Citing ‘Brutal Truths,’ REI Reboots On Bikes

For 2017, REI drops its Novara bike line to focus on a new house brand called Co-op Cycles and restructure its in-store bike shops across the U.S.

co-op bike from REI

The vast majority of REI shoppers (about 70% of them) identify as cyclists. But a small percentage purchase bikes from the store.

That realization, among shifting trends in the bike world, gave the company pause enough to restructure its entire bike business.

The result: REI’s house brand, Novara, will be cut in 2017. In its place, REI unveils a new brand, Co-Op Cycles, and will “invest in bike staff expertise and deepen our community impact” via classes, trips, and dedication to nonprofits like PeopleForBikes and IMBA.

co-op bike from REI
Internal cable routing and thru-axles are among the stock features on Co-op Cycles’ mountain bike

We met with REI at the Interbike trade show this week to talk about the brand launch and the changes for 2017.

“REI faced some brutal truths relating to the Novara brand,” said Cyndi Mundhenk, product manager of Co-op Cycles. “For instance, we knew customers considered Novara to be an entry-level brand and there wasn’t a clear tie between it and the co-op.”

Mundhenk added, “Customers did not have the opportunity to progress with the brand.”

The Co-Op Cycles brand is an obvious link to the REI Co-op. Beyond the branding, the line focuses on a clean look and updated designs.

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New REI Bike Brand: Co-Op Cycles

Nearly 20 Co-Op Cycles models will be unveiled in March 2017, including road, mountain, youth, and adventure/touring bikes. We saw several previews and were impressed with the look and design.

Co-Op Cycles will be available in all 147 REI stores, with each shop’s assortment based on location. Prices range from about $500 up to $2,300 for the bikes.

co-op-road-bike-from-rei

In addition to the house brand, REI plans to up its focus on selling bikes from companies like Salsa, Cannondale, Ghost, and Diamondback.

Last year, REI’s technicians serviced 180,000 bikes across the country. The company sees big potential to sell more bikes and become top-of-mind for riders who now associate the co-op primarily with climbing equipment and camping gear.

–Reporting by Hurl Everstone.

tagged: #REI

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