REI isn’t exactly new to the bike retail game. They’d sold bikes under the Novara label for years, then switched over the Co-op Cycles in-house brand back in 2017. They initially sold road bikes, hybrids, early e-bikes, and hardtail mtbs aimed at customers who wanted to get into bikes on a brand they trust, while spending less than the price of a Toyota Corolla to do so. Now, REI is dipping into the full-suspension world, with the DRT 3.1 and 3.2 models.
Both are mid-travel 6061 aluminum frames, though you’d want the 3.2—it’s specced with a SRAM NX Eagle 1×12 drivetrain, Rockshox Revelation RC fork and Monarch R Solo Air rear for the squishy bits, with 27.5-inch tires. The 3.2 will run you $2,800. The cheaper 3.1 is $2,200 with a Shimano Deore 1×10 drivetrain.
The brand knows its customers ride bikes, but hasn’t yet been able to convince as many as they’d like to actually buy their bikes at REI. They’ve sold Cannondales at dozens of stores for a few years, and for a time once sold Scott bikes at some locations. But they’re doubling down with this recent push. Not only will they be selling more bikes, but they’re also trying to boost staff training in bike departments, making sure each bike department has at least one tech with Barnett Bicycle Institute certification at either the basic or master level. Cannondale bikes will also be available at REI stores nationwide starting in March, along with Bontrager components and accessories.
With the recent closure of all Performance Bicycle stores, there’s at least a little opening for another chain retailer to fill the gap. Perhaps this is the elbow space REI’s been maneuvering to find in the bike world.