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REI CTY review: A sleek commuter from an outdoors company

REI, the nation’s premier outdoor equipment retailer, enters the e-bike space with its CTY e2.2. For reasons unclear, REI decided to enter the electric bike space with a city bike rather than something made for off-road. If their goal was to nail down a commuter bike and test out their mettle, I believe they’ve succeeded. 

The CTY e2.2 is a commuter, no surprises there.

As far as first entries go, I think REI has played it safe and made a very competent bike with very few drawbacks. I suppose REI sees enough demand for a down-to-business commuter to offer it literally surrounded by adventure equipment.

The bike is lightweight, easy to use, has a fair amount of punch to the motor, and rides very intuitive and comfortable. The CTY is a great choice for commuters, fitness, exploring your town, and just enjoying the urban outdoors. Despite all the commuter accessories that are standard, the bike has a very clean look. The internal cable routing and the subdued branding give the bike a unique and professional appearance.

REI Co-op Cycles CTY e2.2 Tech Specs

  • Motor: Shimano STePS e6100 “250w” Mid-drive
  • Battery: Shimano 504wh
  • Class: 1
  • Electric Engagement: Advanced Pedal Assist (no throttle)
  • Range: ~50 miles (80km)
  • Top Speed: 20mph (32kmph)
  • Gearing: Shimano Alivio with 11-34 cassette
  • Brakes: Shimano Hydraulic 180mm
  • Bike Weight: 51.9lbs (23.5kg)
  • Extras: In-store support, Front and Rear Lights, Color-matched Rack, Metal Fenders, Double Kickstand, Adjustable Stem, 75mm Travel Front Suspension, Reflective Tires

REI’s Electric Bike System

The CTY uses the Shimano e6100. This motor is a classic performer, an excellent blend of mostly city riding, with enough kick to jump up a decent paved hill. The pedal assist is very intuitive and smooth. I really like it a lot. The bike doesn’t feature a throttle, but for the name brand mid-drive with the name brand smoothness, I don’t miss the throttle one bit. The system has some interesting quirks to it. After the bike is turned on, the lights are either always on or always off. You have to change go into the settings menu to change that feature. The pedal assist has three modes instead of the usual five. You still get a good splay of options, but it doesn’t offer fine-tuning of the electric assist. Also, the main on/off switch is on the battery, instead of up top on the handlebars.  I really like the small display and the small button controls. I enjoy having a simplified cockpit. But on the other end of that, if you are meticulous about counting mileage and time on the bike, you’ll need some reading glasses for that tiny screen.

Co-op Cycles Shimano Motor (e6100)

Co-op Cycles is still a bike

The electric system integrates very well with the mechanical system, but I would really hope so, since the bike is all Shimano, from front to back. Shimano alivio derailer, Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, Shimano 11-38 tooth cassette, and of course, Shimano crank arms, chainring, and chain. These are all great parts for the use of this bike, and I really enjoyed them. Other, non-shimano parts do exist, such as the front shock and the reflective tires, and they are great parts as it stands. There are a few quality-of-life features, like the double-sided kick-stand for easy cargo, the ergonomic trim on the grips, adjustable stem with a pretty high angle, and full metal fenders.

Why Buy In-Store?

According to their site, the CTY e2.2 is offered online, shipped to you or, better yet, having a local REI complete the full professional assembly. This can be a big part of the value, not just for assembly, but also for regular maintenance and much more. You can try out accessories, make sure it fits before buying, and much more. You can get some insights for local trails and rides, access to the repair center, and in-store updates to the electric system. REI offers the bike in different frame sizes, but just one color that I know of — Twilight Blue. Both my wife and I heard a few compliments on the color, so I really shouldn’t count it as a negative.

The Kind of Bike you Settle Down With

From Quirks to Smirks

Let’s cover some things I didn’t like; The bike isn’t especially lightweight. The frame is a bit beefy to accommodate all the electric parts; the metal rack adds a bit too. The battery on this bike isn’t a terribly high capacity — we’re talking a 504wh pack. The good news is that the range on this bike should be really good. I’d safely commit to a 40-mile ride on any day. If the rear rack weren’t welded on, I’d be tempted to take it off and use the bike off-road. But alas, I’d be left to dream of what could have been.

CTY e2.2 with Pannier Bag

REI Pay Back

The Co-Op cycle runs for just shy of $2,400, but as an REI co-op member, you get 10% of that back at the end of the year, making this bike $2,159 after that. For that kind of money, you could find a cheaper bike that promises you the world, but it’s hard to find something that can deliver such a natural biking experience, especially with local support. Really, for around $2,200, The CTY is a good catch for the name-brand electric system, high-tier mechanical components, pro-assembly, store support, and sleek design. 

With this solid first entry, I’m excited to see what co-op cycles come up with for their off-road bikes. I have no confirmation REI is doing this, but my intuition has already convinced me.

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