If you’re not familiar with Co-op Cycles, they are a brand made specifically for REI members. REI is an American retailer with locations scattered around the United States. They specialize in selling outdoor and fitness gear. REI is a smart place to buy an electric bike, because they offer assembly, 1-year of free tune-ups (2 years for Co-op members), free flat tire repairs (labor only), and a great return policy. Today, we’re going to take a look at their new Generation e electric bikes.
The Generation e, yes lower case e, lineup definitely is reminiscent of the much more pricey Tern brand, which makes smaller mid-drive electric cargo bikes. We can kind of think of the Generation e as the poor man’s Tern, sort of, just not as fancy and not with a mid-drive motor.
There are two models in the Generation e lineup, the Generation e1.1 and the Generation e1.2. The e1.1 is currently available, while the e1.2 will be available sometime in September 2022. The e1.1 has a 36-volt system, while the e1.2 has a 48-volt system. The main difference between a 36-volt and 48-volt, besides $400, is greater range with the 48-volt e1.2 due to its larger capacity battery.
Both use the same 350 watt direct drive Bafang motor. Most ebikes use a geared motor, but direct drive has a few advantages, such as being quieter and having fewer parts, so they typically last longer.
Having ridden many 36-volt and 48-volt ebikes, I’ve found 36 volts plenty to power me up hills. They are still fun and peppy to ride. The 36-volt 11.6Ah battery of the e1.1 will achieve an easy 20 miles of range for most riders, with 30 miles possible, if you’re conservative with pedal assist (meaning you ride in the lower pedal assist levels).
Watch This Fun Video of the Generation e Bike in Action from REI:
The others differences are that the e.1.1 has front suspension while the e1.2 does not, and the e.1.2 has a front rack, while the e.1.1 does not. I’m a bit surprised that the e1.2 doesn’t have front suspension, but clearly you are paying more for the 48-volt system with a front rack tossed in. Being that the e1.1 and e1.2 have what look to be identical frames, it may be possible to add suspension to the e.1.2. You’d probably have to install it yourself, but it is likely an option.
Does a bike like this need front suspension? Well, if you plan to stick to pavement, then no, unless it’s bumpy pavement, like our notoriously bad roads here in Illinois. But along paved bike paths, front suspension really isn’t necessary. Also, most cargo bikes don’t have front suspension to improve stability.
Both bikes are Class 1, meaning that they are pedal assist only. That’s a bummer if you’re wanting a throttle, but Class 1 ebikes can legally go pretty much anywhere a regular bike can. Depending upon where you live, or plan to ride, you may need a Class 1 bike to ride legally. The max speed of both bikes is 20 mph, but more realistically due to gear ratio, a top speed of 15 mph is more likely. That might be a dealbreaker for some.
Now, if you want to be able to get to the 20 mph speed that the motor is capable of, you’ll need to change the gear ratio of the bike. Both models come with a 14-34T freewheel. Replacing that with an 11-34T cassette will help you get to those higher speeds. Changing the 42T crank wheel to a 46T will further help. It’s not difficult or expensive to do this, but it would be much more ideal if the bikes shipped this way. Many, many ebikes suffer from lackluster gear ratios.
4/2023 Update: You can ignore the previous paragraph. REI listened to their customers and greatly improved the gear ratio on e1.1 and e1.2, since I wrote this article!
The Generation e.1.1 now comes with an 11-42 tooth freewheel and a 48-tooth chain ring. That means the bike can reach closer to 20 mph and offer a much more comfortable pedaling cadence. Good job REI!
>>If you’re looking for an ebike similar to the Generation e, but want higher speeds and/or more power for a similar price, check out the KBO Ranger or the Velowave Prado S. You won’t have the great REI support, though.
It’s great that both bikes have hydraulic disc brakes. Personally, I think all ebikes should have hydraulic brakes. It drives me nuts that so many companies cheap out on such an essential safety feature of a bike. Both bikes also have integrated front and rear lights. The placement of the front light on the handlebars is also ideal for safety, since traffic will be better able to see you, as opposed to a light placed lower on the frame.[wptb id=13782]
I love the color options! Yay, no bland gray and beige options! We have fun and attractive colors to choose from with both models. I’m usually not a big fan of blue for my bikes, but I’m digging the Crater Lake Blue color option for the e1.1. It’s also great to have the bright color options for safe riding in the city.
Both brands use Bafang motors, controllers and displays. This means you shouldn’t have any trouble finding replacement parts, even years from now. These are not propriety parts from a fly-by-night company. Bafang is hugely popular in the ebike industry, and provides motors for many ebike brands. Also, since you’d be buying from REI, you’ll also have access to ongoing customer support and service for repairs. That’s a big plus!
So, who are these bike for? I think they are fun, family oriented bikes. They would also be great for RV’ers and taking on vacations. Since they are Class 1, you’ll be able to ride about anywhere you go. The rear rack does support a child seat. It is compatible with the Nexxt Maxi and Dash RM seats, available on Amazon and elsewhere. You’ll also be able to haul quite a bit on the rear rack, which is rated for up to 59 lbs. The total payload of both models is 300 lbs.
Which model should you buy? If you’re wanting more range, then obviously the e1.2 would be the choice. If you’re wanting front suspension, then the e1.1 would be for you. If you want a front rack, then the e1.2 will offer that. The e1.2 will also provide more power when climbing hills, though I’ve found that 36-volt systems power me up hills just fine.
Overall, I’m liking what I’m seeing out of this brand. Most bikes you buy online don’t offer assembly and on-going customer service for repairs, so this is a huge plus for the Co-op brand. I do wish REI had more locations throughout the United States. My closest REI store is two-and-a-half hours away in St. Louis, but I’d make the drive for good customer support, and a fully assembled bike. You can buy online or in-store and pick up the bike when it is ready. The bike can also be shipped to you, and you’ll have to assemble it, but the assembly is minimal.
The Generation e models offer a lot of fun and safe features for recreational riders and families. I think most people would have a blast riding these bikes. I hope future versions improve on the gear ratio. It would be great to have a throttle too, but I can live without it. Check out the Generation e online.
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