REI Co-op announced plans to more than double its e-bike offerings in 2019, the next step in a significant expansion of its cycle program. The co-op is growing its offerings of pedal-assist electric bicycles (e-bikes) including electric mountain bikes (eMTBs).
The co-op also announced a $110,000 grant to PeopleForBikes to support cycling advocacy and infrastructure programs such as its Big Jump Project and its e-bike initiative to create better infrastructure and access for bike riders across the country.
This news is part of a series of cycling investments the co-op announced earlier this year, that includes investing in premium cycle brands such as Bontrager, growing its bicycle rental program in 115 stores nationwide, piloting a bike trade-in program, adding full-suspension bikes to its Co-op Cycles line, new cycling trips around the world and offering e-bike options on some adventure trips.
“Pedal-assist e-bikes are tremendous fun and create greater access to more people who want to ride but experience physical barriers,” says Ben Johns, REI general merchandising manager. “Whether it be distance, topography, physical limitation, or time, or stronger riding partners, these innovations are helping people overcome challenges and ride their bike more frequently.”
As it adds a wider variety of e-bikes for customers to choose from, the co-op will continue to focus on class-1 (up to 20 MPH pedal assist) and class-3 (up to 28 MPH pedal assist) pavement e-bikes from brands including Electra, GHOST, Stromer, Tern and Yuba; and class-1 pedal assist eMTBs from GHOST. All brands are currently available on REI.com, and more styles will continue to be unveiled throughout 2019.
Supporting unified rules and access for e-bikes
REI acknowledges there is still work that needs to be done in this space to address misconceptions and to close open questions in the cycling community. The co-op plans to publish content on the Co-op Journal to educate cyclists while it works with partners to refine regulation.
Currently, e-bike laws differ from trail-to-trail and from state-to-state. It can be confusing to cyclists who don’t understand where they can legally ride. By way of a grant, the co-op supports PeopleForBikes, which has partnered to clear up e-bike laws and regulations around the country, making it easier for people to find a great ride. PeopleForBikes has developed uniform policies for e-bike access, which they are working to get adopted across the country.
“We believe class-1 electric mountain bikes can help get more people outside and be integrated into the riding experience,” says Marc Berejka, REI’s director of government affairs. “We urge advocates to help educate local leaders to recognize these bikes can be managed in a sustainable way for both the environment and other trail users.”