Just in: Cooper Monaco

Alfine 11-speed hub-geared road bike with Reynolds 520 frame and fork in for testing

by David Arthur   October 10, 2013  

We’ve had quite a fair exotic carbon and titanium road bikes through the office recently, so here’s something just a bit different. It is the Cooper Monaco, a £1,595 Reynolds 520 frame and fork with an Alfine 11-speed hub, mudguards and mechanical disc brakes.

Cooper is one of the most iconic names in the motoring world, and this Monaco takes it name from the Monte Carlo circuit on which Cooper F1 cars won three Grand Prix in 1958, 1960 and 1962. That’s your super quick history lesson over. Cooper produce a smart range of bikes from flat-barred singlespeeds to classic road and touring bikes.

The Monaco is their drop bar bike designed for commuting and urban cycling in all weathers. It’s their first disc-equipped road bike, and uses Avid’s BB7 mechanical disc brakes with 160mm rotors at both wheels. They’ve mounted the disc brake caliper inside of the rear-facing dropouts (to allow for easy chain tensioning) so they can fit full-length mudguards, which the bike indeed comes fitted with. There are also rack mounts if you wanted to fit a pannier.

Both the frame and fork are constructed from dependable Reynolds 520 double butted steel with a sloping top tube and downtube routed gears, painted in a lovely Almond Green.

Sandwiched between the rear dropouts is the excellent 11-speed Shimano Alfine gear hub with a neat chainguard wrapped around the Cooper designed Andel chainset. You just can’t beat the virtually zero maintenance of a hub gear, all the gears protected from the elements and slick shifting, even when stationary at the lights.

Yes, placing the entire drivetrain in the rear hub does concentrate the weight in one place, rather than spreading it across the rear half of the frame like a regular transmission, but on a bike designed for commuting to the office, weight placement isn’t the chief concern. Overall weight is more important, and the Monaco weighs 13.15kg (28.99lb) on our scales.

Those rear-facing dropouts do mean getting the wheel out quickly is a bit of a mission, but they make it easy to correctly tension the chain, neccessary on a bike with no rear mech.

The disc brakes are SRAM’s BB7 with 160mm rotors at both wheels, and are operated by VRS Versa levers, with the right lever also shifting gears. The rotors are bolted to Shimano hubs and they’re laced to Alex XC-Lite polished rims. Continental 32mm tyres will absorb a lot of vibration from bumpy road surfaces and should survive a winter of daily commuting without trouble.

The finishing kit perfectly complements the bike, with a polished silver Ritchey stem and Promax 27.2mm seatpost. Such a bike as this demands the right saddle, and the Brooks B15 Swallow saddle, black with chrome rails, is the perfect match. Oh and leather bar tape wraps the handlebars.

Our intrepid man in the city TR McGowan is testing this bike right now so watch out for his review soon. In the meantime, check out www.cooperbikes.com for more info.

18 user comments

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It looks 'wrong'. In fact it looks ugly. Something to do with the back end but I cant quite put my finger on it.

andybwhite's picture

posted by andybwhite [171 posts]
10th October 2013 - 15:15

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Colour should be British racing green surely?

posted by amazon22 [150 posts]
10th October 2013 - 15:34

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The guards could do with being longer, with a minumum of a front flap to keep your commuter shoes clean.

I initially thought 'how much'? It seems steep for a 520 framed bike, but I guess Alfine 11 hubs and the Brooks saddle take a lot out of the budget.

posted by Chris James [156 posts]
10th October 2013 - 15:49

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It does seem expensive. I built a similar bike (On One Pompetamine frame & fork, Alfine 8 speed with Versa levers and BB7's) and it cost me about £700 plus the Chris King BB and Hope headset I already owned.

Maybe the Cooper is a little nicer - Reynolds 520/11 speed/Brooks - but at twice the price?


posted by jasecd [139 posts]
10th October 2013 - 16:23

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Peculiar, Sick

Ah, but that was then

posted by Pitstone Peddler [104 posts]
10th October 2013 - 17:12

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Does seem a bit expensive - I've a Cotic Roadrat with Alfine 8 and that was 800.

The Alfine 11 does seem to be VERY expensive though.

posted by localsurfer [160 posts]
10th October 2013 - 18:05

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andybwhite wrote:
It looks 'wrong'. In fact it looks ugly. Something to do with the back end but I cant quite put my finger on it.

I think it's two things:

1. The top tube joins the seat tube below the junction with the seatstays;

2. There's then a lot of seattube above the junction of either.

I would have thought that a bike relying on 'classic' styling would have looked a lot better with a level top tube, meeting the seat tube a bit higher up.

I always liked the Cooper fixed/ss bikes - sure, they were jumping on a fashionable bandwagon, but they did it with some style. Can't get on board with this though - it just looks like a mish mash, and is seriously weight to boot.

And I can't believe the price! For a 520 frame and pretty average components!

Rant over...

posted by step-hent [644 posts]
10th October 2013 - 18:09

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localsurfer wrote:
The Alfine 11 does seem to be VERY expensive though.

Ah. Maybe that's where all the budget went.

posted by step-hent [644 posts]
10th October 2013 - 18:11

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reminds me of my old on-one slot dropout inbred Smile

still on the 3rd switch-back of Bwlch !

posted by therevokid [663 posts]
10th October 2013 - 18:15

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The headtube angle doesn't help. What is that.. 45 degrees? There's relaxed and there's bent.

posted by deblemund [62 posts]
10th October 2013 - 21:05

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i cant help but think they nearly got it right, but just missed on everything, real shame

posted by jason.timothy.jones [286 posts]
10th October 2013 - 21:22

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Agree with most of the above, just doesn't look right.
It's as if it was styled by a committee, great concept not so great execution.

posted by belgravedave [162 posts]
10th October 2013 - 22:08

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At least the hub gears
are good, I've ridden the 8 speed version through the winter muck for the last 4 years, and they're still going strong. That's at least 10, 000 miles maybe more.

Endorphines going up and adrenaline going down, who needs drugs?

posted by banzicyclist2 [181 posts]
10th October 2013 - 22:35

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andybwhite wrote:
It looks 'wrong'. In fact it looks ugly. Something to do with the back end but I cant quite put my finger on it.

Yep. I'm still waiting for a similarly-specced bike that actually looks "right".

Seems that if you want a hub-geared, road-styled bike you have to put up with more fashionable/hipsterish design elements than any sane person would want to, or spend far more than is sensible. On paper this bike is a near match for what I want in a commuter (if a little expensive) but I just couldn't bring myself to be seen dead on one. Yeuch. Vanity? Maybe, but it just doesn't look right.

And what is this recent obsession with shallow/flat mudguards I'm seeing everywhere? Again yeuch.

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posted by seven [90 posts]
11th October 2013 - 6:12

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Can remember the Cooper Monaco sports racing car and not sure this really captures the spirit of it; I have 8sp Alfine and hydraulic discs on my Cube Hyde Pro Race (sic) hybrid and it is a good safe ride; weight distribution heavily rear orientated but feels very stable. Both seem a good choice for a 60yr+ rider who has settled for touring not Strava KoM chasing.

New Forester

posted by Forester [82 posts]
11th October 2013 - 7:09

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Not fussed either way about this bike, but I'm pleased to see all the positive comments on the Alfine hub gear which is probably what I'll be getting on the Bullitt cargo bike I'm hoping to buy soon Smile

posted by graham_f [83 posts]
11th October 2013 - 8:53

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They do seem to look hell of a lot better in real life. Still seems a tad pricey though. Also, by "Cooper designed Andel chainset" do you mean "standard rebranded Andel chainset?'

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posted by mr-andrew [294 posts]
11th October 2013 - 11:26

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Weirdly or not, I seem to be the only one here who thinks it's absolutely beautiful. My only quibble is the style really doesn't suit straight forks, it needs those classic curves.

posted by sidesaddle [64 posts]
13th October 2013 - 14:17

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