Cooper bicycles: Retro rides for the urban commuter


October 24, 2011

Cooper, best-known for its racing and sporty automobiles, has now launched a line of bicycles (pictured is the T100 Sebring)

Cooper, best-known for its racing and sporty automobiles, has now launched a line of bicycles (pictured is the T100 Sebring)

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The Cooper name is probably best-known for its revolutionary 1950s and 60s Formula 1 and Indy race cars, or for its association with both the original and current versions of the Mini Cooper. Following in the tire treads of other high-performance auto brands (such as Porsche and BMW), in recent times the British company has turned its hand to bicycles. While it might be reasonable to expect its creations to be race-oriented, Cooper Bikes has instead decided to focus on speedy urban commuters - all of them featuring gloriously retro Reynolds steel frames.

There are eight models of Cooper Bikes, although these are divided into three groups - the T100s, T200s and T250s, all of which feature Sturmey Archer cranks, Brooks leather saddles and Tektro rim brakes. All of the single-speed models feature a flip-flop rear hub, meaning that it can be used in either a freewheeling or fixed gear configuration.

Bikes in the first group are all made from Reynolds 520 tubes, and are the most Spartan of the lot. Three of the four T100s are single-speeds, while the Zandvoort model offers a 3-speed Sturmey Archer rear hub transmission.

The two T200s incorporate Reynolds 531 tubes, and snazzy features such as leather handlebar tape. The Reims model has a 5-speed rear hub, which the rider operates via a down tube-mounted shift lever - yes, they do still exist!

The two T250s are less sporty and more practical, with skirt-friendly mixte frames, 5-speed transmissions, and in the case of the Oporto model, a rear rack and full fenders.

All of the models, incidentally, are named after the sites of racing victories by Cooper cars.

Prices aren't available on the Cooper Bikes website, although according to BikeRadar, the T100 Sebring will start at GBP595 (US$952). The lightest of the batch appears to be the T200 Championship 50, weighing in at a reported 9.45 kilograms (20.8 lbs).

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Also the Cruzbike line of front-wheel drive recumbents. Very fast.

Art Derfall

Now that\'s a nice looking bike. A real bike, not a fashion statement.


like the steel frames, and retro styling is nice but rim brakes? And on a single speed bike is it really necessary to have the handlebars lower than the seat?


How is this different with any other bike? Including the claim it\'s different. @slowburn, I grew up with rim brakes and they stop the just fine. There\'s nothing wring with them. Dah!


Why don\'t you give some coverage to the Rans company\'s line of recumbent and crank forward bikes, bicycles that actually fit the human body and can be ridden long distances with none of the discomfort inherent in the conventional bicycle. Dick Ryan


I grew up on these bikes too......

Everything has it\'s advantages and disadvantages - but sometimes SIMPLICITY is sooooo elegant and nice.

Especially on a bicycle.

And Rim Brakes - if they ARE good brakes and not the crap flimsy flexible cheapest of the cheap ones, if you set them up properly - it\'s very easy to lock the front wheel and go over the bars.... No problemo - plenty of stopping power there pal.

Mr Stiffy

re; offthegrid

I have used them all my life as well, and glad to be rid of them.


Just what the world doesn\'t need. More back breaking, uncomfortable bicycles. Drop the seat and put some up-raised bars on so the rider can sit up straight!

Gregg Eshelman

\"And on a single speed bike is it really necessary to have the handlebars lower than the seat?\"

You really don\'t get fixies, do you, Slowburn? They\'re an affectation that originated from fixed gear track bikes some racers and messengers have been riding on the streets for decades. And guess what? Track bikes have low handlebars and sometimes cowhorns.


Problem with \'Fixies\' is an urban environment is that a vast majority of recent owners are not bike messengers or experienced urban riders. They are douche bag hipsters who have no idea how to handle a fixie. So as the try to get their fixie rolling from a stop, they stand and push with their waif legs which causes them to veer out of their bike lane and into the path of fast urban traffic. But of course they can\'t hear any horns because they have both ears covered with sony studio monitors.

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