Cooper bicycles: Retro rides for the urban commuter
By Ben Coxworth
October 24, 2011
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).