REI Co-op Cycles CTY e2.1 Reviews

RickyBikes

Member
Region
USA
The REI Co-op Cycles CTY e2.1 is an introductory urban eBike from, you guessed it, the outdoor retailer, REI. This is one of the better selling eBikes in the United States (1). REI is a familiar outdoor brand with a large customer base, so I wanted to take an unbiased and deeper look at their eBike offerings. The Co-op CTY e2.1 retails for $1,999.00, comes in three sizes and one color (cobblestone gray). This is a class-1 eBike, meaning pedal assist up to 20mph (32kph). The bike is outfitted with a 250W Shimano mid-drive motor with available 40Nm of torque, a 36V battery, and various other Shimano components. Though this bike is not going to wow you with power or range (estimated 50 miles), it’s approachable design (it’s small frame is a step-through) allows for a variety of riders and functions as a solid introduction to eBikes. Here's REI Co-Op’s official website https://www.rei.com/product/172495/co-op-cycles-cty-e21-electric-bike and I'd love to hear your thoughts below, especially if you own the CTY e2.1 or plan to buy it!!






While I haven't reviewed this electric bike myself, I have covered similar E-Bikes and I wanted to provide some insights and open things up for your feedback. I hope providing several sources, with varying perspectives, allows everyone to come to their own conclusions. Sometimes short reviews and those created by shops only cover the good aspects and can come off like a commercial, so I've tried to be neutral and objective with these insights:


Pros – things that stand out as good:

  • It can be purchased either in an REI store or online. If the bike is shipped to your house, then there is some assembly required. Either way you can benefit from the large number of REI bike shops available around the US for regular maintenance or any issues the come up. The fact this bike uses such budget Shimano parts also makes it easy for any bike shop to perform regular maintenance should you opt to not use REI's bike shop. If you are a member of the Co-op you get 10% back at the end of each year, so this is that much cheaper for you.
  • I see the majority of beginner eBikes utilize a rear hub motor (which is fine) but it's awesome to see REI using a mid-drive motor. This is great because it keeps the center of gravity low, and allows for a nice, balanced ride, while being able to attack hills and various inclines. Ideally the motor would be made by Bosch, Yamaha, Bafang, etc., but Shimano is a good company with good components, so their mid-drive, though not as powerful as what one might want, is still solid.
  • I appreciate that the bike comes in three frame sizes, with the small being a step through. For a beginner bike geared to average statured riders, it's great that this is so approachable.
  • The rear rack comes standard, and the payload capacity on that rack is listed as 59lbs. This is pretty good payload capacity. Considering that 6'3 is the maximum height recommended for the large frame (sadly I'm slightly too tall to comfortably enjoy this bike), the 300lb total weight capacity is solid.
  • The use of almost exclusively Shimano components makes for mechanical and electrical systems to sync nicely, and allows for it to be easily maintained. Any shop can work on your bike, and with REI's expansive collection of shops, these universal parts are that much more convenient.
  • The low stand over height and upright riding position make this an easy bike to get used to and a comfortable ride for getting through town or the city. This riding position is valuable as a safety feature too. Combine it with the light gray paint, the reflective striping on the tire, the battery powered head and taillights, this is a safe looking bike for commuters.


Cons – considerations that seem like trade-offs or negatives:

  • This bike is an introductory quality bike at a mid-market price. Lower end eBikes, or what would be considered "more affordable" eBikes are typically below $1,500. With this nearly $2,000 bike, you're not paying for premium parts, although the drive train is a mid-grade, you're paying for the REI brand and the wide availability of stores/shops around the US.
  • The battery is a 36W, 418Wh lithium ion battery, so it's small and provides only about a 50mile range, depending on how you ride. Like most eBikes, the battery powers the headlights and taillights. These lights do leave a little bit to be desired, but considering the size of the battery, one may not want to upgrade to something so powerful that it inhibits your range.
  • This is a standard Shimano 250W motor putting out 40Nm of torque. It's not a super sensitive and torquey bike, thougsh it is intuitive, so not bad for a beginner's bike. One would ideally see a Bosch, Yamaha, or Bafang mid-drive motor, but this is just a tradeoff to keep prices down.
  • The mid-grade drive train uses Shimano Alivio components which is a step up from the Shimano Acera, This bike does use Acera shifters and the entry level Shimano Altus hydraulic disc brakes (a step up from the Tourney). This has a fairly lightweight aluminum frame but due to the more budget friendly components, quite a bit of weight is added; it weights over 50lbs.
  • This is not a particularly beautiful bike; it's fairly plain looking. It has a slight retro look to it, but it's purpose is to be a beginner's eBike and I think it does just that. The integration of the battery leaves something be desired. The internal wiring is fine, but it looks a bit like a battery was strapped onto a Co-op CTY bike, rather than they created a unique eBike design. It also has a fairly old school lack of integration on the display and controllers. Several larger eBikes brands have lagged a bit with integration in that area, so this is a bit of a tradeoff, but the wires at the front of the bike and the large battery at the center of the bike can be a bit of a security concern for riders wanting their eBike to blend in.
  • The two most common suggestions EBR has for all eBike brands is to include bottle cage bosses and have a rear placement on the kickstand. Regarding bottle cage bosses: not only do the medium and large frames not come with them, the small frame cannot have any due to the frame-to-battery size discrepancy. Those bottle cage bosses are nice for water bottles or storing any accessories or anything else you may want with you. This bike has a kickstand placed at the center of the bike which creates difficulty when moving the pedal backwards or moving/adjusting the bike when storing it. The best eBikes have kickstands with rear placement.
  • The Shimano display has the controller on the left hand side of the handlebars and display itself on the right side of the handlebars. The display uses a five bar battery icon (20% increments) which is fine, but could be more precise. For a beginner's bike, this is not of much consequence. The display has three PAS levels and a handy walk mode; usually there are 5 PAS levels, so that's a little disappointing. The bike also has to be started by pressing power on the battery, rather than the display, which is annoying.


As always, I welcome feedback and additions to these pros and cons, especially from people who have tried or own the bike. If you see other great video reviews for the REI Co-op Cycles CTY e2.1, please share them and I may update this post ongoing so we can get the best perspectives and insights.

Sources

 

Ravi Kempaiah

Well-Known Member
For some reason, I can't see the videos!

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ephemere

Member
Region
USA
City
Bay Area, CA
Ideally the motor would be made by Bosch, Yamaha, Bafang, etc., but Shimano is a good company with good components, so their mid-drive, though not as powerful as what one might want, is still solid.
I believe Shimano is generally considered to be on the same tier as Bosch and Yamaha. My BMC has a Shimano motor, and I would not trade it for another brand. Unlike some Bosch motors (so I've heard), it can be pedaled unpowered with little drag, which I do every time I ride it. It has three assist levels, and I have not once used the highest one.

This bike is an introductory quality bike at a mid-market price. Lower end eBikes, or what would be considered "more affordable" eBikes are typically below $1,500.

With an REI membership (essentially free), this bike nets to $1800. Is there any other bike with a Shimano motor at that price?

My wife test-drove the higher model, the e2.2, and passed on it because it didn't feel good to her. She would agree with you that it is an introductory quality bike.
 

RickyBikes

Member
Region
USA
I believe Shimano is generally considered to be on the same tier as Bosch and Yamaha. My BMC has a Shimano motor, and I would not trade it for another brand. Unlike some Bosch motors (so I've heard), it can be pedaled unpowered with little drag, which I do every time I ride it. It has three assist levels, and I have not once used the highest one.



With an REI membership (essentially free), this bike nets to $1800. Is there any other bike with a Shimano motor at that price?

My wife test-drove the higher model, the e2.2, and passed on it because it didn't feel good to her. She would agree with you that it is an introductory quality bike.
REI is a good company and that $1,800 price for a Shimano mid-drive motor will be tough to beat. The Shimano E5000 is the specific motor used on the e2.1, and that is the "budget" Shimano mid-drive. Charge XC comes to mind as a comparable bike, but it will exceed your price point by a few hundred dollars.

The CTY e2.2 uses the upgraded E6100 Shimano mid-drive, which (depending on the brand) is compatible with Garmin and Sigma displays. You should also able to alter power profile levels via the Shimano E-Tube app, which is a nifty feature.

The CTY e2.1 and 2.2's aren't bad bikes at all - there's a reason they sell so well. There may need to be some consideration to the introductory components being used on both bikes, and the type of riding being done. I find that the three PAS levels on Shimano's mid-drive have made some folks feel like it doesn't have enough "juice". Other mid-drives like Brose, Bosch and Yamaha will typically have 5 PAS levels and that can give it the punched up feel.

I'll be curious if you find a quality mid-drive for a better price than REI's!
 

PatriciaK

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Pacific Northwest and Piedmont Triad
REI is a good company and that $1,800 price for a Shimano mid-drive motor will be tough to beat. The Shimano E5000 is the specific motor used on the e2.1, and that is the "budget" Shimano mid-drive. Charge XC comes to mind as a comparable bike, but it will exceed your price point by a few hundred dollars.

The CTY e2.2 uses the upgraded E6100 Shimano mid-drive, which (depending on the brand) is compatible with Garmin and Sigma displays. You should also able to alter power profile levels via the Shimano E-Tube app, which is a nifty feature.

The CTY e2.1 and 2.2's aren't bad bikes at all - there's a reason they sell so well. There may need to be some consideration to the introductory components being used on both bikes, and the type of riding being done. I find that the three PAS levels on Shimano's mid-drive have made some folks feel like it doesn't have enough "juice". Other mid-drives like Brose, Bosch and Yamaha will typically have 5 PAS levels and that can give it the punched up feel.

I'll be curious if you find a quality mid-drive for a better price than REI's!
The Momentum (formerly Giant) La Free? It's just a couple hundred bucks more...
 

ephemere

Member
Region
USA
City
Bay Area, CA
The Momentum (formerly Giant) La Free? It's just a couple hundred bucks more...
The Co-op CTY e2.2 looks better than the Momentum La Free:
  • $90 less (after member discount).
  • Better return policy.
  • Bigger battery.
  • Better battery placement.
  • Decent air suspension fork vs rigid.
  • 9-speed Acera/Alivio (309% ratio -- barely adequate) vs 8-speed Altus (267% ratio -- too little).
  • Schwalbe Big Ben 27.5 x 1.95 vs CST Metropolitan Palm Bay 26 x 2.35.