Classic British steel and Italian innovation combined
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Cooper Bikes was founded in 2009 by Mike Cooper, son of John Cooper, the man behind the Mini Cooper. Initially, the brand focused on classic British steel road bikes and urban bikes, before partnering with Germany’s TechniBike in 2017. This saw it shift to making electric bikes.
As a racing company, Cooper was all about achieving speed with lightweight simplicity and its new range of ebikes follow that mantra – with skinny lines and no clunkiness.
Neither the CG urban bikes nor the CS drop-bar machines have heavy additional batteries.
Instead, Cooper has partnered with Italy’s Zehus, using its neat Bike All-In-One hub system. This clever package consists of an oversized rear hub, which contains a planetary motor and a 173Wh battery.
This means Cooper bikes have no wiring, sensors or extra battery, resulting in one of the cleanest-looking ebikes you can find.
Another difference between the Cooper CG and many other ebikes is that rather than using a traditional control screen, the Zehus hub uses its own app called Bitride, although you can get a pocket-sized remote as an aftermarket extra.
The app enables you to control the bike’s four modes – Bike (off), Eco, Turbo and Turbo Custom. The motor delivers 250 watts of power and 40Nm of torque.
Probably the cleverest part of the system, however, is that it incorporates a KERS, or Kinetic Energy Recovery System. When you crest a hill and start to descend, back-pedal and KERS works as a brake on the motor and at the same time converts that energy to electrical charge for the battery.
Don’t expect this to charge your battery to full when you bomb down your local hills, though, because the battery takes three hours to charge from empty (through a neat port in the rear axle). That would mean a lot of descending.
However, I did find the power level on the app rose on every descent during my 30-mile/48km commute. This certainly helps to reduce range anxiety.
Zehus claims a range of 25 miles/40km in Turbo mode and 37 miles/60km in Eco. In my mixed-mode rides, I managed 42 miles/67km with 1,563ft of climbing.
This can’t match the huge battery capacity of mid-motor bikes, but for a self-contained hub unit I came away impressed.
The Zehus Bitride app keeps track of battery levels and enables you to switch modes easily with the swipe of a finger. I found the small, light grey font on a white background hard to read in bright sunshine, though. Some of the icons are also quite small and have grey outlines.
I liked the power ring around the current speed, which shows how much power is being used and turns blue when you’re back-pedalling/recharging the battery.
By holding the lock button on the app, you can lock the motor when parking the bike. Because the bike is only paired to your phone, this makes it useless to thieves.
The CG-7E feels beautiful to ride. The skinny-tubed steel frame rides smoothly with that extra bit of life you’d expect from steel, and the chromoly fork sweeps up vibrations.
The ride position is quite sporty – it’s a fairly long riding position and the steep seat angle puts you squarely over the cranks, so you can make the most of your human power.
The motor is more like a gentle push in the back than the power surge you get from Bosch or Shimano’s centre-mounted systems. That said, crank the Cooper up to full power and its 40Nm of torque will help you up and over stiff climbs with less effort while maintaining a good pace.
I like the CG-7E’s sporty handling. It’s properly nippy, and ideal for cutting through traffic and weaving between static vehicles.
The high-volume tyres help you to tackle towpaths and trails too, though you’d want to up the pressure in the rear tyre beyond what you’d think, because of the extra weight of the hub.
The Microshift seven-speed drivetrain offers enough range for urban and suburban commuting, and I was impressed by how well the system worked.
The simple thumb shifter is old-school mountain bike design, but it’s reliable, shifts quickly and efficiently, and didn’t put a foot wrong during testing.
The brakes are a combination of Tektro levers – with a lovely and loud ding-dong bell built into the left-hand lever – and hybrid Juin Tech brake calipers. They impressed during testing.
The calipers are cable operated, but have a small self-contained hydraulic piston that controls the brake pads. They offer bags of power and plenty of control.
The wheels use bolt-on hubs. They’re basic, but they’re more secure than either a quick-release or thru-axle design and I’d see this as a plus on an electric urban commuter bike. The CG-7E does have a fairly basic build, but it’s all stuff that works and makes sense for the type of bike it is.
Cooper has, however, splashed out on the contact points. The lock-on grips are very nice, with a multi-textured rubber grip that’s comfortable and works well in the wet or dry.
The Brooks C17 Cambium saddle is an equally good choice, with its sporty shape and vulcanised rubber top – classic looks and very, very comfortable.
Overall, I really like the Cooper. It’s a stylish bike with very little outward signal that it’s an ebike at all. The sporty ride suits experienced cyclists more than casual commuters and the equipment, while in the most part quite basic, works well.
The frame finish is excellent and stylish additions such as the colour-coordinated mudguards and Brooks saddle give the CG-7E a more premium look than the modest price would suggest.
Warren Rossiter is BikeRadar and Cycling Plus magazine’s senior technical editor for road and gravel. Having been testing bikes for more than 20 years, Warren has an encyclopedic knowledge of road cycling and has been the mastermind behind our Road Bike of the Year test for more than a decade. He’s also a regular presenter on the BikeRadar Podcast and on BikeRadar’s YouTube channel. In his time as a cycling journalist, Warren has written for Mountain Biking UK, What Mountain Bike, Urban Cyclist, Procycling, Cyclingnews, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike and T3. Over the years, Warren has written about thousands of bikes and tested more than 2,500 – from budget road bikes to five-figure superbikes. He has covered all the major innovations in cycling this century, and reported from launches, trade shows and industry events in Europe, Asia, Australia, North American and Africa. While Warren loves fast road bikes and the latest gravel bikes, he also believes electric bikes are the future of transport. You’ll regularly find him commuting on an ebike and he longs for the day when everyone else follows suit. You will find snaps of Warren’s daily rides on the Instagram account of our sister publication, Cycling Plus (@cyclingplus).
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