Co-Op ARD 1.2 Review

January 15, 2018
Co-Op ARD 1.2
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Co-Op ARD 1.2 Coop_ARD-1 COOP_ARD-2 COOP_ARD-3 COOP_ARD-4 COOP_ARD-6 COOP_ARD-7 COOP_ARD-8 COOP_ARD-9 COOP_ARD-10 COOP_ARD-11 COOP_ARD-12 COOP_ARD-13 COOP_ARD-14 COOP_ARD-15
GEAR INSTITUTE RATINGS
82
Ride Quality
7
Stiffness-to-Weight
7
Climbing/Efficiency
7
Descending/Handling
7
Components
7
Wheelset
7

The Good

  • Great value
  • Precise steering
  • Through axles

The Bad

  • Heaviest in group
  • Stiff yet flexy
  • Handlebar
THE VERDICT
The Co-Op ARD 1.2 is an adventure bike that is capable on the road. With various tire size options (comes equipped with 28 cm slick tires, can accommodate up to 35c), the ARD 1.2 is able to be ridden on gravel or road alike when outfitted with appropriate tires. With a 72.3 degree head angle, the steering is precise without being overly twitchy, the straight(ish) fork steepens the head angle no doubt. The ARD 1.2 is reasonably light, weighing in at just over 21 pounds. Getting Shimano 105 at this price point ($1,299) with a carbon fork makes the ARD 1.2 a good value and a reasonable all around ride.
FULL REVIEW

The Recreation Equipment, Inc. (REI) Co-Op’s ARD 1.2 was the most adventure oriented bike in the category. Featuring braze-ons (holes in the frame and fork that accept racks/fenders) the ARD can be built up for a short tour fully laden with gear (we say short tour because it is not a proper touring bike, with over built frame and wheels). The aluminum frame and carbon fork can accommodate tires up to 35c, which makes it a legit bike for riding on the gravel, or taking more substantial loads necessary for short/light bike packing. The gentler geometry will be appreciated on longer days in the saddle, and the 21 pound weight makes this bike feel positively light considering the versatility that it offers the rider. Someone seeking a highly versatile bike that can do many things reasonably well at an affordable price will be wise to check out the ARD 1.2.

Ride Quality

An all around bike, with gravel and road capability, the ARD 1.2 is a true entry level bike featuring an aluminum frame with a carbon fork. The geometry is gentle, with a moderate head angle that encourages a rider position that is comfortable, yet aggressive enough to go fast. The frame and componentry are strangely stiff transferring bumps and vibration effectively, yet flexy especially at the bar and crank level, which is noticeable under hard exertion. This comes in part from the fork, which is very stiff, and the bar which is less so.

Stiffness-to-Weight/Power Transfer

The Co-Op ARD 1.2 features a Shimano RS500 crankset with 50×34 tooth chainrings spun on a Shimano bottom bracket. Quality components on an entry level frame, which will serve a moderate rider well, though the frame does have some momentum stealing properties when under load. The 6061 double-butted aluminum frame flexes at the bottom bracket a bit. The carbon front fork is stiff and provides some weight saving and stiffness to the overall ride of the bike. Given the weight of just over 21 pounds, the ARD is a stiff enough machine for entry level riding and a very reasonable weight at the price point, however a more advanced powerful rider will feel the flex in bike when pushing on the climb or sprint.

Climbing/Efficiency

The ARD 1.2 is a comfortable climbing machine. The reasonable weight comes in handy compared to other bikes at this price point, and the position makes for a comfortable ride. The Shimano 11-32 rear cassette and Shimano RS500 50/34 cranks and chainrings provide sufficient gearing to spin up the hill, however the overall set up does have some sway when out of the saddle on the climb.

Descending/Handling

We appreciated the through axles on the ARD 1.2, combined with the one-piece carbon fork, which conspired to offer a stiff and confident front end on the descent. This bike could take a bag/roll on the handlebar for bike packing. The front ends’ control and rigidity was great along with the overall relaxed geometry of the ARD 1.2. The mechanical disc brakes, TRP Spyre-C dual piston added to that confidence, and performed well enough, though required substantial hand motion and still remained squishy. That said, testers preferred these brakes to standard road brakes spec’d on similar rides – especially if adventure riding is in the cards.

Components: Drivetrain, Shifting and Brakes

Shimano 105 drivetrain and derailleurs typically provide crisp shifting with reasonable hand motion, though on this particular setup the shifting was less satisfying than we’re accustomed to. The gearing is fully appropriate for light touring, adventure cycling, or just riding around on gravel or in the mountains. Getting an 11-speed Shimano 105 setup at this price is noteworthy. The mechanical (read cable) TRP Spyre-C dual piston brakes are a good choice on this bike, and superior to other brakes we tested at a greater price.

Wheelset

Co-op Cycles 32 hole rims felt good under the rider, and the additional spokes added to our confidence that the ARD 1.2 could actually take some bags/packs and adventure. The hubs are Co-op as well, front hub being through axle and the rear being quick release.

Value

For an all around bike that is gravel capable or able to be taken on a light tour, yet also could get out on a road ride, the ARD 1.2 is well priced at $1,299.

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WHERE TO BUY
MSRP
$1,299.00
*Your purchase helps to support the work of Gear Institute.
HOW WE TESTED

Our road testing took place in Colorado and California, which when combined has the best of all road biking challenges: towering climbs, massive descents and endless flats and rollers to push these bikes to their limits. The bikes were tested riding through the coastal mountains and the redwoods of California, testing their grip in slick and slippery road conditions by the seashore and up into the Redwood Rain through the twistiest of descents. Colorado offered opportunities for massive climbs and descents, including the famed Morgul-Bismark road loop which is used on every road bike we tested because of its variety of terrain, 18 percent grade on “The Wall,” and its notorious wind. In all we rode over 750 miles on these bikes, climbing over 75,000 feet of vertical.

USER REVIEWS

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