. There is still a fair amount of clearance with the 35mm tires, but REI doesn’t recommend using fenders with tires larger than 28mm.

drivetrain

The ARD 1.2 was capable of riding through a variety of terrain and was just fun to ride. The Shimano 105 2×11 drivetrain offered enough of a range to see me up and over most of what Texas hill country could dish out and the carbon fork helped dampen front impacts while remaining stiff and light.

While I don’t often ride drop bars bikes, I really enjoyed my (relatively brief) time on the ARD 1.2. It handled both smooth, flat asphalt stretches and sketchy, gravels descents with equal predictability and seemed up for just about anything else I might want to throw at it.

Photo courtesy of REI

Photo courtesy of REI

Available in men’s and women’s sizing, The Co-Op ARD 1.2  will set you back $1,299. If this is a little rich for your blood, Co-Op offers a more reasonably priced (the Co-Op ARD 1.1) model which goes for $849. Of course, the componentry is not as robust as the 1.2, but that is pretty typical when the price drops on a bike (top tip!).

There are also two higher priced carbon models. The ARD 1.3 has a carbon frame and fork, is equipped with Shimano Tiagra components and is priced at $1,799. The most pricey model is the full carbon ARD 1.4, which comes with American Classic wheels and weighs in at 19lbs 1.1oz(!) and will set you back $2,299.

Photo courtesy of REI

Photo courtesy of REI

I walked away impressed with the Co-Op ARD 1.2 and feel like REI really took their members’ feedback to heart. This bike is a great choice for a wide range of cyclists who are looking for a moderately priced adventure bike.

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First Impression: Novara Mazama

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Every day is a good day for an adventure bike! This one comes to us by way of REI. Say hello to the steel Novara Mazama, designed for bikepacking, grinding gravel and all of your off-the-beaten-path adventures. It seems to work well on the plain-old road too, just in case you were wondering.

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At first blush, this is a pretty great bike. It’s got most of the things I’m looking for in a commuter/hauler/adventure buddy: 40c tires, three bottle cage mounts, a comfortable saddle, lots of gears (30 if you’re counting), mounts for fenders and racks and disc brakes.

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It does have some slightly odd handlebars, though. Not quite sure how I feel about them yet. Right now I can’t get into a super comfortable position with them, but time will tell.

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The Mazama does have bar-end shifters, if that’s the sort of thing you’re into. You are, aren’t you?

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Another cool feature with the Mazama is the Head Block turn limiter. Basically it limits the turning radius of the stem so that your bars don’t come in contact with the frame.

It will be interesting to see how functional it is in real world use, or if it’s just a pain in the long run. So far, it makes a lot of sense.

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Among other thoughtful component choices, Novara went with TRP Spyre mechanical discs matched up to 160 mm rotors. TRP designs the Spyres so that both pads are brought into contact with the rotor with the same force, allowing for more even wear. The pads are pretty easy to adjust as well. They have provided ample braking force on a few commutes and an excursion along the singletrack near my house.

I’m looking forward to spending a lot more time in the saddle and reporting back in a future issue of Bicycle Times how it all went. Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss it, or all the other great content we’ve got lined up!

 

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