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Co-op CTY 1.3 review

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Co-op CTY 1.3 review

Old 12-31-18, 03:43 PM
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mkblackwell
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Co-op CTY 1.3 review

A while back I asked for advice on a new commuter bike. Since I ride through the winter I was looking for something lower maintenance, specifically belt drive, internally geared, and hydraulic disk brakes. Sub-$1500 was my price point. I narrowed my search down to the REI Co-op CTY 1.3, the Breezer Beltway, and the Priority Onyx. In the end I went for the Co-op. Now that I have several hundred miles on it I thought I'd post a review.

Background
I'm a big guy, 6'4", 210 lbs. My daily round-trip commute is a little under 20 miles, mostly flat. Boston area, so a couple of months of rain/sleet/snow a year, but for the most part the roads are well plowed and black ice is the biggest concern (well, bad drivers are the biggest concern, any time of year...).

Bike
The CTY 1.3 checked all the boxes: Gates CDX carbon belt drive, Shimano Alfine 8-speed internally geared hub, Shimano M315 hydraulic disk brakes. The bike isn't light, but it doesn't feel like a beast either, and is plenty nimble weaving through traffic and around pot holes. The largest XL size fits me fine, but it's about at its limits, a taller rider may find it too small.

Gearing and Belt Drive
The Alfine 8 has a range of 307%. Combined with the sprocket ratio this give a gearing range of 32.3 to 104.5 gear-inches (according to REI, I haven't verified this). For my normal routes this is a little on the low side - I don't use the lower gears and would prefer some taller ones. Not a big deal at all, but for some future upgrade I might swap out the sprockets (and presumably would need the corresponding belt).

The belt drive has a minimal guard along the top. It keeps a little bit of the crud from splashing up when riding in rain, but will not prevent the belt from sucking up your pant leg (yup, found that out the first day!).

The frame has a vertical dropout in the rear, so taking the rear wheel in and out and maintaining belt tension is very easy (once you figure out how to unhook the shifter cable).

Brakes
The Shimano brakes are smooth, modulate well, and stop when they're wet. What more could you want?

Cockpit
The handlebar stem stack includes one 10 mm and three 5 mm spacers, so you can fine-tune the stem height a bit. The stem has a slight rise (maybe 5 degrees) so if you're into a more slammed position you could flip it over (but if you're looking to be more aero this maybe isn't the right bike...). The handlebar diameter is 31.8 mm at the stem clamp, then tapers down to 22.2 mm. The width is 69 cm - way too wide for squeezing through city traffic (in my opinion). The grips are paddle style with slight bullhorns and are fastened with set screws, making them easy to adjust. The bullhorns provide for alternative hand positions (but diminished access to the controls), which is a big plus if you have wrist issues.

As delivered the brake and shifter controls were tight up against the grips. I have pretty wide hands and the shift levers jammed into the back of my thumb. I had to move the controls inboard about 25 mm to fit my hands. Even though the brake and shift levers are separate units they pretty much need to move together, otherwise the brake cylinder interferes with the shifter, so you can't just move the shifter inboard and leave the brakes where they were. Not a big deal for me, the brake levers are pretty long and I have long fingers to go with my wide hands! But something to be aware of. Also, the taper of the handlebar prevents you from moving the controls too far inboard.

As I said, the bars are way to wide for me, and I need to chop them down. The taper limiting the control placement in the biggest issue, and I need to play around to see what I can get. I'm hoping I can lop off 30 - 40 mm on each side.

Cabling
The cable/hose routing is kind of a mish-mash. The rear brake hose runs internally through the down tube, then underneath the bottom bracket and chainstay. The shifter cable and front brake hose are external. Looks kind of asymmetric to me. But the bigger problem is the front brake hose - it's length and routing causes it to rub and clatter against head tube. It's noisy on bumpy roads and it's scuffing the paint up. I'm going to need to wrap with butyl tape or something.

Paint
Speaking of paint - flat mat gray with minimal branding and stealthy head tube badge. Pretty boring, but seems to be trendy these days...

Racks and Fenders
The frame only has one set of threaded eyelets front and rear, which is a little disappointing if you want both racks and fenders. The front eyelets are on the inside of the fork, about a third of the way up, which is an odd location. I'm not sure they would accommodate a rack, and you'll need to be careful with fenders to make sure the stay bolts don't get too close to the spokes.

For a rear rack I used the Bontrager BackRack, which fits really nicely and looks good. You don't need the disk-specific version of this rack - the brakes are flat-mount and out of the way.

For fenders I went with the Planet Bike Cascadia ALX. For the rear fender stays I used a metal P-clamp to attach to the rack. Perfectly functional but distracts from an otherwise clean look. Also on the rear fender I did not use the clamp that normally attaches to the brake bridge. On this frame the threaded hole on the "bridge" is 90-degrees from normal and would have required bending the clamp flat. Instead I drilled a hole in the fender itself and just ran a bolt into the brake bridge hole. Looks clean and give a tad more tire clearance.

Tires
The bike comes equipped with an OEM version of the Kenda Kwick Trax, 700c x 35. These are not particularly supple tires and a bit of a harsh ride. They claim to have a kevlar lining for puncture protection. If they really are robust against flats then I'll take that tradeoff on a commuter bike any day. If they don't work out I'll switch to Schwalbe Marathon Plus's. Also neither light nor supple, but bomb proof, they're my go-to commuting tire.

But I only put about 200 miles on these tires before I switched to winter mode. Now I'm running 45nrth Gravdals, 700c x 38, which fit fine with the fender setup. Also a new tire for me. We haven't had much in the way of challenging winter weather yet, I'll report back on these tires later in the season.

Saddle
The saddle is a Selle Royal gel model. Unlike some hybrid bikes I've tried the saddle isn't too wide or squishy, and I find it perfectly fine for commuting. What did surprise me is how non-slippery the surface is. I guess I'm used to (intentionally) sliding around a bit on the saddle to adjust my position as I ride. With this saddle once you plant your butt it's not sliding anywhere. Took some getting used to...

Pedals
Pretty low-end Wellgo platform style pedals. Unlike the saddle they are not grippy at all - the studs are cast into the pedal body and are flat, so don't grab your shoes well. I'm probably going to swap these pedals out for something with pointier studs.

Tools
No quick releases on this bike, which is just fine in an urban environment. You'll need a 6 mm allen key to remove the front wheel (through-axle), and a 4 mm allen key to adjust the seat height. The rear wheel requires a 15 mm wrench - I bought a stubby box wrench that fits in the seat bag with the rest of my tools and tire repair stuff.

Price
List price at REI is US$1199. Just before I bought the bike I got an offer in the mail for an REI branded credit card with a $200 gift card sweetener, which was perfect timing! Plus I'll get a $10% dividend in the spring (plus another 5% for using the credit card). All in all that made it a really good deal.

Conclusion
Overall I'm really enjoying this bike! It fits me well, rides well, and has all the features I wanted at a pretty good price. If I could suggest any changes to the bike, they would be: 1) better cable routing (preferably internal); 2) second set of mounting eyelets front and rear; and 3) better pedals.




Front fender mounting.


Rear rack and fender mounting. Note P-clamps for fender stays.


Poor cable routing = scuffed up paint. Boo.
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Old 12-31-18, 04:22 PM
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Very nice looking bike. I am curious as to how well the belt drive holds up in snow and slush riding, if you were planning to ride under such conditions.

If you are planning to riding in snow your front mudflap might not be long enough. The way it sits right now I can tell you it's going to spray snow right onto the bottom bracket. Some kind of extension might be necessary.
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Old 12-31-18, 08:53 PM
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Usually the fenders and rack can share a bolt, just need a longer one and some washers. Not that the P clips don't work there.
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Old 01-01-19, 11:37 AM
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What?! A rational, coherent review? You’re obviously new here.

If if I had better sense I’d have bought a bike like yours. Thanks for the thoughtful review.


-Kedosto
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Old 01-01-19, 03:17 PM
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mkblackwell
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Originally Posted by mcours2006 View Post
If you are planning to riding in snow your front mudflap might not be long enough. The way it sits right now I can tell you it's going to spray snow right onto the bottom bracket. Some kind of extension might be necessary.
That's a good point. We haven't had much slush/snow yet this winter so haven't had a chance to see how well the coverage works. Mounting the top tab to the back of the fork crown (instead of the front as I currently have it) would get me maybe another inch of coverage. If that's not enough there's always duct tape and soda bottle plastic!
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Old 01-02-19, 06:34 AM
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Rack and fender setup look nice! I remember your earlier post. Thanks for circling back with the review. Was interesting to read. I'll be eager to read your thoughts on the Gravdals once you've had a chance to hit some snow and ice w/them. And I hear ya on getting pant leg caught in the belt. Have done that a few times myself. On pedals, I would swap in a pair of quality composites like the Chesters or the Chromag Synths.
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Old 01-02-19, 12:05 PM
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Very nice. Thanks for this.
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Old 01-02-19, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by mkblackwell View Post

Rear rack and fender mounting. Note P-clamps for fender stays.


Poor cable routing = scuffed up paint. Boo.

REI makes some interesting choices about bike design... seems like they put a lot of effort into research but sometimes miss the simple, little things. Same exact deal on my ADV 3.1. I wrapped it electrical tape and it still scuffed the paint. So I put the tape on the frame - doesn't look good but who cares.

Good review!
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Old 01-02-19, 11:30 PM
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Stickers are available in clear glossy or matte finish for frame protection from cable rub. There’s a product (3M?) for paint protection available at auto shops, probably only available in full sheets.


-Kedosto
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Old 01-03-19, 08:30 AM
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Nice!
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Old 01-07-19, 09:49 PM
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Excellent review, and the bike looks like a great ride!

The few criticisms (cable routing, etc) could easily have been addressed with a $700 infusion of materials and labor by the maker. I think you got great value with this bike.
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Old 04-25-19, 06:32 AM
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Thanks for the review! I'm looking for an upgrade for my Giant Escape 2 commuter and I've been pondering 8 speed IGHs (with or without belt drives). I've got an REI just down the street from me so I can go for a test ride on one of these guys to see how I like it.

My question for you is - do you do any longer weekend rides on this? 20-30 miles type of thing? How is the comfort for that? I'm trying to avoid an N+1 bike situation but it may be inevitable.
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Old 04-25-19, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Smitty2k1 View Post
Thanks for the review! I'm looking for an upgrade for my Giant Escape 2 commuter and I've been pondering 8 speed IGHs (with or without belt drives). I've got an REI just down the street from me so I can go for a test ride on one of these guys to see how I like it.

My question for you is - do you do any longer weekend rides on this? 20-30 miles type of thing? How is the comfort for that? I'm trying to avoid an N+1 bike situation but it may be inevitable.
No, I have a bad case of N+1's, this is just my commuter. I have a road bike and a gravel bike (both steel frames with drop bars) for longer weekend riding. I think the longest I've ridden this bike is around 20 miles. With the stiffer aluminum frame, upright riding position, and limited hand positions this wouldn't be my first choice for a longer ride, but that's a more personal thing and other folks might find it a perfect combination. Also the gear range on the Alfine-8 is fairly small compared to derailleured drivetrains and you may find yourself wishing for either smaller or bigger gears, but that depends on the sort of terrain you are tackling. The Alfine-11 has a bigger range if you're looking at IGH bikes.

After a full winter and almost 1500 miles I still love this bike for commuting. I swapped out the pedals for something grippier, and chopped down the handlebars a bit. No problems at all and the only maintenance so far has been hosing off all the winter crud after the weather warmed up.
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