Last week I traveled to Sedona with REI to test out the new Co-op Cycles DRT 3.2 full suspension mountain bike. Originally planned for back in February to coincide with the official bike launch, the trip was postponed due to freak snowstorms. To our surprise, we were met once again with unseasonably cold and wet weather. Albeit chilly at times, a two-day break in the rain made for perfect riding conditions. To top it off, the cacti and wildflowers were all in bloom, lending bright accents to the rugged, red-hued terrain.
I’m an XC mountain biker at heart, normally found riding a bike designed to go fast, not exactly shred. Needless to say, I was not 100-percent confident in riding the notoriously chunky terrain around Sedona. But that makes me the perfect candidate for the new DRT 3.2 — with its plus size tires, slack geometry, and long travel, the bike instills confidence in the huck-averse amongst us.
Riding in Sedona is completely different from riding in the Bay Area. Namely, it’s chunky and technical, and instead of settling in for a long uphill matched by an equally long downhill, you’ve got continual punchy rollers that require power to get up and over technical bits. This terrain lends itself to a certain kind of bike — one that can climb but pulls no punches on the downhills.
To create a bike that excels in this type of terrain, the Co-op Cycles design team took a fresh look at everything from geometry and suspension to wheel and tire size. With a dirt first mentality, the team wanted to create a bike that made sense, that was practical, and ready to ride.
Not one to simply follow the latest mountain bike trends, REI turned to their members to understand what they were looking for in a mountain bike. The number one answer? Fit.
To accomplish this, the Co-op Cycles team not only designed a wide range of durable-yet-lightweight aluminum frame sizes, from XS up to XL, but also adapted the wheel size accordingly — the XS and S frames got 26-inch wheels while the larger frame sizes all got 27.5-inch wheels. Throw on some 2.8-inch WTB Ranger tires and you have an ultra cush ride. Those plus size tires roll over almost anything and make you feel super stable when dropping off of ledges.
The rims and tires come tubeless ready — REI wanted to make sure it was easy for you to set them up tubeless yourself by just buying a valve stem and some sealant. And if you are worried about messing it up (and it can get messy on your first couple of tries), it’s quick and easy for your local bike shop to do for you. Running tubeless allowed us to drop the tire pressure quite a bit in Sedona for not only better traction on the slickrock, but a less bumpy ride over the chunky terrain.
XC bikes intended for going fast over non-technical terrain usually feature steep head and seat tube angles (70 to 72, and 73+). These steeper angles position you over the center of your bike for powerful, efficient pedaling, especially when climbing. While fast and efficient, they can be sketchy on the downhills and through the rough stuff, as the forward position and steeper fork angle make you prone to endo.
Modern slack geometries feature lower angles, placing you further back in relation to the center of the bike. On the extreme end are downhill bikes which can handle super steep and technical trail but pretty much suck at climbing.
In between these two extremes is the all mountain bike/trail bike which climbs well while still descending confidently — this is where the DRT 3.2 sits with its head tube angle in the 67-degree range and somewhat longer 441mm chainstay length to deliver a stable ride.
On the larger frame sizes (M-XL), the RockShox Revelation RC fork offers up to 140mm of travel — 120mm on the smaller frame sizes. Couple that with the 130mm of rear suspension travel (120mm on smaller sizes) and this do-it-all bike makes a respectable climber that is more than comfortable on the rough stuff. Add in the dropper post, and you now have a bike that is capable to drop into steep, technical terrain.
This is one mountain bike trend that REI did follow, setting up the DRT 3.2 in a 1 x 12 configuration with SRAM NX Eagle. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, once you go Eagle, you’ll never go back. And the Shimano hydraulic brakes were smooth and quick to engage with just one finger.
The DRT 3.2 gave me confidence to ride stuff I never would on an XC bike. Yes, I did have a few spectacular crashes — nothing serious — but that just proves I felt comfortable enough to try something I normally might have just walked. I surprised myself at what I was able to get up an over as well as drop into and by the end of our second full day of riding, my confidence was growing. I wasn’t quite at the huck-off-ledges stage to test the limits of the suspension as some of the other riders, but I was having fun testing my own personal limits.
If you are looking for a bike that will take you to that next level of trail riding but won’t break the bank, the DRT 3.2 is a great choice. It’s an extremely capable bike and a lot of fun to ride.
The Co-op Cycles DRT 3.2 retails for only $2,380 on sale ($2,799 retail) and is available now from REI.