Last year, REI’s technicians serviced 180,000 bikes across the country, and the vast majority of REI shoppers identify as cyclists. Yet the retailer says only a small percentage of the co-ops members and customers purchase a bike from the store. Hopes are that will change with a reshuffling of REI’s bike business.
This week at Interbike, REI announced plans to shutter its current house brand of bicycles, Novara, and replace it with the new Co-Op Cycles brand. Available March 2017, the Co-Op brand includes about 20 models of road, mountain, youth and adventure/touring bikes. The bikes will be available in all 147 REI stores, with individual assortments based on location. Prices range from about $500 up to $2,300. REI also announced plans to invest deeper its bike staff expertise and its community commitment via classes, trips and dedication to nonprofits such as PeopleForBikes and IMBA.
As for why they brand re-boot, REI executives said consumers were unclear about the REI connection to the Novara brand and viewed it as entry-level, which meant the brand lacked a progression story from entry-level to high performance. The Co-Op brand makes the connection more clear and the fuller range of models gives customers a path to progress with the brand. The Co-Op brand also will appear on cycling clothing and accessories.
In addition to the house brand, REI also plans increase its focus on selling bikes from companies such as Salsa, Cannondale, Ghost, and Diamondback.
So why didn’t they just rebrand the bikes as “REI”? Executives say they just “didn’t feet right.”