Cooper T200 Championship 50 review£849.00

Classic ride or retro imitation?

BikeRadar score4.5/5

The T200 is Cooper’s top-of-the-range singlespeed/fixed wheel bike. It’s built around a Reynolds 531 steel frameset finished in Cooper racing green – an exact match to the Formula 1-winning Cooper race car of 50 years ago, hence the Championship 50 moniker.

The frame itself is beautifully finished, with elegantly shaped lugs and fine details like the scalloped chainstay bridge. It looks like the frame of a much higher priced bike.

As with Cooper’s other bikes, an effort to keep things as British as possible has informed the component choices: a Brooks Swallow saddle and matching bar tape, Sturmey Archer large flange track hubs and a Sturmey chainset – which has a Cooper design chainring machined to mimic a classic Campagnolo ring.

The wheels, with those Sturmey hubs, are both smooth running and well sealed, laced with butted spokes to Mavic’s Open Sport rim. This is a shallow, almost box section design which has proved hardwearing and stayed free of any kinks or buckles.

The cockpit features a classic track style bar and traditional threaded 1in headset and stem. Brake levers are top mount cyclo-cross style. All these details and stylish touches are meaningless, though, if the bike doesn’t deliver in its ride.

We’re happy to report that the Champ 50 does so in spades. The frame is outstanding. The butted 531 tubeset and classic geometry inspired by Sixties race bikes make the Cooper a wonderfully supple and comfortable ride. That’s not to say it’s too soft – when you want to stomp on the pedals and push your speed it becomes a smooth and responsive singlespeed flyer.

Compared to modern race bike geometry – twitchy, steep angled sprinters’ steeds – the Cooper’s relaxed angles might seem a little slow. But if you take your time to adapt to the relaxed setup you’ll find a bike that’s smooth, controllable and, above all else, supremely comfortable over any distance.

With the benefit of both front and rear brakes, and a flip-flop hub at the back that enables you to swap easily between riding fixed or with a freewheel, the Cooper has been used as more than a simple low-maintenance commuter. In fact it’s been recruited for long Sunday runs as well.

For a company as new to bikes as Cooper to make a bike that looks as good as this is a fair achievement, but what’s more impressive is producing something that backs up those looks with such a good ride.

This might only be the third model Cooper has produced, but it’s a class-leading singlespeed at an exceptionally good price. The only downside is the paucity of sizes: there are only three – 52cm (good for riders between 5ft 3in-5ft 7in), 57cm (5ft 8in-6ft) or 61cm (6ft 2in+).

The Champ 50 is a limited edition to commemorate 50 years since Cooper won their first grand prix, but an alternative T200 is also available – the Reims, which not only gets a neat cream colour scheme but also a five-speed hub gear, for £895. 

Cooper t200 championship 50: cooper t200 championship 50
Cooper t200 championship 50: cooper t200 championship 50

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