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Co-op Cycles ARD Review

Last updated: April 9, 2020

An entire ARD range from Co-op Cycles (in-house brand of REI) offers exceptional quality and value for the money.


ARD lineup from Co-op Cycles offers four road bikes to choose from. All of them have disc brakes and carbon forks. Two (1.1 and 1.2) have aluminum frames and another two (1.3 and 1.4) have carbon ones.

Co-op Cycles ARD range hieararchy

REI decided not to overcomplicate things, so it’s easy to understand their hierarchy with 1.1 model being the entry-level and 1.4 being advanced. Here’s an overview of the specs for ARD range:

GroupsetFrame materialFork materialBrake type
ARD 1.1Shimano ClarisAluminumCarbonMechanical Disc
ARD 1.2Shimano 105AluminumCarbonMechanical Disc
ARD 1.3Shimano TiagraCarbonCarbonHydraulic Disc
ARD 1.4Shimano 105CarbonCarbonHydraulic Disc

The first two models are offered in women’s variations, marked with the ‘W’ suffix in their name – 1.1W and 2.2W.Below is a summary for each bike in the series:

ARD 1.1

Entry-level model with disc brakes (mechanical) and basic Claris groupset, but carbon fork.

ARD 1.2

Impressive Shimano 105 groupset and carbon fork. Best bang for the buck in the entire lineup.

ARD 1.3

Tiagra groupset, but combined with carbon frame. If weight is important, this is your choice.

ARD 1.4

Flagship with 105 groupset and carbon frame. Hard-to-beat value if you can afford it.


Since all bikes within the ARD family use disc brakes and the same carbon fork, frame geometry is very similar in carbon and aluminium versions. Keep in mind that only the advanced 1.4 has internal cable routing.
ARD 1.1Co-op Cycles 6061 double-butted aluminum frameOne-piece carbon fork, tapered carbon steerer for flat mount disc, includes fender mounts
ARD 1.2Co-op Cycles 6061 double-butted aluminum frameOne-piece carbon fork, tapered carbon steerer for flat mount disc, includes fender mounts
ARD 1.3Co-op Cycles monocoque carbonOne-piece carbon fork, tapered carbon steerer for flat mount disc, includes fender mounts
ARD 1.4Co-op Cycles monocoque carbonOne-piece carbon fork, tapered carbon steerer for flat mount disc, includes fender mounts
Again, only the first two offerings in this range have women’s versions. This means, sorry ladies, no carbon frames for you. It’s interesting however, that what was supposed to be men’s frames is in reality closer to unisex geometry. In any case, for female cyclists, even two basic versions offer great weight, and the difference between those and carbon frames is not critical – see the weight overview below.


Manufacturer’s choice of drivetrain components for the ARD range is pretty interesting. With 1.1 model it’s clear – the very basic Shimano Claris is a common choice in its price bracket.

However, as we move further, 1.2 version has Shimano 105, which is three levels above Claris (bypassing Sora and Tiagra). Next, ARD 1.3 has Tiagra groupset, but carbon frame. And finally, 1.4 has it all – 105 drivetrain with all other bells and whistles like carbon frame and fork:

ARD 1.1ARD 1.2ARD 1.3ARD 1.4
ShiftersShimano ClarisShimano 105Shimano TiagraShimano 105
Front DerailleurShimano ClarisShimano 105Shimano TiagraShimano 105
Rear DerailleurShimano ClarisShimano 105Shimano TiagraShimano 105
CranksetShimano Claris, 50/34TShimano 105, 50/34TShimano Tiagra, 50/34TShimano 105, 50/34T
CassetteShimano CS-HG31, 11-34T, 8-speedShimano 105, 11-32T, 11-speedShimano Tiagra, 11-32T, 10-speedShimano 105, 11-32T, 11-speed
BrakesPromax cable-actuated dual piston mechanical disc brakeTRP Spyre-C flat mount dual piston mechanical disc brakeShimano Hydraulic
ChainKMC, 8 speedShimano 105, 11-speedShimano Ultegra, 10-speedShimano 105, 11-speed

Disc brakes are installed on all bikes of the series. However, the 1.1 and 1.2 get mechanical, while two carbon models get hydraulic. Of course, the latter are more responsive, however, keep in mind that many competitors of the first two models only install caliper brakes. They are lighter, but less effective compared even to mechanical disc. 

And even though the brakes on aluminum representatives of ARD family are not from Shimano, that’s not a huge problem. Promax and TPR are still great brands with respectable track record. And you can always replace the brakes should the need arise, given that frame already supports even the hydraulic ones.


REI’s no-corners-cut’ approach to bike manufacturing can be clearly seen even when it comes the often overlooked aspect in budget and even mid-level bikes, the wheelset:

ARD 1.1Co-op Cycles, 32 holeCST recourse 700x28mm, puncture protection
ARD 1.2Co-op Cycles, 32 holeDONNELLY Strada LGG 700 x 28mm
ARD 1.3Novatec 30 discDONNELLY Strada LGG 700 x 28mm
ARD 1.4Shimano RS 370DONNELLY Strada LGG 700 x 28mm

Even on the basic models they have high-quality, although proprietary 32-spoke aluminum rims. As we move up in the hierarchy, rims become lighter, but that has a side-effect – amount of spokes drops to 24, and that means less support for overweight riders. That doesn’t however apply to RS 370 rims on 1.4, which are gravel-centric, and can therefore, withstand some serious loads.REI still claim 300 lbs. weight limit for the entire lineup, but if you have those extra pounds, we would recommend going for 1.1 or 1.2 versions.

When it comes to tires, except for the basic model, they put DONNELLY Strada, a great choice of tire – and another reason to go for ARD 1.2, our absolute favourite kid in this family. An added benefit – they are 28-mm wide, which on paper doesn’t seem like a huge difference over 25mm, but in reality, offer better comfort, especially on bumpy roads. 


When it comes to the secondary components, manufacturers approach may seem strange at first glance, but it actually makes sense (however, not without minor drawbacks):

ARD 1.1Co-op cyclesCo-op Cycles aero-ergo designN/A
ARD 1.2Co-op Cycles, chromoly railCo-op Cycles aero-ergo designN/A
ARD 1.3Co-op Cycles, chromoly railCo-op Cycles aero-ergo designN/A
ARD 1.4Co-op Cycles, chromoly railCo-op Cycles aero-ergo designN/A

The first thing to notice – ARD bikes don’t come equipped with pedals. While it’s reasonable for more advanced carbon versions, for aluminum ones that are geared towards the beginners it would make sense to include some basic platform flats.

You see, mid-level and advanced cyclists don’t need pedals as most of them either use clipless systems or have their own favorite set of flat pedals that they move from bike to bike.

With beginners, the situation is different. If it’s your first road bike, you don’t have clipless pedals ready. And you don’t have regular ones, too. It’s not recommended to start cycling with clipless.

The transition will make sense only after a couple of months when you get hang of your bike. Anyway, $20 for a set of regular flats solves the problem. As you become more confident – switch to clipless.

Next, handlebars are also the same for all four bikes – these are regular aluminum ones with 31.8mm-profile and 12-degree flare. Again, these are adequate for all four bikes.

More advanced users might want, however, to replace them with something more advanced like carbon to save some weight. Same for the saddle – the basic one is installed on all trim levels.

With one little exception (ARD 1.4) all bikes have same allow seatposts. The flagship, however, has a carbon one.

And now the picture of REI approach to ergonomics is clear – for more expensive bikes they decided not to spend extra money on premium parts (that are frequent candidates for replacement). But rather, they give advanced users the freedom to choose their own. For mid-level and beginner cyclists, however, the secondary components choice makes total sense.


Weight-wise, the first three models in the ARD range are pretty equal. Yes, the 1.3 has carbon frame, but Tiagra groupset is a little heavier than 105 on ARD 1.2. So, the weight difference between these two bikes is not critical.

ARD 1.122 lbs. 10.6 oz.
ARD 1.222 lbs. 0.3 oz.
ARD 1.321 lbs. 6.9 oz.
ARD 1.419 lbs. 1.1 oz.

The 1.4 is, however, lighter by a huge margin – thanks to carbon seat post, frame, and lighter groupset.