DRICHSHAFEN, Germany (BRAIN) — They are not particularly compact or cute, nor do they feature racing stripes. But the Cooper bicycle line has some strong connections to the Mini Cooper automobiles, starting with the bike brand's founders, the Cooper family.
Mike Cooper, the son of Mini founder and auto racing legend John Cooper, founded the bike company in 2009, a few years after his family sold the car company to BMW. Mike runs the bike company along with his son and other family members.
Cooper bikes feature genuine Mini paint colors, including British Racing Green and Pepper White, along with a familiar headbadge and the Union Jack badge on the fork blades. Most have British-made Brooks leather saddles and bar tape. All the models are named after Gran Prix races where the Mini competed. The frames are made in Taiwan.
The bike line until this season included steel-framed singlespeed and derailleur-geared road bikes. For 2013 the company has added internally geared bikes, including a model with Shimano's 11-speed Alfine hub with Di2 electric dropbar shifters. Cooper thinks its the first company to display a bike with the shifters.
Mike Cooper, standing in front of a sepia-toned poster of his father with actor and car fanatic Steve McQueen, said he's finding the bike industry much more friendly than the auto industry.
"The auto industry is like a war. Here, everyone is friendly. We love the bike industry. Those people over there are the competition," he said, pointing to a neighboring display. "But we are going out for beers after the show. It's great."
Cooper bikes are distributed in the U.S. through Prestige of Mahwah, a Mini auto dealer in New Jersey (Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org). The company is hoping to find another U.S. bike distributor on the West Coast soon, Cooper said.
More information: Cooper Bikes.