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REI CO-OP Test Mule

Climbing an old railroad grade in the wettest Pacific Northwest weather either of us had experienced in years, I asked Steve Gluckman, Creative Director, Product Design at REI, how he liked the CO-OP Ti bike he was riding. His reply was similar to what I've been sharing about gravel this year, it's a great time to be an enthusiast. More specifically Steve said
This is a test mule for all the new options in mixed-surface bikes. Manufactures are responding to demand with lots of new product.
This CO-OP's purpose is to hang different parts on it to find the best combination before REI goes to market with their take on gravel sometime maybe next year. What's interesting about the Ti test mule (the bike doesn't have a name, it's a factory sample) is the street-sweeper low BB and long wheelbase. In person, the test mule looks like a longbed pickup truck compared to a 3T Exploro rally car or stripped-down Range Rover style of the U.P. All three fit 700c and 650b wheelsets with a max tire size of 2.1s in MTB sizing or 42s in road.

The rest of the ride, besides half-wheeling each other and discussing how well ou...